Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Kristine Reed


Throughout their careers, teachers seek professional growth opportunities to continually improve their craft. This quest has resulted in various learning experiences for teachers that have impacted their practice in differing ways. Bayar (2014) writes that schools traditionally provide training for teachers, professional development (PD), to help in-service teachers grow as professionals. To gain further insight into the topic of teacher PD, this narrative inquiry sought to obtain a better understanding of PD based on teachers’ perceptions of their past PD experiences and how those experiences impacted their professional practice. This study was guided by a central question and sub-questions. The central question asked how middle school teachers describe their experiences with professional development. Supporting sub-questions probed further by seeking to know how experiences with PD led to teachers making changes in their classroom. The participants in this study included seven middle school teachers from one upper Midwestern rural district who had more than two years of experience in the school where the study took place. Multiple types of data gathering instruments were used including semi-structured interviews, reflective writing artifacts, and follow-up interviews. This study followed the data analysis spiral discussed by Creswell and Poth (2018). Four themes emerged from the data including the relevancy of PD, the importance of time with colleagues, opportunities for collaboration, and the importance of PD that is personalized to the unique learning needs of individual teachers. Findings from this study offer insights for school and district leaders to consider. Conclusions suggest that professional development that includes teacher choice increases the relevancy of PD for teachers, especially when training is specific to content and/or curriculum. Additional conclusions point to the importance of teachers having time with colleagues to learn, implement, and receive feedback on new learning, and the importance of PD which includes personalized training that supports teachers in meeting the needs of all students. This study suggests that the structure for planning PD may be improved by seeking the input of practicing teachers and asking them to provide their insights into what has been effective for them in the past.

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching


Personalized, Professional Development, Qualitative, Relevant, Teachers

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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