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Teachers' professional development across the lifespan: Shifting realities and roles

Frances L Hitchens, University of Massachusetts Amherst


These collective case studies highlight the experiences of the preservice teachers, mentor teachers, university facilitators and other participants in three teacher training programs. The meaning that the participants make of their professional development in teaching, alongside the ways in which they describe their experiences as developing professionals, provides the framework for an exploration of what contributions professional development makes to the capacity of teachers and schools to reform. In essence this dissertation is a window into how all the participants who are currently working in a reform active environment are affected, in their practice, in their professional growth, and in their commitment to the profession. Key themes that were extracted from the data include the impact of working in a culture of collegiality; the importance of connectedness between schools and universities, practice and theory; the validity and value of practioners' voices and views on educational renewal and change; and the importance of building understandings of teaching as a learning profession. ^ Prompted by the current standards based reforms and high stakes assessments being implemented in schools and teacher training programs across the country, this dissertation seeks to highlight the importance of teacher agency and ownership across the professional lifespan. It asserts that teachers who assume an inquiry stance (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001) will be best able to meet the current demands of students in classrooms, schools as learning communities and teacher training as preparation for lifelong learning. The data suggests that if the rhetoric of reform that pushes for changes in standards and assessments, new modes of school organization and decision making, and revised curriculum are to become a reality, teachers' professional development across the lifespan from preservice training to lifelong learning needs to become a central focus in the process and implementation of educational change. ^

Subject Area

Early childhood education|Elementary education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Hitchens, Frances L, "Teachers' professional development across the lifespan: Shifting realities and roles" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152706.