Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Richardson, V., & Anders, P. L. (1994). A theory of change. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Teacher change and the staff development process (pp. 199-216). New York: Teachers College Press.

This last chapter in a book summarizes the findings about teacher change and the staff development process from a research studyÑthe Reading Instruction StudyÑthat engaged reading teachers in a collaborative examination of their beliefs and practices. The staff development process used in the study was based on Aristotle's notion of "practical arguments." This constructivist process helped teachers examine their beliefs about teaching and learning, construct and reconstruct practical arguments about classroom actions, and experiment with alternative practices. In this chapter, the authors describe their understanding of teacher change based on this study. Teachers change all of the time by experimenting with new activities. These are then assessed on how well they worked based on the teachers' tacit beliefs and personal needs. Sometimes the beliefs driving action are contradictory, a realization that comes to light only in dialogue with others. The authors propose a normative conception of teaching that builds on their ideas about teacher change and provides a direction for professional development. They describe the teacher as an inquirer who questions assumptions and is consciously thoughtful about goals, practices, students, and social contexts. The question for staff development becomes one of how to help teachers become inquiring, reflective individuals whose educative goals are in the forefront of their reflection. A staff development process is described that works against the norms of teacher isolation and top-down mandates; this process involves dialogue and inquiry over an extended period of time. Recommendations are made for policies that could encourage reflective teaching.

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