The view from midwinter: mature, experienced elementary teachers share their wisdom-in-practice





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This qualitative case study was designed to discover the wisdom-in-practice developed through the lives and work of experienced elementary teachers in middle adulthood (ages 40-65). Five mature, experienced teachers were nominated for their wisdom by school administrators and university professors. The researcher completed an extensive review of literature about adult psychological development, wisdom, generativity, and teacher development, and in-depth interviews were conducted with each study participant. Research questions investigated participants' early influences, undergraduate preparation for teaching, lifelong teaching experiences, and career stages. Results from this study suggest four themes of teacher development which include learning to teach, reflection and lifelong learning, generativity, and challenging contexts of teaching. Wise teachers indicate learning to teach is a lifelong process of experience and reflection on experience. They also demonstrate a lifelong passion for learning. The participants in the study display generativity in three primary contexts: nurturing children, providing leadership in school and professional organizations, and through creative endeavors to enhance teaching and learning. They satisfy their needs to create lasting personal legacies by demonstrating mastery of teachable moments and acting as educational bricoleurs. Study results also indicate three challenging contexts of teaching (time, collaboration, and power) are stagnating influences in the professional work of wise teachers. Synthesizing study results, the researcher presents An Alternative Model of Teacher Development based upon the seasons of the year.

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