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1 UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE CURRICULUM AND SUPPORTS FOR ITS IMPLEMENTATION PLAY IN HOW TEST ONLY BEGINNING SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS LEARN ABOUT AND ENACT READING INSTRUCTION By MARGARET LANE KAMMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009
2 2009 Margaret Lane Kamman
3 To my father, Dr. Pa ul A. Lane, who valued his docto rate more than anyone I know I know you were with me in spirit
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS These past five years have culminated my life long love of school. Since first grade, I knew teaching was my calling, and this call led me t o a passion for teaching students with disabilities. Throughout my career, my goal of meeting the needs of my students has always taken precedence, just in different forms. These past four years have been a journey in changing my view of education to encom pass a broader scope of knowledge that I have only yet begun to tap. Completing this program and my dissertation changed not only how I view special acknowledge the people who helped though this amazing and sometimes painful journey. I would like to express my gratitude to my committee. First, Dr. Mary Brownell, my chair and mentor, helped me navigate the conceptual worl d of research The opportunities gained fr om working with Mary were immeasurable and offered me a unique chance to engage in im portant research and activities with experts around the country. I am extremely grateful for the thoughtful feedback Mary continuously provided that guided me through this study. Her insistence on excellence push ed me to think and work harder. Mary also treated me as a colleague from day one, encouraging my participation and listening to my ideas. Finally, without the shared understanding of motherhood Mary and I have, I a m certain I would not have made it this far. Thank you Mary, my mentor, my colleague, and my friend. I would like to thank Dr. Paul Sindelar for regularly demonstrating his respect and value for my opinions. My experiences workin g and writing with Paul co ntinue to extend my knowledge in many areas (e.g., academic and aviary). Paul, Gratias tibi ago, Dui pennipotentes vivant! I would like to thank Dr. Dorene Ross who assisted me in considering perspectives outside my special education comfort zone. I aspire to gain her unique talent of providing rigorous critique in a gentle manner.
5 To Dr. Anne Bishop, I thank her for her continuous kindness and support throughout my program. In addition to my committee, several other faculty and students have helped me do wn my doctoral path. I would like to thank Dr. Diane Ryndak for creating a solid foundation for my program and continuing to express concern for my progress. Dr. Holly Lane provided an opportunity for me to develop my graduate teaching skills. Dr. Erica Mc Cray, in true special education tradition, provided explicit, repeated support and encouragement. Drs. Bonnie Billingsley, Cyndy Griffin, and Sean Smith offered continued encouraging words of support throughout my final year. To the girls of the COPSSE off ice, Melinda, Mary Theresa, Charlotte, and Lisa, thank you for maki ng the office a fun place to be. To the girls of the NCIPP office, thank you for lifting responsibilities and sharing a love of chocolate and coffee. A special thanks to Marylynn; we took a ll our classes together, had babies together, wrote together. Her support is irreplaceable. We began this journey together, and I wish with all my heart we were finishing it together. Finally, to my dear friend Maya Israel, who stepped in late in the game and boosted me up the final steps, you are a gem. To the many friends and family who supported me during these four years, I am deeply grateful. To my best friends in the whole wide world, Val and Sally, who know and understand my feelings and offered com fort and encouragement like only life long sisters can. To Angela, who reminded me regularly that I am strong enough to navigate my demanding life. To Melissa, distraction an d wine. To Heather, I am deeply indebted, who not only listened to my daily struggles, but ran the final mile with me assisting with the formatting of my dissertation.
6 I would like to thank my mother in law, Sandy Kamman, for the special care she took of my girls while I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I was able to focus on my writing because I knew they were in loving hands. To my brother and sister in law, Pat and Shelly, who instilled a love of the Gators, t hank you for your continuous love and support. In particular, to my brother, Pat, who has provided worthy academic competition throughout my life, which helped to push me beyond my limits. At last, a real PhD! To my mother, Kathleen Lane, words cannot express my gratitude for your endless support. Surely, I could not have made it without you. You were my cruise director, helping to make my journey as comfortable as humanly possible. From the Spa at Naples to endless Starbucks cards, you were willing to pitch in whatever it took to support m e. Certainly the most important of these su pports was your daily listening to my struggles and successes. I am blessed to have an incredible mom, and friend. Finally, I could not have completed this journey without three important people. To my two little girls, Anna and Josie, the light of my life; my love for you forced balance in my life and laugh ter every day of these last five years. You are my greatest accomplishment. To Buddy, my wonderful and most patient husband, who provided continual unwavering support every step of the way, who gave me the gift of sleep, who listened, who celebrated, who dragged me out of the dept hs of despair, I am eternally grateful and I love you. You were the one who pushe d me to I made it!
7 TABLE O F CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 10 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 11 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 14 The NCLB Definition of Teacher Quality ................................ ................................ .............. 16 Applicability to Special Education ................................ ................................ ......................... 17 Activity Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 20 Conceptual Fr amework ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 21 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 23 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 24 D efinition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 25 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 27 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 27 App ropriation ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 28 Individual Characteristics of Learners ................................ ................................ .................... 31 Academic Ability ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 32 Personal Attributes ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 34 Beliefs ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 38 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 40 Formal Induction Programs ................................ ................................ ............................. 41 Informal Induction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 43 Collegial Support ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 43 Administrative Support ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 45 Curriculum ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 47 Studies of General Education Beginners ................................ ................................ ......... 48 Studies of Special Education Beginners ................................ ................................ .......... 53 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 54 3 RESEARCH METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 57 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 57 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 57 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 59 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 60
8 Sample Selection ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 60 Teacher, Class, and School Information ................................ ................................ .......... 60 Taurean ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 61 Lilla ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 62 Henri ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 63 Reading Curriculum ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 64 READ 180 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 64 Corrective Reading ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 67 P rocedure ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 69 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 69 Observations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 69 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 73 Artifacts ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 73 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 73 Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 76 Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 76 Dependability ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 77 Transferability ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 77 Researcher Subjectivity ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 77 Study Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 80 4 INFLUENCES AND GROWTH IN CLASSROOM PRACTICE A ND UNDERSTANDINGS OF READING INSTRUCTION ................................ ....................... 82 Lilla ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 82 Initial Classroom Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ 82 Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction ................................ ................................ 84 Individual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 85 Contextual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 87 Growth in Classroom Practice ................................ ................................ ......................... 93 Growth in Understanding of Reading Instruction ................................ ........................... 94 Taurean ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 96 Initial Classroom Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ 97 Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction ................................ .............................. 100 Individual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 102 Contextual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 107 Growth in Classroom Practice ................................ ................................ ....................... 114 Growth in Understanding of Reading Instruction ................................ ......................... 115 Henri ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 118 Initial Cla ssroom Practice ................................ ................................ .............................. 118 Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction ................................ .............................. 121 Individual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 123 Contextual Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 126 Growth in Classroom Practice ................................ ................................ ....................... 131 Growth in Understanding of Reading In struction ................................ ......................... 133
9 5 THE GROUNDED THEORY ON INFLUENCES ON TES T CLASSROOM PRACTICE A ND THEIR APPROPRIATI ON OF CONCEPTUAL AND PRACTICAL TOOLS ................................ ................................ ................................ 139 Core Theme: Access to Curricular Supports ................................ ................................ ........ 140 Available Curriculum ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 140 Access to Mentoring ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 144 Access to Modeling ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 148 Sub theme: Curricular Interaction with the Individual Activity System .............................. 151 Personal Qualities ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 151 Prior Experiences ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 154 Sub theme: Curricular Interaction with the Contextual Act ivity System ............................. 158 Administrative Support ................................ ................................ ................................ 158 Collegial Integration ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 162 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 164 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ................ 167 Overview of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 167 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 169 Comprehensive Curricular Supports ................................ ................................ ............. 170 Individual Characteristics ................................ ................................ .............................. 173 Workplace Environment ................................ ................................ ................................ 175 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 177 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 178 Implications for Policymakers and School Administrators ................................ ........... 179 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .................. 181 Co nclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 183 APPENDIX A SAMPLES OF CURRICULUM ................................ ................................ ........................... 184 B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 220 C TABLE OF CODES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 222 D JOURNAL EXCERPT ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 226 E CONCEPT MAPS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 227 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 230 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 244
10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Teacher information ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 65 3 2 School information ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 65 3 3 Student information ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 66 3 4 Curriculum coverage of fundamental reading elements ................................ .................... 68 3 5 Data collection timeline ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 70 3 6 Pathwise domains ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 72 4 1 Initial and growth in teaching practices and understandings of reading instruction and influences on test conceptual and pra ctical tools ................................ ................................ .......................... 137 5 1 Personal qualities of beginners and the impact on classroom practice ............................ 152
11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Conceptual framework ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 26 2 1 Levels of appropriation ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 30 5 1 Grounded theory ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 141
12 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE CURRICULUM AND SUPP ORTS FOR ITS IMPLEMENTATION PLAY IN HOW TEST ONLY BEGINNING SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS LEARN ABOUT AND ENACT READING INSTRUCTION By Margaret Lane Kamman August 2009 Chair: Mary T. Brownell Major: Special Education Working under an activity theory f ramework, the present study was designed to determine how the activity settings, individual and contextual, contribute d to the instructional p ractices and understandings of test only beginning special education teachers. Specific ally, the focus of this stu dy was to examine how teachers with no formal teacher education preparation use and approp riate curriculum to develop, implement and learn about reading instruction. To understand the influence of the activity systems in general and more specifically, cur riculum, on special education teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools grounded theory methods were used. Three special education teachers entering the classroom through the test only route, who taught reading to struggling readers and stude nts with disabilities, participated in the study. The data sources consisted of participant interviews, observations, the Reading in Special Education (RISE) observation instrument, the Pathwise observation instrument, pre concept maps, and additional inst ructional artifacts. Grounded within the data on test only teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, a theory emerged from three analysis phases (i.e., open, axial, and selective coding). In summary, three test only beginners were all affect ed by the level of access to curricular supports. These curricular
13 supports worked as both a catalyst and mediator for activity system influences ultimately impacting instructional practice, teacher understandings, and interaction with other activity syste ms factors. Beginners with no previous preparation in reading instruction, with the aid of curricular supports (i.e., structured curriculum, mentoring around the curriculum, modeling instruction using curriculum) were able to enact and develop an understan ding of both general instructional practices and fundamental reading components.
14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Traditional teacher preparation programs found in university or college settings are state approved and combine specific subject matter kno wledge, such as math and science, with knowledge about the process of teaching and learning. Historically, campus based traditional teacher education programs were the primary avenue for entry into the teaching field and today, albeit less, remain a major source of beginning teachers (Wirt et al., 2001). Today, however, more teachers are being prepared through alternative routes that may or may not involve some type of campus based preparation. According to Feistritzer, (2007) all 50 states reported impleme nting some type of alternative route to certification. In the year 2005 2006, 59,000 teachers nationwide were prepared through alternative routes, and 42% of those teachers specialized in the area of special education. This number is up from the year 2000, when only 12,283 teachers were certified through alternative routes. This dramatic increase has led researchers to wonder what has brought about the proliferation of alternative certification programs. Growing shortages of some classifications of teacher s in both general and special education have caused many states to create alternate routes to teacher certification that are more expedient and accessible than traditional campus programs (Boe, Cook & Sunderland, 2007). Fidelar, Foster and Schwartz (2000 ) reported 97.4% of the largest urban school districts indicated an immediate demand for science and special education teachers, and 95% reported an immediate demand for mathematics teachers. In special education, chronic shortages are prevalent and predi cted to worsen, existing across geographic regions of the country (McLeskey, Tyler, & Flippin, 2004). Such shortages have always been present in special education; thus,
15 shortages of special education teachers are clearly not the only reason for the increa se in alternative routes to certification. Concerns about the adequacy of teacher education have also provided a context for the proliferation of alternate routes. The criticisms of teacher education have been harsh, drawing into question its very existen ce. Critics have questioned the ability of traditional programs to produce high quality teachers, and have called for massive deregulation of teacher education. Hess (2001) and Walsh (2001) are two widely regarded critics who argue for the deregulation of the teaching profession. Their stance has been supported by some policymakers, but contested by teacher education scholars (Darling Hammond, 2000; Darling Hammond & Youngs, 2002). In 2004, the call for deregulation was reiterated by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, who bolstered the position of such critics when he emphasized that many talented people are blocked from teaching due to the numerous hurdles and extensive processes needed for certification by traditional methods. Paige championed ri gorous alternate route programs to solve this problem, providing thousands of talented individuals a venue for entering the classroom (Paige, Rees, Petrilli, & Gore, 2004). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB section 2311) supported the position of Paige an d others by encouraging the development and expansion of alternate routes to certification through its definition of highly qualified teachers. According to NCLB, a highly qualified teacher is one who has (1) fulfilled the state's certification and licensi ng requirements, (2) obtained at least a bachelor's degree, and (3) demonstrated subject matter expertise. Through an alternative route, teachers can become certified by taking subject area licensure exams in the content area in which they teach, but they are not required to participate in any preparatory training to acquire pedagogical practices. Such a policy assumes teacher quality
16 is primarily defined by subject matter knowledge, and therefore no additional preparation is necessary. How valid is this a ssumption? The following two sections review literature pertaining to the definition of teacher quality, and suggest that teacher quality in special education is not necessarily defined by subject matter expertise. The NCLB Definition of Teacher Quality N CLB asserts that subject matter knowledge is the primary determinant of teacher quality. This assumption about teacher quality has some validity based on existing research. The teacher it to student learning. They found that studies of secondary school mathematics showed a athematics and the mathematics learning of their high school pupils. However, the research did not demonstrate such consistent findings in other subject areas. More recently, in another comprehensive research synthesis, Goe (2007) reported similar findings stating that a degree in mathematics is positively correlated with mathematics achievement in all grades, but particularly in secondary school. Goe (2007) emphasized that other subject areas have not been the focus of as much research, and that findings from available research are inconsistent, raising questions about how valid subject matter knowledge is as an indicator of teacher quality. These findings suggest that, for subjects other than mathematics, subject matter knowledge alone may not be enough t o secure student achievement gains. Given that subject matter knowledge is not the sole ingredient for a high quality teacher, the question arises as to what, in addition, is needed. The NCLB definition encourages alternative routes to the classroom thro ugh abbreviated preparation. Research that has focused on the effectiveness of alternate routes yields inconsistent findings and is riddled with design
17 dilemmas (Zeichner & Conklin, 2005). Most studies involve comparisons of the two types of programs, trad itional and alternative. Intra program variations for traditional teacher education synthesis on types of teacher education programs (traditional vs. alternati ve) did not establish clear evidence of the superiority of either program type; however, the panel did find that it was more fruitful to examine the role program components play in teacher education. Certain program components (e.g. a clear and consistent vision of teaching and learning) were related to teacher quality and student achievement (Zeichner & Conklin, 2005). In summary, findings from the above studies lend some credence to the NCLB definition of teacher quality. In particular, high quality teac hers are those with subject matter expertise; however, this narrow view of teacher quality is only substantiated in secondary mathematics. The research on alternative routes is unclear, and consequently, does little to clarify how well the NCLB definition of highly qualified teachers (i.e., those with subject matter knowledge) apply to subject areas other than mathematics. Applicability to Special Education In special education, the role of subject matter knowledge in teacher quality is even less clear. St udying the subject matter knowledge of a math teacher and how it relates to student achievement in mathematics is fairly straightforward, but this is not the case in special education. First, special education teachers provide instruction across a variety of subject areas and disability categories so identifying the relevant subject area knowledge is problematic (U.S. Department of Education, 2005). Second, the vast majority of students with disabilities, particularly those with high incidence disabilities struggle with reading. Thus, special education teachers often provide direct instruction in reading. Unlike mathematics, there is no
18 person with a mathematics degree could step into a classroom and teach mathematics, the relationship between subject matter knowledge and teaching reading is not as obvious (Carlisle, Phelps, Rowan, & Johnson, 2006). The knowledge needed to teach reading is quite different than th e disciplinary knowledge needed to teach math. Carlisle et al. (2006) discuss this key difference. They describe that the knowledge required to teach mathematics includes understanding key concepts necessary for mathematical proficiency, and understanding how students might misconstrue those concept. In contrast, reading requires more knowledge about concepts. Studies demonstrating a link between reading knowledge and c lassroom practice are necessary to further decipher teacher quality in this subject area. To date, only one such study exists in special education. Brownell et al. (2007) examined the knowledge and practice of 34 beginning special educators. Their findings revealed that, although special education beginners were knowledgeable about teaching reading, for the most part, they did not draw on this knowledge to effect student gains. The beginners who achieved stronger student gains were more skilled in providing explicit and engaging instruction and classroom management. These findings suggest special education beginners need both reading knowledge and pedagogical skills. If alternative certification programs do not expose students to teaching pedagogy and classr oom management, their professional performance may suffer. passing the state certification exam in special education. According to the Florida Department of Education (2 008), 80% of district alternative certification participants came from fields that were not related to education, such as business, health and technical fields. Thus, a person with a
19 business degree could take the state exam in special education, pass it, be deemed highly qualified, and be hired to teach any subject to students with disabilities. However, if knowledge and pedagogical skill in teaching are important, what does this mean for teachers who enter the classroom so expeditiously? What types of opp ortunities help these beginners to acquire the knowledge and skills they need? Although many questions about effective practice remain unanswered, one qualitative study did contribute to understanding the classroom practice of beginning special educators. Kamman, Brownell and Bishop (200 7 ) interviewed and observed 10 teachers with three different types of preparation (i.e. traditional teacher education program, previous paraprofessional test only, and test only). These researchers found that teachers ente ring special education classrooms through test only routes were particularly vulnerable if they had inappropriate supports and little prior experience with special education children. Additionally, the curriculum, as well as school context and prior experi ence, emerged as important influences only routes. When teachers had prior experience as paraprofessionals, access to well structured curricula, and supportive school contexts, they empl oyed evidence based instructional strategies in special education (e.g., direct instruction, repeated practice). These teachers reported that a prescribed curriculum facilitated instruction in areas where teachers were less knowledgeable. Test only teache rs who did not have access or training in a prescribed curriculum benefited less from a prescribed curriculum. Even with this support they felt lost and ineffective in classroom instruction. Findings from this study suggest pedagogical tools, such as a spe cific curriculum, may have a large impact on the classroom practice of beginners, though the influence of curriculum may be strongly mediated by contextual factors and individual characteristics of the
20 teacher. Because of this, it is important to examine c arefully the role that curricula plays in the instruction of alternative route teachers to understand how these beginners, who are learning on the job, use different tools to guide and implement their classroom practice. Activity Theory One framework for studying such teacher learning is activity theory. Activity theory is focused on illuminating how teachers progress in their learning as mediated by their settings and personal experiences. Activity theory was initiated at the turn of the century by a grou p of Russian psychologists interested in positing a different view than psychoanalysts and behaviorists. Originally, the focus was on the human agent and objects in the environment mediated by cultural factors, tools, and signs (Vygotsky, 1978). Since its inception, activity theory has been altered to expand on this idea. One significant addition was made by Engestr m, (1999) who added to the theory by recognizing that a social component also mediates action. He s the context that mediates the development of consciousness (Nardi, 1996). Activity theory has been used extensively in the field of technology, specifically for understanding human computer interactions. Recently, activity theory has been applied to ed ucation. Scanlon and Issroff (2005) used activity theory to understand student and teacher experiences of technology based teaching environments. Twisleton (2004) used activity theory to analyze how three student teachers interpreted literacy learning in their classrooms. In 1999, Grossman, Smagorinsky and Valencia (1999) findi ngs because it incorporates settings in which concept development occurs. The researchers suggested activity theory can help account for changes in teacher thinking and practice, even when those changes differ from case to case. As such, this framework has particular relevance to
21 special education, where beginning teacher placements can be extremely diverse. This framework, as outlined by Grossman and her colleagues, will serve as the foundation for the conceptual framework for this dissertation by guiding the investigation of teacher learning. The conceptual framework that guided this work is presented in the next section. Conceptual Framework A conceptual framework (see Figure 1 1) was developed to guide this study. This framework was developed by adaptin g the elements of activity theory as outlined by Grossman et al. (1999) to test only beginners. Test only teachers enter the classroom equipped with individual characteristics. These characteristics include knowledge, beliefs, personal attributes, and pre vious employment. These characteristics interact with the activity setting (curriculum, administrative and collegial support). For test only beginners, the school acts as the primary activity system because they have no formal preparation to influence the ir instruction. In this study, particular activity settings are identified as the classroom, the special education department, the school, and the district. Additionally, these activity settings are nested and coexist with each other (Grossman et al., 1999 ). Each activity setting has its own motives, structural features, sets of relationships and resources for learning to teach. From these activity settings, test only teachers acquire conceptual and practical tools and knowledge. Conceptual tools are prin ciples, frameworks, and ideas about teaching and learning that teachers use to guide decisions about teaching and learning (e.g., direct instruction). Practical tools are classroom practices, strategies and resources that have more local and immediate uti lity (e.g., curriculum materials). Test only teachers might acquire conceptual and practical tools from a variety of places (e.g., workshops, previous beliefs, curricula). Test only teachers then appropriate certain conceptual or practical tools to impact classroom practice. According to Grossman et al.:
22 Appropriation refers to the process through which a person adopts the pedagogical tools available for use in particular social environments and through this process internalizes ways of thinking endemic to specific cultural practices (e.g., using phonics to teach reading) (p. 15). The extent of appropriation depends on both the individual characteristics of the teacher, as well as the interaction of factors in the activity settings. Grossman et al. (1999) describe five levels of appropriation as follows. The first level is lack of appropriation when learners do not use a tool. This might happen because the concept is too difficult to comprehend, or is too f appropriation also occurs when the learner does understand the concepts, but rejects them. The second, and most shallow level of appropriation, is labeling. At this level the learner names the tool, but does not know any of the third level, the learner appropriates surface features of a tool, but does not yet understand how these features contribute to the concept as a whole. Continuing to increase appropriation, during the fourth level the learner begins to grasp the conceptua l underpinning of a tool. The teacher is likely to be able to use the tool in new contexts and for solving different problems. The fifth and highest level of appropriation is mastery, the skill to use the tool effectively. This level usually takes years to achieve. Test only teachers may not have enough time in their first year to reach the mastery level. In summary, the previous sections posit that alternative approaches to teacher certification may not provide new teachers with effective tools to implem ent their practice. In addition, effective use of conceptual tools in an activity focused environment is complex and may leave alternative ly certified teachers inadequately prepared to be effective, competent teachers.
23 Statement of the Problem Using the e lements of activity theory as a framework, it is apparent many factors influence the instruction of beginning educators. While understanding the interactions of individual characteristics and activity settings on classroom practice is important for all tea chers, it is especially important for test only beginners. These beginners may enter the classroom without the knowledge and skills necessary to enact effective classroom practice. It is plausible to think that special education curricula could make a huge impact on test only beginners, but there are no studies of this phenomenon. Years of research focused on special education teaching practices have yielded a group of accepted and agreed upon teaching practices that are effective in securing achievement g ains for students with disabilities (e.g. direct instruction, strategy instruction) ( Adams & Carnine, 2003; Bangert Drowns & Bankert, 1990; Fielding Barnsley, 1997; Chard & Gersten, 1999 ; Cunningham, 1990 ; Darch, Carnine, & Gersten, 1984; Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider & Mehta, 1998; Pearson & Dole, 1987; Simmons, Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes & Hodge, 1995; White 1998). As a result, special education curricula are often based on incorporating these evidence based practices. This practice has proven to incr ease student learning (Torgesen et al., 2006). Further, to ensure that interventions within a curriculum are implemented with fidelity, there is considerable attention given to outlining procedures and strategies within the curriculum to ensure the in tegrity of implementation. One example of an evidence based curriculum that strongly emphasizes treatment fidelity is Corrective Reading, a program that has documented impact on reading achievement for students with disabilities (Institute for Educational Sciences, 2008). In addition to being evidence based, the Corrective Reading Curriculum scripts what the teachers should say and when. Such a scripted curriculum has the potential to substantially impact the classroom practice of test only beginners. If th ese teachers enter the classroom with
24 no knowledge or skills in teaching reading, a scripted curriculum might provide a tool to enact instruction. Little is known about the role of such a curriculum in the practice of beginning special education teachers. Focusing on one practical tool (reading curriculum) would allow the researcher to more fully understand the impact of this tool on implementing instruction for beginning test only special educators; however, no such studies are extant. Purpose of the Study The present study is designed to determine how the activity settings, individual and contextual, contribute to the instructional practices of test only beginners. Specifically, the focus of this study is to examine how teachers with no formal teacher edu cation preparation use and appropriate curriculum to develop and implement reading instruction. Personal attributes, preparation, and school environment all seem to be powerful influences on the classroom instruction of beginners (Bishop Brownell, Klingne r, Leko, & Galman 200 9; Kamman et al. 2007). Missing from this literature is information pertaining to the interaction of these factors and the activity systems and how these interactions enable teachers to enact classroom practices. The secondary purpos e of this study is to explore these interactions. Figure 1.1 on the following page illustrates the conceptual framework for this study. To address the gap in the knowledge cited previously in this chapter, the following section describes the research ques tions that guided the collection of data. The primary question driving the research design is, How do teachers with no formal teacher education preparation use and appropriate curriculum to develop and implement reading instruction? Specific questions used to direct data colle ction and analysis include: (1) What role does curriculum play in the classroom practice of beginning special education teachers who enter the classroom with no preparation? (2) What role does curriculum play in how teachers appropriat e conceptual and
25 practical tools related to reading instruction? (3) What role do activity systems (individual and contextual) play in the classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools? Definition of Terms Appropriation the process through which a person adopts pedagogical tools available for use in particular social environments and through this process internalizes ways of Classroom practice is defined as the acts of planning and implementing instruction. Conceptual Tools are principles, frameworks, and ideas about teaching and learning that teachers use to guide decisions about teaching and learning (e.g., direct instruction). Practical T ools are classroom practices, strategies and resources that have local and immediate utility (e.g., curriculum materials). Test only refers to special education teachers who gain an initial teaching certificate in the state of Florida by holding a bachelo exam.
