Landscapes of practice : stories of teacher development and change



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study was to explore (1) how teachers build knowledge, (2) the influence of prior beliefs on the ways in which teachers internalize this knowledge, and (3) the degree to which teachers use this new knowledge to facilitate changes in their practice. The use of landscape as a metaphorical representation for this study satisfied two needs. First, this study took place on two fundamentally different landscapes—a summer writing institute where the teachers took the role of learner, and in three teachers’ classrooms where they were to enact what they learned. However, in a more abstract sense, these landscapes, considered “exterior” (Lopez, 1995) were also places in which people lived, sharing their thoughts about families, teaching, learning, schools, and children. Thought of as “interior landscapes,” (Lopez, 1995) these conversations revealed the dialogic nature of the relationship between the two and made it possible to engage in a Bahktinian analysis of the interplay between internally persuasive and authoritative discourses voiced in the narratives. Utilizing a narrative inquiry approach (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) as a methodological base, the study focused on the relationship between professional development and the possibilities for change in each of the teacher’s classrooms. The representation of the data consisted of the many stories that took place on the two landscapes of the institute and the classrooms—stories of the teacher, school, district, community, and the state. The findings suggest that strategies alone will not improve the instruction in writing classrooms and that researchers, teacher educators, and those who provide professional development need to rethink the cultural narrative of “change.” Consideration must be given to the dialogic interplay among the various discourses, both authoritative and internally persuasive, that live on the interior landscapes of the teachers and the role each plays in the change process. Therefore, professional development settings need to become places where teachers are guided through a process to examine their deeply held assumptions of students, writing curriculum, and what constitutes knowledge.