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  This article was downloaded by: [Jacqueline Bach]On: 03 September 2012, At: 15:17Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Theory Into Practice Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: Young Adult Literature and ProfessionalDevelopment Jacqueline Bach a  , Laura Hensley Choate a  & Bruce Parker aa  Department of Educational Theory Policy, and Practice, LouisianaState University, Baton Rouge, LAVersion of record first published: 04 Jul 2011 To cite this article:  Jacqueline Bach, Laura Hensley Choate & Bruce Parker (2011): Young AdultLiterature and Professional Development, Theory Into Practice, 50:3, 198-205 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.  Theory Into Practice , 50:198–205, 2011Copyright © The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State UniversityISSN: 0040-5841 print/1543-0421 onlineDOI: 10.1080/00405841.2011.584030   Jacqueline Bach Laura Hensley Choate Bruce Parker   Young Adult Literature andProfessional Development  As the body of high quality young adult litera-ture (YAL) continues to grow, what role might these texts play in professional development for educators? This article describes ways in whichschools can develop book study programs that use this literature to promote meaningful dia-logue and understanding of contemporary ado-lescent issues. Based on their own work in thisarea, the authors have chosen to focus on the Jacqueline Bach is an assistant professor in the De-partment of Educational Theory, Policy, and Practiceat Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; LauraHensleyChoate is an associateprofessor in the Depart-ment of Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice atLouisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; BruceParker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice at LouisianaState University, Baton Rouge, LA.Correspondence should be addressed to JacquelineBach, Curriculum and Instruction, Louisiana StateUniversity, Department of Educational Theory, Policy,and Practice, 113D Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, LA70803. E-mail: use of YAL that features realistic narratives of contemporary adolescent concerns to enhance professionals’ understanding of 3 adolescent concerns: body image and eating disorders, re-lational aggression, and sexual identity. P ROFESSIONALS IN THE FIELD  of youngadult literature (YAL) are generally awareof these texts’ potential to promote a life-longlove of reading (Ivey & Broaddus, 2001), ad-dress issues important to students (Bushman,1997; Kaywell, 1993), and serve as the fo-cus of interdisciplinary lessons (George, 2001).However, they may not have considered thepotential of using YAL to promote professionaldevelopment for educators themselves. In thisarticle, we describe ways in which schools anduniversities can create professional developmentbook study programs that use this literature topromote meaningful dialogue and understanding 198    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   J  a  c  q  u  e   l   i  n  e   B  a  c   h   ]  a   t   1   5  :   1   7   0   3   S  e  p   t  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2  Bach, Choate, Parker  Young Adult Literature and Professional Development  of contemporary adolescent issues. Based on ourown work in this area, we have chosen to focuson the use of one type of young adult novel,the life-based literary narrative (Phillion & FangHe, 2004), in a book study program designedto enhance professionals’ understanding of threeadolescent concerns: body image and eating dis-orders, relational aggression, and sexual identity. Professional Development Programs Longitudinal studies of successful profes-sional development programs show that thosethat work best are based on schoolwide goalsand become part of a school’s culture (Glick-man, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon,2004). Traditionalapproaches range from full-day workshops fa-cilitated by an expert in the field to ongoingperiodic small group meetings. For the purposesof our work, we borrow from the professionalstudy group model (Mullen & Hutinger, 2008).In this model, small groups of faculty memberscome together (either voluntarily or required) todiscuss a particular issue that has arisen from anexamination of the school’s performance and as-sessment data. Professional study group modelscan also include the study of a particular book (Zepeda, 2008). Book study groups typicallyinvolve a group of people with something incommon (anywhere from friends to colleagues)coming together to discuss a text they have allread prior to meeting. Those books may be onesthe group decided to read all together or onesuggested by one group member. When workingwith professionals who work with young adults,we find it helpful for groups to invite memberparticipation from different departments and/oroffices in order to include a more diverse rangeof opinions and experiences. The inclusion of administrators is especially important as the in-volvement of an administrator further ensures thesuccess of a professional study group (Glickmanet al., 2004; McGhee & Jansen, 2005). Groupsthat are effectively peer-led tend to build more of a sense of community and are ultimately moresuccessful than groups that are led by a desig-nated English language arts teacher or the schoolmedia specialist. For example, school counselorscan be extremely valuable in book study groups,as school counselors have trainingand experiencein facilitating group sessions (Phillips, Stanard,Painter, & Wulff, 2002).In this article, we suggest that young adultnovels can be used as the focus text of a pro-fessional book study group, alongside the pro-fessional books and articles that often dominatethese conversations. We suggest that life-basedliterary narratives, in particular, are helpful touse as texts for such groups, as they serve toenhance educational professionals’ experientialunderstanding of contemporary adolescent is-sues. In the paragraphs that follow, we describelife-based literary narratives and how these typesof novels can be used in a professional book study group setting. Life-Based Literary Narratives One of the reasons YAL is so popular andimportant to students is that they can often relateto the experiences of its characters. We assertthat specific types of YAL are relevant to studentsbecause they attempt to portray their experiences.We argue that these authentic representationsof students’ experiences can help readers gaininsight into the lives of contemporary youngadults. One type of young adult novel to whichreaders often connect resembles what Phillionand Fang He (2004) described as life-basedliterary narratives (LBLNs) because they encour-age readers to reflect on their own experiencesthrough another’s story. LBLNs are those storiesthat focus on the everyday experiences of diverseindividuals. Those young adult novels that areexamples of LBLNs feature troubling situationssuch as the loss of a family member, a character’sdrug addiction, or instances of discriminationfaced by minority characters.Phillion and Fang He (2004) see LBLNs asone way for educators to address issues of diver-sity with their preservice teachers. They arguethat this type of literature can be used whenfield experiences with diverse populations are notfeasible. Although Phillion and Fang He (2004) 199    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   J  a  c  q  u  e   l   i  n  e   B  a  c   h   ]  a   t   1   5  :   1   7   0   3   S  e  p   t  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2  Young Adult Literature teach LBLNs with adult protagonists, we believethat using LBLNs with young adult protago-nistscan furtherdevelop “narrative imaginations”(p. 5) for both students and educators. Culti-vating a narrative imagination requires readers“to engage in self examination—the ability tocritically examine one’s traditions, beliefs, andvalues” (Phillion & Fang He, 2004, p. 5). Thisself-examination must also be accompanied bysome background knowledge of the social issueaddressed in the text, a close reading of the text,and open and honest discussions with peers.A developed narrative imagination allowsreaders to actively empathize with others. Withinthese pages, young adults and those who work with them may find themselves confronting sim-ilar issues that they may not otherwise find orbe able to share. Some of these novels walk a fine line between realistic and overly melo-dramatic representations of young adults. