Teacher Learning Using Turning Point Texts: A Literacy Teacher Study Group in a Gentrified Urban Community of Practice
In-service teacher professional development in literacy is often limited to one-shot workshops lead by a popular educational “guru” who promises to focus on an area of critical need in student testing achievement. Research done by the National Staff Development Council shows that these workshops are often ineffective because they lack adequate participant engagement and follow-up. What happens when teachers, in their own community, use a series of discussions of provocative texts to generate their own new learning? This ethnographic study describes what was learned about teacher development as a Washington DC teacher study group focusing on adolescent literacy development situated their learning outside of school and in a popular, advocacy and community-oriented bookstore/coffeeshop. As facilitators of their own learning these teachers used the discussion of a series of culturally relevant books, turning point texts, to identify new texts to discuss and to generate new insights into both teacher and student learning. The findings indicate that meaningful teacher learning that impacts student achievement can be built around resource-supported, autonomous discussions that focus on the social and academic development of both teachers and students. The implications for using provocative community literacy spaces in a gentrified, urban community of practice are also described.
Keywords: Literacy, Teacher Study Groups, Turning Point Texts
Dr. Nicola Williams
Assistant Professor of Literacy, Graduate School of Education, George Mason University