The Alchemy of Meaning-Making in a Summer Literacy Practicum: Using a Responsive Teaching Framework to Scaffold In-Service Teachers' Understandings of Inferential Read Aloud Instruction
Schiller, Jennifer A.
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The purpose of this multi-case study was to analyze the interactions between teachers who are literacy specialist candidates, their coaches, and an instructor in order to understand how a Responsive Teaching framework was interpreted, enacted and valued during a summer literacy practicum. Six teachers, 24 students entering first through third grade and two university staff members took part in this four-week observational multi-case study. Researcher field notes, classroom artifacts including audio and video, coaching notes, focus groups, graduate seminar transcripts and stimulated recall activities were analyzed using a thematic and micro-content analysis. Findings related to the practicum suggests that a responsive practicum includes: (a) a clear framework that outlines program beliefs, participant expectations, instructional models with exemplars, and an accurate baseline of participant expertise and needs including fidelity measures; (b) Daily staff meetings that foster a community of expertise and an instructor with a background in implementing diagnostic instruction at multiple levels; (c) Weekly graduate seminars that fill pedagogical gaps with hands on-activities and concrete examples of teaching-in-action; (d) Coaching sessions that include formative assessment. (i.e., setting the standard, giving multi-criterion judgments, and direct evaluative experience). Furthermore, findings specific to the literacy specialist candidates’ learning suggest that: (a) LSCs needed mentorship most in enacting the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework; (b) teacher learning trajectories varied across classrooms; (c) teacher purpose, rigor and collaborative context regarding reflective practice impacted their learning trajectory. These findings illustrate that teaching is dynamic in nature and requires a responsive environment where the instructors have a high level of adaptive expertise, value active goal setting, formative assessment, and reflective practice.