26 Achieving Mastery Conceptual Underpinnings Surface Features Appropriating a Label Lack of Appropriation Figure 1 1 Conceptual f ramework School Environment District School Sped department Classroom Individual Characteristics Knowledge Beliefs Previous employment Personal Attributes Reading Curriculum Curriculum Administ rative, Collegial Support
27 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Alternatively licensed teachers enter the classroom from a multitude of discipli nes with disparate experiences. These varied backgrounds and experiences combined with influences in their school environments constitute the activity system in which they operate and influence the degree to which they appropriate tools. Their experiences both as a student in school and the work place, as well as personal characteristics, undoubtedly influence what they know and believe about teaching, and consequently, should play a role in how they appropriate conceptual and practical tools in reading ins truction. They also enter into school environments that can differ vastly in terms of culture and types of support available. Formal induction programs and informal induction processes, including collegial and administrative support, influence what novices learn and how they enact instruction. Moreover, curriculum materials work as a contextual influence on beginning teacher learning and impact their classroom practices. These school environment factors seem particularly important for test only teachers who enter the classroom with little content knowledge and skill in teaching. To enable test only teachers to become effective in the special education classroom, these of conceptual and practical t ools. Knowing specifically how these activity systems work to influence beginners is critical in understanding how test only beginners can learn to enact classroom practice. An important question, therefore, is what would eithe r facilitate or hinder the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools? What personal attributes, beliefs, and prior experiences would facilitate more advanced appropriation? How does formal and informal induction affect the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools? How does curriculum impact
28 understanding how beginners reach the highest level of appropriation. The purpose of this chapter is to descri be the key components of activity theory and the literature supporting them. The first section of the chapter describes the different levels at which teachers can appropriate both conceptual and practical tools. Levels of appropriation are the outcomes of two key activity systems and their interactions (Grossman et al., 1999). This chapter was designed to summarize the literature in these two activity systems by highlighting research that answers the following questions: (a) what characteristics of individu als facilitate the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools; and (b) how do school contexts maximize the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools ? In addition to this summary of literature pertaining to the two activity systems, an in depth r eview of research related to beginning teachers and curriculum will be conducted. This body of research is particularly important since this dissertation study is focused on the role curriculum plays in what a beginner knows and does in classroom practice. The chapter concludes with a comprehensive summary that links the existing literature with the research questions this study addresses. Although the present study focuses on beginning test only special education reading teachers, there is no existing res earch on how this group appropriates conceptual and practical tools. Even the research on special education teachers yields little information. Due to this limited research base, this literature review incorporates studies in general education relevant to the activity theory framework and test only teachers. Wherever possible, relevant research in special education will be included and highlighted. Appropriation d evelopment of their conceptual and practical tools. Activity theory identifies tools as important
29 for studying the learning process. According to Kuuti (1995), the relationship between the learner and the setting is mediated by a tool. This tool can be bot h enabling and limiting in the transformation process of the learner. Grossman et al. (1999) identify two types of tools through which teachers construct and implement their teaching practices: conceptual tools and practical tools. Conceptual tools are pri nciples or frameworks about teaching that help teachers guide instructional decisions. Practical tools are classroom practices, strategies or resources that teachers use to enact their practice. These pedagogical tools are adopted at different levels of appropriation. Appropriation is the process of internalizing ways of thinking and can take place in varying degrees (see Figure 2 1) Lack of Appropriation defines when learners do not appropriate a tool. There are an assortment of reasons why learners may fail to appropriate a tool. For instance, the concept may appropriation also occurs when the learner does understand concepts, but rejects them. For example, a be ginner might enter the classroom with the belief that direct instruction is boring and hinders higher order thinking. For this reason, she/he might reject using such techniques in reading instruction. The most superficial level of appropriation is labelin g. At this level the learner names the phonics to describe instruction in learning the sounds for individual letters, but fails to teach key sound spelling relati onships in any specific sequence. This teacher does not have a comprehensive understanding of phonics instruction and the strategies and activities that
30 Figure 2 1 Levels of appropriation At the next level the learner appropriates surface features of a tool, but does not yet understand how these features contribute to the concept as a whole. The teacher is making some effort to grasp the concept, but is only succeeding at the surface level. A teacher might demonstrate surface understanding of guided reading if the teacher uses small group instruction with increasingly leveled texts, but is not clear what students should gain from instruction. At the fourth level of appropr iation, the learner begins to grasp the conceptual underpinning of a tool. At this level, the teacher understands the theoretical basis that both informs and motivates using the tool. The teacher is likely to be able to use the tool in new contexts and for solving different problems. For instance, a teacher may have a deep understanding of the importance of assessing and individualizing student instruction to maximize gains in reading. The teacher structures planning, instruction and activities based on th e needs of individual students. The teacher could draw from this understanding and apply it in other content areas. It is also possible for a teacher to have a strong conceptual underpinning of a tool, but Lack of Appropriation Appro priating a Label Surface Features Conceptual Underpinnings Achieving Mastery
31 lack the practical application. For example, a te acher might gain a conceptual understanding of the writing process, defining it, describing and explaining the importance of each step, and writing process in classroom instruction. The final and highest level of appropriation is mastery, the skill to use the tool effectively. At this level the teacher knows how to use the tool to navigate through mediating factors. Processes that might have once been visible a re now executed internally. For instance, a teacher at the mastery level of using direct instruction would understand the importance of explicit instruction for students with disabilities, know how to construct and implement a direct instruction lesson, an d use direct instruction with different groups of students, across content areas and in different settings. Grossman et al. (1999) remarked that this level usually takes years to achieve. As such, it is unlikely that a first year teacher would be able to r each this level. Individual Characteristics of Learners Within the framework of activity theory, individual characteristics and the work context of the learner mediate the process of appropriation. A substantial literature base focuses on a variety of ind coursework, test scores, personal attributes, and beliefs (Rice, 2003; Richardson, 1996; Zumwalt & Craig, 2005). Since the focus of this study is on beginning te achers entering the classroom through the test only route, research pertaining to years of teaching experience, preparation programs, and certification have been excluded from this review. Coursework has also been eliminated due to its likely irrelevance t o test only reading teachers. While some research has matter knowledge, this has only been substantiated in mathematics (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005). Moreover, researchers have argued that exempl ary reading teachers need more knowledge of effective pedagogy or approaches to
32 teaching reading than subject matter knowledge (Ca rlisle et al., 2006). The following section summarizes the literature on the remaining characteristics (i.e., academic ability personal attributes and beliefs) that influence the ways individual teachers develop and teach. Academic Ability The academic ability of teachers is a long standing characteristic studied by researchers. The assumption is that teachers with higher acade mic ability are able to secure higher student achievement gains. Zumwalt and Craig (2005) conducted a comprehensive review of this topic in general education. They begin by discussing the early research, which suggests that measures of kills, such as SAT or ACT scores, tests of verbal ability, or the selectivity of colleges teachers attended, predict teacher effectiveness in the classroom (e.g., Bowles & Levin, 1968; Hanushek 1971, 1972; Strauss & Sawyer, 1986). However, results from ea rly studies are criticized as having small and insignificant relationships (Darl ing Hammond, 2000; Vegas, Murnan e & Willett, 2001). More recently, a meta analysis conducted by Greenwald, Hedges and Laine (1996) found own to have a positive relationship to student achievement in 50% of the studies they analyzed. Ehrenberg and Brewer (1994, 1995) also found that students scored higher on standardized exams if their teachers attended more selective undergraduate institut ability and student outcomes. Finally, a study by Ferguson and Ladd (1996) found positive s academic ability matters. However, this review does not separate veterans from beginners. Research focused on Teach for America (TFA) beginners, a program that recruits and selects graduates from some of the most selective colleges and universities across the nation to
33 teach, lends support to the assumption that academic ability makes a difference in student achievement. Two separate studies (Decker, Mayer & Glazerman, 2 004; Kane, Rockoff, & Staiger, 2006) compared the student achievement outcomes of elementary and middle school students taught by TFA teachers to other teachers in the same schools. Both sets of authors found that TFA teachers outperformed the control teac hers in student math achievement, but there was no difference in reading achievement. Boyd et al. (2006) reported similar findings. TFA teachers in their study outperformed traditional teachers in middle school math, but were somewhat worse than tradition al teachers in English/Language Arts. In the only study focusing on TFA teacher effects in high school, Xu, Hannaway and Taylor (2007) reported TFA teachers are more effective, as measured by student exam performance, than traditional teachers across subj ect areas, with particularly strong effects in the areas of math and science. These studies suggest that academic ability can make a difference in student achievement, but the results should be considered cautiously. Methodological issues are problematic. For example, the study conducted by Ferguson and Ladd (1996) was done at the school or school district level. This makes it unclear whether higher scoring teachers actually led to higher scoring students, or whether affluent districts, which tend to have higher achieving students, also tend to hire teachers with higher scores. In another example, Xu et al. influenced by differences in student ability in specific subjects. If students were placed in a course taught by a TFA teacher because of their ability in that subject, this could change the magnitude of teacher effects. In addition to methodological problems, available research does not indicate how academic ability specifically impacts teacher practice or which practices yield i ncreased student achievement. Finally, Goldhaber (2002) found that measurable teacher quality
34 indicators including years of experience, education level, and performance on tests only account for 3% of the differences in student achievement that are attribu While much still remains unknown about the impact academic ability has on classroom and practical tools. Beginning teachers with higher academic ability could conceivably achieve higher levels of appropriation at a faster pace than beginners with lower academic ability, differentiating their classroom practices, and facilitating student learning. For instance, these teachers m ay be able to learn more pedagogical (or practical) tools from their experiences or repeated exposure to curriculum. More research pertaining to the plausibility of such situations is needed to understand how academic ability could facilitate or hinder the process of appropriation. Personal Attributes Personal attributes are personality traits (e.g. caring, resourcefulness, self efficacy) specific to the individual. Research in both general and special education suggests personal attributes play an import 9 ; Hamachek, 1999; Lessen & Frankiewicz, 1992). The general education literature identifies a variety of personal attributes. Several studies found that warmth, friendliness and u nderstanding are the teacher characteristics most strongly related to positive student attitudes (Murray, 1983; Soar & Soar, 1979; Sparks & Lipka, 1992; studen t engagement (Gillet t & Gall, 1982). In a recent review of the literature, Hamachek (1999) argued that certain personality traits (i.e., self reflection, self evaluation, self awareness, mood management, self maturation, empathetic skills, and relationship skills) can interactions with students and his or her classroom practice because they set a tone for
35 relationships with other teachers and students. During these interactions, teachers communicate what they know, and in this way, the i nteractions teachers have with students are critical to classroom practice. Numerous other studies report the importance of characteristics such as flexibility, imagination, caring, curiosity, compassion, dependability, and worthiness (Collinson, 1996; Com bs, 197 4 ; Demmon Berger, 1986; Good & Brophy, 1994). While the general education research pertaining to teacher attributes is plentiful, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from the above studies due to inconsistencies in characteristics studied, a s well as methodologies used. For example, character istics identified by Combs (1974 ) define effective teachers as those who see themselves as efficiently educating students. However, in his review of 15 studies, teacher effectiveness was measured in a var iety of ways including subjective views of pupils, peers and administrators as well as teachers who won honors, and student outcomes. Although Combs (197 4 ) purports effective teachers are dependable and worthy, there is not a common definition of these te rms. The types of problems in the Combs (197 4 ) study plague this research base and make it difficult to discern which attributes contribute to effective classroom practice. Despite these methodological difficulties, a general consensus exists among educa tion scholars that two personal attributes, self efficacy and reflection, are important teacher qualities (Bengtsson, 1995; G ibbs, 2002; Hatton & Smith, 1995 ; Hen son, 2001; Pajares & Urdan, 2006 ). Teachers displaying self efficacy, the judgment of persona l capability to affect student learning, tend to take more risks, use new teaching approaches, have more motivated students and get better gains in student achievement (Gibbs, 2002). Teachers displaying reflection, the process of thinking about practice to improve, aim to find solutions to classroom problems through altering classroom practice (Adler, 1991; Calderhead, 1989; Cutler, Cook & Young, 1989). Research
36 related to self efficacy and reflection is substantial and suggests that possessing these attrib utes can affect classroom practice. Lessen and Frankiewicz (1992) were the first to look at the role individual teacher attributes play in how beginning special educators deal with the demands of their first year. In their literature review, the research ers examined which attributes contributed to teacher practice. These authors reported more effective special education teachers displayed self control, humor, enthusiasm, fairness, empathy and flexibility. These teachers also had good relationships with i ndividuals and groups of students. The researchers note that teacher effectiveness was defined in different ways throughout the literature, and therefore, their conclusions should be interpreted cautiously. Carlson, Lee and Schroll (2004) added to this kn owledge base when they developed and validated a framework for understanding teacher quality using factor analysis of survey data by 1,475 special education teachers in a nationally representative sample. Researchers identified one personal attribute, self efficacy, along with four other characteristics, as important components of an aggregate teacher quality measure. This model of special education teacher quality was later modified and linked to student achievement; however self efficacy was not included in this analysis (Blackorby, Lee & Carlson, 2004). As such, more information about the self efficacy of special education teachers and how it impacts student learning is needed. Bishop et al. (200 9 ) conducted an in depth, qualitative study of beginning s pecial education teachers where several attributes emerged as important in enacting effective classroom practice in reading. These researchers found three attributes separated the most accomplished reading teachers from the least accomplished reading teac hers: resourcefulness, relentlessness, and reflectiveness. Resourceful beginners were more successful in seeking out information, material, and resources than the less accomplished group. Additionally, these beginners could
37 describe how they drew from mul tiple resources and discuss the benefits they accrued from with this attribute held high expectations for improving their instruction to meet the needs of thei r students and did not provide excuses for problematic situations. Reflective beginners were environment. Teachers with this attribute could talk about their stu dents in great detail and how they addressed their instruction. The most accomplished beginners in this study displayed all three personal attributes. This study provides a rich description of how each teacher d emonstrated each attribute and links these a ttributes to the most accomplished teachers. practices. It would also be interesting to know whether the beginners acquired these attributes through preparatio n or developed them while teaching. Although research on personal attributes in both general and special education did not explicitly discuss how attributes influence the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, it seems plausible that some person al attributes might help beginners increase appropriation. For example, teachers in the Bishop et al. (200 9 ) study displayed resourcefulness by searching for many practical tools to implement aspects of reading instruction they understood to be important ( e.g., a teacher locating Reading Mastery to implement direct instruction). Their ability to secure resources to craft reading instruction suggests the teachers have a strong conceptual u nderstanding of the important components of reading instruction. Altho ugh more in depth information would be needed to confirm this level of appropriation, it is feasible to think that attributes could support or hinder appropriation of conceptual and practical tools.
38 Beliefs Beginning teachers bring unique experiences to t heir classrooms that influence their classroom practice. These experiences inform teacher beliefs, which describe propositions that are accepted as true by the individual (Richardson, 1996). The literature in general education on teacher beliefs focuses al most entirely on pre service teachers. While this group of teachers has formal preparation for teaching, the research focusing on pre service teachers can give insights into how beliefs impact classroom practice. Several lite rature reviews (i.e., Fang, 199 6 ; Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1996) conclude that beliefs are critical in learning to teach and can be difficult to change. Beliefs generally come from personal experiences, experiences with schooling, and experiences with formal knowledge (i.e ., content a nd pedagogy). Since test only teachers come to the classroom without formal preparation for teaching, their prior experiences, including school and employment, are likely to impact their beliefs about teaching and learning and how they enact classroom prac tice. The next section highlights research pertaining to this topic. A person plays different roles in his/her life (e.g., student, mother, nurse) and each role contributes to his/her sense of self. Not surprisingly, this sense of self manifests in the c lassroom setting in how teachers interact with students and the content emphasized in instruction. One role that everyone has experienced is that of a student. Research reviews in general education K 12 setting has a powerful influence on classroom practice (Levin & He, 2008; Lortie, 1975; Richardson, 1996). Based o n their personal history, each teacher holds personal theories about how classroom practice should be enacted (Holt Reynolds, 1992). The se personal beliefs play a strong mediating role in the development of beginners (Richardson, 1996). Little is known about how personal beliefs shape the practice of beginning special educators who are likely to have few if any personal experiences with s pecial education (Pugach, 2005).
39 The roles teachers have played previously and the resulting self images they developed also impact how they come to see themselves as teachers and how they enact classroom practice (Kagan, 1992 ; Richardson, 1996 ). In two s eparate studies, Bullough and Knowles (1990, 1991) image as a teacher. Both studies involved examining the background of the teachers and how their previous roles influenced their images of teaching. In one study, the teacher was a mother of five children and saw herself as a nurturer. When she entered the classroom, she assumed this image as a teacher. Her relationship with her students was based on a motherly attitude. She felt comfortable taking on the role of directing, empathizing, and supporting students as her main focus. In the other study, the focus was on a teacher who was a midcareer switcher, leaving his job as a policeman to become a teacher. This teacher brought a passion for the subject m atter, but did not have a clear image of himself as a primarily being a stern and powerful leader, to define his teaching image. While these studies focused on a smal l sample, and cannot be generalized, their findings suggest prior roles can influence the classroom practice of beginners. One study in special education demonstrates how prior employment impacts the beliefs of beginn ers. Kamman et al. (2007) conducted a qualitative study of ten beginning special educators. They found that prior employment made a substantial difference in the beliefs and consequently the classroom practice of beginners who did not attend a teacher preparation program. For instance, one t eacher, formerly a social worker, placed a high value on the social well being of her students. In both interviews and classroom observations, the social and emotional welfare of her students took primacy over instruction in academic subject areas. Other beginners drew from their previous classroom experiences to enact classroom practice. Both
40 previous paraprofessionals in the study were able to transfer their knowledge of managing difficult students to their own classrooms. As a consequence, both teacher s felt prepared and comfortable dealing with classroom management issues. Within an activity theory framework, previous experiences, both educational and employment based, have the potential to either positively or negatively influence the appropriation o f conceptual and practical tools. For example, a beginner who learned to read easily might not be able to grasp the importance of systematic instruction for students with disabilities and might reject using direct instruction. By contrast, previous experie nces could athletic director may value the personal attributes of enthusiasm and humor when working with children. Use of humor might aide a beginner in engaging stu dents during instruction. This teacher could have such a strong motivation to enact successful instruction that he/she might spend a great deal of time learning which practical tools work to meet student needs. According to the conceptual framework guidi ng this study, individual characteristics of learners are just one source of influence on beginning teacher learning. The other prospective source of influence is the context of the teacher learning. The following section of this literature review will pre sent research on the context of beginning teacher learning and the features of these contexts that either support or hinder appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Context In activity theory, the context for teacher learning plays a substantial role in classroom practice. The context or environment mediates how teachers appropriate conceptual and practical tools. It is therefore important to examine research about how the school environment facilitates actices and their understandings of those practices. Existing research focuses on both formal and informal induction. Formal induction programs
41 help beginners navigate the school context and influence their classroom practice. Informal induction is a part of the school culture, such as the collegial and administrative supports teachers receive, as well as the curriculum available to them, and these informal supports can Formal Induction Programs The mechanism for inducting teachers into the field can be an important support for beginning teachers (Billingsley, Carlson, & Klein, 2004; Cochran Smith & Lytle, 1999; Feiman Nemser, 2001; Wang & Odell, 2002; Wang, Odell & Schwille, 2008). Formal induction programs typically consist of practices used to help new teachers acculturate themselves into the workplace and become competent and effective professionals in the classroom. Most of the research on formal induction programs focuses on the effects inducti on programs have on the retention of beginning teachers (e.g., Guarino, Santibanez, & Daley, 2006; National Commission Smith & Ingersoll, 2004; Strong & St. John, 2001 ) A much smaller research base describes the imp act of formal induction on the knowledge and skills of beginning teachers. It is this research that will be the focus of this summary as it has the potential to inform us about how effective induction programs teach novices how to learn about students and school context, and how to blend this knowledge with understandings of pedagogy and content to improve classroom practice (Hanson & Moir, 2006; Johnson, 2004). Recent research aims to link induction programs to classroom practice. In an analysis of the Sc hools and Staffing Surveys for 1999 00 and 2003 04, Boe, Cook and Sunderland (2008) reported induction programs are associated with a beginner being well prepared in content knowledge, teaching pedagogy and classroom management. Humphrey, Wechsler & Bos etti This induction program provides clear standards for teaching and supports beginners in meeting
42 ctices. Recently, research demonstrated a direct link between induction programs and student achievement scores. It is plausible to think that increases in student achievement indicate improved classroom practice. In one study, researchers used hierarchica l linear modeling analysis to show that mentor based induction programs had a positive effect on student achievement scores (Fletcher, Strong, & Villar, 2008 ). In another study of California beginning teachers, results indicated that students taught by new teachers participating in an induction program had gains comparable to students taught by experienced teachers. The findings regarding student achievement suggest that beginning teachers participating in these induction programs adapt to the challenges of the classroom and adopt effective class room practices (Fletcher & Barr ett, 2003). There is some agreement in general education about what constitutes a good induction program. In their 2003 research synthesis, Griffin, Winn, Otis Wilburn and Kilgore ide ntified eight factors associated with effective induction programs: (1) supportive school culture/collective responsibility; (2) opportunities for interactions between new/experienced teachers; (3) degrees of professional growth and responsibilities; (4) m inimized evaluation; (5) explicit intentions; (6) diversified content; (7) mentoring; and (8) fiscal and political support. While the literature base on induction continues to grow, researchers must deal with difficult problems. First, the effect of an ind uction program is difficult to discern since induction programs generally involve several components and can be strongly influenced by context (Wang et al. 2008). Moreover, the variance in induction program components makes it difficult to draw comparison s across studies. Existing research in special education is also increasing, but yields no consensus on effective program components. The special education literature focuses primarily on beginning
43 c onfidence, and development of collaboration skills (e.g., Boyer, 1999; Kueker & Haensly, 1991; Lane & Canosa, 1995; Tucker, 2000). The only research that exists on the nature of effective versus ineffective induction programs for special education teacher s is focused on retention outcomes (Cooley, 1995; Whitaker, 2000). No studies report on how formal induction programs impact the classroom practice of beginning special educators. It is possible that teachers with formal induction support learn to understa nd and use pedagogical tools at a higher level than those teachers without such supports. For instance, a mentor teacher might explain to a beginner why direct instruction is important for teaching students with disabilities and then model how to use this practical tool in supports and how these supports assist in enacting classroom practice is needed to confirm this idea. Informal Induction Induction is also seen i nformally as a system of supports, not sim ply a program (Johnson, Kardos, Kauffman, Liu, & Donaldson, 2004). These supports have the potential to influence new teacher instructional growth. Little (1982) they hear, the advice they are given, the meetings they witness, and the appraisals they receive, teachers learn a ility to create either positive or negative links between teaching and learning. The informal supports discussed in the research include collegial and administrative support, as well as curriculum. Collegial S upport Collegiality is often confused with con geniality between teachers. Congeniality refers to friendly, cordial associations teachers have with one another in the work place, such as
44 discussions about plans for the weekend. In contrast, coll egiality involves teachers (a) t alking about classroom pr actice; (b) observing each other engaged in practice and administration; (c) planning, designing, researching and evaluating curriculum together; and (d) teaching each other what they know about teaching, learning and leading (Barth, 1990). Collegial sup port can instructional practice. Qualitative studies in general education demonstrated that beginning teachers feel collegial support is important in learning to teac h ( Appleton & Kindt, 1999; Chester & Beaudin, 1996; Johnson et al., 2004). Such support enabled beginning teachers to incorporate new ideas into classroom practice, reflect on instruction, and define their self image about teaching. Collegial relationships can also help beginning teachers get direct support with their classroom instruction (Kardos, 2004). Additionally, when beginning teachers were supported by their colleagues, they felt less anxious and perceived their school as a stimulating learning envi ronment. Studies by Chubbuck et al. (2001), Fuller (1969), Meyer (1999), and Reiman, Bostick, Lassiter, and Cooper (1995) support these findings. These studies demonstrated that collegiality reduced teacher stress as well as encouraged novice teachers to be less egocentric, and consequently, more able to focus on teaching tasks and student learning. Fewer studies exist in special education, and they primarily focus on a formal collegial relationship, mentoring. One researcher reported that positive colleg ial relationships with Boyer used data from interviews to describe how mentor teachers helped novice special education teachers meet personal expectations. Further collegial relationships with their mentor contributed to their sense of competence, value, and self confidence. Lane and Canosa (1995) conducted an evaluation of a mentorship program designed to meet the needs of beginning
45 special educators. These resear chers found that special education beginners attributed development of their collaborative skills to their collegial relationships. While the research in general and special education supports the importance of collegial relationships for beginners, there is much left unknown. This research base is qualitative and o ften uses teacher self report of their perceptions of collegial support and its impact on classroom practice. As such, details about the intricacies and types of supports needed to facilitate beginning teacher learning is not known. Thus, little is known about how such collegial them. While research linking classroom practice to collegial support is sli m, it may suggest an impact on the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. For instance, if collegial support helps beginners incorporate new ideas into their instruction, this implies that a beginner is appropriating new practical tools. The leve l of appropriation and the precise nature of the supports are still unknown. Focused special education research linking collegial support to beginner classroom practice is needed. Administrative S upport Scholars in general and special education agree tha t strong administrative leadership is a key component for beginning teacher success (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2004; Bartell, 2004; Billings ley, 2005; Darling Hammond, 1997 ). Much of the existing literature in this area reports that beginners cite lack of administrative support as a major reason for leaving the classroom (Natale, 1993 ; Otto & Arnold, 2005; Robertson, 2006). A smaller body of research Administrative support is a vagu e term, defined differently across studies. Supportive administrators have been described as having open communication with beginners, providing frequent systematic feedback, and creating an inclusive school culture (Boe et al., 2008; Johnson
46 et al., 2004; Wood, 2005 ). Understanding how administrative support affects beginners is assroom practice. Boe et al. (2008) conducted a bivariate analysis of national data from the School and Staffing Survey. They reported regular supportive communication with administrators is related to being well prepared (a) in subject matter, (b) in pedagogy, and (c) in classroom management. In addition to communication, principals also establish a school culture that supp orts beginners. Johnson and her colleagues (2004), in a qualitative study of 50 beginners, studied the differences in teachers at high income and low income schools. Interviews revealed principals in successful schools created a supportive culture by estab lishing a school mission that beginners and the remainder of the staff understood. School administrators created an overall atmosphere of collegiality by encouraging experienced teachers to interact with beginners, thus, beginners felt supported by the ent ire school. Wood (2005) asserts that principals must be instructional leaders, giving regular, systematic feedback to novice teachers on their pedagogical approaches, content principals expectations for classroom practice. Principals in this study both arranged professional development for their teachers and advocated for growth i n classroom practice by arranging and providing time for beginners to meet collaboratively with their mentors and discuss student work. Beginners in this study also found the day to day interaction with administrators helped to strengthen these beginner a duties, and instructional expectations. Two studies focused specifically on special education beginners and the impact of administrator beginner interaction on classroom practice. Bishop a nd her colleagues (200 9 ) used
47 interviews and observations to show that administrative support focused on instruction, rather than generalized support, enhanced the classroom practice of the most accomplished beginners in their study. Teachers in this study who scored higher on a classroom observation of reading instruction reported that their administrators provided both constructive classroom practice feedback and ideas for instructional implementation. Similarly, Lasky, Karge, Robb and McCabe (1995 ) int erviewed three beginning secondary special education teachers who received administrative support in identifying key instructional problems and establishing an action plan for improvement. Beginners experimented with teaching techniques that they felt help ed to improve their classroom practice. They attributed their willingness to experiment with pedagogical practices to safe environments their administrators created. Together, the previous studies in general and special education beginners found that ad can facilitate the process of appropriation. For instance, principals in the Wood (2005) study provided systematic feedback on content, pedagogical, and classr oom management strategies. This type of focused instructional support might help beginners understand their use of conceptual and practical tools in enacting classroom practice. There is much left unknown about administrative support. First, there is no c ommon definition of administrative support making it difficult to compare this construct and its impact across studies. Moreover, studies generally rely solely on teacher self report. Observations of classroom practice, as well as information from administ rators could assist in providing a better understanding of the impact the administrator beginner relationship has on classroom practice. Curriculum One key component of the school context is curriculum. Curriculum is a part of every classroom, and whethe r the materials are created by the teacher or provided in a package,
48 curricula can make a difference for veteran teachers as well as beginners. Consequently, curriculum has been written about and researched extensively. Research reviews of curriculum in ge neral education focus on the evaluation of specific subjects or topics within the curriculum, principles of curriculum development, and how teachers use curriculum (Jackson, 1992; Kelly, 2004; McNeil, 2006). These reviews offer few conclusions about curric ulum in schools. In fact, makes it difficult to draw conclusions from this plentiful research base. Moreover, research reviews only report on teachers in g eneral, giving no indication of the differences beginners might experience with curriculum. In thinking about how teachers acquire knowledge and practice, it is important to examine what the research says about how curriculum can hinder or support the app ropriation of conceptual and practical tools for beginners. In particular, how and why do beginning teachers use curricular resources to plan and implement instruction? A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted in general and special education beginners to secure those studies most relevant to the current dissertation study. Studies of General Education B eginners A search was conducted to uncover research focused on curriculum and beginning general education teachers since 1992. This year was chosen because scholars suggest early research on curriculum not only has problematic designs due to definitional issues, the results are often three most recent r eviews of general education curriculum were hand searched. Moreover, an electronic search of Eric, EBSCO HOST, Gale Group, and Google Scholar was conducted using combinations of the following terms: curriculum, curricula, beginning, novice, first year, new classroom practice, instruction, and teacher. After eliminating opinion papers and studies of pre
49 service teachers, the search yielded seven studies specifically focused on general education beginners and their use of curriculum. This research shows tha t curriculum can play an important role in the classroom practice of beginners. Curriculum can support beginners in a positive way by providing daily practical tools to assist in classroom instruction. The degree to which curriculum assists beginners is co ntingent provided for curriculum implementation. Even though curriculum can support beginner teacher practice, it also has some limitations. Curriculum can negatively conceptual and practical tools. Two studies exemplify the positive instructional support beginning teachers can receive from curricul um. Kauf fman, Johnson, Kardos, Liu, and Peske (2002), in a qualitative study of 50 first year teachers, reported the majority of teachers in their study had no curriculum at all or a curriculum that included only lists of topics and skills. These new teach ers were overwhelmed by the responsibility and demands of designing curriculum and planning daily lessons and craved additional support. By contrast, a small group of teachers reported having a scripted curriculum, which provided detailed lessons for the t eachers to follow. These teachers were appreciative of the guidance the curriculum provided for their daily planning and implementation of instruction. Chubbuck, Clift, Allard and Quinlan (2001) found similar responses through their extensive interviews of 77 beginning teachers. Responses to open ended questions revealed that beginning teachers were nearly unanimous in their desire for practical contextualized subject specific activities they could use in their classroom. Beginners additionally reported t hat reflection time
50 with colleagues focused on curriculum and non threatening, non evaluative support in implementing curriculum assisted with their instruction. Curriculum influenced the classroom practice of beginning teachers in three studies conducted by Grossman and her colleagues (2000, 2004, 2006). Using interviews and observations, three separate studies were conducted of 10 beginning teachers through their first 3 years in the classroom. In the firs t study, Grossman et al., (2000) provided insigh t into how their first year, participants latched on to curriculum even when accompanying strategies and materials were at odds with their views of good writin g instruction. Overtime, however, teachers were able to adapt and integrate curricula to fit their understanding of the writing process. For example, one teacher entered the classroom with a strong understanding of writing instruction, but relatively few s trategies for implementing instruction. The materials solved a pressing problem as he struggled to teach. While his vision for instruction included a more student centered approach, the curriculum was teacher centered. curriculum, he was observed following the curricular materials closely in his instruction. In the following year, he approached writing instruction using a variety of curricular materials that he adapted to fit his understanding of the writing process. Th e authors conclude that, ultimately, the use of curricular materials helped this beginner develop a stronger conceptual understanding of the writing process. In the second study, Grossman and Thompson (2004) provided more in depth information about three of the ten beginning teachers. These researchers realized the potential of using activity theory as a framework for understanding teacher learning. Thus, the authors aimed to understand how three beginners appropriated conceptual and practical tools for wr iting
51 instruction. Interviews and observations revealed that, while all teachers welcomed curriculum and used it in their classroom, the curriculum influenced classroom practice differentially. The supports available for implementing the curriculum made a difference in how the beginners both used and understood conceptual and practical tools for writing instruction. For one teacher, the professional development opportunities were linked to her success in incorporating the curriculum into her classroom prac tice. Additionally, she had a mentor who discussed and shared practical tools and a department chair that encouraged exchange of materials. Together these supports helped this novice understand and implement the curriculum, reaching a higher level of appr opriation of conceptual and practical tools. While the other two teachers in this study participated in professional development, it was more general and did not focus on curriculum implementation. Moreover, their mentors were not language arts teachers an d therefore could not give the curricular guidance they sought. As such, these teachers seemed to focus their instruction more on the tasks involved in teaching and not how the materials fit with their understanding of English instruction. In the third st udy, researchers focused on four elementary teachers and their teaching of reading during the first 3 years on the job. Specifically, Valencia, Place, Martin and Grossman (2006) examined how teachers developed conceptual understandings and practices for t eaching reading as beginners engaged with a variety of curriculum tools within their schools. The results indicated that the level of support a teacher receives can either facilitate or hinder teacher learning. For two teachers, a prescribed curriculum pro vided assurance that they were providing high quality instruction and covering important content. These teachers took a more procedural rather than conceptual approach to using the materials. When problems arose, the teachers made changes to the procedures in implementing the curriculum rather than in altering the content or
52 instructional strategies. The other two teachers were described by the authors as master constructors of their own reading programs. They both were able to draw on a variety of curricul a to create a cohesive reading program. School based support (i.e., specific collegial and administrative feedback) about curriculum implementation helped these beginners adapt instruction to meet the needs of their students. In the remaining two studies, curriculum had a negative influence on beginning teacher practice. Smagorinsky, Lakly, and Johnson (2002) aimed to explore why one beginning teacher found curriculum hindered her classroom practice. Data from interviews and observations conducted during th e first 2 years of teaching reported the beginner entered the classroom with a strong understanding of the content and a vision of how instruction would unfold. This vision was disrupted when the district mandated a scripted curriculum for her use. In inte rviews, she discussed her continual frustration with the curriculum. For her, it was a daily struggle to provide instruction that violated what she believed students needed. Similarly, an analysis of 200 beginners interviewed by Crocco and Costigan (2007) revealed most were frustrated by their inability to use expertise acquired through their professional preparation. Moreover, the beginners felt the mandated and scripted curriculum stifled their creativity and autonomy and did not allow for any personal or professional growth. The findings from these seven studies support the idea that curriculum can facilitate or hinder the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, as outlined in activity theory. All seven studies were qualitative in design includi ng multiple interviews and observations. Four of the seven studies were longitudinal following beginners through their first 2 to 3 years. As such, detailed information about how beginners use curriculum in their classroom practice was reported. However, the samples of teachers in these studies were all prepared in traditional
53 teacher education programs. Since these teachers enter the classroom with already established understandings of instruction, it is plausible to think traditionally prepared teachers might use curriculum in different ways than teachers without any formal teacher preparation. Studies of Special Education B eginners Researchers focusing on the needs and concerns of special education beginners often suggest curriculum might serve as a sol ution to the frustrations beginners express, (Billingsley, 2003; Kilgore & Griffin, 1998; Warren, 2001; Whitaker, 2000) but studies confirming this idea are harder to find. In an exhaustive search of the special education literature, only two studies were found that describe the impact of curriculum on the practice of beginning special education teachers. In both studies, a prescribed curriculum provided support for implementing evidence based classroom practice. Bishop et al. (2009 ) found that access to a predetermined curriculum supported the practice of beginners in their study. These teachers expressed how such curriculum, combined with professional development, enhanced their instruction. In one instance, structured curriculum was a life boat for one of the least accomplished teachers. She struggled to keep students engaged during the majority of her instruction except when using a prescribed curriculum. The Reading Mastery curriculum enabled her to deliver more well structured instruction and better engage students. When using a prescribed direct instruction curriculum her instruction was more engaging and well structured. She was able to focus on specific children for error correction and inattentiveness. Observers reported a striking difference in s tudent behavior during this more explicit and systematic lesson; however, her inability to employ these strategies from the prescribed curriculum across all areas of instruction suggests she lacked conceptual understandings about explicit instruction.
