Experienced, accomplished teachers' perceptions of their professional lives: Three case studies

Jane Marie Dorian, Fordham University


This study analyzed three experienced, accomplished, secondary teachers' perceptions of their professional lives. The teachers worked in different schools in an urban school district. Two of the teachers taught both English and social studies in a junior high school; one of them was a special education teacher, and the other was a teacher in a Montessori program. The third teacher, a high school teacher, taught English. The purpose of the study was to find out how experienced, accomplished teachers view their professional development, and what influences them to continue to learn and grow. Extensive, audiotaped, focused interviews were the main source for data collection; however, journals and other writings of participants, classroom artifacts, and student evaluations were also used. The research design was case study in which the investigator first analyzed each individual case and then conducted a cross-case analysis to find common themes. The five themes which emerged from the findings were: (a) background factors, (b) visions and ideals, (c) obstacles, (d) strategies to overcome obstacles, and (e) recognition and respect. Background factors were important in shaping the teachers' visions and ideals of teaching and learning. Each of the teachers encountered obstacles which made their professional lives more difficult. The most persistent obstacle was the isolation the teachers found in their departments and schools. Each of the teachers also used strategies to overcome the obstacles and to create opportunities to grow and develop. Each of the teachers valued feedback and collaboration, both of which were in short supply in their schools. Recognition was seen as important by the teachers, though, in general, good teaching was not recognized in any of the schools. Four hypotheses were generated from the findings. It was found that experienced, accomplished teachers are concerned about students' learning; that they avoid burnout by continuing to be involved in professional development; that they seem to be able to overcome obstacles and create opportunities for growth for themselves; and that recognition of good teaching seems to confirm their views of themselves and motivates them to continue.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Teacher education|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Dorian, Jane Marie, "Experienced, accomplished teachers' perceptions of their professional lives: Three case studies" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9808999.