WHITLOWE R. GREEN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION Doctoral Proposal Defense Announcement

Doctoral Proposal Defense Announcement
Teacher Perceptions of Training and Professional Development: A Case Study of a
Disciplinary Alternative Education Program in Southeast Texas
(Fall, 2015)
George Brandon Flores
B.S., Texas Southern University;
M.Ed., Prairie View A&M University
Chair of Advisory Committee: Patricia Hoffman-Miller, Ph.D.
Teacher training is a critical element to ensure there is a cadre of professionals capable of
addressing diverse learning communities in their classrooms. Students demonstrating difficulty
in adherence to the policies and procedures of the traditional school setting require teachers that
are responsive to their needs. Teachers must be experts in their respective content with the
ability to address all students’ behavioral, emotional, social, and academic needs. Students in
our educational system identified as “at risk” due to various factors, experience poor academic
performance, suspension and or expulsion from conventional schools, or drop out of school
(Lange, 1998). Alternative schools are popular across the United States to address these issues
and provide students with “second chance” programs to maintain their school participation and
have an opportunity to be successful in an alternative setting. There are several different forms
of alternative schools that serve various purposes depending on the intentions of the program.
This study will focus on alternative schools that students are assigned to from their home campus
as a result of disruptive behaviors, known as disciplinary alternative education placements or
School leaders face a difficult task considering that thirty percent of beginning teachers
do not teach beyond two years and forty percent leave the profession in their first five years of
teaching (Perez, Swain, & Hartsough, 1997). More recent studies show that new teachers leave
the profession at a rate of closer to fifty percent within their first five years of teaching (Bieler,
2009). With teachers leaving at this rate, it becomes more difficult for schools and students to
benefit from the intense ongoing training novice teachers receive at this stage. Teachers require
exposure to ongoing training and professional development to ensure they are prepared to enter
classrooms. Teachers feeling prepared for their job has a direct relation to job satisfaction, and
thus, are more likely to remain in the profession of education. “Fully prepared teachers feel more
competent developing curriculum, addressing students’ different learning styles and levels,
managing classrooms, motivating students, and knowing how to teach content” (Jorissen, 2002,
p. 46). Nowhere is the issue of teacher shortage and retention more prominent than in urban
schools, where some of the least prepared teachers are often assigned to teach the most difficult
and challenging population of students a district has to offer (Sawka, McCurdy, & Mannella,
In this study, the researcher will explore teachers’ perceptions of the ongoing training
and professional development they receive to prepare them for the behavioral and academic
challenges faced in the education of students at a disciplinary alternative education program.
Continuing professional development of teachers is crucial for improving schools, increasing
teacher quality, and improving student learning (Opfer & Vedder, 2011). With the behavioral
and academic challenges teachers face while teaching at a DAEP, they must have a
comprehensive framework to address individual student needs. The researcher hopes to identify
what teacher’s feel they need to be successful in an alternative school and what training needs to
be provided to best serve students in this setting.
The researcher selected The Whole Teacher Approach as the conceptual framework to
support the study and guide the research of professional development. The Whole Teacher
Approach centers the framework on the idea that teacher’s improving their practice is best
developed through ongoing support in real classroom settings where teachers are provided an
opportunity to receive coaching and feedback after professional development to support their
teaching in the classroom. The three components of The Whole Teacher Approach are
interrelated where each area is approached in a cohesive and comprehensive way that
acknowledges the complex process of teacher development (Chen & McCray, 2012). The
Whole Teacher Approach identifies four unique qualities that distinguish from other professional
development offerings. Specifically, Whole Teacher professional development must be (a)
multidimensional, (b) integrated, (c) developmental, and (d) contextualized (Chen & McCray,
Whole Teacher begins with targeting multiple dimensions of PD specific to teacher’s
attitudes, knowledge and practices. All three variables are equally important, but offer teacher’s
multiple ways of learning that meets their needs. These multi-dimensions to learning offer
multiple pathways to obtain knowledge and improve practice due to the various and multiple
needs of individual teachers. The Whole Teacher Approach framework allows for prescriptive
coaching of teachers that allows for varied levels of coaching support as the teacher develops
throughout the coaching cycle.
The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand teacher’s perceptions of training
and professional development they receive to prepare them to address students’ behavioral and
academic needs from at a disciplinary alternative education program. Understanding teachers’
needs can help DAEP’s develop the ongoing professional development and training necessary to
keep teachers feeling prepared, ensure students are adequately being served in the classroom, and
in turn can impact teacher recruiting, hiring, and retention.
The following research questions will guide this study:
1. What type of specific training and ongoing professional development do teachers
perceive is needed to better serve students at a DAEP?
2. Will an ongoing and prescriptive framework of training and professional development
have an impact on how well prepared teachers feel in the classroom to address student’s
behavioral and academic needs?
3. Will an ongoing and prescriptive framework of training and professional development
have an impact on teacher’s wanting to remain teaching at their respective DAEP?
In this study, the researcher will employ a case study approach using qualitative methods
to examine teachers currently assigned to a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program. This
study will focus on a DAEP located in an urban school district in Southeast Texas.
The researcher is focused on examining the selected participants’ perceptions of the current
training and professional development program at their current campus and how these
perceptions impacted their beliefs on what is needed to improve teacher capacity at DAEP’s to
best serve students. The researcher hopes to understand what training teachers feel is available
to them at the selected DAEP and identify what training and professional development teachers
feel they need to be successful in a disciplinary alternative school. The participating teachers will
also have the opportunity to offer insight on what training they feel needs to be provided to best
serve the students in this setting.
Bieler, D. (2009). Getting past getting started: How to improve new teacher retention. Language
Arts, 86(6), 464-467.
Chen, J., & McCray, J. (2012). A conceptual framework for teacher professional development:
The whole teacher approach. National Head Start Association, 15(1), 8-23.
Jorissen, K. T. (2002). Retaining alternate route teachers: The power of professional integration
in teacher preparation and induction. The High School Journal, 86(1), 45-55.
Lange, C. M. (1998). Characteristics of alternative schools and programs serving at-risk students.
The High School Journal, 81(4), 183-197.
Opfer, V. D., & Vedder, D. G. (2011). Conceptualizing teacher professional learning. Review of
Educational Research, 81(3), 376-407.
Perez, K., Swain, C., & Hartsough, C. (1997). An analysis of practices of practices used to
support new teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 24 (2): 41-52.
Sawka, K. D., McCurdy, B. L., & Mannella, M. C. (2002). Strengthening emotional support
services: An empirically based model for training teachers of students with behavior
disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 10(4), 223-232.
Date: December 2, 2015
Department: Educational Leadership and Counseling
Time: 1:00
Location/Room: DELCO 220__________________
Dissertation Chair:
__Patricia Hoffman-Miller, PhD.
Dissertation Committee Members:
__Douglas Hermond, Ph.D.__
_ Lisa Thompson, Ph.D.___
__Solomon Osho, Ph.D.____