Essays in Education


This paper is a report on the findings of an action research study that explored a non-traditional professional development process involving five elementary teachers and a professional developer working as a collaborative community. The interactions within the group focused on the creation and teaching of a three week thematic unit across grade levels and classrooms. Although technology integration was the proposed new learning, instructional strategies and innovative ways to collaborate were also explored. Qualitative data analysis indicated that when professional developers pay close attention to the social nuances and emotional needs of participants, communities of teachers coming together for a common purpose will create a supportive learning environment that propagates change in their practice, even beyond the professional development experience. Evidence suggests that the identity of these teachers shifted: their ability and desire to take on leadership roles within the organization was enhanced. Evidence suggests that leadership qualities in these teachers were enhanced and that long-term positive benefits beyond this community will influence the system.

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