Responsive Professional Development: A Facilitation Approach for Teachers' Development in a Physics Teaching Community of Practice

Providing high-quality professional development for teachers with diverse backgrounds and classroom experience is a challenging task. In this work, we investigate the Illinois Physics and Secondary Schools (IPaSS) partnership program, which provides instructional resources and a network of support for high school physics teachers through a partnership with the University of Illinois. IPaSS aims to address disparities in physics instruction by equipping teachers with university physics curricula and equipment adapted to fit the context of their high school classrooms. IPaSS' professional development design and facilitation draw inspiration from the Communities of Practice (CoP) model with a responsive facilitative approach in the design and enactment of professional development. Using interviews and surveys from 14 physics teachers, we studied the extent to which the program has responded to teachers' diverse needs while supporting their participation in physics teaching CoP. The results revealed that this model of responsive professional development -- conceptualized as being attentive and adaptive to teachers' needs -- has created very positive perceptions of the program for the teachers involved and fostered pedagogical and instructional support, professional growth opportunities, and social or personal benefits of community involvement for them. The results also demonstrated that mutual peer support has gone beyond the dynamics of the Communities of Practice framework, not only from more to less experienced but also in the reverse direction. In addition, the case study of the program revealed that taking a responsive approach can potentially facilitate teachers' transitions from being peripheral members to becoming active participants in the community.

Talafian, H., Lundsgaard, M., Mahmood, M., Shafer, D., Stelzer, T. J., & Kuo, E. (2023). Responsive professional development: A facilitation approach for teachers' development in a physics teaching community of practice. arXiv preprint arXiv:2310.11375.