The Embedded Writing Institute: A study of professional development

Beverly A Paesano, University of Rhode Island


In this ethnographic inquiry, I examined the experiences of twenty-one teachers who engaged in a job-embedded model of professional development in the teaching and learning of writing. This initiative, which became known as the Embedded Institute, draws from the National Writing Project model of teacher development that is commonly referred to in Writing Project sites across the country as the Summer Institute. The Embedded Institute reflected a nation-wide shift in the principles that inform practices of teacher development and of teaching and learning writing. Such a shift from product to process-oriented and from teacher to learner-centered practices both in teacher development and in the teaching and learning of writing provides an underlying theme for this study. In this initiative, teachers earned six graduate credits for their participation in ninety-five contact hours of study in five major elements: a faculty writing group, reading groups, seminars, cross-visitations, and a Summer Writing Program for children at the school. I was involved in the Embedded Institute as a researcher and as a teacher-in-residence. As a researcher, the following question framed my observations at this school: “What happened when twenty-one teachers engaged in this job-embedded professional development initiative with the local Writing Project?” My data collection included audio taped and transcribed interviews with teachers and administrators, extensive field notes, a log of my daily activities at the school, teachers' anonymous evaluations of the initiative, photos of classroom space and displays, and classroom and district artifacts. As a teacher-in-residence, I implemented writing activities in classrooms, consulted with teachers, and generally supported teachers as they studied the teaching and learning of writing. Four major themes emerged from my data analysis: teachers' personal development as writers and as teachers of writing, social and collegial relationships that impacted the school community as a whole, changes in classroom practice, and new understandings about the teaching and learning of writing. These findings offer significant implications for future initiatives in teacher development, particularly in the teaching of writing.

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Recommended Citation

Beverly A Paesano, "The Embedded Writing Institute: A study of professional development" (2003). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3103717.