Implementing Reading Workshop: Why Do Teachers Find it so Hard? A Case Study of Two Elementary Teachers
The purpose of this study was to examine teacher growth and development within the context of literacy instruction. More specifically, this qualitative case study examines and describes the professional support needed by two intermediate grade teachers to make meaningful and effective instructional decisions during the implementation of a reading workshop framework for teaching. This study adds to the body of literature as to how teachers’ professional growth needs can be met in this day of high-stakes accountability and reduced paid time for professional study. The study was designed: (1) to identify what supports were needed to give the teachers the knowledge and confidence to institute a reading workshop format of teaching; (2) to ascertain how these teachers made daily teaching decisions; and (3) to suggest how professional development opportunities can be instituted when a lack of time and money for professional development exists.
The data collected from this study included two transcribed teacher interviews, a teacher survey, transcribed field notes of classroom observations, collected teacher lesson plans, a transcribed focus group interview, and teacher demographic data.
The findings from this study revealed that these particular teachers found many aspects of teaching using reading workshop difficult to navigate on their own. The troublesome aspects included initial implementation of the workshop, teaching state standards and preparing students for the high-stakes reading test. These teachers depended on multiple levels of support when instituting reading workshop. Professional development sessions, collegial dialogue, and support from a literacy coach proved to be beneficial to teachers as they navigated this approach to teaching. While these support systems were valuable to teacher growth and development, it was ultimately the benefits to the students which motivated the teachers to continue with reading workshop in their classrooms.