Profiles and practices: An investigation of senior high school English teachers selected as Teacher of the Year in Dade County, Florida, 1983--1988

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Eveleen Lorton - Committee Chair


Characteristics, attitudes, and teaching methods of outstanding high school English teachers in Dade County, Florida, were examined in this naturalistic investigation.Subjects were nineteen volunteers from among the twenty-eight high school English teachers selected by their peers as Teacher of the Year during the last five years.Methodology included a written survey of all nineteen teachers, focused group interviews of thirteen, and case studies of four. Analysis of the survey results included a comparison to two larger surveys conducted in 1987 and 1984. Interview transcripts were analyzed and reported using Glaser and Strauss's method of constant comparison. Observations were reported through "thick description" (Geertz, 1973) in the case studies.The study translated findings into guidelines for teachers and into a composite portrait of teachers studied. Conclusions cast as guidelines include suggestions for ensuring student achievement, establishing expectations, maintaining a positive learning environment, and meeting students' needs. Conclusions embedded in the portrait relate to philosophy of teaching, preparation, professional growth and development, and teaching methods.Chief among the conclusions are these. Teachers studied are indeed excellent, and they are satisfied in their work. They share a common philosophy, one which encompasses a sense of the importance and the joy of teaching, a passionate belief in students' ability to succeed, and a recognition of the teacher's role in helping students succeed. Their preparation included a solid foundation in both subject matter and pedagogy. Their professional growth is achieved through professional networks, staff development opportunities, and materials and equipment necessary for effective teaching. While their teaching styles vary, their methods are consistent with those described in the generic research on effective teaching by Berliner; Cohn, Kottkamp, and Provenzo; and Wigginton.The study concludes with a definition (grounded theory) of excellence in the teaching of high school English.


Education, Language and Literature; Education, Secondary

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