Teachers' stories, insiders' perspectives on their own professional development in literacy education

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Syed, Khalida Tanvir
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The purpose of this study was twofold: to critically review the professional development literature with respect to literacy education; and, to then hold this review of the literature up against the experiential perspectives of "insiders"--four primary teachers currently engaged in professional development studies in literacy education. This study grew out of my own professional development needs as a primary teacher in Pakistan. In the study I have explored what it means to be a "professional teacher". I have identified seven conditions necessary for the growth and renewal of teachers, who wish to effectively respond to the complex and rapidly changing needs of today's students. I interviewed four teachers (two from Canada, one from China, and one from South Korea), who were also M.Ed. students in literacy education, regarding their experiences and "insider" reflections on professional development. I represented each of these stories using the methodology of narrative inquiry. In spite of the differences in their backgrounds, each of these teachers expressed similar understandings, beliefs, concerns, and hopes with respect to their own professional development in literacy education. There was strong theoretical and moral identification with the conditions I had identified in the research literature. All four of the teachers, however, had little experience with these conditions in practice. Given the contradiction between what is advocated in the literature and what was actually experienced by the teachers, I was left with a series of unanswered questions that I offer to other teachers/researchers for further study.