From clinic to classroom: A case study of a literacy specialist examining teacher learning and instructional decision making
Pontrello, Camille Marie
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The purpose of this case study was to explore how the specific content knowledge developed in a newly certified literacy specialist’s practicum experiences are taken up in her practice as she supports the learning of her struggling literacy learners in the situated context of the middle school. Focused on her perspective, the present study explored the behaviors, beliefs, and stances of a literacy specialist cultured in diagnostic decision making and reflective processes and what her practices may represent as she attempts to meet the needs of her struggling seventh grade literacy learners. The present study examined the way a literacy specialist assesses her students’ areas of strength and development, confronts specific difficulties experienced by her students and the process of planning an effective program of re-mediation for the improvement of comprehension. Conversely, this study explores the way a literacy specialist responds to the professional challenges she faced in her professional role. In concert with the literacy specialist’s perspective of her role, teacher learning, and the role reflective practice as it relates to instructional decision making in a re-medial classroom context was central to the investigation of this process. Findings relative to a newly literacy specialist’s practicum experiences lead to positive implications for literacy education. The first implication suggests providing for the development of research-based pedagogical content knowledge and curricular knowledge situated within authentic contexts to inform practice supported teacher learning and instructional decision making. The second implication for literacy education suggests a literacy specialist’s efficient decision making involves the adoption of guiding principles. The third implication suggests the adoption of guiding principles occurs through the effective development of reflective practice.