54 Ka mman et al. (2007) reported that curriculum influenced the classroom practice of all teachers in their study, especially those without formal teacher preparation. This group of and no formal preparation to teach. The availability of structured curriculum and the support to implement it made a significant difference for beginners. These teachers were observed using evidence based classroom practices for students with disabilities Unfortunately, not all beginners had access to structured curriculum or support for its implementation, and consequently, these teachers struggled to enact classroom practice. These teachers reported feeling lost about how to proceed instructionally and continuously struggled to plan and implement daily lessons. classroom practice, demonstrating how curriculum is a key component of the activity theory framework. Howeve r, information from two qualitative studies is not enough information to draw conclusions. Moreover, curricular use was not the focus of these studies and as such, rich details about how the curriculum facilitated teacher learning are not available. Concl usion practice is influenced by a variety of factors. What the individual teacher brings to the classroom, as well as what they encounter in the district, school and clas sroom when they arrive, modify how a teacher appropriates conceptual and practical tools. Results from the in depth review suggest one contextual factor, curriculum, holds a strong potential for influencing how teachers appropriate conceptual and practical tools. Factors unique to individual teachers, such as academic ability, personal attributes and beliefs, influence the instruction of beginning teachers. Specifically, some personal attributes (e.g., resourcefulness or self efficacy) and beliefs (e.g., personal schooling, previous formal or
55 informal teaching experience, and previous employment) impact classroom practice. These are particularly important findings for beginning special education teachers who enter the classroom with no formal preparation. These teachers are likely to have diverse personal attributes and prior experiences that impact beliefs. As such, it is important we understand the ways in which both personal attributes and prior experiences interact to impact classroom practices. Fin dings from the literature review also highlight the important influence of context on beginning teacher practice. Induction programs with strong collegial and administrative supports can assist beginners in improving classroom practice. Most of these studi es, however, have examined teachers with prior teacher preparation. It is probable that beginning special educators with no preparation will need more intensive supports to develop a higher level of appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Final ly, existing research demonstrates that curriculum is a powerful contextual factor that impacts classroom practice. Often, how teachers use curriculum to enact classroom practice depends strongly on their existing conceptual understandings of the content a nd their need for practical strategies to employ during instruction. This seems particularly important for test only teachers who may enter the classroom with little conceptual understanding of reading instruction or practical tools for classroom practice. The majority of research conducted in this area is based in general education, with few studies focusing on beginning special educators. This scant research base in special education leaves many unanswered questions. Specifically, researchers need to ans wer: What role does curriculum play in the classroom practice of beginning special education teachers who enter the classroom with no preparation? What role does curriculum play in the classroom practice of beginning special education teachers who enter th e classroom with no preparation? What level of
56 appropriation of conceptual and practical tools do teachers reach with curriculum use? What other conceptual and practical tools guide the development and implementation of instruction? What individual charact practical tools? How does curriculum work with other factors to facilitate a higher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools? Answers to these questions will illuminate the ways in which beginning special educators enact classroom practice.
57 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHOD Introduction T his qualitative study examine d whether and how beginning special education teachers use curriculum to develop and refine conceptual and practical too ls for teaching. Empirical data collected from special education teachers is used to develop a grounded theory. Such grounded theory provides insight into how beginning special educators use curriculum to enact classroom practice and the factors that affec t that use. Theoretical Framework To gain an understanding of how beginning middle school special education reading teachers use curriculum as a tool in learning to teach, activity theory is utilized. Activity theory emphasizes the importance of setting s in learning to teach, and focuses on the cultural factors that mediate development of conceptual and practical tools in particular contexts. Activity theory be liefs and classroom practices. Through this process, activity theory can help researchers theory does not seek to provide a uniform explanation, but is instead more concerned with the context and its effec ts. Activity theory provides a means to understand under what circumstances particular changes take place. Activity theory is especially useful for understanding the process of learning to teach, particularly illuminating how teachers choose instructional tools and enact their instruction ( Grossman et al. 1999). Curriculum presents o ne such instructional tool, which holds a prominent place in many special education classrooms. Activity theory focuses on under standing how a tool, such as curriculum, can help a teacher develop to meet a goal. The
58 ultimate goal of beginning teachers is to develop sufficient mastery of conceptual and practical tools to support the achievement of each learner. To accomplish this, e ach teacher has individual goals specific to his/her setting. Teachers also present with different backgrounds and hold different beliefs that shape how they en act instruction. Grossman et al. (1999) adapted Wertsch theoretical frameworks to fit teache r education. They identify three themes key to activity theory : (1) activity settings, (2) identity, and (3) tools. First, activity theory aims to examine relationships within and across activity settings where teachers teach. Asp ects of activity settings including motive, individual constructions, history, and boundaries ; all of these play a role. M otive is the implicit outcome of the setting. This provides a sense of purpose that implies certain actions. The motive often encourag es or discourages particular ways of thinking. For example, teachers today may feel pressure for students to make Academic Yearly Progress (AYP). This pressure to meet AYP may encourage the teacher to look more closely at individual student progress and ma y also encourage teachers to narrow the curriculum to skills and concepts explicitly covered on standardized tests. Individuals also construct their own understandings of the activity setting. Two teachers in one school may have starkly different understan dings of the school setting based on their own goals, relationships, histories and activities within the school. Individual history must also be considered, helping to focus attention on the entering beliefs of beginners that may impact instruction. Final ly, activity theory recognizes that boundaries are not clear and activity settings often co exist and overlap. Curriculum can create a boundary within a classroom, classrooms within schools, and schools within districts, and so on. The setting is not enti rely discrete. The second theme in activity theory is identity. This is the way in which individuals adopt ways of thinking. One way individual identity is created is when teachers define the
59 problems they face and engage in solving those problems usi ng the resources aro und them. Grossman et al. (1999) discuss some problems that learning to teach present. One example is developing a concept of the subject matter and the process of teaching it. L earning to manage student behavior serves as another exam ple In special education, a likely problem would be a student with a disability having difficulty grasping or retaining a concept. Although teachers will grapple with all of these areas, how they deal with the issues will depend on their identities as te achers. Finally, activity theory includes tools as important for studying the learning process. According to Kuuti (1995) the tool mediates the relationship between the learner and the setting. This tool can be both enabling and limiting in the transfo rmation process of th e subject. Grossman et al. (1999) identify two types of tools through which teachers construct and implement their teaching practices: conceptual tools and practical tools. These tools are adopted at di fferent levels of appropriation (see Chapter 2 for details). In this study, activity theory is used to develop an understanding of the role of one particular tool, reading curriculum, and the practical and conceptual tools within the reading curriculum. Activity theory provides a frame work for understanding the role of this tool while also examining the setting and identity of the teacher. Research Design To address the research questions of this study, a qualitative research methodology was employed. The purpose of qualitative resea rch is to gain in depth information that leads to a greater understanding of social phenomena, rather than to substantiate predetermined assumptions (Creswell, 1998). When little or no empirical information about a specific social phenomenon exists, qualit ativ e research methods are useful in construct ing a knowledge base. Qualitative inquiry involves the close examination of a studied phenomenon in its natural setting
60 and produces detailed descriptions of the phenomenon (Merriam, 1998). Such an in depth loo k at phenomenon allows researchers to achieve insights about the studied phenomenon and develop a guide for action. Therefore, qualitative research methodology is appropriate for studying the role Parti cipants Sample Selection Teachers were recruited using purposeful criterion sampling method as this method is appropriate for recruiting teachers who demonstrate similar backgrounds. The following criteria were used to select these teachers: (a) The speci al education teacher must teach middle school reading; (b) The teacher must be in his/her first year of teaching; (c) The teacher must have entered through the test only route; and (d) The teacher must have access and support to use curriculum. Sampling fr om this specific group of beginners allows for insight into the role and influence of curriculum on instruction as this is a primary tool test only teachers can draw upon. All special education teachers who met the sampling criteria in the three school dis tricts in North Central Florida were invited to participate. At the time of original recruitment, this call for participation yielded only three teachers from two counties. The teachers were recruited with the aid of the school board with permission of the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB). Participation was strictly voluntary. Teacher, Class, and School Information Three teachers agreed to p articipate in this study. Two teachers were male, one was female. Two were white and one bla than education. All teachers took the special education state certification test, passed, and subsequently held a certificate to teach K 12 special education with varying exceptionalities. Classroom size varied from two students to 17. The schools in which they wor ked were located
61 across two counties and were categorized as Title I schools. The f ollowing section provides information about each teacher as well as his/her school information (See Tables 3 1, 3 2, and 3 3). The t Taurean Taurean completed his degree in sports management at a university in North Carolina. Immediately following graduation, Taurean accepted a pos ition with a Sports and E ntertainmen t Corporation. After three months he left to beco me a Unit Director with a County Boys and Girls Club where he remained for three years. In the summer of 2007, he was asked to coach basketball at a private school in Gainesville. Not wanting to teach at the private school, he accepted a position at his current mid dle school. He was hired just two weeks before school started Taurean took and passed the special education state certification test due to a request from h is administrators. school day consisted of co teaching reading, social studies and science. Each of his classes included students receiving special education services as well as regular education students. For the reading class, Taurean shared planning and instructional res ponsibilities with Mrs. M. Mrs. M has taught for 23 years, but was also new to the school. Although she was endorsed to teach reading, this was the first year she used the Read 180 curriculum. Mrs. M and Taurean share d a planning period. Students were s pecifically placed by scoring a 1 or 2 on their fifth grade FCAT. Their class enrollment was c apped at 17 students, seven of whom were identified with disabilities. Solely using the READ 180 format, their class consisted of a whole group instructional period followed by a 20 minute rotation of three groups (see Appendix A for a sample of the READ 180 curriculum). During the rotation, Mrs. M took one group, Taurean took another group and the final group worked at the computer.
62 Taurean had several opportunities for training in curriculum use. Together Mrs. M. and Taurean attended a 2 day professional development on implementing the READ 180 curriculum before school started. Additionally, d uring the first few weeks of school, Ta urean observe d a special education READ 180 classroom in another middle school Finally, the reading coach spent one Lilla In the spring of 2007, Lilla graduated with a degree in Family Youth and Community Sciences. She knew she wanted to be a teacher while completing her degree but could not change her major without prolonging her graduation. She stated that someone in the school system explained that if she took the special educ ation certification test she could get a job. Lilla passed the certification test in the summer and was hired in the same school as Taurean Unfortunately, she was released from this position after the first month school due to low enrollment Lilla remai ned at the school by frequently serving as a substitute teach er In January of 2008 Lilla accepted a position to teach 7 th grade Read 180 after a special education teacher resigned unexpectedly class was capped at 17 students. The first and last block s consisted of students without identified disabilities The second block consisted of students receiving special education services During this second 180 curriculum. However, her 100 minutes of instructional time was split. Her students came to her for 15 minutes and then left for lunch. After lunch they returned for the remaining 85 minutes. Since Lilla was hired mid year she was not assigned a mento r and did not attend any formal READ 180 training. She was sent to another middle school to observe a READ 180
63 special education classroom and like Taurean, the reading coach at her school spent a week in her classroom modeling curricular planning and use. Henri Henri completed a degree in international studies and worked as a language translator for several years following graduation. He then took a job working to coordinate student exchange programs. Unhappy with this position as well, Henri thought teac hing might be his calling. The state where he grew up and lived required Henri to return to school for two years to earn a teaching license. Henri spent time researching teaching licenses and found that he could obtain a license in Florida by simply taking the test. This motivated him to take the special education certification exam, move to Florida and take a position at a middle school. Henri worked in a large middle school with a high school also on campus. He worked with ten other teachers of special education as the school has a large special education population. Although he taught in a self contained classroom, his administrators require d his instructional periods to mirror the whole school (e.g. 100 minute reading block, 50 minutes for all other su bjects). Throughout the majority of the day Henri had one group of 12 students with mild mental retardation. However, during re ading, 10 of the 12 students moved to other special education classrooms in order to receive higher reading level instruction Henri taught the lowest readers in the entire middle school. Henri used the mandated, prescr ibed curriculum for reading, Corrective Reading but also supplemented with other materials (s ee Appendix A for a sample of Corrective Reading and examples of Henr instructed two students during this instructional time, he also had an aide to provide assistance throughout the day. Henri went to a one day professional development on the Corrective Reading curriculum. He did not receive any training or modeling of any other reading curriculum.
64 Reading Curriculum The three teachers participating in this study were mandated to use a structured curriculum for all or part of their reading instruction. Taurean and Lilla used the READ 180 curriculum while Henri used Corrective Reading. For all participants, the reading program was implemented school wide for students with and without disabilities Table 3 4 provides an overview of each curriculum as it relates to instructional elements and an example of each depth description of each curriculum. READ 180 READ 180 is a reading intervention curriculum designed for struggling readers in grades four through 12. Each ninety minute session begins and ends with whole group teacher directed instruction. During the 60 minutes between the whole group meetings, students break into three small groups that rotate among three stations. The teacher provides direct instruction with one group, the second group interacts with computer software, and the third group engages in independent reading. Scholastic (2008) describes their curriculum as addressing the five essential elements of an effective reading program: phonemic awareness, pho nics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Phonemic awareness is only addressed on an individual level with the computer software. The software provides training in segmentation and blending with instruction in letter sound relationships. Phonics i s also primarily addressed through the computer software, although supplemental materials are available for teachers to use in their small group direct instruction, if they so choose. Fluency is developed through direct instruction, modeling by the teacher and continuous scaffolded practice on leveled texts. Lessons include direct instruction and guided practice of vocabulary and word study skills of content relevant vocabulary. Finally,
Table 3 1. Teacher i nformation Name Age Caseload Reading Curriculum Instructional Time Aide Taurean 27 Sports Management 17 6 th Read 180 100 min co teacher Lilla 23 Family Youth and 17 7 th Read 180 100 min none Community Sciences split 15/85 Henri 27 International 1 6 th Corrective Reading Studies 1 8 th various Supplemental 100 minutes 1 Table 3 2. School i nformation Teacher Total Number of Students Student Ethnicity Free/Reduced Lunch Rate Taurean/Lilla 891 Asian 2% 56% Hispanic 3% Black 59% White 35% Henri 1196 American Indian 1% 55% Asian 2% Hispanic 18% Black 23% White 55% 65
Table 3 3 Student i nformation Teacher Number of Student Student Lunch Status Students ethnicity disability Taurean 17 Black 17 SLD 8 FRL 14 Lilla 17 Black 17 SLD 10 FRL 12 EH 4 Other 3 Henri 2 White 1 EMH 2 FRL 2 Hispanic 1 66
67 reading units include motivating videos, direct instruction, graphic organizers, and modeling comprehension strategies to promote text comprehension. According to the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR, 2008), the teacher and student ma terials are user explicit lesson planning guide that indicates the sequence, pacing, and objectives of instructional ting that older struggling readers may benefit from intensive and extended practice in word study, fluency, Corrective Reading Corrective Reading was designed to address deficiencies in decoding and comprehension fo r struggling readers aged 7 through 14. Each strand has four levels, A, B1, B2, and C. The instructional sequence is clearly delineated. Each lesson includes explicit instruction with precise directions and skills are practiced until mastered. A typical le sson takes 40 to 50 minutes to implement. The lessons in the Decoding strand include several activities. The first includes instruction in word attack skills beginning with identifying sounds of letters and progressing to reading multi syllabic words. Les sons include reading and spelling word parts and words, as well as learning the meaning of the word. The second activity consists of workbook exercises providing oral, writing, and reading practice applying practice to apply the skills taught in the lesson The third and final activity uses Individual Reading Checkouts to assess fluency. During this activity, A specified rate and accuracy is set in order to dete rmine if the student is successfully applying the skills taught in the lesson. The lessons in the Comprehension strand include several parts with numerous exercises.
