A school-based professional development program for primary school teachers
Cheng, Lu Pien
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The goal of this study was to investigate primary school teachers’ experiences in a school-based professional development program using a laboratory class cycle as they shaped the program collectively with the professional developer. The teachers’ and administrator’s conceptions of change in teaching and in their team as a result of the program were also studied. The study was motivated by research on professional development and on teacher learning that calls for the use of design-based research methodology. Six teachers in the professional development program and their administrator in a primary school in the southeastern United States participated in the study. All the teachers were interviewed concerning their experiences of the program, and their mathematics lessons were observed at the end of each cycle of laboratory classes. Each participant was interviewed 3 months after the end of the program to recall and reflect on her experiences in the program. A grounded theory approach and constant comparative analysis were used. The study revealed how the teachers’ experiences varied as they shaped the program collectively with the professional developer. The teachers’ participation in the program changed as they planned and conducted the different activities in the program, including weekly meetings, demonstration lessons, and the laboratory classes. Opportunities for the teachers to experiment with different teaching approaches were important in shaping the changes in their teaching, learning, and team functioning. The laboratory class cycle appears to be a viable model for teachers to incorporate professional development into their day-to-day teaching practices.