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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Fred Muskal

First Committee Member

David Baral

Second Committee Member

Marilyn Draheim

Third Committee Member

Charles Zartman

Fourth Committee Member

Mari Irvin


The purpose of this study was to examine the stages of teaching careers and staff development preferences within the context of Levinson's (1978) adult development theory. This study found that adult development theory affects teachers' view of their careers and identified four themes across the teaching career: isolation, low perceived status, student relationships, and support networks. Additionally, this study describes what constitutes sound staff development activities. Semi structured group and individual interviews were used to collect data from 31 practicing elementary teachers in two rural northern California schools districts. The sample was selected from autobiographical and professional data questionnaire completed by 159 teachers. Grounded theory was used to analyze data and integrate into a description of teaching careers that spans a range of 30+ years of experience. Four teacher career stages were identified: early, early middle, late middle and veteran. The four themes identified in this study were constant across the teaching career, but the significance varied at each developmental stage. Results supported a differentiated model of staff development based on teacher career stages. A career long, articulated model of teacher staff development was developed, incorporating adult learning principles, reflective practice, and the role of mentor at each career stage. The recommended model in this study focuses on the needs of the teacher at each career stage and views the teacher as a fully, functioning professional. Thus, a major conclusion in this study is the need for a paradigm shift in current staff development practices that focuses on teacher rather than institutional or societal needs. Schon's (1983, 1987) model of reflective practice of conscious reflection before, during and after practice is described to promote teacher growth at each developmental career stage. Finally, this study concludes that support networks are a vital element in teacher professional development and describes the changing role of the mentor throughout the career cycle to assist in the professional growth of the individual teacher.



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