Table 3 4. Curriculum c overage of f undamental r eading e lements Phonemic Phoni cs Fluency Vocabulary Comprehension General Awareness Instruction Read 180 Computer software Primarily computer software, supplemental direct instruction available for use at discretion Direct instruction, mode ling, continuous scaffolded practice Whole and small group Direct instruction, content relevant, guided practice, link with student and text Whole and small group Motivational videos, link to background knowledge and text, direct instruction, use of g raphic organizers, modeling Whole and small group explicit scripted lesson plans includes lesson objectives, review and preview, direct instruction, modeling, guided practice, sharing, and reinforcement Corrective Reading Direct instruction, modeling, continuous repetition Direct instruction, modeling, continuous practice, from letter sounds to reading multisyllabic words Some modeling, primarily partner reading for rate and accuracy improvement Direct instruction, definitions, repetition Direct ins truction, modeling, independent practice, focus on answering literal and inferential comprehension questions Explicit scripted lessons, direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice, review 68
69 Each lesson aims to use basic reasoning skills, increase vocabulary knowledge, construct meaning from all subject areas, and analytical skills which will aide in successfully answering inferential and literal comprehension questions. Like Decoding, the se skills are explicitly taught and then practiced using workbook exercises. integrated design of h ighly organized and include scripted lessons. FCRR concludes there is an initial level of research on the use of Corrective Reading Decoding to support decoding and oral reading fluency for struggling readers, and for the use of Comprehension to develop a specific set of comprehension skills with students who are more severely impaired. Procedure The purpose of this study was to examine how teachers with no formal teacher education preparation use and appropriate curriculum to develop and implement readin g instruction. This study primarily focused on understanding how the activity settings, individual and contextual, contributed to the instructional practices of the beginners. Data collection and analysis procedures addressed such a purpose. Data Collect ion Data collection consisted of observations, interviews, and artifact s Data were collected in December 2007 and January, February, March, and April of 2008. Table 4 provides a detailed timeline of data collection. Observations The purpose of the obser vations was to investigate how teachers use curriculum to enact reading instruction. I asked permission to observe during typical reading instruction. Scheduled ahead of time, each teacher was observed four times on at least three different days of the wee k
70 reading instructional period. During the observations, I took detailed field notes about teacher behaviors, student behaviors and descriptions of the cl assroom environment. After each observation, field notes were expanded based on informal conversation with the participant regarding their lesson. Field notes also included researcher reflection, including questions. Table 3 5. Data collection timel ine Week of School Year Data Collection November (Week 1 & 2) Overview of project provided Informed consent obtained In depth interview and first observation scheduled December (Week 1) depth interview and concept map January (Weeks 3 & 4) depth interview and concept map depth interview and concept map February (Weeks 1 & 2) rst observation February (Weeks 3 & 4) March (W eeks 3 & 4) April (Weeks 1 & 3) Each scheduled observation also involved the Pathwise observation tool. Pathwise identifies 19 essential teaching criteria. These criteria are based on formal analyses of important tasks required of beginn ing teachers, reviews of research, analyses of state regulations for teacher licensing, and extensive fieldwork that included pilot testing the criteria and assessment
71 process (Dwyer, 1994 ; Dwyer & Villegas, 1993; Rosenfeld, Freeberg, & Bukatko, 1992; Rose nfeld, Reynolds, & Bukatko, 1992; Rosenfeld, Wilder, & Bukatko, 1992). The 19 criteria were validated by Charlotte Danielson (1996) who worked with the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The criteria are organized into four domains of teacher competence. T hese domains, with the corresponding criteria defined by ETS (Dwyer & Villegas, 1993), are displayed in Table 3 6 I was trained in Pathwise and have conducted over a hundred Pathwise observations of pre service teachers. Data gathered through Pathwise pr ovides information about pre service and beginning teachers to highlight areas of strengths and deficits. I used my extensive field notes t o complete the observation tool and summary statements. Typically, summary statements are shared with novice teacher s in order to promote growth. Pathwise was chosen in this study to provide information about the use of instructional practices of beginners and their appropria tion of such practices. Thus summaries were completed but not shared with beginners. Pathwise also includes a pre and post interview. Often, teachers were unable to meet immediately prior to or immediat ely following their observation and the pre and post interviews were conducted over the phone. The questions for each were adapted to further gain information and understandings of decisions about classroom practice. A list of the adapted questions is in Appendix B. The Reading in Special Education Observation Instrument (RISE), an adapted version of the English Language Learners Classroom Observati on Instrument was also utilized. While the Pathwise is designed to cut across grade level and contents, the RISE is focused on special education reading instruction. It consists of 27 items that address the following areas; Instructional Practices, Genera l Instructional Environment, Phonological Awareness, Word Study, Fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Classroom Management. Following each
72 Table 3 6. Pathwise domains Domain Benchmarks Domain A Organizing content knowledge for student learning 1. Beco 2. Articulating learning goals 3. Understanding connections among past, current, and future content 4. Selecting appropriate methods, activities, and materials 5. Selecting appropriate evaluation strategies Domain B Creating a n environment for student learning 1. Creating a climate that promotes fairness 2. Establishing rapport 3. Communicating challenging expectations 4. Establishing consistent standards of behavior 5. Making the physical environment safe and conducive to learning Domain C Teaching for student learning 1. Making goals and procedures clear 2. Making content comprehensible 3. Encouraging extension of thinking 4. Monitoring student learning and providing feedback 5. Using class time effectively Domain D Teacher professionalism 1. Reflecting o n student learning 2. Demonstrating sense of efficacy 3. Building professional relationships 4. Communicating with parents observation, the extensive field notes were used to rate items on a 1 4 Likert scale, although mid point ratings such as 1.5 or 2.5 were als there was no occurrence of the item during the observation. In addition to rating each item, final ratings were conducted of the overall effectiveness of all the classroom practice items in each of eight areas and an overall classroom practice score or global teacher rating. In a previous study of beginning special education teachers, the estimated reliability of t he scores generated by the instrument was relatively high, with an overall coefficient alpha of .96 and alpha coefficients on individual scales that ranged from .88 to .94 (Brownell et.al, in press). I was trained in the RISE and previously conducted over 30 RISE observations. During that time period, my inter rater reliability was 95% or higher. The RISE was chosen in this study to give information pertaining
73 to the content of reading instruction and the special education strategies used in classroom pract ice. Interviews Each teacher was asked to partic ipate in one in depth interview. I developed and administered an in depth, semi structured interview that was conducted with each participating teacher in order to better understand their background, knowl edge, beliefs, and context, as well as their use and understandings of reading curriculum. I used a semi structured interview to Additionally, during the interview, each teacher was given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw a concept map indicating what he/she felt is important in teaching reading. Each in depth interview was conducted in 1 day, at a time convenient to the participant. Interviews ranged in leng th from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. Each interview was tape recorded for later transcription. Artifacts Participants were asked to provide a lesson plan for each observation, if they prepared one and/or copies of a published curriculum lesson plan if it wa s used. Teachers often also provided copies of handouts or other student materials. These artifacts were collected and examined to provide additional information to enrich descriptions and assist in interpretation. Data Analysis Grounded theory methods we re used to systematically analyze and interpret the data in stages (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The grounded theory approach consists of a set of steps that guide the researcher to carefully analyze the data leading to the construction of theory (Moustakas, 1 994). These methods include both descriptive and analytical components. Descriptive data analysis allows researchers to study a phenomenon within its context while analytical data analysis allows researchers to deconstruct and reconstruct phenomena (Cresw ell,
74 1998). However, Strauss (1987) explained that there are no sequential steps that guide all grounded theory because each project is unique and researchers must conduct their research as it best fits the data. In this investigation, grounded theory meth ods were used to both generate and elaborate on theory. This researcher collected empirical data and generated a theory explaining the influences on test researcher used activity theor y as a guiding framework and modified it to reflect the unique complexities of the special education context. G rounded theory methods require gathering rich and in depth information. Grounded theory is especially important to this study because little is known about how special education teachers use curriculum and appropriate conceptual and practical tools. Theories grounded within data tend to enhance understanding, offer insights, and provide a meaningful guide to action (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). By foc using on the data from these beginning teachers, grounded theory enables researchers to develop an empirical explanation about how beginners utilize reading curriculum to develop pedagogical knowledge and skill. Grounded theory methods are conducted in cy cles where data is analyzed throughout the research where theories, summaries and connections are recorded. Ultimately, saturation is reached and data can be analyzed and a theory is developed to explain the phenomenon. Grounded theory consists of three k ey phases in its analysis process: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Open coding is the process of developing preliminary concepts from initial data collection and as data collection proceeds construct (p.47). Open coding in this study involved reading through observations and in terviews line by
75 line and defining and labeling information in the margins. After eac h interview and observation was coded, questions, reflections, summations and emerging themes were recorded for use in later data collection and analysis. When all data w ere collected, codes were compiled in a list and refined to eliminate repetition. The second stage of analysis, axial coding, involved making connections between concepts generated during open coding to form more complete explanations. Axial coding is de signed to reconnect the concepts and categories generated from open coding to form a more complete and precise explanation. When coding axially, researchers look for answers to questions such as where, when, how, and with what. Examining these data allows the researcher to form hypotheses. Constant comparison must be utilized to ensure that all possible incidents or cases are accounted for (Charmaz, 2000). This may result in either contradictions or in variations that expand differences occurring in the da ta. For example, the open codes patience, flexibility, humor, silly, open mindedness were collapsed into the axial code personal qualities. The final step, selective coding, is the process of integrating and refining categories to encapsulate the data. A central category, which is consistent across the data, is chosen to represent the theme of the research. Hierarchical structures and cognitive mapping strategies help to demonstrate the relationship between the main category and other categories. For selec tive coding in this study, I looked for core concepts both within and across cases in order to encapsulate the data. A complete list of all codes at each level is provided in Appendix C. Throughout the process, I took not es and wrote memos. Charmaz (198 8) believes memos are a pivotal step because memos prompt the researcher to analyze the data early in the process.
76 helps to further define the data as the resear cher elaborates processes, assumptions, and actions (Charmaz, 2000). Trustworthiness Quality criteria for qualitative research are concerned with how accurately and meaningfully qualitative inquiry reveals a reality. Several techniques were employed to e nhance the trustworthiness of the findings. These are discussed below using criteria for evaluating qualitative research found in Crotty (1998), Glesne (1999), Guba and Lincoln (1994) and Patton (2002). Credibility Qualitative researchers admit that ther e are potential biases in this type of research and describe the processes used to ensure credibility in their studies. In this study, I used multiple data sources and triangulation of data to enhance credibility. While conducting this study, I invested si gnificant time building trust with the participants and worked to detect and minimize any distortions that may have influenced the data. I visited their classrooms on multiple occasions, asking informal questions upon arrival to help ease the pressure that can be present during an observation. By the second and third time in their classrooms, teachers were noticeably more comfortable with my presence. Interviews were conducted. Artifacts were collected and use to triangulate the data from the observation in struments and interviews. To reduce biases and distortions, it is important that the data be examined from another perspective. For this study, another doctoral student and a researcher with extensive experience in both the RISE and Pathwise, discussed eme rging themes. The discussions along with all the other data sources served as additional triangulation.
77 Dependability Lincoln and Guba (1985) discuss the need for dependability in qualitative research as a source of reliability. Dependability is establish ed by careful documentation of the procedures for collecting and interpreting data. This documentation ensures the reliability of this study by providing evidence that the data collection is scientifically sound and methodologically rigorous In this study a paper trail was recorded in a journal. All decisions about data collection and analys is were recorded in the journal (see Appendix D for journal excerpt). Another strategy to ensure dependability was using member checks. Member checks were conducted a fter each observation and interview. I emailed transcriptions of interviews and detailed field notes to the agreed that the data represented their interview o r the classroom experience. Transferability Although qualitative researchers are not as concerned with replication as quantitative researchers, they are concerned with transferability, which means that other researchers can decide how to apply the finding s in their own situation. By giving detailed descriptions of the participating teachers as well as their contexts, I provided an in depth explanation of the research process and how conclusions were developed. This allows readers to make decisions about wh ether the findings can be transferred to other contexts due to shared characteristics. Researcher Subjectivity In qualitative research, the researcher is a crucial instrument in collecting and analyzing the data (Patton, 2002). Interpretation is not only predispositions and biases may contribute to misrepresentation of data or misguided understandings of the data. Thus, for my interpretations to be believable, it is necessary to reveal
78 my own ideas about beginning teachers, special education instructional practices and the role of curriculum. This provides the readers background to critically review the study results. I entered this inquiry with certain ideas about beginning teachers, reading instruction and th e use of curriculum. My beliefs in these areas come primarily from two places, my pre service preparation program and my own teaching/administrative experience. I attended a four year state university teacher education program in special education that I f eel prepared me well for teaching. The coursework did not focus on a set curriculum, but instead helped me gain comfort in using various programs while emphasizing the importance of direct instruction and repetition for students with disabilities. Addition ally, my program of study had a particularly strong emphasis on reading instruction. Students were required to actively participate in the remedial reading lab while earning their degree. This provided a context for practical application of the strategies I was learning in my coursework. Upon graduation, I felt confident I could teach in various special education settings. I accepted my first teaching position on a Friday afternoon in the middle of the school year. The principal opened the library for me explaining I could use any of the resources set aside for teachers but that I needed to be ready to teach my classes on Monday morning. He went on to explain that there was no set curriculum for my students. In fact, he expected me to create lessons based on their individual needs. Although I was well educated in various curricula and teaching strategies, walking into a classroom without knowledge of the students and without any curriculum programs as resources was extremely challenging my first year. I spe nt hours creating lessons by using other teachers supplies, finding lessons on the internet, and creating whole units of my own. Teaching became my whole life and curriculum had a huge impact.
79 My second and third year of teaching I was allocated money t o choose a curriculum program. This afforded me the flexibility to choose what I wanted for my students, but gave me a foundation I could choose what I wanted from the curriculum and su pplement to meet my students individual needs. In my fourth year of teaching I moved to a middle and high school. Again, there was no prescribed curriculum program. I was told by the department chair I could use anything from the resource closet. I pieced together any number of items from different textbooks or workbooks. Again, in my second year I connected with the county special education advisor and she supplied me with a curriculum program and I advocated for a supplemental program that my assistant p rincipal agreed to fund. Again, I felt the program afforded an ease of planning which allowed me to focus on adapting instruction to meet my students individual needs. In my final years in the public school system, I worked a county level position monit oring several schools for both paperwork compliance and providing assistance to support teachers. It was during this time I felt I made the most impact. I found that the special educators I was supporting were experiencing the same struggles I had experien ced. When no curriculum program existed, teachers often spend exorbitant amounts of time putting together lessons, which became their curriculum. This often became a tiresome task and undermined teacher motivation. Moreover, teachers with limited preparati on and experience with students with disabilities struggled to plan. My observations and experiences led me to become part of a team to adopt a curriculum program for middle and high school special education teachers. The decisions of the committee provide d teachers with a curriculum program in each area they taught. By the time the curriculum programs were adopted, I left the school system and started my PhD.
80 During my time pursuing a doctorate I conducted a study focused on beginning middle school teach ers. About half of beginners in one county were teachers who did not attend a college of education and instead took the special education certification test. Data analysis revealed that the structure and nature of the provided curriculum program played a r ole in each The combination of my personal experiences and observing the experiences of other instruction. I believe teachers need access, training and support to implement and adjust curriculum to meet the varying needs of their students. Additionally, for the increasing number of teachers in Florida without any formal education in teaching, a structured curriculum can be an essential support for instruction. These assumptions are not fatal flaws in a qualitative study, but instead must be explicitly confronted. Throughout data collection, I kept a journal to articulate my thoughts in an attempt to confront and brack e t my own biases (see Appendix D ). Additionally, I debriefed with several fellow doctoral student and a faculty member. Including examples of raw data, data analysis procedures, category and theme development also helps to enhance confirmation. By includin g this information, readers could see for themselves how conclusions were generated. Study Limitations with a small sample of five beginning special education te achers. Teachers were from three counties all in North Central Florida. It would be inappropriate to generalize these findings to all middle school special education reading teachers. However, the rich description of the teachers and context will provide i nsight that may be applicable to others in comparable contexts.
81 The potential for researcher and participant bias was also a limitation. Keeping a journal and reviewing entries was imperative for me to separate personal experiences from the data. Addition ally, participant interviews and observations were also vulnerable to bias. Two of the beginning teachers were employed at a school where my husband is an administrator. Although he is not the leader for curriculum nor did he serve as the official observer this dynamic created a challenging situation. I did not speak about the observations or interviews with my husband. I also encouraged each of the participants to be open and honest about their experiences and assured their confidentiality
82 CHAPTER 4 INFL UENCES AND GROWTH IN CLASSROOM PRACTICE A ND UNDERSTANDINGS OF READING INSTRUCTI ON understanding of reading instruction and classroom practices, (b) influences on classroom pr actice and understandings of reading instruction, and (c) profession al growth of classroom practice and unders tandings of reading instruction. Instructional practices described in this chapter were based on data gathered from classroom observations. Data c ollected from conceptual maps (see Appendix E) the three participants created and interview s conducted with Teacher practice and understandings are described in great detail in the following section s Table 4.1 provides a summary of information provided in this chapter. Lilla Initial Classroom Practice READ 180 curriculum. During her first observation, which occurred after she had been teaching two weeks, she did not use any materials outside the READ 180 curriculum or deviate from the dem onstrate ev idence, albeit sometimes weak in all Path wise domains. Her performance on the individual subsets areas of the RISE varied greatly; however, this reflected coverage of these areas in the curriculum. Although her instruction aligned closely wit h the benchmarks on Pathwise and she could demonstrate evidence in all four domains, she left room for improvement in each area. For
83 board outlining tasks for the day. She said: We are going to start today with our whole group instruction where we will revisit our vocabulary and how it links to both the story and our lives. Then we will go to groups and continue on our Disasters stories. Also, I will do some fluency testing today. While Lilla begins the lesson by providing a list of activities her students will participate in, she does not articulate the purpose either prior to or during her instruction. In another example, Lilla assessed student fluency using a running record and assessing comprehension by asking questions, benchmarks for the C.4 indicator. She provided only general class or group feedback confused. For instance, typically when Lilla asked comprehension questions of her small groups, at least one student in the group responded correctly. However, in one instance, no student in the ed that though she demonstrated competence in some areas o f instruction, she also exhibited weakness. On the RISE, Lilla achieved an overall area of instructio n, with a rating of only 1.5. The READ 180 lesson plan did not include any explicit word study instruction. Instead, the small group instruction primarily involved students taking turns reading while Lilla periodically interjected with discussion and quest ions. In each instance where a student had difficulty decoding, Lilla pronounced the word. On several occasions, she reminded students of a sound. This reminder was not a part of the scripted lesson.
84 In contrast, her sub score for vocabulary was a 3.0. Dur ing this portion of the lesson, Lilla focused on four key words giving examples and non examples of words and linking the their own examples for words, and conn ect the words to the text they were reading. Lilla followed the READ 180 lesson carefully, which outlined these activities. Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction his time, she recalled her first thoughts after accepting the teaching position: she had absolutely no knowledge of how to teach reading. She candidly spoke about her lack of knowledge with school administrators and indicated her surprise at receiving this position. accepted the position to the first interview, Lilla improved her knowledge of reading instruction. During her second week, the r how to implement the READ 180 curriculu m. Lilla attributed her understandin g of reading instruction to i dentify the five reading components (see Appendix E) However, when asked to explain this her limited knowledge. Lilla spoke critically about the comprehension portion of the READ 180
85 curriculum. When asked, what are the import think comprehension has to focus solely on higher order thinking skills. If you ask simple fact strategies or components of comprehension instruction. Lilla also struggled to discuss why she implemented certain practices in her instruction. When asked about her vocabulary instruction, Lilla was unable to articulate why her instructional practices might be helpful She also seemed unable to articulate a rationale for engaging in certain fluency practices. During her first observation, Lilla conducted fluency testing with students. W hen asked about this practice in her post sure what the fluency testing will tell me except how quickly they wants me to know the kids better. I am not really sure yet how I will be able to use it to help me demonstrated difficulty with the concept of fluency and monitoring student progress. She could only define fluency as reading pace, and could not elaborate on how fluency rate might affect instructional practices. Lilla also demonstrated a limited abilit y to reflect on the extent to which learning goals Individual Influenc es Personal qualities Throughout her four observations, Lilla referred to two personal qualities that assisted her classroom instruction, patience and flexibility. For instance, in a post observation interview, Lilla was asked how she thought the lesson
86 good thing I am a really patient person. I have some kids who would never get involved unless I Ya know, when I was asking questions in that one small group, at first Zack wou answer. All the other kids were raising their hands and making noises. I really wanted everyone to participate so I waited and asked Zack again and the last time he e struction, Lilla asked a student to stop talking to another student. After the student ignored her, and the disagreement escalated, Lilla asked her small group to cont inue reading while she pulled the two students and spoke quietly with them. One student r eturned to the computer and the other went to the opposite corner of the room and began an audio book. When asked about this interruption, Lilla said: I am really flexible. I know that sometimes you have to just stop what you are doing and do something el Lilla felt her flexibility allowed her to address classroom issues whether they were behavioral or academic. Pr ior e xperiences. Sciences, directly impacted her decision to become a teacher. While taking coursework in this major, Lilla was often prompted by her professors to choose a preference in the three areas of her major. Lilla always chose youth and as she completed projects a nd papers, she became more interested in the situations youth face. As she reflected on her learning, Lilla said:
87 It seemed like with each class I took, I learned more about children and their lives. I learned about their families, their education, and eve n abuse. At some point I just thought, teaching is how I could really make a difference. Lilla indicated that these experiences in her undergraduate coursework led her to the classroom. Since Lilla had no preparation for teaching, she possessed limited f ormal knowledge to reference in her new career. Nonetheless, Lilla acquired some informal knowledge and strong beliefs about comprehension as a result of her experience as a student. She recalled the strong influence of her middle school English teacher wh o focused instruction on improving comprehension and only asked higher order questions. This format assisted Lilla in reaching a deeper level of understanding and helped her analyze reading in a different way. In her first interview, Lilla criticized the R EAD 180 curriculum because it included both lower and higher order comprehension questions. She believed the mandated curriculum prevented her from asking only higher higher order the structure of the curriculum in her second week of teaching, she did discuss a desire to adapt the curriculum in the future. Contextual Influences Collegial support In interviews, Lilla reported collegial support as an influential factor in both her instruction and her personal well being. Her network of colleagues included the reading coach, her special education team leader, other first year teachers, her neighbor ing teachers, and the lunch group. Lilla discussed how each of the previous listed colleagues assisted her in some connect with her peers and building a trust ing relationship where discussions about instruction
88 would often unfold. In other instances, individuals provided immediate instructional assistance, with less emotional support. For instance, Lilla ate lunch with a group of READ 180 teachers. When Lilla first joined the group, the conversation was primarily friendly and focused on personal and school happenings. Occasionally, the group would discuss instructional issues, but Lilla only listened and did not participate. However, after a few weeks, Lilla f elt more comfortable participating in assistance in her instruction. Lilla was observed stopping students after sections of reading and asking them to summarize, an activity not a part of the READ 180 lesson. When asked about the use of this comprehension strategy in the post observation interview, Lilla said: I actually got that idea from my lunch group. I have a few kids who have a hard time recalling informati on when we read longer passages. So, my lunch group, this group of READ 180 teachers, they suggested I try out summarizing after some passages. I love the lunch group, we talk about all sorts of things, and they are really supportive. I can talk to them ab out my boyfriend, or about problems in class. It is funny because one day we are talking about men and another day we are talking about comprehension. The group provided suggestions and support for Lilla, both personally and instructionally. Lilla reporte d this helped her feel a part of the school and she often used ideas from her lunch group in her reading instruction. Between classes, Lilla spoke with the two teac hers about various topics including school activities, personal stories, student behavior, and READ 180 lessons. Lilla indicated these two teachers were her mother figures because they were always checking up on her. She felt
89 comfortable asking questions a bout implementing the curriculum and managing student behavior because both teachers provided similar instruction. Lilla explained: The two teachers on either side of me have been incredible. First, they watch out for me, always wanting to know how things are going. Then, they teach the same thing, so I know they can help me when I am confused about the lesson. Lilla often discussed her two most influential colleagues, the reading coach and her team leader. She referenced these two colleagues most frequen tly in her post observation interviews. Unlike her lunch group or neighboring teachers, these colleagues provided primarily instructional support to Lilla. For instance, Lilla felt Mrs. K. offered rich support in reading instruction, specifically related t o READ 180. Lilla often spoke with Mrs. K. about her difficulties in implementing the curriculum. In one interview, Lilla described the following interaction: I was having a really tough time with the independent reading time. During that part of the rota I went to Mrs. K. (the reading coach) and told her about my problems. She suggested a few things. I could try supplementing the books from READ 180 with some magazines tha t they might enjoy. I could set up an audio station or I could incorporate a writing activity to help them be more accountable for that time. Lilla reported trying two of the three strategies in her classroom, setting up an audio center where students cou ld listen to their books and asking students to write a few sentences about what they read that day. She found this kept students engaged and accountable for independent reading. On another occasion, Mrs. K. assisted Lilla in improving her vocabulary instr uction. The READ 180 lesson requires the teacher to model an example for each vocabulary word;
90 however, Mrs. K. wanted Lilla to elaborate more when teaching the vocabulary. On one occasion, she even provided Lilla with a specific example. Lilla reported: After one of my lessons Mrs. K. talked to me about my examples of vocabulary words. I needed to elaborate more on my examples to really help the kids understand. When asked t o give an example of how she changed her modeling Lilla explained, She told me to tell mini have a uniq Lilla often discussed Mr. H. when asked about instructional practices she implemented. Mr. H assisted Lilla with focusing her instruction beyond the curriculum and on individual teaching. He is constantly making me think about specific students and h ow I can improve what I synonyms, antonyms, a definition, a sentence and a pi cture. When asked about her use of this graphic organizer that was not a part of the READ 180 lesson, Lilla said: Mr. H. gave me the idea to use the vocabulary web. John often has trouble with understanding vocabulary and Mr. H. suggested some additional instruction and use of the web would help John and it really does.
91 The support Lilla received from Mrs. K. and Mr. H. helped her to increase her understanding of the classroom practices she implemented, implement new classroom practices and solve daily in structional dilemmas. School c limate. Overall, Lilla discussed feeling comfortable and supported at her school. As detailed above, she saw her interactions with her colleagues as beneficial. Additionally, guidance from her administrators, as well as opportunities to be a part of the larger school community, contributed to her positive sense of instruction. Lil la spoke with her administrators almost every day and felt they were concerned first and foremost with her success in implementing instruction. Every week, at least one administrator observed her instruction and would offer positive feedback and suggestion s for improvement. Lilla described how this feedback helped in managing instruction: After Mrs. B. watched my class last week, she and I talked about how I thought things were going. When I told her that I was having a hard time finishing the small group in the allocated 20 minutes, she discussed some observations she saw. She noticed that I was asking each student in small group to participate every time which is probably why I never finished what I needed to. I went back the next day and tried to only ha ve one or two students respond each time, and this really helped. Not only did Ms. B. help Lilla figure out ways to manage instruction, she also helped her to find techniques to improve the quality of her reading instruction. For instance, Lilla demonstra ted a when she said:
92 B., I knew my goal should be that they [the students] are understandin g the material, not necessarily answering every question. I could know they are understanding by many things: their participation, their writings, their questions. dents have too many kids and not enough time to ask everyone development of her conceptual understanding of how to assess comprehension instruction as a direct result of her interactions with the administrator. Lilla also discussed the sense of community at her school and how it contributed to her likeliness to seek help. In interviews, Lilla explained that while she was one of six special education teachers, she felt included in the larger school community. She attributed this to seemingly fair treatment of teachers and th e organization of hybrid groups of teachers for meetings. When asked about fitting in with the school, Lilla said: are also academy teachers and major program teac hers, but we are all teachers, and there are a lot of opportunities for us to work together. I think this helps to make us a school instead of schools inside a school. Lilla went on to discuss her ability to access information from a variety of sources. S he particularly liked the organized READ 180 meeting because it brought together all the teachers in the school who were using this curriculum, across all grade levels, and both teachers of general education students and students with disabilities. Not on ly did this forum give her an
93 opportunity to get to know the general education teachers, it also provided a place for her to ask questions and hear others problems and potential solutions. Listening to others problems helped Lilla feel better about her o actually like to hear about other people having problems. It makes me feel like I am normal, and instruction. Lilla applied what she learned from other teachers to her own dilemmas. She told a story about one such situation: One day in class we were working on theme. One of my students, Franco, could not seem to understand theme or identif y it in a story. When I was thinking about it after school that day I remembered at one of our meetings (READ 180) a teacher talking about addressing theme with her students. Someone gave an idea about playing a story telling game. You would start by givin g an example that kids would know like Cinderella where would pick a few popular stories to find the moral or message and then tie it into the story you are reading. Pe ople are always talking about ideas in that meeting. A lot of times I Growth in Classroom Practice However, careful scru tiny revealed small changes in her both her general classroom practices and her reading instruction. Observations showed that Lilla made minor adaptations to the READ 180 curriculum. These adaptations primarily centered on meeting the needs of individual s tudents. Lilla showed growth on Pathwise observations in A.4, B.4, C.2, C.4, C.5, D.1, and D.2. For instance, by her fourth observation, Lilla showed a remarkable difference on the C.4
94 indicator. In her first observation she assessed fluency with a check list, and comprehension with oral questions. In her fourth observation, Lilla used a student portfolio to assess student progress. There were three sections to the portfolio: vocabulary, comprehension and fluency. One group had an additional section calle d word study. After each instructional time period, Lilla asked students to put their work or mark their checklists in their portfolio. She individually marked progress on word study during this small group instruction. Moreover, Lilla provided specific fe edback frequently during her small group sessions, something that was not seen during the first Lilla also showed growth on the RISE. In her final observation, she earned an overall rating of 3.0. Lilla made noticeable improvement in the area of Word Study. She reorganized her small groups so that those students identified as her lowest readers could all be placed in the sam e group. During this small group session, Lilla devoted additional time to word study and focused her instruction on chunking and syllable patterns. Students practiced on a small white board and Lilla noted similar words in the text. This practice raised L from a 1.5 in the first observation to a 3.0 in the final observation. Interestingly, this word study lesson also came from READ 180, but it was a supplemental, optional program for teachers. Growth in Understanding of Reading Ins truction Lilla made substantial changes in her understandings of reading instruction. She began her teaching practice by following the curriculum closely and displayed a cursory knowledge of the practices she implemented; however, she developed a deeper u nderstanding of her own reading instruction throughout her first three months as indicated by her pre and post observation interviews.
95 In the beginning of the study, Lilla demonstrated weak understandings of the important role that the five fundamental co mponents of reading played in her instruction, even though she identified all five components on her concept map and implemented four components during her lesson. However, by the final observation, Lilla began to demonstrate some understanding of why flu ency, comprehension, vocabulary, and phonics are crucial to reading instruction. While Lilla could not explain fluency or why she engaged in fluency testing in her first interview, her final post observation interview demonstrates her growth. Lilla explai ned her use of fluency instruction: We do many activities to increase fluency. Basically, when they [students] get practice with fluency, they are able to read better and more cohesively. It gives them a better understanding of the content. They practice fluency on the computer daily and also in small group with me. We reread sections and they also get modeling of fluency. passage. Lilla had this to say: One of the strategies I am working on is summarizing. The kids are summarizing when we hit the end of a page. This helps me to know if they are understanding and helps them to identify the most important parts of the story. Originally, Lilla only discussed high er order questioning as the sole goal of comprehension instruction, but by her fourth observation she articulated additional practices for improving and assessing comprehension. Her ability to demonstrate knowledge beyond simply naming one aspect of instru ction indicates she is developing a more conceptual understanding of comprehension.
