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Reflection and Teacher Change


Educational leaders often spend large amounts of time and money on professional development. However, many teachers struggle to change and improve instructional practices in the classroom. Researchers have presented a variety of professional development models and components in the quest for determining practices that lead to improvement in instructional practices. Teacher change is a complicated process and cannot be reduced to one set of components and a simple logic model. Critical reflection in a cycle of inquiry is supported by current research. However, certain conditions may be necessary in order for teachers to participate effectively in critical reflection, particularly when reflection is in a collaborative setting. This study was designed to stimulate critical reflection in order to gain insights related to how teachers identify areas of need, create a plan to improve, and identify supports to reach their goal. This was an interview study with elementary teachers. Participants were presented with a 15 minute, two-part writing prompt designed to promote critical self-reflection, followed by a semi-structured interview. Findings from this study indicated that teachers may need support in order to visualize improvement in their instructional practices and create an action plan. Teachers in this study identified people who could support their improvement. Reasons for selecting supporters included trust, level of expertise and availability. Furthermore, teachers identified different areas of need, thus sending the message that professional development may need to be more individualized in order to effectively support improvement in instruction. Throughout the entire project the issue of limited time, as related to professional growth, was a factor. As a result of this study, site and district leaders can gain insights toward creating conditions to support teachers improve their instructional practices.

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