Becoming a Teacher is a Journey for a Lifetime: The Biography of a Fourth Grade Writing Teacher

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to see the lifetime literacy growth of one fourth-grade writing teacher, and to view her teaching from inside her classroom. This study follows the journey of an emerging teacher as she grew and developed into a professional educator. This study continues into her classroom to see her as she taught Writers’ Workshop, inspiring her students to write from their own life experiences. This qualitative study was conducted using participant observation, interviews, and artifacts to gather data. Through qualitative inquiry and thematic analysis, data were interpreted to gain insight into this teacher’s life and her teaching. The researcher’ s reflections, review of the literature, and eighteen years of experience as a teacher, brought a knowledgeable perspective that informed interpretation of the data. This study of Ruth’s life and her classroom was an inquiry into the processes of teacher development.

Our view of teachers and their teaching is hidden by the nature of the job they do. Stories of the lives and work of teachers seek to illuminate the professional development of teachers and their teaching (Goodson, 1994; Jalongo & Isenberg, 1995; Schwarz, 2001). By closely studying the path of one teacher’s growth and teaching, the growth and teaching of all teachers are illuminated; by "weav[ing] together the themes throughout one teacher’s lifetime, [we] connect" ¦them to the lives of many different teachers' (Jalongo & Isenberg, 1995, p. 28).

From this study, experiences of one teacher build and layer as years of teaching experience and professional development mingle together to change and enhance her knowledge of teaching and resulting classroom practice. The fourth-grade students in Ruth’s classroom were the recipients of their teacher’s literacy experiences that developed over her lifetime.

Writers' Workshop, Teacher Development, Teacher Biography