96 While no observation showed Lilla making learning goals clear to students, she did become more reflective on the extent to which learning goals were met. In her final post observation interview Lilla said: I think they definitely achieved the goals of the lesson. First of all, they were able to really work with the vocabulary words. Each one of the students could identify with the u see where Davin understood the word imposter after Laquisha gave her example? He was able to come up with his own example then. understand the reading today, like Mar quis. Even when we went back to the story to look for depth reflection about her lessons than when she began to teach initially. Now she linked her teaching practices to the st before she could not even identify if her learning goals were met. Taurean Taurean accepted a special education teaching position close to the start of the school year, gi ving him only two short weeks to prepare for his co teaching assignment i n three different content areas (reading, social studies, and science). His prior experience working with children gave him some confidence, but he had no formal preparation in teachi ng. For his reading class, he partnered with an experienced teacher who was also new to the school and instruction included only the mandated curricular assignments and small group lessons created by his co teacher. He also had a limited understanding of the practices he implemented. Over the
97 four based supports influenced changes in his classro om practice and understandings of reading instruction. Initial Classroom Practice At the time of his first observation in December, Taurean was in his fourth month of teaching. His and the co lassroom instruction using the READ 180 curriculum, which they followed closely. The only noticeable modification occurred during the small group rotation where, instead of an independent reading group, one teacher provided small group instruction, planned by the co teacher. During READ 180 curriculum instruction Taurean demonstrated evidence in all Pathwise domains. Additionally, his performance on individual subsets of the RISE reflected coverage three key curriculum areas in reading. READ 180 instruction aligned closely with the benchmarks on Pathwise and he demonstrated evidence in all four domains, observations showed room for n organized all his materials in advance. Further, by following the READ 180 curriculum, he allocated an appropriate amount of time for instructional activities. Taurean struggled, however, to maintain the intensity of his instruction and when students bec ame restless or misbehaved Taurean was easily diverted from the content resulting in an inability to complete tasks. For instance, in one small group, Taurean began by having students read from the text, but when he stopped to ask comprehension questions, one student sidetracked the group by telling a personal story. It took Taurean nearly ten minutes to refocus the group, and by this time only five minutes of instructional time remained with more than half of the story left to read.
98 In another example, Ta urean encouraged students to think independently and creatively about the content being taught, a benchmark for the C.3 indicator. Taurean required students to independently respond to vocabulary questions in a way that related the words to their lives, as outlined by the READ 180 lesson plan. However, when students provided examples that were inconsistent with the definition of the word, Taurean was unable to adjust his instruction, and in the C. 2 indicator, making content comprehensible to students. The following is the interaction between Taurean and his student is an example : Taurean: In what ways do you try to deceive your parents? Anthony? Anthony: I help my parents with all sor whip me. Taurean: Okay, how about you Tanisha? When asked about his non a correct response would be more helpful than just telling Anthony he w difficulty comprehending the word. some areas of instru ction, he also exhibited weakness. On the RISE, Taurean achieved an overall score of 2.0, however, he was not observed providing phonemic awareness or word study instruction. The READ 180 lesson plan did not include either area. His sub scores for fluency, vocabulary and comprehension were a 2.0, 2.5, and 2.5 respectively. Fluency was not explicitly taught, but Taurean did model fluent reading in small group instruction. He also directed students to peer read. His vocabulary instruction displayed more consi stency. During this part of
99 instruction, Taurean focused on five words. His systematic instruction followed five steps: (1) pronouncing the words; (2) explaining the meaning; (3) providing examples; (4) deepening understanding; and (5) reviewing. In each o f the steps, except number two, Taurean followed the READ 180 lesson carefully, which outlined the instructional process in a semi scripted manner. Taurean moved quickly though the lesson, sampling a handful of student responses where the curriculum called for participation. Taurean only deviated from the curriculum during the second step, where he provided extensive personal stories for each one of the vocabulary words. For instance, when teaching the word recognize he explained: Okay, so I know you think I am old, so you will really like this next story. I went to school a really long time ago and you know that I am from North Carolina. I was out one day eating with the basketball team and I saw my favorite elementary school teacher, Mrs. Keehner. I went u She said I looked so different now, all grown up. When you all are old like me, I small group to another. In one group, he followed the curriculum closely providing direct instruction in locating the setting, characters, plot, and theme in a story. Individual lessons in the curriculum prompted him to provide explicit comprehension inst ruction using modeling, think alouds, and engaging students in discussions of the story elements. He also utilized a graphic organizer. During the think aloud, he read directly from the script in the lesson plan. Students answered questions and easily com different, although he followed the same plan. The modeling, think aloud and discussion for identifying setting and characters went according to plan, with students answer ing appropriately.
100 However, the instruction for identifying plot and theme proved more difficult. Students were unable to discuss the plot or theme, and Taurean was challenged to respond to thei r difficulties. T he READ 180 curriculum provided little assist ance in how to proceed. When the twenty minutes of small group instruction ended, none of the five students had completed the graphic organizer identifying the plot and theme. On both the RISE and Pathwise Taurean show ed strength in his ability to manage the classroom. On the RISE, Taurean achieved a 3.0 for classroom management. He addressed behavior proactively and often whispered to students to redirect their attention or divert a problem with another student. He also frequently distracted one student b y asking him to do various chores. For instance, Mrs. M. warned E.G. to stop talking to the student next to him during small group instruction. When Taurean noticed E.G. chatting just two minutes later, he Taurean asked E.G. to do six chores for him during the 80 minute class period. In addition to this antiseptic bouncing, Taurean also provided positive behavior feedback, and encouraged peer support. Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction Taurean he recalled his entrance into the classroom and his initial fear of teaching reading. He was thankful for a position with an experienced co teacher. Taurean admitted that in itially Mrs. M. did all of the planning. Before class, they reviewed the READ 180 lesson plan and discussed who would cover specific portions of the lesson. Taurean described his first few months of Taurean and Mrs. M. went to a two day READ 180 training prior to the start of the school year. Taurean also met with the reading coach during pre planning, for a brief overview of the reading process. During his first interview with the researcher, Taurean was asked to
101 produce a conc ept map on the essential ingredients of reading instruction and he focused on comprehension as the key element (see Appendix E ). During an interview about his map, he was unable to articulate how other reading processes (such as phonics or vocabulary knowl edge) could play an impo rtant role in learning to read. Instead, he described activities in the READ 180 lesson plans. For instance, when asked about how knowledge of vocabulary assists in reading, ome up with sentences and give On one occasion, Taurean described an activity to assist with comprehension suggested by his mentor teacher, but he was unable to incorporate the activity in his instruction. He said: I talked with Mr. H. (ment or) about a group that was struggling to answer some comprehension questions. He suggested I use stop more frequently than the lesson says to and ask questions so I will know if the students are understanding. He said that having discussions throughout the my own planning yet. I am not really confident in my ability yet. I am getting there. activity sugges ted by his mentor, Taurean was not yet comfortable enough to veer away from the consistency and structure the READ 180 lessons provided. group comprehension and vocabulary instruction further substantiated his limited knowledge. He thought about teaching more as content coverage rather than a process that involved carefully orchestrating instruction to be responsive to the ge what he
102 ht assist students, Taurean afterward, and I might get some good ideas, but then it is often too late to do. I know it is Taurean also struggled to discuss reasons for implementing certain practices in his instruction. When asked about his vocabulary instruction, Taurean was unable to articulate why an modeled fluency during small group instruction. When asked about this practice in his post since I read a lot faster t instructional practices to increase student fluency indicating his difficulty with the concept of fluency. Also, he could not elaborate on how reading fluency might be affected by other instructional practices. Individual Influences Personal qualities During pre and post observations, Taurean referred to his sense of humor, easygoing nature, and positive attitude as influences on his teaching practice. For example, in a pre sai d:
103 I am going to do something different with one small group. We are going to use a graphic organizer to diagram the story. Mrs. M. gets nervous doing things outside the box, but I better teacher. During the lesson, Taurean began his small group instruction by showing the students the graphic organizer and explaining the boxes. He worked with the students to fill in the remaining boxes soliciting student assistance; however, he was unable to complete the activity during the learn from it. I wil Taurean also identified his easy going nature as a possible concern. In one interview, Taurean discussed how his easy going nature could T aurean claimed that his sense of humor helped him strengthen relationships with students and maintain classroom management; something he freely admitted his co teacher could not do. In a post observation interview, Taurean discussed a behavioral altercatio n with a student: have a sense of humor like me. I really try to have fun with the kids, make jokes and play around when we get a chance. They (the kids) really like me and I think that is why they behave for me more. They know when I am being serious and respect what I say. In every observation, Taurean showed his sense of humor. He periodically laughed with students. For instance, between rotations, Taurean said to on nearby students all giggled.
104 Taurean considered his positive attitude his most influential quality in helping s tudents learn and staying motivated. He said: like I am able to help these kids enough. I have to come in each day and start fresh, hopefully working with them to ma ke them better readers. I know this will help them in each kid can learn and that I can do it, otherwise it is all a waste. Prior e xperiences. Taurean stated that he did not initially think of teaching as a possible career. In fact, Taurean accepted an assistant coaching position at a local high school, which was what brought him to Florida. The head coach suggested he consider teaching for a job. Taurean felt that his experiences working with children might position him to be a good teacher, and so he applied. Taurean often referenced his prior employment in interviews. He felt h is position at The Boys and Girls Club and as a coach helped him maintain positive relationships with other teachers, naturally manage classroom behavior, motivate students, and learn new instructional strategies. Taurean referred to his previous employme nt when discussing his relationships with other teachers. Taurean referenced his relationship with Mrs. M. as assisting in his understanding of reading instruction. He often asked Mrs. M. for clarification of instructional practices included in the lesson plan. Although Taurean stated that he often disagreed with Mrs. M. in her behavior management approaches, he indicated that his people skills assisted him in maintaining a positive relationship with her, which benefitted the classroom atmosphere and his ab ility to learn from her. He said:
105 I am sometimes frustrated with how Mrs. M. deals with the students. I think she is quick to dole out punishments for things that could have been avoided. Then it leads to the students not liking her and in middle school i along with her fine. I am not a confrontational person, and when I worked as the director of The Boys and Girls Club I had to deal with all kinds of people. You learn how to work with all kinds of adults. That helped me a lot since I have to teach with three different teachers and they are really different people. Taurean further explained the importance of maintaining a positi ve relationship with his co teacher: are able to get along, whether I agree with her treatment of students or not, she knows a lot more about reading than I do. She is always available to answer questions for me and she has a lot of ideas that are not in the curriculum that can help students. If I completely Taurean attributed his a bility to maintain a positive working relationship with Mrs. M. to his prior work experiences. He said: I have worked with a lot of people in my previous jobs...I think teaching is not that different than coaching. Coaches all have different styles. I di lot of coaches did things, but ultimately it was about the kids, and so I would try my best to work with people, take what I can from them and hopefully help them with what I am good at. I do the same in the classroom.
106 Taurean also discussed his prior employment working at the Boys and Girls Club when explaining his management of student behavior. In one observation, Taurean deescalated an ensuing fight between two students. First, he separated the two students. Next, he individ ually spoke to each student. Finally, he brought the two together to discuss their disagreement. When asked about the situation in a post observation interview, Taurean referenced his prior All that time working with kids in my previous jobs, I had plenty of practice breaking up fights and helping kids work resolution strategies: Some of it just comes with a comfort level of working with tough kids all the time, but I also had some training when I took the job at The Boys and Girls Club. We spent a few days learning about how to help kids through their disagreements. I use this in my classroom all the time. He further explained he felt comfortable using this technique because he knew how it worked and what to expect from the students. Taurean also described how his previous experiences working with adolescents helped him to adopt instructional p experience helped him persist in making the content comprehensible for students. During the lesson, Mrs. M. provided whole group instruction, and Taurean pulled two students to complete a graphic organizer aimed at activating prior knowledge of the text. Taurean also provided a short preview of the story, highlighting key characters and storyline. When asked about this activity in a post observation interview, Taurean explained:
107 I have bee n working on helping several students with their comprehension. It seems that whatever I do, they are still having a hard time understanding the story. If I learned anything in all those years at The Boys and Girls Club and as a coach, there are some kids things. One time I worked with a kid for a month to get a certain shot (basketball). It is the same in the classroom; I just have to keep trying new things to find the r ight one for these kids. The good thing is that this part of the job is nothing new to me. Contextual Influences Collegial support. In interviews, Taurean identified several colleagues as supporting him through his first year. Specifically, he referen ced the reading coach, his mentor, and his co reading instruction and the needs of struggling readers. For instance, he met with the reading coach before pre planning, and she provided an orient ation to the reading curriculum he would provide. Although Taurean recalled that meeting support that the reading coach provided : Most of the time, we talk informally about how things are going, she genuinely cares about how I am doing and how I am helping the kids. When I am expressing difficulty with things, she will set up a time to meet with me to talk things th r ough. Taurean described one discussion that was particularly helpful for improving his instruction: We sat down for about an hour and went through some basic activities and things I could be
108 doing with the kids every day to help with their reading. I know this is something I am not doing enough of, but at least know I know a few things I can do to help Taurean was observed following one of the decoding strategies the reading coach provided. Specifically, the coach suggested Taurean not always pronounce a word when a student struggled with decoding. Instead, he could help break the word into shorter se ctions that might be more manageable for the students. In his third and fourth observations, Taurean followed this suggestion on several occasions. For instance, during his third observation, a student was struggling with the word gorgeous To help her, Ta urean covered a portion of the word and asked the student to sound out gor He then continued this process revealing ge and then ous. suggestion resulted in Taurean chang ing his classroom practice. Taurean frequently discussed how his mentor was the most influential colleague in supporting him instructionally. Taurean claimed that his mentor helped him to refine his instruction and assisted him in better addressing studen t needs. For instance, the researcher observed Taurean making some important changes to his vocabulary lesson that improved its effectiveness. Taurean followed the small group READ 180 lesson plan closely for his first rotation. The lesson involved reviewi ng target vocabulary words for the story. Taurean modeled creating a sentence that would use a target word, and leaving it blank. He explained the importance of context in determining what the word might be. The students then filled in the correct word. Pa irs of students then worked to create cloze sentences for the other pair of students. During the second rotation, his lesson did not look the same. Taurean began by showing the students different cloze sentences previously prepared. He used a think aloud p rocess showing students how to locate the appropriate word for each of the four sentences. He
109 split students in pairs and gave them ten cloze sentences. Tauren then directed one student to read the sentence and the other to identify key context words that would assist in locating the correct word. When asked about this change of practice, Taurean said: My mentor suggested I adjust my activities with this group. These students have more difficulty creating things on their own. They would usually spend the w hole ten minutes if I asked them to write all the sentences that would take forever. So, Mr. H. (mentor) thought if I provided the sentences ahead of time and had t hem focus on the content and them, but a lot of times I do. Through his discussions with Mr. H., Taurean thought more carefully about his stud and their pro gress. With assistance from his mentor, Taurean supplemented the READ 180 lesson plan to individualize instruction. teacher also provided instructional support. Specifically, Mrs. M. provided concrete opportunities for Taurean to observe and p ractice both planning and implementing reading instruction that allowed him to move from relying on his co teacher heavily to sharing i nstructional responsibilities. For instance, Taurean and Mrs. M. discussed instructional plans daily which gave Taurean a most of the instructional planning and provided the majority of the reading instruction, th ough she tried to involve Taurean in the planning and instruction by explaining what she was doing. Taurea n described one conversation with Mrs. M:
110 clue. One of the small group activities we sometimes do focuses on fluency. The first students we re fluent readers and one way to do this was to have pairs of students reread passages to each other. This would help the students get faster at their reading. Taurean understood from this conversation that increasing fluency meant students would become faster readers. He said: time and a lot of conversations with Mrs. M and others that helped me to know what the As Taurean became more comfortable in the classroom and he improved his knowledge of reading instruction, he relied less on Mrs. M. In his final post observation interview he said: On ce I got my bearings and knew something about reading, I started planning myself. I still talk with Mrs. M. about the activities I am doing. She gives me ideas of how to improve what I am doing or lets me know if she thinks it might flop. School c limate. Taurean discussed feeling a strong sense of belonging at his school. He attributed this sense of belonging to the open access and collegial nature of the school. As mentioned previously, his co teaching assignment allowed him daily interaction with three g eneral education teachers. He also had frequent contact with his administrators and multiple opportunities to be a part of the larger school community. These three factors contributed to his
111 ractice and understandings of reading instruction. Taurean frequently discussed the benefits of co teaching three different subject areas and the opportunity to learn about teaching this assignment provided. Taurean did not have a classroom to call his own, instead moving each period to a general education classroom. This allowed him to not only observe three veteran teachers and their classroom environments (each distinctly different), but also to have immediate access to help. For instance, Taurean us ed an activity his social studies co teacher employed to help with a reading group. He explained: Mrs. R. (social studies co teacher) uses this one activity to help her students understand ents learning how to read text books because a lot of them struggle. Basically, the kids use different symbols to keep track of their own understanding. As they are reading, they write an X if it is important, a question mark if it is a question and an exc lamation point if it is interesting. The kids really like it (in social studies) and it seems to help them understand the material so I decided to try it in one of my small reading groups. Taurean also felt his co teaching assignment gave him immediate ac cess to assist in solving to talk to others during breaks or after school. I am always working with someone else, so I can Fre and improved instructional practices. Taurean spoke with at least one administrator daily and more often talked with all three daily. His conversations ranged from short cor dial greetings to in depth conversations about his classroom instruction. He felt his administrators were concerned
112 with meeting his needs and his ability to impact student learning. Each week, one administrator observed his instruction and offered praise and suggestions for improvement. Taurean described how this praise helped him gain confidence in his teaching and ultimately seek assistance: beginning. It seemed for the first few months, they would just find things to compliment me on. They would offer suggestions too, but mostly praise at the beginning. It made me feel good about what I was doing. Then, I was more comfortable asking questions when they would bring up things I needed to improve. Taurean elaborated on one interaction with an administrator about his instructional practices: Just last week Mrs. B. came in and watched a small group lesson I did. I was working with the group on identifying story elements and I used think alouds from the lesson plan, but not all my kids seemed to get it on their own. Mrs. B. walked with me to my next class. She said how nicely I handled a problem with a student and that she liked the think aloud. Then she said that she once used a story pyramid with her class that might be helpful for me. She basically said it was a graphic organizer that required the kids to summarize the elements into a certain number of words. She explained that summarizing helped kids to better comprehen d. She said she would check back with me to see how it went. Later that day Mrs. B. emailed a link to a website explaining the story pyramid. Taurean incorporated the pyramid in his small group instruction the following day. Mrs. B. not only provided posi tive feedback to Taurean, she assisted him in locating alternate techniques to improve the quality of his reading instruction.
113 Taurean also discussed his place as a part of the larger school community and how it contributed to his potential to learn abou t students and teaching. Taurean described being a part of several groups that provided support and assistance with instruction. He attended monthly READ 180 meetings, bi weekly math and science team meetings, and monthly special education team meetings. T aurean also stated that felt he had an advantage over the other special educators at his school because of his co teaching assignment. This assignment required he interact with general educators, and therefore he thought it lessened the isolation teachers typically experienced. He explained: meeting. I go to the content meetings for the subjects I teach and then the special ed eel secluded by my special education status helped him le arn about teaching. After his first month in the classroom, he began taking notes of ideas teachers discussed in the meetings. He discussed his surprise when picking up useful techniques from his social studies team meetings. The team set a yearlong goal t o improve text instruction. Taurean recalled a discussion focusing on helping students locate the main idea. The team decided to teach students to appropriately h ighlight information which would assist students in referring back to the text when struggling to answer comprehension questions. Taurean took this strategy and applied it to his reading class, teaching highlighting in his small
114 group instruction. He found this strategy helpful for improving student understanding in both his social studies and reading class. Growth in Classroom Practice areas, and noticeably in othe rs. Specifically, Taurean continued to use the READ 180 curriculum as a basis for all reading instruction, but observations revealed adaptations and additions to the instructional manual. These modifications were primarily in response to specific stude nts struggling w ith activities in the READ 180 curriculum. Taurean showed growth on Pathwise observations in A.1, A.4, A.5, C.2, C.4, D.1 and D.2. For instance, by his fourth observation, Taurean made notable growth on the C.5 indicator. In his first obse rvation, Taurean was easily diverted from the content which resulted in an inability to complete activities and provide consistent intense instruction. By his third and fourth s remained involved in the activities. Moreover, Taurean redirected students when they lost attention, something he struggled with in his first two observations. For instance, in one small group, Taurean began by briefly reviewing the definition of each vo cabulary word. He then asked students to work in pairs and play Pictionary. One student drew pictures that related to the vocabulary word and the other would guess the word. When the person guessed the word, he or she explained why the picture represented the word. After the completion of one round, an off topic conversation started between two students. The following interaction occurred: Student 2: Well, I want to be an artist someday. My dad is really good too. He paints and Student 2: But Mr. T. I was gonna tell him this story about this comic I did.
115 the word you are working on now? Taurean quickly redirected the students to the vocabulary task minimizing non instructional time. Taurean also showed growth on the RISE. In his final observation, he earned an overall rating of 3.0. Taurean made visibl e improvement in the areas of fluency, vocabulary and comprehension; however, he made minimal improvement in the area of word study. Previously, Taurean was not observed providing any explicit word study instruction. When a student struggled to decode a w ord, Taurean always volunteered the word. While he still did not plan word study instruction, in his fourth observation, he was observed periodically assisting students with decoding. Taurean stopped students several times and helped the m chunk the word. T ways. At first, Taurean provided the same activities for each instructional group, following the READ 180 manual. In the last two observations, Taurean provided differe nt activities for each group based on student needs. For instance, in one group, Taurean introduced the concepts of cause and effect. Students worked in pairs to identify cause and effect in sections of the story. In another small group, Taurean began the lesson by introducing the same concepts of cause and effect, but instead of sending pairs of students off to locate areas of the text, Taurean asked students to read specific passages and the group worked together to identify cause and effect, listing inst ances on the board. With this group of students, Taurean frequently modified the READ 180 lesson providing add itional or different activities to teach targeted concepts. Growth in Understanding of Reading Instruction Taurean made remarkable changes in hi s understandings of reading instruction. In his first observation, Taurean followed the curriculum and deferred to Mrs. M. to plan the additional
116 small group rotation. He demonstrated a weak understanding of the reading process and often could not explain the purpose of activities he implemented; however, Taurean developed an improved understanding of reading instruction as indicated by his third and fourth pre and post observation interviews. key element of reading instruction. When probed on comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and vocabulary, Taurean described activities included in his READ 180 lessons. He could not explain how these activities supported the development of comprehension, and vocabulary were critical elements in reading instruction. In his first post observation interview, Taurean could not identify the cause of why students struggled during comprehension and vocabulary instruction or discuss how he could incorporate additional activities that might aide his students. In his first interview, Taurean described how students comprehend by focusing on answering different types of questions. In his final post observation interview, Taurean demonstrated growth in both his knowledge of additional activities and the concept of comprehension. Taurean explained how he felt about his lesson: I think the lesson went really well today. I am doing different things for the groups and it seems to really help with their comprehension. That group I change things up with is my tough group, and now I am doing different kinds of activities to help them. For that a ladder to help them get to the understanding...it takes different strategies for students to build a good understanding of what they are reading.
