Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Richard T. Orrison

Third Advisor

Larry Burton

Abstract

Problem. This study looks at four effective middle school teachers' stories in order to understand the experiences and beliefs which impact their choice to use developmentally responsive classroom practices. There is general agreement in the literature concerning characteristics of effective middle school teachers, but little has been done to understand what influences these teachers to teach the way they do.

Method. A qualitative case study design was used for this study. Two male and two female middle school teachers were observed and interviewed during the course of 1 school year. Each teacher's life experiences, classroom practices, and beliefs are described in narrative form. An analysis of the four teachers' practices and beliefs was conducted using the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development's Turning Points (1989) and the National Middle School Association's This We Believe (1995). Further analysis of similarities and differences in the teachers' lives led to the emergence of other themes.

Results. The four teachers' classroom practices and beliefs matched the descriptions of developmentally appropriate practices in Turning Points and This We Believe. Further analysis of similarities and differences in the teachers' lives led to the emergence of other themes.

Conclusions. The concept of "Real" as portrayed in The Velveteen Rabbit describes the lives of the four middle school teachers who participated in this study. These teachers love and give of themselves freely to others. They have experienced growing pains, but choose to look beyond the discomfort and allow it to mold and shape their lives. Though they are Real and recognize the contributions they are making to others, they continue to open themselves up to continued growth.

Subject Area

Middle school teachers.

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