Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Pedagogical Reasoning and Action: Affordances of Practice-Based Teacher Professional Development

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Pedagogical Reasoning and Action: Affordances of Practice-Based Teacher Professional Development

Article excerpt

A common theme has been consistently woven through the literature on teacher professional development: that practice-based designs and collaboration are two components of effective teacher learning models. For example, Marrongelle, Sztajn, and Smith (2013) found that teacher learning contexts are optimal when they are "intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice, focus on student learning, and address the teaching of specific content" (pp. 203-204). Additionally, "by focusing on practices that are directly connected to the work that teachers do in their classrooms, teachers have the opportunity to develop knowledge needed for teaching by investigating aspects of teaching itself" (pp. 206-207). In terms of collaboration, Whitcomb, Borko, and Liston (2009) suggested that "professional development experiences are particularly effective when situated in a collegial learning environment, where teachers work collaboratively to inquire and reflect on their teaching" (p. 208). Furthermore, according to a status report on international teacher professional development, "the content of professional development is most useful when it focuses on concrete tasks of teaching, assessment, observation, and reflection" (Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009, p. 5). Each of these representative excerpts reflects a larger body of research that highlights collaboration and practice-based contexts as critical aspects of promising teacher professional development models (Darling-Hammond, 1989, 2002, 2006; Desimone, 2009; DuFour & Eaker, 1998; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006; Wayne, Yoon, Zhu, Cronen, & Garet, 2008).

In addition to collaboration and practice-based designs, inquiry cycles have been long recognized as catalysts for teacher professional development. Decades of research have described how teacher learning community models, which include some aspect of classroom-based inquiry, have contributed to building teacher capacity (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009 Darling-Hammond, 2002; Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001; Lieberman & Miller, 2008; Lieberman & Wood, 2003; Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace, & Thomas, 2006).

Practice-based teacher professional development models can take a variety of forms. Some popular models include teacher learning lab teams, inquiry groups, book study and teacher research groups, school-based professional learning communities, peer observation teams, participants in instructional rounds, collaborative action research groups, and lesson study teams. In this study, the term practice-based means that teacher learning takes place in K-12 classroom contexts in real time with the teacher of record and his or her students present and engaged. Practice-based learning opportunities can comprise the entire professional development model or be an extension from a workshop, training, class, or seminar that takes place outside the K-12 classroom. Videotaping teaching and analyzing lessons through technology have gained popularity and can be effective ways to gain insight into teaching and learning (Lewis, Perry, Friedkin, & Roth, 2012). However, for the purposes of the present study, the term practice-based means that at least some of the teacher learning work occurs in the context of an active K-12 classroom. The practice-based and collaborative inquiry professional development model designed for this study is an adapted form of lesson study.

Lesson Study

A typical lesson study involves teachers in cycles of collaborative inquiry though topic selection, lesson design, observations of lessons, analysis of data from observed lessons, and application of new knowledge to inform the next cycle. Lesson study is a popular form of teacher professional development in Japan. In both Japan and the United States, lesson study has been shown to contribute to the knowledge base and pedagogical development of teachers (Chokshi & Fernandez, 2004; Hiebert, Gallimore, & Stigler, 2002; Lewis & Hurd, 2011; Lewis et al. …

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