1 17 Moreover Taurean could identify the importance of comprehension in relation to other everything, how fluent the reading is, how well the kids can pronounce the words, an d even In another example, Taurean explained how and why he adjusted his instruction for vocabulary. Taurean had this to say: give examples. Most confused. I do all sorts of things to help get the kids understanding and using vocab. We draw pictures, we tell stories, we use context clues. I have a whole notebook with different activities I am keeping so I can change things up Taurean reflected on his own growth in understanding: hether th e students were really understanding the vocabulary words before. This tough group has been good for me because I learned that vocabulary instruction is not just knowing what the word means, it is developing a deeper understanding of a word and students sh ould be able to relate it to themselves and apply it to the story and even use it in other ways. Taurean demonstrated knowledge beyond simply parroting activities included in the curriculum. He showed signs of developing a conceptual understanding of voc abulary. While Taurean most frequently pronounced words to students struggling with decoding and only occasionally aided in chunking, he did become more aware of his struggles teaching phonics. When asked why he did not consistently use the chunking strat egies, he said:
118 I learned how to do that from the reading coach, but I am still really uncomfortable with teaching phonics. I know that my weakest readers really need better instruction. They need someone to actually teach them rules and patterns, to work with them on decoding make it all happen for these kids, so they only get what is on the computer right now. This quote suggests Taurean engaged in reflection about his instruction and student needs. He knew his students required intensive phonics instruction, but also understood had a ways to go before he could provide this instruction effectively. Henri planning activities to prepare him for teaching students with disabilities. While he indicated that he was committed to teaching and h e moved across the country to take the position, he had no formal preparation in teaching. He followed the mandated curriculum for a portion of the class period, but struggled to create activities to fill the remaining time. Through the course of the year, observation, Henri improved his classroom practices and began to demonstrate a conceptual understanding of some facets of reading instruction. Initial Classroom Pr actice first 40 60 minutes of his instruction period, Henri used the Corrective Reading curriculum, mandated by the school. During the remaining time, he structure d his class in centers where he created activities for students. Use of the Corrective Reading curriculum enabled Henri to
119 demonstrate some positive evidence on all Pathwise domains. His performance on the RISE suggested that he addressed each component o f reading instruction. domains on Pathwise, however, his instruction was weak in some areas and positive evidence of benchmarks haphazard during the time period when he pl anned activities. For example, indicator C.1 addresses how teachers make learning goals and instructional procedures clear to students. Henri was inconsistent in performing this skill. When he was using the Corrective Reading curriculum, Henri presented th e goals for each activity. However, when Henri taught from the materials he develo ped, he frequently did not make the goal for activities clear for students For instance, Henri transitioned from Corrective Reading to the next part of the lesson by telling students to take out their story books. He then stated that the group would start where they left off the day before and he hoped to acco mplish reading one chapter with each person taking a turn reading. His next transition included no specific procedure s or goals. He simply told students to go to the next center and get started. He did not explain the goal of the activity or the procedures the students would follow. Henri was also inconsistent in his ability to make content comprehensible to students, t he C.2 indicator on Pathwise. When using Corrective Reading, Henri followed a sequence of activities beginning with direct instruction, and moving to guided practice, peer practice, and independent practice. He reviewed prior knowledge that linked to the c urrent lesson and answered questions about the content. When Henri planned and implemented instruction, he knowledge. In two of the three centers, students chose act ivities randomly and activities did not build on any particular concept. In one instance, a student asked for clarification about an
120 activity which Henri could not provide. Instead, after reading through the directions, Henri said, municates challenging learning confidence in their ability to succeed on each instructional task. During the Corrective Reading portion of the lesson, he stat also revealed inconsistent instructional practice, particularly when he was not using the Corrective Reading Curriculum. On the RISE, Henri achieved an overall score of 2.0, with individual scale scores varying. He scored a 2.0 on phonemic awareness instru ction. Although he modeled and reviewed sounds during the beginning of the lesson was much more in depth and involved more practice, earning him a 3.0 on the RIS E. During the scripted Corrective Reading lesson, he explicitly taught decoding skills, emphasizing distinctive features of words, and used multiple examples to teach and practice skills. He also prompted students to use strategies when reading text. For instance, when one student read and responsible for planning instruction, he did not provide decoding instruction. In fact, when reading text, he most frequently pronounced words for students when they struggled with
121 decoding. He also scored a 2.0 on the RISE for fluency instruction, but only when using Corrective Reading. Spec ifically, he used peer timed readings to increase reading fluency. When Henri was not using Corrective Reading he failed to include fluency instruction. Henri also scored a 2.0 on the RISE for his vocabulary instruction. While his explicit vocabulary instr uction involved repetition, provided definitions, and identified word facts and opposites, it did not link ing him a 1.5 on the RISE. He did model comprehension strategies, specifically making inferences and deductions. However, students struggled with individual practice on these topics. When Henri developed comprehension instruction, students read a short sto ry while Henri periodically asked questions. When one student could not answer, Henri just moved to the other student for a correct response rather than helping students figure out the right answer Initial Understandings of Reading Instruction nitial interview took place in December, the mid point of his first year teaching. At this time, Henri discussed how much he learned since stepping into the classroom, particularly since he felt that he did not know how to teach when he began: Making it to Christmas break was like a carrot for me. For a lot of the time, I was just trying to survive, and go day by day. But surprisingly I learned a lot too, not only about how to set some routines, but about my students and about teaching. In regards to rea ding instruction, Henri discussed learning a great deal since accepting his enri attended a one day Corrective Reading training during pre planning and a half day orientation to reading instruction given by the reading coach at his school. Henri explained after these
122 meetings, his head was swimming in new terminology, all of which was still confusing. He said, expert in any area of reading instructi on, but that he could at least identify the important components. Indeed, Henri included all five reading components on his concept map (see Appendix E) ; however, when probed Henri revealed limited knowledge of each area. For instance, when asked to discus s vocabulary instruction, Henri described the vocabulary lesson in Corrective Reading and could not discuss the importance of vocabulary instruction in the reading process. For each of the other four reading components, Henri answered similarly, naming act ivities that matched the component but providing little rationale for why these components were important to the reading process. knowledge. Henri discussed his initial hesitation in using Corrective Reading due to the scripted lessons. However, with time, he watched his students make gains in their decoding skills and he was able to make a link between his instructional practices and student achievement. He explained: I came into the classroom thinking the Corrective Reading would not work. It seemed boring and I thought the students would become more disinterested in reading. It turned out to be the opposite. I noticed pretty quickly that my students were learning duri ng these (Corrective Reading) lessons and the more they learned the more they want to read. Unfortunately, Henri struggled to discuss why he implemented certain practices in his instruction. While he could see his students making gains due to the Correcti ve Reading instruction he could not implement any decoding instruction outside of the scripted lesson. When
123 asked about how he used decoding strategies when not using the Corrective Reading lesson he instruction and his students benefitted from this instruction, he did not understand the practices he implemented. Henri was un able to discuss any other strategies or components of word study instruction outside of the Corrective Reading lesson. In another example, Henri was unable to articulate why his instructional practices in vocabulary might be helpful to student learning. In difficulty with the concept of effective word study and vocabulary instruction. Individual Influences Personal qualities Throughout his interviews, Henri referred to three personal qualities that assisted his classroom instruction: excitement, silliness, and open mindedness. He referenced these qualities as assisting h im with student relationships and his willingness to try new things. For instance, in a post observation interview, Henri was asked about a student who person. I school feeling badly about themselves and unmotivated to learn. He discussed how his excitement could directly lead to student engagement: important that I am excited to be at work every day. I have to transfer that excitement to the kids. Most of t
124 today. But last week, this one (student) came in and he was so mad. I just started getting all excited about our Corrective Reading lesson. I was literally jumping up and down while teachi ng, and then he (student) also started getting excited. It was like he forgot what was going on at home, and he could focus on the lesson and learning to read. Henri attributed his good rapport with students to his natural silliness. Typically during transition times, Henri took the opportunity to get students to laugh at him. For instance, at the beginning of the day, one student shared with Henri that he went s kate boarding over the desks and then fell across the front of the room. T he students and Henri laughed together. When asked about this incident in his post observation interview, Henri said: Oh yes, that is my theatrical side. I am a silly person, and I try to use that silliness to my advantage. I am asking these kids to learn for 100 minutes. We all need a break, and when I act silly, it makes us all laugh. I think it helps us let off steam, and honestly I think it is one of the reasons I get along well with the kids. Henri also described himself as open minded and discusse d how this quality assisted his classroom practice. He explained his struggles planning reading instruction outside the scripted Reading. It is my free for all, s open mindedness as a strength in planning. For instance, in his third observation, Henri used a graphic organizer to identify characters and details about the story. When asked about his choice of
125 activit y, Henri explained he spent a great deal of time at the local teacher supply store looking for activities for his centers. Henri said: I am really open minded about what to include in the centers. I will try just about anything. I guess that can be good a nd bad, but in this case it was good. I bought a book and we use a lot of the graphic organizers now. It helps to organize that time period when we are reading stories, instead of me always coming up with questions off the top of my head. Henri referenced his open mindedness in taking suggestions from other teachers on campus. He and his neighboring teacher often discussed reading instruction, and she suggested different minded enough to us e other Prior e xperiences. become a teacher. In college, he focused on his interests in international stud ies and strengthened his love for other cultures. As a coordinator for student exchange programs, Henri position combined his love of other cultures and working w ith children, he was not completely happy. He began to think of teaching as a venue to assist adolescents in learning about other anything about teaching then. I jus t knew I wanted to somehow get kids excited about other the quickest way to the classroom involved taking the special education test and moving to Florida. He nri ideally wanted to teach social studies because this content area best matched his interests.
126 Since Henri had no preparation for teaching, he possessed limited knowledge that easily translated to his new career. Still, Henri looked to his knowledge ba se to inform his instruction. Formerly an international exchange coordinator, Henri felt it was important to expose students to diverse cultures in other countries. He explained that for his Friday reading centers, he incorporated stories and activities fr om other countries. Typically, he included books about different countries from his personal collection and used activities he found on the Internet to complement what students learned from the books. As such, his pre vious work experience impacted material s and activities he used in reading instruction. Contextual Influences Collegial support. In interviews, Henri referred to several colleagues as influential in his classroom instruction, knowledge of reading, and general teaching practices. Specifically, he discussed his para neighboring teacher. Henri craved and often initiated conversations with his colleagues about specific students, content instruction, and imp lementing acti vities. These conversations provided an opportunity for Henri to improve his knowledge of reading instruction and teaching practices, as well as add to his repertoire of activities during his center time. Moreover, Henri gained confidence in his discussio ns with colleagues. professional, Mrs. S. to assist in the self contained classroom. Mrs. S. served in the self contained classroom for the past five years. She knew all the students and the general routines to which the stu dents were accustomed. Henri said: knew nothing, she told me how the last teacher scheduled everything, what the kids really liked and responded to and she helped me to ge t organized.
127 Mrs. S. also shared files of activities from previous teachers. Since Henri had no materials for his often asked Mrs. S. to look through her activ ities or search the Internet for activities that matched his goals. For instance, every Friday Henri themed his centers around a specific country, such as Germany. Mrs. S. usually searched the Internet for reading activities to support the center. Henri al so described reflecting on instruction with Mrs. S. He explained: When we are taking breaks, or before or after school, Mrs. S. and I talk a lot about the on the inter net, it is supposed to help with comprehension. Anyhow, it totally flopped. students have difficulty generating questions, they are only good at it when it is based on som these kids. Henri and Mrs. S. engaged in reflective discussion about both the implementation of the activity and the student strengths and weaknesses in completing or e ngaging in instruction. Henri discussed Mrs. S. and the data system she used to track student improvement in reading. Over the past few years, she developed an elaborate spreadsheet for each content area where she tracked student skills. For example, for r eading she tracked lists of sounds that students mastered, their fluency levels, spelling ability, comprehension activities and performance, and writing skills. While Henri did not take an active part in maintaining this spreadsheet, he did refer to it fre quently. In his final post observation interview he stated: I try to go through the assessment file at least every couple of weeks to see what we are
128 still having prob lems with endings like ing or ed so I decided to really focus on that for a few weeks. The spreadsheet Mrs. S. updated daily assisted Henri in making data based instructional decisions. Finally, Henri stated Mrs. S. helped him feel confident. At the begi nning of the year, the first month to the constant emotional positive and encoura confidence, locating activities, reflecting on his instruction, and learning about student needs. Henri identified his reading coach and special education team as helpful in improvi ng his understanding of the content he taught. He spoke about his difficulty in planning five different content areas, and the professionals on campus who helped him navigate each area. Henri met with his reading coach during pre planning and occasionally used her as a resource for reading Henri elaborated by saying he struggled with comprehension instruction. He asked the reading teaching reading comprehension. The reading coach explained that Henri needed to do more during his ce nter time than asking questions; he needed to teach the student specific ways to comprehend. One suggestion Henri recalled involved going back in the text and locating answers, maybe even highlighting them. The reading coach helped Henri to recognize this
129 strategy would not come naturally to his students so he must explicitly teach and model the reading coach were infrequent. He stated: That was a rare conver sation. I get the feeling she is really busy at our school. Our school is big and nearly everyone teaches reading. She also spends a lot of time assessing the time Henri explained he had similar feelings about the special education team who assisted him in other content areas. Most of the special education team taught five classes of one subject area in a resource or co teach setting. On several occasions, Henri t and activities. For instance, Henri discussed assistance he received from a special education about his lack of curriculum, she offered Henri her old books. She also spent an afternoon showing him how she set up her lab experiments in the classroom and then explaining the importance of teaching students how to cultivate excitement in the content by incorpo rating high interest activ ities such as science projects and creating a classroom garden. Henri felt meetings with the science teacher helped him develop his science curriculum and knowledge of science instruction. Henri also described the special education teacher next door as extremely helpful. She provided assistance with daily problems often by generating new ideas for his center time. Henri explained that her mentoring ultimately helped him gain a better understanding of reading concepts. They often talked in between classes as they were monitoring the halls. These conversations began with friendly chats, but also enabled Henry to ask Mrs. J specific questions.
130 He went on to say that Mrs. J. loved to help. When he would ask her a question, she often popped into his room later with handouts or explained classroom instruction. Henri increased his knowledge of activities fr om Mrs. J. For instance, Henri used flashca rds to improve sight word recognition, but after a conversation with Mrs. J. he included several other activities. Specifically, Mrs. J. suggested Henri have students write the sight words, identify sight words in reading passages, and incorporate sight wo rds in their writing. Henri discussed his interaction with Mrs. J. as helping him grow in his understanding of reading. He said, helps me understand how to teach School Climate. Overall, Henri had a positive regard for his school despite inconsistent interactions with his peers and administrators. His neighboring teacher and para professional assisted him almost daily in improving his classroom practice and understandings of reading instruction. He also benefitted from occasional instructional support from his special education team and reading coach While he felt supported by administrators, he described limited conversa tions and contact. Moreover, his assigned mentor provided little support, and Henri expressed feeling isolated due to the self contained nature of his classroom and the severe academic needs of his students. Despite his concerns and longing for additional support, Henri expressed dedication to his students and school. Henri conveyed an overall positive opinion of his school. When asked about how he liked He further stated that everyone employed at the school, from custodians to administrators, were very friendly. He admitted he did not know the names of most of the teachers, but
131 attributed this to his infrequent opportunities to interact with his general e ducation peers. He noted that he viewed the special education teachers as separated from the general school culture. Henri described faculty meetings and Corrective Reading meetings as his only genuine access to general educators; however, the format of th e meetings did not allow for in depth conversations. Additionally, Henri believed that teaching students with the most academic challenges excluded him partially from his special education team. While he spoke with teachers on his team at bi weekly meeting s, his self contained teaching context limited his contact with team members. He only referenced a strong collegial friendship with his para professional and neighboring teacher, both of which he described as helping him to improve his classroom practice a nd understanding of reading concepts. One assistant principal was assigned to evaluate Henri, and this administrator infrequently visited his classroom. During the fir st semester, she stopped by his room twice for a short period of time and once conducted a full class observation. This administrator frequently stopped Henri in the halls and asked him how things were going. Henri always replied in a positive manner. Afte r his formal observation, Henri discussed his performance with this administrator. As a whole, he was rated positively. She suggested he could improve the intensity of instruction during his center time. Additionally, she indicated that Henri should choose the center activities instead of allowing students to randomly choose activities. Overall, Henri discussed his relationships with administrators positively, but admitted he would not seek them out for instructional support. Growth in Classroom Practic e during the Corrective Reading curriculum classroom time. However, instruction he planned
132 looked substantially different from his first observation. Observations showe d Henri continued to implement the Corrective Reading lesson without adaptations. During center time, Henri changed his classroom practice by implementing one activity per center and using direct instruction in two out of three centers. Henri showed grow th on Pathwise observations for subdomains A.3, A.5, C.2, C.5, D.1 and D.2. For example, Henri demonstrated improvement on the C.2 indicator. In the first observation, students haphazardly chose activities available at each center. During the final observ ation, for two of the three centers H enri provided the activity and he or his para professional explicitly taught students. In one center, Henri began by reminding the students of the rules they had learned to decode words. If they did not know the root wo rd, he reminded students to isolate the word within the word. He reviewed the rules using several examples. Next, he told students they would be doing something a little different. Instead of looking at whole words, they would look at a chunk of the word called a suffix. Henri showed students two columns of words. The words in the first column included: rain, catch, talk, play, look, and want. The other column included two suffixes, ed and ing. Henri read each of the words, and then asked each student to r ead the words. He then alerted the students to the two suffixes and explained the importance of these when reading a word. He said: Using the suffix ed means that it happened in the pa st. Like yesterday it rained or last week you played at the park. When you use ing, it is showing it happening now. Like, it is raining outside or we are playing checkers right now. He moved the ed behind the word rain ed and added ing and then gave each student a set of the words and suffixes to read to themselves. He allowed students five minutes to practice and then
133 asked students to volunteer a word to read and change the suffix. Henri then gave each student a short story including many words with ed and ing He asked students to use their highlighter to locate all the suffixes ending in ed and ing. The students then read the story to their partner. In this example, Henri sequenced his lesson by linking his previous instruction to th e current lesson. He then provided direct instruction, modeling, independent practice and peer practice. This demonstrated marked improvement from the first and second observation where students typically chose a random activity and completed it independe ntly. Henri also showed growth on the RISE. In his final observation, he earned an overall rating of 2.5. He made the greatest improvement in the area of Comprehension. During his first observation, Henri stopped students periodically to ask questions w hile reading a story. When students did not respond appropriately, Henri moved to the next student. In his last observation, Henri again read a short story with students and asked questions. However, this time he also used a graphic organizer. He prompted students throughout the reading to locate the problem and the potential solutions in the text. When Barney did not answer his question correctly, Henri paragr something he overlooked in the first observation. By prompting students to focus on relevant information in the text, and monitoring comprehension through questioni ng and a graphic organizer, Henri increased his comprehension score from a 1.5 to a 2.5. Growth in Understanding of Reading Instruction Pre and post interviews suggest Henri made remarkable changes in his understandings of reading instruction. Henri hims just went on for me with reading. I am finally grasping why it is important to do certain activities
134 un derstandings of phonics, fluency and comprehension. In the beginning, Henri provided intensive word study instruction through the Corrective Reading curriculum; however, in his interview, he demonstrated a weak understanding of phonics and could not disc uss additional instructional activities that might assist students during center time. In his last observation, Henri provided explicit decoding instruction during center time and was able to explain why he chose the activities based on assessment data col lected by the para professional. The lesson built on the Corrective Reading lesson, emphasizing an area of student difficulty. When asked in his post observation interview about the importance of word study instruction, Henri had this to say: Word study is my number one priority now. These kids really have to learn how to decode with some consistency. So, what they get during the Corrective Reading lesson focusing on chunking in one way or another. We did locating root words for a while, and now we are working on suffixes. This quote suggests Henri is developing a more conceptual understanding of word study instruction. Henri also made improvements in his understandings of f luency. In his first interview, Henri could not explain fluency or why modeling fluent reading might be helpful. His final post observation interview demonstrated substantial growth in understanding. Henri explained why fluency instruction was important: I remember in my first interview with you, you asked about why I took a turn reading. I
135 fluent reading. The students themselves are not great readers, so it is good for them to hear someone who is. Now, that is not the only thing we do for fluency. We do a lot of pair reading and rereading now. Mrs. S. also does timed readings with the kids once a week. Henri reflected on his own knowledge gain in the area of fluency. In this quote he is able to recognize the importance of his instructional practices and also explain other elements of instruction that aide in student fluency. Arguably, Hen In his first interview, Henri could not explain why he chose certain comprehension questions. In his final post observation interview Henri explained his choice of questions by saying: Well, we are w orking on identifying the problem in the story and potential solutions for the character, so I plan my questions to prompt students to be aware of these issues. I try to ask them questions that make them think about what the characters are going though, in stead of just what happened in the story. Henri also discussed his use of the graphic organizer. He said: I am using visuals all the time now. When the teacher in the store initially suggested it, I tried it out and my students really responded. I have a whole book of them now. It really helps to focus my comprehension instruction. I teach them real ways to figure out what the story means. I know, I know, I was just asking questions before. Remember, I said the light bulb turned on for me. Novel concept, right? Actually teach kids how to comprehend. Again, Henri demonstrated an awareness of his growth in understanding.
136 One notable area of growth for Henri involved his understanding of direct instruction. Henri admitted disliking the scripted Corrective Reading lesson, but as Henri gained a deeper understanding of direct instruction and implemented direct instruction strategies in his lessons, he could see that this instruction was impacting student learning. In his final observation, Henri used direct in struction in two of his three centers. When asked why he chose this method, he explained: then I knew it was me and not them. This quote suggests Henri gained an understanding both how to use direct instruction outside of the scripted curriculum and its value to student learning.
Table 4 1. Initial and growth in teaching practices an d understandings of reading instruction and influences on test classroom practices and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools Lilla Henri Taurean Initial Teaching Practices Understandings of Reading Instruction Direct instruction Includes 4/5 reading components Evidence of all 4 domains on Pathwise 2.5 on Overall RISE Identifies all 5 reading components (lab eling level) Reading is a process Student motivation Direct instruction Includes all 5 reading components Evidence of all 4 domains on Pathwise (inconsistent) 2.0 Overall Rise Identifies all 5 reading components (all at surface feature level) Align s components to a work station Direct instruction Includes 3/5 reading components Evidence of all 4 domains on Pathwise 2.5 Overall Rise Focus on comprehension (answering questions on Surface Feature level) Identifies word recognition and inferring (surface feature level) Stair steps to reading 137
Growth in Teaching Practices Understandings of Reading Instruction Reactive to student difficulty Adapt curriculum to meet student needs Stronger Evidence in A.4, B. 4, C.2, C.4, C.5, D.1 and D.2 on Pathwise 3.0 on Overall RISE Fluency, Comprehension, Vocabulary and Phonics (Conceptual Underpinnings) Phonemic Awareness (labeling) Evidence of all 4 domains on Pathwise (consistent) Stronger Evidence in A.3, A.5, C. 5, D.1 and D.2 on Pathwise 2.5 on Overall RISE Direct instruction (Conceptual underpinnings) Phonics, Fluency and Comprehension (Conceptual Underpinnings) Vocabulary, Phonemic Awareness (Surface Feature) Individualizing instruction Monitoring stude nt growth Stronger Evidence in A.1, A.4, A.5, C.2, C.4, D.1 and D.2 on Pathwise 3.0 on Overall RISE Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Fluency (Conceptual Underpinnings) Phonics (Surface Feature Level) Individual Influences Personal qualities Prior experiences Flexibility Patience Undergraduate degree in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences on higher order thinking Excited, silly Open minded International exchange coordi nator Investment in global studies Humor Easygoing Unit Director with a county Boys and Girls Club Basketball coach Contextual Influences Administrative Support Collegial Integration Daily informal interaction with admin istrator, weekly observation Read 180 monthly meetings, general education READ 180 neighboring teachers, lunch group, first year teachers Cordial periodic interaction with administrator, Once a semester observation Corrective Reading school wide meetings Daily informal interaction with administrator, weekly observation Read 180 monthly meetings, Co teaching classroom (three different co teachers), first year teachers, coaches 138
139 CHAPTER 5 THE GROUNDED THEORY ON INFLUENCES ON TES T ONLY TEACHER CLASSROOM PRACTICE A ND THEIR APPROPRIATI ON OF CONCEPTUAL AND PRACTICAL TOOLS The purpose of this chapter is to present a grounded theory that des cribes individual and contextual influences on beginning test ctice and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Classroom practice is defined as the act of implementing instruction ( i.e., what teachers do in the classroom ) and a ppropriation refers to the process through which a person adopts instructio nal tools and the process of internalizing ways of thinking about classroom practices ( i.e., what teachers are learning) The grounded theory emerged from data showing relationships among influences and how those relationships of reading instruction and the ways they thought about their instruction. To create a cross case analysis, the researcher looked for concepts that were represented in the data for all participants. Interviews, observations and artifacts were coded and e xamined to identify those individual and contextual influences in the activity system s that appeared to mediate what teachers did during reading instruction, as well as to identify understandings of beginning practices. Using consta nt comparison, a core theme emerged, in addition to sub themes. Together this core theme and sub themes support a grounded theory explaining the influences on test practical tools. Figure 5 1 illustrates this grounded theory. The core theme, access to curricular supports, is represented by a large circle in the diagram to signify its importance in classroom practice and the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The cor e theme is an element of the contextual activity system and the diagram depicts this relationship by positioning the core
140 theme below the contextual activity system umbrella. For each tea cher, both activity systems, individual and contextual, influence cla ssroom practice. Moreover, these activity systems influence the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools by primarily working through curricular supports. In s his/her individual and contextual ac tivity systems In the following sections, the core theme and sub themes are described in order to explicate the grounded theory. Core Theme: Access to Curricular Supports A ccess to curricular supports emerged as the core theme for all teachers in this study, influencing their classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Specifically, the availability and nature of three types of curriculum supports influenced how test only teachers planned, what content was included in instruc tion, how they implemented classroom practice, and what they understood about the practices they were implementing. These included (1) types of curriculum available to teachers; (2) mentoring th ey received for implementing curriculum; and (3) how implement ing curriculum was modeled for them. Available C urriculum The type of curriculum available to teachers and the degree to which its use was mandated influenced what teachers did during instruction All three teachers were in schools that mandated a prescr ibed curriculum, developed specifically for students with disabilities or h igh risk learners, which enabled them to demonstrate effective subject specific instructional practices for those students. The use and structure of the curriculum also enabled teac hers to step into the classroom at the labeling (or higher) level of appropriating essential reading components. Through interviews, teachers revealed how the curriculum assisted in acquiring practical tools related to reading instruction. In contrast, whe n afforded more flexibility to select or develop
141 Figure 5 1 Grounded t heory curriculum, one teacher initially struggled to address the maj or processes of reading in his classroom p ractice. Instead, he ten ded to pick and chose those activities that made sense to him, causing him to lose focus. Over time, he improved his understanding of how and why certain pedagogical practices could be used to effectively teach reading and consequently, adjusted his instructional planning acco rdingly. Lilla, Henri and Taurean, were in schools that mandated a prescribed curriculum. Thus, they had curricular support in address ing the major processes of reading and employ ing direct Access to Curricular Support s Contextual Individual Classroom Practice Appropriation of Conceptual and Practical Tools
142 instruction strategies to teach them. During observations, Lil la and Taurean provide d instruction in fluency, comprehension and vocabulary as do cumented by the RISE. These three components were part of the READ 180 daily lesson plan. Henri also engaged in instruction that addressed all major processes in reading (e.g ., phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension), but did so less consistentl y. Typically, Henri used the Corrective Reading decoding and comprehension series for the first forty five to sixty min utes of his reading instruction. The Corrective Reading decoding lesson plan incorporates instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency, while the comprehension series includes instruction in vocabulary and comprehension. Since Henri, Lilla and Taurean used READ 180 and Corrective R eading in their instruction, and followed the overall structure provided by the two programs closely their instruction consistently included essential processes for reading instruction. Moreover, these beginners who reported no previous knowledge or prepa ration in reading instruction, began their teaching careers appropriating the essential reading components at the labeling level. When Lilla, Henri and Taurean followed a mandated highly structured curriculum, their lessons had a consistent cohesive str ucture including all the essential teaching criteria outlined by Pathwise. Moreover, they demonstrated an understanding of why these criteria were important in instruction. For instance, Lilla began her READ 180 lesson by communicating her goals and proced introduce the lesson with an activity that activates background knowledge by doing a partner activity. lesson, but Lilla could go beyond parroting what was in the curriculum. Lilla could also discuss
143 the importance of different lesson compone nts. For instance, when asked why she chose to do an introductory activity, she said: introductory activity gives the kids a chance to relate to what we talked about yesterd ay In this example, Lilla not only demonstrates the ability to activate background knowledge during class instruction (a practical tool), but als o demonstrates conceptual knowledge underlying the tool. Thus, Lilla is able to integrate knowledge of practical and conceptual tools reaching the conceptual underpinnings level of appropriation. Taurean and Henri also displayed the nineteen essential teac hing criteria on their Pathwise observations. However, in the beginning, Henri did so consistently only when using the Corrective Reading curriculum. For example, when teaching the Corrective Reading curriculum, Henri always began by presenting the goals o f the lesson. Additionally, Henri could articulate w hy it was an important up front what you are doing then they know what the expectations are and they are more likely to Co rrective Reading daily use of this practical tool and helped him acquire some conceptual understanding of it. He was not, however, able to apply the understandings and practices he acquired from Corrective Reading instruction t o other aspects of his lesson during the first half of the year. When he chose materials and strategies for instruction, his use of the essential teaching criteria was haphazard. For instance, he oriented students to goals and procedures only half the time Over time, Henri transferred many of the teaching practices used in the Corrective Reading lessons to his other instruction. His reflection on student learning encouraged him to use methods he could see
144 worked in the Corrective Reading curriculum to the time periods when he implemented other instruction. Access to Mentoring Beginners had multiple mentors who were experienced, knowledgeable and availa ble. The available curriculum served as a foundation for conversations between mentors and beginners. T he curriculum was a portal for most of the mentoring discussions; not only did it enable mentors and beginning teachers to discuss how to work with the curriculum, but it also became a space to discuss other instructional issues. With mentor assistance, be ginners were able to understand how to adapt the curriculum to meet individual student needs and the instructional roles and responsibilities of a special educator during instruction. Moreover, specific curricular mentoring helped beginners to incorporate and understand new practical and conceptual tools. Th us, the type of mentoring beginning teachers received influenced how they viewed instruction fo r students with disabilities, how they solved classroom based problems and what they were able to learn abou t reading instruction and apply from the curriculum. Taurean, Lilla, and Henri identified a team of professionals (e.g., reading coach, administrator, department chair) that served as mentors. In interviews, they described their mentors as experienced, kn owledgeable and available. These three attributes were the defining characteristics that translated into assistance for beginners. Mentors assisted beginners in developing an understanding of their role as a special educator and incorporating classroom pr actices that aligned with this role. Moreover, the curriculum served as a basis for discussions. formal mentor (Mr. H.) had seven years experience as a special education teacher. In addition, Mr. H. taught the same subjects as Taure an, but at a different grade level. Taurean felt the combination of these two factors, knowledge of special education and knowledge of reading were critical supports during the first year. Taurean and Mr. H. met on
145 a weekly basis, typically discussing issu es related to reading instruction and the READ 180 curriculum. Taurean revealed that Mr. H. helped him understand several important roles of a special education teacher including individualizing instruction and monitoring student growth For example, durin at he was providing the same instruction for all students, closely following the READ 180 curriculum. This prompted Mr. H. to discuss the importan ce of monitoring student growth. Mr. H. emphasized a special educator must know the unique needs of the studen ts and be able to adapt the curriculum to meet their needs. To help Taurean implement this in his classroom, Mr. H. asked Taurean to strengths and weaknesses. When they met one week later, Taurean and Mr. H. brainstormed I started with Tyron, who I noticed really likes to participate in class. He always has his hand up to give an an swer. He also seemed to really struggle with comprehending what he reads. Mr. H. and I thought of ways to help Tyron with his comprehension by using his strength. One idea Taurean implemented was providing more prompts for Tyron before asking an actual q uestion. He explained: I think part of the problem for Tyron is that he really wanted to be recognized so he would raise his hand before he even thought about the answer. Instead of just asking a question while we were reading, I would say something like
146 think about it before I would ask the students to share. I noticed this trick helped him (Tyron) comprehend what he was reading better and he sti ll got to participate. and their progress. Mr. H. also helped Taurean navigate and supplement the READ 180 lesson plan to individualize instruction This example demonstrates how interaction with his mentor helped him appropriate new conceptual tools (individualizing instruction) and practical tools (prompting thought prior to questioning) in his instruction. Interactions with mentors also helped Taurean, Lilla and Henri to solve daily cla ssroom problems. For example, Lilla spoke with her administrators almost every day and felt they were concerned first and foremost with her success in implementing instr uction. After observations, administrators assisted Lilla in pinpointing problem areas and provided feedback for improved instruction. L illa described one post observation discussion : After Mrs. B. watched my class last week she and I talked about how I thought things were going. When I told her that I was havin g a hard time finishing the small group in the allocated 20 minutes, she discussed some observations she saw. She noticed that I was asking each student in small group to participate every time which is probably why I never finished what I needed to. I wen t back the next day and tried to only have one or two students respond each time, and this really helped. Not only did Ms. B help Lilla how to figure out ways to manage instruction, she also helped her to find techniques to improve the quality of her read ing instruction. For instance, Lilla demonstrated when she said:
147 B., I knew my goal shoul d be that they [the students] are understanding the material, not necessarily answering every question. I could know they are understanding by many things, their participation, their writings, their questions. oping a conceptual understanding of how to assess comprehension instruction as a direct result of her interactions with the administrator. Specific curricular mentoring also helped Lilla, Henri, and Taurean to incorporate and understand new practical and neighboring teacher, mentored Henri on specific practical tools related to Corrective Reading and assisted Henri in developing a more conceptual understanding of those practices and the readin g process as a whole. Henri explained a conversation with his neighboring teacher related to his Corrective Reading direct instruction lesson: It was the beginning of the year, maybe sometime in the first month or so, I was talking with her (neighboring t eacher) about my Corrective Reading lesson. I was teaching like I did today, word part and patterns. Since my kids are such low readers, I wondered if it that day abo ut Corrective Reading and some of the good things about it. She walked me through how important it is to really teach kids to read. Sight words are just one little part of decoding. I remember that conversation because it helped me to understand the curric ulum a little more. I could see the daily steps of teaching different word parts. We had a lot of conversations this year and each one helped me learn a little more about the things I was teaching in class.
