A Case Study of a School District: Administrators' Intentions and Teachers' Perceptions of Professional Development
This study outlines the research problem, reviews relevant literature, describes research methods, and presents findings addressing the research topic: "A Case Study of a School District: Administrators' Intentions and Teachers' Perceptions of Professional Development." Professional development provides opportunities for teachers to improve their practice to impact student learning. Previous research identifies effective elements of professional development such as specific forms, duration of time, participation, content focus, active learning, and coherence (Croft, Coggshall, Dolan, Powers & Killion, 2010; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001). This study was a qualitative case study with a phenomenological approach that included interviews with two district administrators, three building administrators and nine teachers. The analysis determined the district's professional development system, what administrators' intended, what professional development aspects teachers deemed as most effective, and what teachers perceived as the impact of the professional development on their practice. Results about the professional development for this district are presented from the perspective of participants at each level: district administration, building administration, and teacher. There were two key aspects related to PD at the district level. Professional development in the Nain School District encompassed a system-wide responsibility and requirement. Available PD offerings were limited in content and instructional practice, and allowed for a limited amount of choices for teachers. The teacher outcomes that building administrators intended as a result of PD comprised of the improvement of quality instruction, increased professional capacity, collaboration with Professional Learning Communities, and the support of common building goals. The aspects of professional development experiences teachers found most beneficial included ongoing sessions, immersion in specific content focus, and relevant instructional strategies. Other aspects that teachers found beneficial were modeling instructional strategies, active participation, resource access, and reflective practice. The impact on professional growth that teachers reported included the potential to increase the capacity of teaching, to increase professional capacity, and to collaborate with Professional Learning Communities. The outcomes presented are valuable for districts to better understand professional learning opportunities that are aligned to effective practices for professional development.