Coming Full Circle: From Teacher Reflection to Classroom Action and Places in-between

Aug. 15, 2010

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Vol. 16, No. 4 (August 2010),
p. 423-435.

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, a longitudinal view of professional development at T.P. Yaeger Middle School, a campus involved in several organized reform initiatives, has been presented from the perspective of an eighth-grade teacher who has been a 10-year participant in this research.
The author uses four fine-grained narrative exemplars as both a method and a form to feature the teacher’s and some of his colleagues’ experiences of teacher learning within the context of school reform.

Introducing Daryl Wilson
Among Yaeger’s long-term faculty members is Daryl Wilson.
Originally one of Yaeger’s eighth-grade reading instructors, Daryl, a White male, now teaches eighth-grade literacy to gifted-and-talented students. Presently in his 50s, Daryl has approximately 30 years of teaching experience. Over the course of his career, he has taught in lower, middle, and upper socio-economic schools at the middle- and high-school levels.

Reflective analysis

Having presented exemplars of the four phases of teacher professional development as lived by Daryl Wilson over the past decade at T.P. Yaeger Middle School, the authors discuss the strengths and challenges of each of the approaches on which the spotlight has been shone.

The author claims that the connections between teacher learning and student learning are particularly evident in Phases 2 and 4 exemplars of how teacher professional development was approached at Yaeger.

In Phase 2, the authors see teachers positioning themselves in the role of student learners and imagining how difficult it must be to learn to read when one is missing foundational knowledge of what the act of reading is to accomplish, particularly when one is concurrently receiving mixed messages.

However, in Phase 4 exemplar, the student under discussion is not generic or imagined as in Phase 2 one: He or she (a male in this case) is specific and able to personally connect experiences of beauty with tensions individually known.

Parting words

In the end result, Daryl Wilson, having participated in 10 years of school reform at T.P. Yaeger Middle School, came upon an approach to professional development that worked exceedingly well for him at the same time as it advanced his students’ and his colleagues’ learning.
That approach preserved Daryl’s identity and agency as a teacher and allowed him to simultaneously teach and learn. Most of all, Daryl was released from the clutches of a staff developer and principal who were determined to dictate his practice and control his teaching.

Updated: Jul. 26, 2011