Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Sarah K. Clark

Abstract

Learning how to plan for effective instruction is a critical part of the work performed daily by the elementary school teacher. While some new and struggling teachers in urban school districts have access to professional development on a variety of topics including instructional planning, teachers in rural school districts often struggle to find training opportunities. This study sought to gather information and insight from rural teachers who demonstrate expert instructional planning. The specific planning decisions they made and activities they engaged in while planning were studied. Not only were the planning practices identified, but the reasons said practices were employed were investigated. Five expert elementary school teachers employed in a remote Utah school district served as the cases for this qualitative research. Observations, lesson plan documentation, and interview data were collected and analyzed. It was found that the expert rural elementary school teachers spent the majority of their planning time thinking about curriculum goals, learning objectives, and selecting appropriate resources. Very little thought was invested in how teachers would interact with students, how students would interact with each other, or how students would interact with their environment. This was because of a repertoire of teaching skills that could be used on an improvisational basis depending on how students responded. From this study, instructional leaders may gain insight into the thought processes behind successful planning and thus have new tools for working with novice teachers to improve their lesson planning.

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