Unpacking the Code: Exploring Teachers’ Professional Development in Reading


  • Pamela Beach Queen’s University
  • Jen McConnel Queen’s University
  • Barbara Mendes Queen's University


teacher professional development, reading instruction, teachers' perceptions


Teaching reading requires considerable knowledge and skill acquired over several years, and while communities and families contribute to students’ reading success, teachers are the most influential forces for delivering high-quality reading programs. Professional development opportunities in reading enable teachers to augment their current curriculum content and pedagogical knowledge and can have a powerful effect on their practice and, ultimately, on student learning. We conducted a qualitative study exploring teachers’ perceptions of reading development and instruction with nine elementary educators enrolled in a targeted professional development course. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted: once prior to the start of the professional development course and once following the professional development course. An inductive approach to analysis resulted in four main themes: seeking out new knowledge, evolving definitions of reading, transformative learning moments, and increases in self-efficacy for teaching reading. This study illustrates the transformative power a targeted professional development course can have on teachers’ perceptions of reading. Professional development in reading that is relevant and properly resourced can significantly impact teachers’ perceptions of their practice, their self-efficacy for teaching reading and, ultimately, have a positive effect on their students’ growth in reading development. Additionally, understanding teachers’ perceptions of their professional development in reading can contribute to the development and refinement of professional learning experiences.

Author Biographies

Pamela Beach, Queen’s University

Pamela Beach is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University. She has a decade of elementary classroom experience, teaching a range of grades and subject areas. Her background as an elementary teacher has influenced her research which centres on the dissemination of research-informed literacy practices.

Jen McConnel, Queen’s University

Jen McConnel is a teacher-researcher, and a writer. A PhD Candidate in Education at Queen’s University of Kingston, Ontario, she holds a Master of Library Science and a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature. Her research interests include new and multiliteracies, student beliefs about writing, and teacher professional development.

Barbara Mendes, Queen's University

As a Master’s candidate in Education at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Barbara Mendes has had opportunities to extend her learning, research, and advocating opportunities in the field of literacy-related learning disabilities. Barbara’s research focusses on providing morphological awareness based instruction as an essential component to science based reading remediation. Her goal is to learn how to apply and develop tools for the application of theory to help students reach their potential.




How to Cite

Beach, P., McConnel, J., & Mendes, B. (2020). Unpacking the Code: Exploring Teachers’ Professional Development in Reading. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 18(1), 103–104. Retrieved from https://jcacs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/jcacs/article/view/40480



Literacy and Language Arts