The Journey to Expert: Teaching Expertise Acquisition of Ten Early Childhood Teachers in Shanghai
MetadataShow full item record
China’s principal concern for ensuring educational quality has generated an emphasis on teacher professional development efforts -- using the most effective ways to transform its teachers from novices to experts. Changes made in Shanghai, the pioneer and model of Chinese education reforms, have far-reaching effects throughout the entire country. Through naturalistic inquiry, this qualitative study explores the meaning of teaching expertise and the process by which ten early childhood teachers in Shanghai evolved from novices to experts. Guiding research questions were as follows: How do 10 early childhood teachers conceptualize expert teaching? How do they describe their process of transforming from a novice to an expert teacher? What are the personal and supportive resources that they attribute to their professional development from novice to expert teachers? Narrative analysis on data yielded six consistent and interrelated themes (recognizing self, conceptualizing expert teacher and teaching expertise, attributing professional growth, acquiring expertise, advising other teachers and additional influences from family and life events) with each evoking a central phenomenon: professional engagement. This multi-dimensional concept is critical to teachers’ growth as vigorous, dedicated and fulfilled experts. The 10 teachers, themselves identified as experts, submitted a description of excellent practitioners who love, understand and interact well with children; who have systematic and dynamic knowledge of distinct domains associated with various age-groups; and who are critical thinkers and diligent learners with a strong sense of ethics. Teacher expertise increases gradually with every step of their careers. This study found distinctive career trajectories for expert teachers--eight key steps with three role transitions and basic strategies. Novice teachers’ careers might start or suffer from low points, but, sustained by professional engagement, they can develop personal and supportive resources to advance further. Findings on how these Shanghai expert teachers developed and crafted their teaching skills have many implications for China’s teacher preparation programs at district, regional and national levels. Since China is a member of the global educational community, research findings also have potential for international relevance as well. Application beyond China must acknowledge the cultural and social context of these Shanghai teachers’ professional development to expert teachers.
Hao, Haiping (2015). The Journey to Expert: Teaching Expertise Acquisition of Ten Early Childhood Teachers in Shanghai. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from