PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THAT DEFIES THE TRADITIONAL CONSTRUCT OF TEACHER LEARNING: A Charter School's Commencement
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In August 2006, in accordance with a recently passed charter school law, a Mid-Atlantic school district opened its first public charter schools. The charter schools' staff had opportunities to exercise autonomy over their instruction and had very little in-service training. This study examined what seven teachers at a newly created charter school did with their time to achieve on-going professional development in the absence of frequent traditional structured in-service training. I employed a case study approach to portraiture that was guided by Desimone's (2009) core features of professional development as the theoretical framework. The data were specific activities that teachers used in place of frequent in-service that reported by the participants. Elements of the activities teachers used to construct knowledge were analyzed using the core features of professional development. Content focus, collective participation, coherence, active learning, and duration were present throughout the data.
The data from this study revealed that teachers were deliberate in their actions. They constructed their own professional experiences and held themselves accountable. The retrospective nature, small sample of teachers, and limited span of focus for this study posed limitations. These findings have implications for designing professional development, facilitating autonomous instructional development, and future research.