Focusing on the unexpected. Critical events as a step towards teachers’ professional development

Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Innovative Research in Education

Year: 2021


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Focusing on the unexpected. Critical events as a step towards teachers’ professional development

Evangelia Kosmidou and Maria Sfyroera



According to Woods (1993) critical events seem to awaken pupils’ and teachers’ creativity, mostly by drawing attention to incidents of everyday school life, otherwise remaining unnoticed. This study resulted from the analysis of part of the data of a larger research conducted in the context of a doctoral dissertation. Thirteen educators with different roles – nine pre-school teachers, two critical friends, a PhD researcher and an academician – were involved in an action research program. As part of the research process, the teachers participating were invited to systematically identify, record and comment on “flash-points” arising from their everyday classroom experience with their students. Critical events recorded, should focus on either diversity issues or the impact of the research hypothesis approach. The research data were analysed mainly with qualitative methods since we were interested in understanding the meaning that teachers themselves attributed both to the critical events they selected to submit and to the way they believed that this practice affected their professional development. Quantitative method was also supportively used in order to receive measurable results for specific data. The analysis yielded interesting conclusions that highlight the use of critical events as a powerful and dynamic tool which seems to broaden teachers’ overall understandings of their students and their educational context. Moreover, systematically spotting and commenting on critical events in everyday educational process seem to have contributed to improving teachers’ reflective thinking, educational practices, thus, supporting their professional development.

Keywords: critical incidents, critical thinking, collaborative action research, reflective pedagogy, development of educational practices.