148 er helped him to develop a better understanding of curriculum (practical tool) he was using and also develop a better understanding of the reading process (conceptual tool). Access to Modeling Test only teachers that had access to excellent instruction al models learn ed about the curriculum and enact ed it during instruction Each teacher in the study was able to observe someone who was knowledgeable and experienced in the curriculum implement it with students. Such modeling helped beginners understand th e conceptual and p ractical features of the reading instruction and how to implement them Lilla, Taurean and H enri were all able to see instruction using their reading curriculum being modeled on at least one occasion. Such opportunities assisted them in developing an understanding of how to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. Lilla discussed the confusion she experienced the first few days teaching. Hired on a Friday, she was handed the READ 180 curriculum and excitedly, she spent the weekend r eading through the materials, but this was not sufficient to help her grasp how to enact the curriculum in her classroom. She I was really unsure of how to mak about the practical tools of the curriculum, but was uncertain of how to enact them in her classroom practice. When asked to describe how she came to understand how to use the curriculum, Lilla talked about modeling as an essential experience. She said: I went to Lakeside Middle and I got to see a teacher doing the whole READ 180 rotation. It was good because I was able to see, this is how you implement this and this is how you manage the k ids. I was watching the teacher thinking about how I could make it happen in my classroom.
149 While watching an experienced teacher use the READ 18 0 curriculum, Lilla thought about the practical too ls she read about and visualized how she would use them in her classroom. For her, the model served as a bridge between simply knowing about the curricular materials and enacting them in classroom practice. She was able to envision herself using the practical tools during reading instruction. When teachers had ac cess to a model as well as expert discussion about the instructional model, they were able to develop a deeper understanding of the conceptual and practical tools curriculum to plan, implement and reflect on instruction. During a meeting with Taurean, she used a think aloud technique to model how to en g age in curriculum planning. Taurean explained, the lesson they met again to talk about how it went. Taurean spoke about how this process helped him develop a better understanding of c initially why students watched a video at the beginning of each unit. In fact, he considered eliminating this activity all together. However, after the reading coach modeled this aspect of the curricul um and talked about why it was useful, he was a ble to see its importance. Taurean explained that Mrs. K. noted how interested the students were in the new topic after watching a video and how this activity helped students think of personal experiences that connected to the material. Taurean had not previously thought about these benefits of the video. While Taurean was ready to reject using the video in his instruction, the modeling and discussion with the reading coach helped him to better understand and a ppropriate conceptual tools ( e.g., linking
150 reading material to student experiences to build prior knowledge) and practical tools ( e.g., video, with follow up discussions) in his instruction. Discussions of curricular use also assisted beginners in implemen ting instructional practices appropriately and gaining an understanding of their purpose. For instance, Henri attended the one day Corrective Reading training where he learned the basics of providing a direct scripted lesson. The trainer provided a model a nd allowed teachers to practice using the curriculum. However, when Henri used the curriculum in his own classroom, he struggled with implementing practices and questioned their importance. Interaction with his neighboring teacher allowed him to adjust his instructional practice and develop an understanding of why these practices were important. For instance, Henri recalled the first few weeks of school. While he originally thought the scripted lesson was foolproof, he found himself struggling when students did not respond appropriately. In a discussion with his neighboring teacher Henri learned that he script, regardless of student responses. Mrs. J. emphasized the i mportance of mastery before moving forward. Henry said: saying exactly w I actually thought about my students, then Mrs. J. helped me to see what I was doing wrong. All in all it helped me to understand that repeated practice is really important for these kids. In conclusion, access to curricular supports served as the central theme for test only
151 and practical tools. A ccess to curricular supports meant teach ers acquired some understanding of the conceptual and practical features of the curriculum and used instructional strategies in classroom practice to meet the needs of their students. Sub theme: Curricular Interaction with the Individual Activity System Individual characteristics of test only teachers also influenced their classroom practices and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. In particular, the pe rsonal qualities and prior experiences of test only teachers influenced what practices beg inners chose to employ, how they enacted classroom practice, and what they lea rned about reading instruction. T he degree to which these individual characteristics influenced tool appropriation was mediated by the types of curricul ar supports available. W h at beginners came to understand about reading pr actices they employed over time, i n turn, influenced their personal qualities and the impact of their previous experiences on classroom practice Personal Qualities Test only teachers discussed a variety of personal qualities (e.g., flexibility, humor, patience, silliness ) as having an impact on classroom practice (see table 5.1). These personal qualities were defined and explained by test only beginners. P ersonal qualities were not only discussed by beginne rs, but also often observed and at times the interaction of personal qualities with curricular supports facilitate d or hindered teacher learning. Moreover, what test only teachers understood about reading instruction and the practices they implemented som etimes led to an awareness of the influence of their personal qualities on instruction. Each beginner identified and exhibited a unique combination of personal qualities For s. During one observation, a student came to her class with a note from another teacher. At the time of the
152 Table 5 1 Personal q ualities of b eginners and the i mpact on c lassroom p ractice interruption students were reading aloud. Lilla stopped reading and asked students to turn to their partners and discuss their ideas about why the character was in trouble. She then took a moment to return the te part of her lesson, she nonetheless kept them engaged in the material, limit ing the impact of the Each of the three beginners described and displayed positive qualities that assisted in classroom instruction. At times, these personal qualities interacted with curricular supports to facilitate teacher learning. For instance, Taurean identified his easy going nature in helping him deal with daily instructional dilemmas, but it also led him to access his curricular supports. Taurean noticed that other beginners w ere often unwilling to ask for help. He felt his easy going uptight about what others think about me. I am probably one of the most easy going people you will m When Taurean struggled to help a student having difficulty comprehen ding, he sought out his mentor. He said: Teacher Quality Impact on Classroom Practice Lilla flexibi lity assisted in limiting instructional disruptions patience assisted in providing repetition of skills, persistence till mastery Taurean Humor assisted in increasing student motivation/engagement easygoing meant he didn't let problems deter from his instructional goals, assisted in seeking help and asking questions Henri excited, silly made instruction fun and engaging for students meant he sometimes lost focus on instruction open minded assi sted in willingness to try new strategies
153 t able to answer. I went to Mr. H to talk about this student and he suggested I talk with the student before reading, giving him a preview of the story. This really helped. I think he just needed to hear it more than once. When asked how he thought previe wing could assist students in comprehending, Taurean explained: I think when the kids preview the story they get a chance to absorb what the story might be about. This gets them thinking about what is going to happen in the story and so they can think abo ut it more when we read it together. According to Taurea n, his easygoing nature led him to seek out his mentor (curricular support), which then added a practical tool (previewing story) to his instructional repertoire, ultimately having a positive impact o n his classroom instruction. Moreover, learning a new instructional Personal qualities did not always assist in classroom instruction, instead hindering teacher case, he identified his easygoing nature as assisting him with seeking help, small group were unable to answer comprehension questions and in another group Taurean did I easy going nature as the reason he was not concer planned. He noted that while his easy going nature might keep him stress free and allow him to seek help, the same quality also meant he did not always attend to problems in instruction,
154 What test only teachers understood about reading instruction and the practices they implemented sometimes led to an awareness of the positive contribution that their personal qualities made to their classroom practice. For example, Henri felt his open mindedness assisted in a willingness to try new strategies, but also his ability to see when they were not working. ion, but not necessarily the quality of instruction. Henri reflected on his random addition of activities. He have handed me an activity and I would try it out th e next day. However, many of his trial importance of studen about the curriculum he enacted every day, particularly the power of direct instruction, and developed a better understanding of the reading process, he was more selective about the st rategies he chose to employ. While he still referred to himself as open minded, he also recognized his refined selectiveness in choosing instructional activities. When asked about his choice for a small group activity, Henri said: I tried this for the fir st time today. I am willing to try new things, but I am trying to pay attention to things that work and choose activities that will help my students learn. I used to choose any activities for centers. Now, I use direct instruction and focus on certain skil ls that the students need. I am still open minded about what to do for centers, just more aware of what is important for reading. Prior Experiences influenced what beginners learned and how they enacted cla ssroom practice. The impact of the prior experiences on classroom practice and tool
155 appropriation depended on the natur e of their previous experiences. Additionally, the curricular supports available mediated how teachers used knowledge g ained from their prior experiences to enact classroom practice. Beginning teachers came to the classroom with different prior experiences, but all experiences influenced what beginners learned about reading instruction and how they enacted classroom practice. For example, Lilla came to th e classroom with prior experiences in higher order thinking was the sole ingredient to comprehension. This teacher asked only higher order questions; that is, ques tions that required the students to think more deeply and critically about the text. Lilla attributed her ability to comprehend text to the questioning strategy used by her English teacher. The variety of comprehension questions in the READ 18 0 curriculum initially disturbed Lilla and led her to discuss comprehension with her mentor ultimately helping her to consider and subsequently modify her understanding about questioning students. She explained: At first I felt that asking all the comprehension quest talked with Mr. H. about it because I was thinking about just leaving out some questions a kind of staircase of understanding for my students. It would actually help them to better Lilla indicated she might have rejected the use of literal questioning in the READ 180 curriculum. However, her interaction with Mr. H. enabled her to ga in a better understanding of how this practical tool might help students respond to higher order questions and ultimately aid comprehension of the text.
156 The impact of the prior experiences on classroom practice and tool appropriation depended on the nature of their previous experiences. Some experiences directly related to the classroom and others did not. Taurean and Henri both looked to their prior experiences working with children to establish and maintain a positive rapport with students. Taurean was al so able to draw on his prior employment to inform classroom management, collegial relationships, and difficulty with struggling students. Prior experiences not directly related to instruction also impacted classroom instruction. For example, Henri, formerl y an international exchange coordinator, wanted to somehow expose students to diverse cultures in other countries. He explained that, for his Friday reading centers, he incorporated stories and activities from other countries. Typically, he brought student s books about different countries from his personal collection and used activities he found on the Internet to complement what they learned from the books. As such, his previous work experience impacted the materials and activities he used in reading instr uction. When asked how these activities helped with reading development he said: In that center there are different activities each week. I might happen upon a worksheet g and commitment to helping students learn also mediated what he learned about the practical tools he was incorporating in his instruction. Although Henri used new activities every week, he was appropriating these practical tools only at the surfa ce feature level. He admitted looking for activities because it matched t he country he chose and was not concerned about their overall purpose in his reading instru ction. Finally, Henri explained that the country center was the only area of his reading instruction where he incorporated anything from his previous job. He explained that the Corrective Reading
157 curriculum and what he learned about reading instruction lim ited his use of the country center. Henri said that he thought of the idea of using country centers before he began teaching. At that time, he envisioned whole units around countries, including stories and activities. However, when he entered the classroom he was mandated to use the Corrective Reading curriculum for a porti on of his instruction. In retrospect, Henri realized the features of the Corrective Reading curriculum were effective for student learning. Durin g the portion of his instruction where he was free to choose content and materials, he drew more on what he learned from the Corrective Reading curriculum than from his previous employment. When asked about how he planned for this time he said: I have tried lots of different things but I noticed after about the first month there were several things about the Corrective Reading curriculum that seemed to work for my students. They need an approach where you are telling them how to do something, or even modeling it first. Then, they also need tons o f repetition. I try to build on what they are learning in Corrective Reading and still use these same strategies. Over time, Henri began to incorporate the strategies he learned from Corrective Reading in his country centers. The curricular supports avail able for Henri helped him to transfer practical tools (e.g., modeling, direct instruction, repetition) from the Corrective Reading curriculum to other parts of his instruction, suggesting he is appropriating these practical tools at a more conceptual level For Henri, the presence of curricular supports modified the role his prior work experience played on his classroom practice In summary, the individual characteristics of test only teachers influenced what they incorporated in their instruction, what they learned about teaching reading, and how they enacted classroom practice. Specifically, the personal qualities and prior experiences of beginners
158 influenced their opportunities to learn about pedagogical reading practices and thus impacted their classr oom practice. I nteractions with curricular supports enabled beginners to use personal qualities to facilitate teacher learning, reflect on and modify the impact on reading instruction, and use previous experiences with children to shape instruction. Sub t h eme: Curricular Interaction with the Contextual Activity System While the core theme, access to curricular supports, is a part of the contextual activity system, further examining this activity system led to a more specific understanding of factors cont ributing to test In particular, t perceptions of administr ative support and collegial integration shaped how teachers felt about their workplace environment what they learned from others, and how th ey addressed instructional issues Further, their use of a well structured curriculum and their developing understanding of reading instruction influenced opportunities for strengthening relationships with administrators and general education peers. Admin istrative Support How administrators interacted with beginning teachers impacted their v iew of the Teachers viewed their relationships with administrators positively when an open line of communication existed However, the type and natur e of this communication influenced whether beginners sought assistance with instruction from the administrator. For b eginners who were employing a well structured curriculum that was familiar to the administrator, questions and problems with the curriculum provided opportunities for beginners to engage in instructional conversations with administrators, stren gthening their relationships. Finally, for some beginners developing a deeper understanding about the practices they were employing positively impacte d their relationships with their administrators.
159 Lilla, Taurean and Henri described positive interactio ns with administrators. However, the nature and types of communication beginners had with administrators influenced whether they accessed support. For Taurean and Lilla communicating easily with administrators, a t least from their perspective, helped them feel comfortable asking questions or seeking help with problems. Both beginners spoke with administrators nearly every day and described interactions focused on instruction. Lilla had an on going discussion about reading instruction with one of her administrators, Mrs. B. In her first month, Mrs. B. provided both critical and positive feedback after short observations, which Lilla found helpful in impro ving her understandings and instructional practice. Lilla described her relationship with Mrs. B. as important to her learning. she said I was the one who could ma While Henri also spoke positively with his administrators, he did not feel comfortable asking for help. He described frequent cordial interactions with his four administrators. When asked to explain a typical administrator provided, he did not access her for any additional instructional sup port. He said: t even know what they used to While the frequent short exchanges in the hallway enabled Henri to have a positive view of his administrators, it was not enough for Henri to feel comfortable accessing support for instruction.
160 Available curricular supports also influenced administrator beginner relationships. wide implementation of Corrective Reading and this deterred him from se really think to ask them (administrators) for help with the Corrective Reading curriculum. I Lilla, the available cu rriculum and supports for its implementation strengthened administrator beginner relationships by providing opportunities for communication. The reading coach for Taurean and Lilla set up a monthly meeting for all READ 180 teachers. This meeting generally consisted of updates on curriculum implementation and a small group break out discussion of current instructional problems. Taurean discussed how these meetings helped him to connect with his administrator and access support. During one meeting, Taurean sp oke about his difficulty managing Deon, a new student in his class. When Deon was with him in the small group rotation, he worked well and stayed on task. But when Deon was working in a small group without adult supervision, he would constantly pester stud ents and remain off task. While his fellow teachers had ideas for him, Taurean felt these were strategies he already tried. The next day Mr. K., one of his administrators, came by his classroom to talk about Deon. Mr. K. was alerted by the reading coach th at Taurean was having a hard time with this one student. Taurean discussed the support he received from Mr. K.: tionally disturbed students and we even contacted the teacher at that school who had success with Deon. She had lots of good ideas about how to get him on task, specifically sending positive notes home and
161 quietly rewarding him after each rotation. Withou talked to that teacher and I would probably still be arguing with Deon every day. problem solving with his administrator, a s well as other colleagues. Additionally, these problem solving conversations enabled Taurean to change his classroom management techniques. Instead of arguing and fussing with Deon every day, Taurean used frequent rewards s behavior around. For Taurean and Lilla, what they understood about reading instruction and what their administrators knew about reading instruction and working with students with disabilities worked together to strengthen their administrative relations hips. For example, as Lilla attempted to understand strategies in the READ 180 curriculum, she was prompted to ask more specific questions of her administrator. Such questions enabled Lilla and her administrator to engage in instructional conversations abo ut teaching reading. Lilla explained: asking questions. When asked to give a particula r instance, she said that just last week she asked Mrs. B. about implementing a fluency activity, which involved Lilla modeling reading. Lilla was confused about this practice. She knew that to become fluent, students needed lots of practice and repetition but could not see the value in her reading to them when this took time away from understand what they should sound like when reading, and this modeling was p articularly important for special education students who often needed not only to practice on their own, but
162 understanding of fluency instruction. Collegial Inte gration How well beginning teachers are included in the school environment eith er promotes collegial integration or isolation. When beginning teachers thought they were accepted by their colleagues, they were more likely to see themselves as an integral pa rt of the bigger environment. Access to strong curricular supports and opportunities to talk about curricular st rategies helped beginners to str engthen their collegial integration and provided opportunities for some special education beginners to work with their general educ ation peers. Taurean and Lilla felt included in their school culture. Each felt that special education teachers at their school were treated in the same manner as general education teachers. Taurean explained: Even though I am technica even knew it. I was treated the same as other teachers, and everyone here talks about the kids as our kids -not mine or yours. Additionally, these two teachers believe that schoolwide use of a curriculum provided opportunities for collegial discussion about instruction. Taurean described his co teaching classroom as providing an opportunity to work daily with a general educator. Although Lilla taught only special education students, she no ted that schoolwide use of the READ 180 curriculum enabled instructional conversations with regular educators. READ 180 classrooms were comprised of (a) all students in general education, (b) all students in special education, or (c) a mix of students in g eneral and special education. On a monthly basis, the reading coach brought all READ 180 teachers together, giving Taurean and Lilla an opportunity to work with their general education peers. This meeting worked to strengthen their sense of inclusion, and
163 provided an opportunity for Lilla and Taurean to collaborate with general educators to solve curricular and student based problems. Lilla remembered one meeting as being particularly helpful. She said: In one meeting I was talking about my difficulty wit h vocabulary in the units, and I really One of the teachers explained how when she has her low group in rotation she alters her vocabulary instruction. One of the thin gs she did was to give the students different scenarios where the word is used both within the story we are working on and outside of the story. She explained this helped her students better understand the word meaning. Lilla took this suggestion back to her classroom and implemented it during small group instruction. Her discussion with her general education peers helped her to use new practical tools (vocabulary scenarios), and gain a better understanding of vocabulary instruction. Henri did not share t his strong collegial integration. In fact, he felt isolated as a special education teacher. He believed that teaching the lowest ability students in the school excluded him from many activities He saw the special education teachers separated from the gen eral school culture. Although Henri saw special education as separate from general education, school wide use of the Corrective Reading curriculum enabled his only interaction with his general education colleagues He explained : The whole school does Corr ective Reading Sometimes that is the only thing I have in common with other teachers, and it gives us something to talk about. At least there is one thing the whole school does together. Unfortunately, Henri described Corrective Reading meetings only occ urring every other month.
164 are probably a lot of general ed teachers who could give me some great information about had few collegia l opportunities to further his un derstandings of the Corrective Reading curriculum and reading instruction. In conclusion, school climate factors including administra tive support and collegial integration impacted the relationships beginners developed, and consequently, how they understood and implemented classroom practices. The influence of school climate factors was mediated by the availability of a mandated structured curriculum. Teachers using such structured curri culum had more opportunities to discuss specific instructional strategies and receive more targeted assistance. Additionally, their repeated use of structured curriculum, combined with contextual supports for learning, facilitated their understanding of co nceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. This improved knowledge, in turn, influenced the interactions test only beginners had with administrator s and colleagues Summary The grounded theory presented in this chapter explains the influences on three test only of th e grounded theory, access to curricular supports, mediate s the influence of the individual activity system and contextual activity syst em Together, these influences impact the classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The level of appropriation of conceptual and practical tools reached by the test only beginner, in turn, worke d to influence the individual an d contextual activity systems making this grounded theory cyclical. While a variety of factors influenced the classroom practice of beginners and their appropriation of conceptual a nd practical tools, access to curricular supports emerged as the primary influence, and also mediated the influ ence of individual and contextual activity systems Through a cross case analysis, the availability and nature of curricular supports served as the
165 most important influence for test only beginners, impacting the enactm ent of classroom practice and development of a higher level of appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. of infl uences impacted their classroom practice and t he appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. While beginn ers generally improved their classroom practices and increased their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools their unique individual and contextual characteristics placed them on a con tinuum. access to curricular supports, coupled with her unique individual characteristics and school climate resulted in a winning inte (a) mandated READ 180 curriculum (b) frequent interactions with expe rienced and knowledgeable mentors; (c) opportunities to see instruction using R EAD 180 modeled; (d) flexibility and patienc e; (e ) frequent communication and specific corrective feedback from administrators; and (f ) opportunities to commun icate with her gen eral education peers enabled Lilla to learn about and enact effective classroom practices in reading instruction for students with disabilities. In access to a variety of curricular supports, coupled with his unique characteristics and school climate resulted in a productive c (a) mandated READ 180 curriculum; (b) frequent interactions with his formal mentor, reading coach, and co teacher; (c) opportunity to see instruction using READ 180 curriculum modeled on multiple occasions by his reading coach, experienced teacher, and co teacher; (d) humorous and easygoing nature; (e) prior experiences working with children and adults; (f) positive interactions focused on instruction with administrators; and ( g) a strong feeling of belonging in school culture led Taurean to learn about and improve his reading instruction for students with disabilities.
166 interactions with his neighbor ing teacher and para professional; (c) opportunity to see instruction in the Corrective Reading curriculum modeled during training; (d) silly, excited, open minded nature; and (e) prior experiences solidifying his love of other cultures and children led He nri to learn about and improve his reading instruction.
167 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLI CATIONS Overview of the Study The purpose of this study was to understand how the individual and contextual activity systems contributed to the reading instruction a nd learning of test only beginning special educators. In particular, this study aimed at understanding how teachers with no formal teacher education preparation use and appropriate curriculum to implement reading instruction. In an effort to ease entry re quirements and help relieve shortages, NCLB states teachers can enter education licensure test. However, there is a lack of empirical knowledge about how both individ ual differences and the school work context influence beginning test classroom practice and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. Existing literature suggests several factors influence both the cla ssroom practice of beginning special educators and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. What the individual teacher brings to the classroom and what they encounter when they arrive mediate how a teacher appropriates conceptual and practic al tools. Although the literature suggests that personal qualities, prior experiences, induction, collegial support and administrative support impact classroom practice, it is unknown how these individual and contextual factors interact to influence class Moreover, although the research on curriculum suggests its ability to impact classroom practice, it does not look specifically at how the use of curriculum works in the appropriat ion of conceptual and practical tools. This study was designed to examine how test only teachers use
168 curriculum in classroom practice, how they learned from curricular use, and what additional factors interact to influence their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. To understand how test only teachers use curriculum to enact reading instruction, grounded theory methods were employed. Three test only beginners teaching reading to students i n grades 6 8 participated in this study. Data were colle cted through classroom observations, teacher interviews, RISE, Pathwise, and artifact collection. Each teacher was observed on four occasions and extensive field notes were taken about instructional practices, student behavior, teacher student interaction s, and the classroom environment. Following each observation, field notes were used to complete the RISE and Pathwise. T instructional practices o ne in depth interview, and eight observational interviews, four prior to and four after each obser vation, were conducted To ensure trustworthiness of data, member checks and peer reviews were completed. Data analysis co occurred with data collection, and I constantly asked abstract, theoretical questions that were relevant to d etails of the data. Through the key phases of data analysis (i.e., open, axial, and selective coding), a theory was carefully developed. Grounded in the data, this theory explained influences of the activity systems on test practic e and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The grounded theory answers main research questions: What role does curriculum play in the classroom practice of beginning special education teachers who enter the classroom with no preparation? What role does curriculum play in how teachers appropriate conceptual and practical tools related to reading instruction? What role do activity systems (individual and contextual) play in the classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools?
