Research on elementary teachers who were identified as expert in literacy instruction, indicated that expert teachers maintained instructional balance and integrated reading and writing effectively. This multiple case study explored the visions, dispositions, and pedagogical resources of five elementary teachers identified as expert in the area of literacy.
The researcher used a multiple case study model methodology. Five subjects in classroom teacher positions ranging from kindergarten to third grade, all identified as "expert" through both principal recommendation and structured observation, participated. The researcher observed each subject during literacy instruction twice and interviewed each subject twice over the course of two months in order to gather data on the subjects' perceptions and practices connected to vision, disposition, and pedagogical resources associated with primary grade literacy instruction. All interviews and observations were transcribed and analyzed using a constant comparative approach. An independent analysis of data by a separate educator established triangulation. A confirmatory focus group took place in which the subjects confirmed the data and emerging model.
The emerging data were categorized and integrated into a model profiling expert primary grade literacy teachers. This model included elements related to vision, disposition, and pedagogical resources. The subjects identified facilitating student achievement to the highest possible level, creating engaging, meaningful instruction, and raising student confidence as "vision" elements, reflection, flexibility, and differentiation-orientation as "disposition" elements, and ongoing assessment, effective classroom management, collaboration with other adults, individualization, repetition, teaching literacy across the school day, phonemic awareness/phonics instruction, knowledge of phonics, knowledge of students, centers instruction, and guided reading instruction as "pedagogical resource" elements.
Initial teacher training and ongoing professional development efforts designed to improve teachers' visions and dispositions may improve literacy instruction at the primary level. Also, hiring teams could benefit from expanding their criteria of potential candidates to include elements common to the expert teachers included in this study. Finally, the definition of expert should expand beyond traditional definitions of the term in educational contexts.