Teacher quality has been identified as the most crucial factor in raising student achievement. In order for teachers—and consequently their students—to be successful, teachers must participate in life-long career development. For this reason, a great deal of time and resources are spent on professional development. However, professional development for teachers is not always effective. This study was aimed at identifying those elements that led to success in professional development conducted in one rural Utah school district. The study operated within the theoretical framework of Appreciative Inquiry, which consists of collecting evidence by interviewing successful participants to gather stories that reveal what works best in an organization. For this study, four elementary teachers in the district were identified as having made positive changes in their classrooms as a result of participation in the professional development. These teachers were interviewed and their stories were recorded. Then, their stories were analyzed and the following common themes emerged: validation, modeling with children, "doable" practices, reanimation of previously learned content and desire to learn more. These themes were then categorized into two sections that represent instructional strategies used by the presenter and teacher behaviors that were influenced by the identified instructional strategies. While research has identified many elements of quality professional development programs, these additional elements that emerged deserve further investigation. Results may provide useful information when designing professional development that will encourage teachers to take up promoted practices.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





Teacher Change, Teacher Belief, Teacher Practice, Teacher Education, Teacher Professional Development, Teacher In-service, Elementary Writing Instruction