169 Descriptions in Chapters 4 and 5 provide extensive information about what each teacher understood about reading instruction and how each teacher enacted reading instru ction. Chapter 5 develops a grounded theory based on a cross case analysis of th e individual and contextual activity syste ms influencing classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Part of the contextual activity system, access to curricular supports, emerged as the primary influence on classroom practice a nd the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. These chapters present both descriptive and analytic evidence. In summary, the grounded theory depicts a core theme, access to curricular supports, as the primary influence on what test only teacher s learned, understood and did in their reading instruction. Teachers with access to curricular supports including mandated and prescribed curriculum, mentoring in curricular use and instructional strategies and modeling of curricular use demonstrated eff ective classroom practices for students with disabilities and appropriated conceptual and practical tools related to their instruction. Teachers also brought to the classroom individual characteristics (i.e., personal qualities and prior experiences ) and encountered school context factors (i.e., administrative s upport and collegial integration) that influenced their classroom practice and the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Finally, what ey implemented influenced their administrative interactions and how their individual characteristics impacted instruction. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss how findings of this study support and extend existing literature. The researcher also pro poses implications for policymakers, administrators and districts, and future research. Discussion Findings from this research study explain how the participating test only teachers learn about and enact reading instruction. Specifically, these finding s support and extend what is
170 known about influences that support teacher learning and classroom practice. In addition, systems influence their classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. In the following section, the three areas that emerged from the grounded theory are discussed: (a) comprehensive curricular supports; (b) individual characteristics; and (c) workplace context. Findings are discussed in light of previous literature. Comprehensive Curricular Supports Access to curricular supports was the central factor in how the test only teachers acquired knowledge and enacted classroom practice. Specifically, three key curricular suppor ts assisted beginners in what content they included in instruction, how they implemented it, and what they learned about the pedagogical practices they were employing. These findings support and extend previous research. In the current study, a mandated an d prescribed curriculum helped beginners address essential components of the reading process and include more general instructional teaching practices in their classroom practice. All three test only beginners self disclosed entering the classroom with lit tle to no knowledge of reading instruction or the pedagogical practices involved in implementing instruction. The curriculum served as a foundation for beginners from their first day in the classroom, providing them with lessons to implement and ultimately setting the stage for their own learning. These findings are supported in prior general education research demonstrating that beginning teachers recognize that curriculum does support classroom practice (Chubbuck et al., 2001; Kauffman et al., 2002 ). Resu lts from this study also support and extend previous research conducted in special education. Curriculum also assisted beginners described by Bishop et al. (2009 ) and Kamman et al. (2007). In both studies, authors reported that access to a predetermined c urriculum supported the prac tice of beginners In Bishop et al. (2009),
171 teachers expressed how curriculum enhanced their instruction, but specific details of how curriculum enhanced instruction were not uncovered. For instance, Bishop et al. (2009) describ structured curriculum the beginner provided systematic instruction that kept students engaged. However, during the remainder of her instruction she struggled to keep students engaged. Results from the present study extend the findings from Bishop et al. (2009) by describing how the curriculum assisted beginners in learning. For example, when Henri used the Corrective Reading curriculum, he employed systema tic reading instructi on, kept students engaged, and addressed reading components and general instructional practice s. He struggled to provide this consistent, intense, and effective reading instruction when not using the Corrective Reading curriculum. Over the course of four months, Henri came to see how the instructional practices used in the Corrective Reading curriculum (e.g., direct instruction, repetition) assisted in student learning and he began to use these practices to inform the instructional time period where he did not use the Corrective Reading curriculum. Mentoring by experienced, knowledgeable, and available professionals was the second critical curricular support. The available curriculum served as a portal for most mentoring discussions. It not only enabled m entors and beginning teachers to discuss how to work with the curriculum, but it also provided an opportunity to discuss other instructional issues. Thus, the type of mentoring beginning teachers received influenced how they viewed instruction for students with disabilities, how they solved classroom based problems and what they were able to learn about reading instruction and apply from the curriculum. These findings align with available research on special education mentoring reporting beginners value th e expertise of their mentors in helping them adapt and select materials for instruction and develop strategies to
172 motivate students (Boyer & Lee, 2001; White & Mason, 2006). Results from the present study extend special education research and confirm gener al education research (Grossman & Thompson, 2004; Valenc ia et al., 2006) by specifying the impact of curricular mentoring on the classroom practice and learning of beginners. For instance, when Taurean implemented instruction using the READ 180 curriculum, one reading group typically struggled in completing a vocabulary activity with cloze sentences. A discussion with his mentor led Taurean to adjust his instruction and provide additional guidance beyond what the READ 180 lesson plan specified (i.e., giving an example and asking students to work in pairs). He reviewed the meaning of each vocabulary word, used a think aloud process to model identifying key context clues, and asked student pairs to use the same think aloud process to work together in matching the correct vocabulary word to the cloze sentence. The discussion with his mentor assisted Taurean in adapting the READ 180 lesson ultimately leading to increased student learning for the struggling reading group. Finally, test only teachers who had ac cess to excellent instruction al models learn ed about the curriculum and enact ed it during instruction Each teacher in the study was able to observe someone who was knowledgeable about and experienced with the curriculum. Such modeling helped beginners und erstand the conceptual and p ractical features of the reading instruction and how to implement them Existing literature more generally reports that professional development can assist beginners in understanding and implementing curriculum (Gr ossman & Thomp son, 2004; Kamman et al., 2007; Valencia et al., 2006). Findings from the present study extend previous research by identifying modeling as an essential professional development strategy and describing how modeling can help beginners implement classroom pr actice and learn about reading instruction. For example, while Lilla studied the READ 180 curriculum the weekend
173 before she stepped into the classroom, she had difficulty imagining how she would enact teacher model instruction using the READ 180 curriculum that she was able to link her understandings from reading the curricular materials to enacting classroom practice. Individual C haracteristics Beginning test only special educators came to the classr oom with a variety of individual characteristics. These characteristics influenced classroom practice and appropriation of conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. Individual characteristics also interacted with available curricular supports perceptions of their personal qualities and prior experiences, ultimately influencing classroom practice. Beginning teachers identified and discussed numerous personal qualities that influenc ed classroom practice. This finding supports and extends existing literature. Prior research identifies a variety of important personal qualities in special education beginners (Bishop et al., 200 9 ; Lessen & Frankiewicz, 1992). However, this study extends existing research because it provides a link between personal qualities and classroom practice. For example, while Lesson and Frankiewicz reported more effective special education teachers displayed self control, humor, enthusiasm, fairness, empathy and f lexibility, they do not link these qualities to teacher practices. Similarly, Bishop et al. (200 9 ) grouped their most accomplished beginners and identified resourcefulness as a key quality. Researchers described how beginners drew from multiple sources to inform instruction, but they do not link the personal quality of resourcefulness to specific classroom practices or teacher learning. The present st udy extends these findings. Test only teachers not only described their personal qualities, but also how the qualities impacted what they learned and how they enacted reading instruction. For example,
174 Henri linked his open mindedness to trying new strategies in his instruction and subsequently learning about reading. He described using a graphic organizer to ass ist in student comprehension and reported success in student learning, adding to his repertoire of practical tools and expanding his conceptual understanding of comprehension instruction. Further, personal qualities beginners described seemed to align with other personal qualities identified in the research (e.g., self efficacy, reflection, resourcefulness). For instance, each test only teacher in the current study discussed how his/her actions affecte d student learning, suggesting the beginners had a high level of self efficacy, a teacher quality identified as important in existing general education research ( Bengtsson, 1995; G ibbs, 2002; Hatton & Smith, 1995 ; Hen son, 2001; Pajares & Urdan, 2006 ). Moreover, all three beginners were successful in see k ing out information and resources carefully considering ds and the learning environment. These actions suggest the test only teachers in this study displayed the personal qualities of reflection and resourcefulness, identified as import ant teacher qualities in special education research (Bishop et al., 2009). The prior experiences of test only beginners and available curricular supports impacted how they enacted and what they learned about reading instruction. ma ndated curriculum prompted her to discuss her understanding of comprehension questioning with her mentor. This discussion led Lilla to modify her initial understanding of how to assist a student in reaching higher level thinking and aided her in gaining a better understanding of comprehension instruction. Prior experiences from previous employment also influenced what beginners could draw from to inform classroom practice. Previously working with children was a powerful influence on instruction, as test onl y beginners could see the direct relationship from their prior employment to their classroom practice. The connection between prior experiences,
175 beliefs, and classroom practices are well founded in the literature (e.g., Levin & He, 2008; Lortie 1975; Rich ardson, 1996). In particular, literature focused on previous experiences Pajares, 1992). Test ely that and success as a student led to a strong belief in higher order thinking. The discussion with her mentor did not alter her belief in higher order thi nking, but instead altered the strategy she used to assist students in reaching higher order thinking. Workplace E nvironment T administrative support and collegial integration shaped how teachers felt about their workplace environ ment, what they learned from others, and how they addressed instructional issues. Further, their use of a well structured curriculum and their developing understanding of reading instruction influenced opportunities for strengthening relationships with adm inistrators and general education peers. In the current study, administrative support emerged as important for beginning teacher learning and problem solving. Specifically, test o nly beginners reported developing positive relationships with administrators as they gained more knowledge of the curricu lum and reading instruction. Previous research demonstrates special educators with strong principal support reported greater job satisfaction, higher levels of commitment, more professional development opportuni ties, greater collegial support, fewer role problems, and less stress and burnout than their less supported peers (Billingsley, 2005; Cross & Billingsley, 1994; Gersten, Keating, Yovanoff, & Ha rniss, 2001). This study goes one step further by describing ho w administrative support can impact classroom practice and t
176 classroom management techniques. Similar to the present stu dy, existing literature also describes how relationships with administrators developed as the school year progressed and how administrators provided more substantive feedback over time (Busch, Pederson, Esp in & Weissenburger, 2001; Giacobbe, 2003). Like b eginners in these studies, Lilla and Taurean were able to ask more specific questions to their administrators as they learned more about reading instruction and the curriculum, allowing their administrators to provide precise feedback. In contrast, Henri d id not perceive his administrators as knowledgeable about reading instruction or the Cor rective Reading curriculum. His perceptions prevented him from accessing his unusual as suggested by previous literature (Glidewell, Tucker, Todt, & Cox, 1983 ; Lortie, 1975). Findings from this study demonstrate how important it is for beginning special education teachers to be integrated into the school environment. Henri like m any other special education beginners, reported feeling isolated from his general education peers (Gehrke & McCoy, 2007 ; Kilgore & Griffin, 1998; Otis Wilborn Winn, Griffin, & Kilgore, 2005). Conversely, Lilla and Taurean reported feeling included in the larger scho ol environment. Existing research regarding the integration of special educators also reports on the feelings of special edu cators (Griffin et al., 2003 ; Kilgore Griffin, Otis Wilborn, & Winn, 2003; White & Mason, 2006). The current study exten ds previous findings by describing how collegial integration relates to changes in classroom practice and teacher learning. Access to strong curricular supports and opportunities to talk about curricular strategies helped beginners to strengthen their coll egial integration and provided opportunities for some special education beginners to work with their general education peers ultimately leading to changes in classroom practice and improved understandings of reading instruction. For instance, a regularly scheduled READ 180 meeting provided an
177 opportunity for Lilla to collaborate with general educators to solve curricular and student based problems On one occasion, Lilla Lilla took a suggestion f or altering instruction (i.e., providing elaborate vocabulary scenarios) back to her classroom and implemented it during small group instruction. Her discussion with her general education peers helped her to use new practic al tools and gain a better unders tanding of vocabulary instruction. Limitations As discussed in Chapter 1, there are several aspects of the study that limit the generalizability and interpretation of the findings. First, the participants in this study taught in two counties in Florida, and entered through the shortest alternative route to the classroom. Thus, the findings cannot be generalized to the larger population of beginning special educators or those certified through alternative routes. Furthermore, the teachers all taught readin g in middle school, therefore these findings may not apply to elementary or high school levels or in other subject areas. This qualitative research study followed beginners through 4 months of their first year of teaching. The data, therefore, only provid e glimpses into the test practices and their appropriation of conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. This understand fully the interactions overtime between the core theme a nd sub themes. For example, the loss of curricular supports in the second year of teaching, such as mentoring, might suspend teacher learning. Without following teachers through thei r second year as a teacher, the long term impact of curricular supports i s left unknown. I t is also difficult to clearly capture how test only teachers appropriate conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. When used collectively, observation tools and field notes,
178 concept maps, and interviews seemed to paint an a appropriation, but any potential problems with these could influence interpretation of these findings. Finally, the unusually supportive contexts and exceptionally reflective beginners make the experiences described in this study a best case scenario, and therefore not generalizable. The supports available to the three beginners in this study are not typical. At a minimum, beginners had weekly support from a mentor, and several received daily instructional support. Mor eover, all three beginners in this study were extremely reflective. While it was important to interview the test only beginners multiple times, it is possible the type of questions asked prompted the beginners to be more reflective about their instructiona l practices and learning. For example, questioning about a particular classroom practice mi ght prompt a beginner to discuss instructional choices with a mentor, thereby facilitating teacher learning. It is not possible to determine how the interaction wit h the researcher affected the beginning teacher. Implications Findings from the present study indicate that special education, test only beginners are influenced by both activity systems and most powerfully access to curricular supports. More specificall y, the nature and availability of thr ee types of curricular support (i.e., available curriculum, instructional mentoring around the curriculum, and modeling instruction with curricular use) individual characteri stics (i.e., personal qualities and previous experiences) and two contextual factors (a dministrative support and collegial integration) impacted test only teachers understandings of reading instruction and the practices they employed in instruction. These finding s have implications for future prac tice and research in special education.
179 Implications for Policymakers and School Administrators The findings that emerged f rom this study highlight important factors for po licymakers to consider. T he decisions made at a national and state level impa ct ho w teachers enter the field. Current national policy allow s for such extremes as the test only teachers in Florida. A pproving policies that allow beginners with limited knowledge of instruction for students with disabilities in the classroom requires policy makers to consider what must be in place to support these teachers. While most states employ policies related to the formal induction of beginning teachers, fewer than 1% of beginning teachers during the 1990 2000 school year were provided with a comprehen sive induction program that included mentor programs (i.e., mentor in same field) group activities (i.e., seminars, time for collegial collaboration, supportive communication, networks), and reduced workload/extra resources (i.e., reduced schedule, reduce d preparations, teachers aide) (Smith & Inge rsoll, 2004). The supports provided to test intense induction package. This difference in supports suggests begin ners entering the field of special education with a variety of backgrounds and preparation may need different types and levels of support. For test only beginners in the present study comprehensive curricular supports including a mandated and structured cu rriculum and mentoring and modeling for its implementation was critical for enacting effective reading instruction and for increasing beginning teaching learning. However, re creating the winning combination of beginner and supports as witnessed in this s alternative route programs, only 13% of beginners across seven alternate route programs received the most valued monthly mentoring activities (i.e., demonstrating lessons, jointly planning lessons, talking about student needs and providing materials). Taurean, Lilla, and Henri
180 received the same types of mentoring activities on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. grams are likely to face a big challenge in ensuring that their participants are placed in schools where they have an opportunity Findin gs from this study have clear implications for school administrators As administrators d eal with the chronic and increasing shortage of special education teachers, they must constantly choose individuals to teach in their classrooms. Moreover, NCLB demands students with disabilities make adequate yearly progress and a high ly qualified teach er is placed in each classroom. I dentifying the supports necessary to assist beginners in learning about needs is imperative in fostering quality in beginning special education teachers. Findings from this study can help admin istrators identify key factors that influence beginning teacher classroom practice and learning. While these factors are important for all beginners, they are essential for test only beginners who enter the classroom without any formal preparation. S chool climate factors also influenced test only beginners in this study. Administrators should attend to these factors, including regular interactions and specific feedback from administrators, opportunities for collegial relationships, and a sense of equality and integration with the larger school environment When beginners gained knowledge of their curriculum and reading instruction, they were better able to communicate with their administrators and colleagues. This finding suggests administrators may need to pay particular attention to developing relationship s with beginners who struggle with their classroom practices. Findings from the present research also emphasize the need for comprehensive curricular supports. In this study, the availability and natur e of three types of supports (i.e.,
181 mandated and prescribed curriculum, mentoring around the curriculum, and modeling of curricular use) assisted beginners in what content was included in their instruction, how they implemented instruction, and what they l earned about instruction. Administrators and districts should consider the type of curriculum available for beginners and the supports in place to implement the curriculum. Providing a team of professionals who are experienced, available, and knowledgeable is important. Moreover, providing an opportunity for beginners to see instruction using the curriculum modeled by someone experienced and knowledgeable in curriculum will assist beginners in enacting classroom instruction and in developing their knowledge of the content and instruction. Finally, findings from this study emphasize the importance of carefully selecting beginning special educators. All three beginners in this study had some background or experiences in working with children, which played an important role in both classroom management and making connections with students. The test only beginners were also extremely reflective and resourceful allowing them to access supports and continuously learn about reading instruction. Even carefully sel ecting a beginner with the prior experiences and personal qualities like the beginners in this study does not necessarily translate into success. Two previous research studies found traditionally prepared special educators outperformed alternatively prepar ed teachers on classroom observation data (Nougaret, Scruggs, & Mastropieri 2005; Sindelar, Daunic,& Rennells, 2004). These results highlight the importance of preparation and the disadvantage alternatively prepared teachers may face. Implications for Future Research Results from this study suggest that activity theory might be a viable framework for future investigations of beginning teacher learning. Activity theory not only accounts for various influences on teacher learning, but also sheds some li ght on why teachers appropriate conceptual
182 and practical tools at different levels. It is a model that examines learning from different activity systems, those of the individual and the workplace, encompassing the myriad of contexts beginning special educa tors face. Findings from this study also suggest that comparisons of test only teachers and other beginners may not reveal the complete story. Activity theory is particularly useful in studying teachers entering from alternative routes since it accounts fo r individual differences in activity systems. Should researchers chose to use activity theory to frame future studies on beginning special education teachers, they will need to consider additional activity system factors such as preparation, disability cat egory, and service delivery model. Accounting for additional factors will help distinguish significant in fluences for special educators. The findings generated by this study point to the need for additional empirical research in several areas related to b rning. First, as argued by res earchers, reading knowledge ( Brownell et al., 2009; Phelps & Schilling, 2004). This study highlight s the need for measures that accurately assess beginner teacher knowledge for teachers of students with disabilities. The use of interviews, observations and artifacts provide details about wledge compared to larger numbers of beginning special educators. Next, the use of other research designs could assist in providing a more comprehensive study produced an explanatory model of test appropriation of conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction. This design is necessary for understanding how the unique backgrounds and skills these teachers bring to the classroom
183 influence their learning and instruction. However, other methods, such as large scale experimental or quasi experimental studies, could explain the effects of different activity system factors on teacher knowledge and student gains. Finally the current study investigated outcomes related to test practices and appropriation of conceptu al and practical tools, but is only one of the outcomes in need of attention. The long term impact examining influences of activity sy stems on beginning teacher learning, teacher practice, and student gains is needed. Moreover, research is needed studying beginning special educators entering thr ough other various routes. This information will assist in further understanding how the diver sity of beginning special educators and their disparate backgrounds interact with the school context. While this study aimed at uncovering how test only teachers used curriculum to inform practice and their learning, focused research on other factors (e.g. administrative support) is necessary to uncover the intricacies of those interactions. Conclusion This research contributes to the growing body of empirical research designed to understand beginning teacher learning. The results indicate that test only beginning sp ecial education teachers are unique, based on factors of the individual and the workplace. Each beginner comes to the classroom with different experiences and personal qualities. They enter environments that differ greatly in supports and inte ractions with administrators and colleagues. The complex interactions that emerged in this study show that research on beginning special educators, particularly those entering through test only routes, must capture these complexities if we hope to develop a deep understanding of the influences on beginning teacher practice and learning.
184 APPENDIX A SAMPLES OF CURRICULUM
220 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Interview I Protocol Note: Intervi ew I is conducted near the beginning of the study I would like to thank you for agreeing to participate in this study about pre service teacher reading preparation. Your contribution to this study is greatly appreciated. This interview will help me gain a general understanding about the role curriculum plays in your reading instruction. The interview will be recorded for research purposes and its tape will be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfort able. What kind of reading curriculum is available for your use? What aspects of reading does the curriculum cover? How well does it cover them? How comprehensive is it in meeting your kids needs? Explain (what is missing, what is there?) How doe s it address the needs of your weakest readers? Explain What type of preparation/training have you had in implementing this curriculum? How well prepared to you feel to implement the curriculum? Do you have to change/modify the curriculum at all or sta y close to the design? If modify, explain how you do this Are you familiar with or been trained in any other reading curriculums? If so, how? Does this other curriculum knowledge influence your reading instruction? If so, how? How much support do yo u have in implementing your current curriculum? Are there materials or supports that are available but you do not use? Do you get the same level of support as your general education grade level peers? Can you draw for me a picture or concept map that shows what you think the essential components of reading instruction are? Please explain
221 ADAPTED PATHWISE PRE POST OBSERVATION INTERVIEW Pre Observation Protocol Note: Pre observation interviews are conducted before classroom observations have been conducted. What curriculum will you be using today? Why? Does it contain a detailed lesson plan? If yes, do you plan to follow it closely..why or why not? Of not, why not? Did you change anything from your lesson plan? How does the curriculum lesson address the needs of your students? Thank you for your time. Post Observation Protocol Note: Post observation interviews are conducted before classroom observations have been conducted. How do you think the lesson went? What went well? What wer e you less satisfied with? Did you deviate from your plan, why? Were your teaching methods, activities, and materials effective? How do you know? Did the students learn what you wanted them to learn, how did you know? If groups, what made you choose those groupings? Is there anything you would do differently if you taught this class again? Thank you for your time.
222 APPENDIX C TABLE OF CODES Open Codes Access to Curr/ Use Accessible Curriculum Adaptation Adapting Based on Student Needs A dapting Curriculum Administrative Support Afraid to Ask for Help Against Scaffolding Alone Approachable Available Curriculum Available Curriculum Resources Beginning Understanding Behavior Strategy Behavioral Support Blame Kids Borrowed Curricul um Campus Support Can't Conceptualize Change Based on Student Need Class Brought Knowledge Classroom Support Colleague Support Colleague availability Colleague connection Comprehension Importance Comprehensive Curriculum Confidence in Curriculum Create Lessons Creation of Curriculum Curr. Lack of Comprehensiveness Curricular Need Curriculum above Student Need Curriculum Adaptation Curriculum Deficit Curriculum Discussion Curriculum Meets Student Need Curriculum Not Meet Student Need D ata from Curriculum Differences in Support Difficult School Climate Axial Codes Impact of Experience Collegial interactions Change in Understanding Change in Classroom Practice Curriculum foundation Mentoring around curriculum Modeling of curriculum A dministrative interaction Personal Qualities Prior experiences School Climate Feelings Selective Codes Appropriation Classroom Practice Curricular Support Individual Characteristic Contextual Factor
223 Difficulty with Curriculum Disagreement with Mentor Emphasis Equal Support Finding Curriculum Finding Resources Flexibility Focus on Comprehension Follow Curr. b/c Lack of Knowledge Following Prescribed Curriculum Following Script For Ease Gen/Sped Segregated Going Against Humor Identify Student Needs Immediate Improved instruction In Depth Knowledge of Curriculum Inability to Help Helplessness Inclusion Independent Training Individual Need Internalizing Curriculum Kind o f Assessment Labeling Lack of Administrative Support Lack of Collaboration Lack of Guidance Lack of Knowledge Lack of Knowledge of Student Need/Gain Lack of Mentor Accessibility Lack of Monetary Support Lack of Preparation Lack of Support Lack o f Training Late Hire Learn from curriculum Learn from mentor Learn from colleague Limiting Curriculum Locating Resources Management Mandate
224 Mandated Curricul um Meet Individual Student Needs Minimal Support Mismatch with Personal Belief Modeling Modifying Lessons Motivation for Teaching Need Need for Improvement Need/ Finding Lessons New Understanding No Individual Instruction No Link to Classroom I nstruction No Match with Expectations Non ESE Mentor Non Use Not Close Support/Distant Not Following Curriculum Not Meeting Student Need Not Real Not Using Knowledge Open mindedness Other Resources Outside Student Influence Patience Peda Strateg y Personal Experience Planning Possible Mandate Possible Separation from School Possible Too Many Lessons Prepared Curriculum Helpful Prescribed Curriculum Previous Experience Previous Kid Experience Previously Held Belief Prior Curricular Exper ience RC Support Reading Coach School of Support Reading Endorsement Training Reading Knowledge Reading Strategy Reading Terminology Repeated Practice Request Support
225 Resources Scaffolding School Change School Reading Support School Support Searching for Curriculum Sped Separate Climate/Non Inclusive Sped Strategy Strategy Silly Stress of Mandates Structure for Lesson Plan Struggling Student Conf idence Student Data Student Interests Student Involvement Student Motivation Support Support for Curriculum Support for Student Supportive Classroom Enviro Survival Mode Teacher Concern Teacher Need Teacher Support Tie to Student Interest Time and E nergy Training Unable to Access Unable to Measure Progress Uncertain Commitment Unit Instruction Use of Curriculum Veer Away from Prescribed Wants Curr. to Match Student Need Weak Student Skills Writing Gain
226 APPENDIX D JOURNAL EXCERPT 2 28 08 Taurean He has excellent rapore with the students, can really connect and this helps to keep the students m to go beyond curriculum. What does he really know about comprehension? Knows READ 180 routine, seems comfortable implementing. Curriculum keeps him focused and keeps class moving, there is little down time. Flexible with making changes due to student nee ds. Where did he learn this? 2 28 08 Lilla Very organized for the lesson, motivated. Orients students to task, where is purpose? Good at diffusing situations where does that come from? Seems to follow lesson plan closely, does she adapt at all? Wonder if all her classes are this hyped up, or just because it is around lunch. Religious quotes on desk. 2 24 08 Henri Gives decent appearance, seems organized. Corrective reading moves seamlessly looks experienced. If I was in his room for short period, I m ight think students were engaged and he was productive all the time. However, long observation reveals that he has difficulty getting through reading to get to f ree time focuses on countries. What other reading processes does he use? Wants students to like him.
227 APPENDIX E CONCEPT MAPS
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244 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH moved to Naples, Florida in fourth grade. Meg excelled in school while also pursuing her interests in dancing, soccer and s wimming. After high school graduation, she spent three years in the next year, Meg traveled with 150 other young adults in Up With People. The group performed a two and half hour musical, conducted community service and stayed with host families in six countries. Upon returning home, Meg accepted her first teaching position at Golden Terrace Elementary School. Here she spent three years teaching K 5, students wi th learning disabilities in educational leadership. While in Gainesville, Meg taught special education at Hawthorne Junior Senior High School. This position inv olved teaching a variety of content areas and across several setting. After four years in Hawthorne, Meg took a position at the county level as a staffing specialist, monitoring IDEA compliance and assisting teachers with instruction. Three years later, M eg left the school system to pursue her doctorate full time. Meg spent her first year working as a research assistant for the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education. In her second year, she was accepted as a student on Project Rite, a leadership grant aimed at preparing higher education special educators knowledgeable in special education teacher quality. teacher quality, reading instruction, and alternative routes to the classroom. Meg completed extensive coursework in qualitative and quantitative research methods. In addition to coursework, Meg taught several graduate level classes on effective reading instruction for
245 students with disabilities. She also co create d an online graduate level reading course. In her final year, Meg worked for the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This center aims to disseminate practi ces to increase the retention and quality of beginning special educators.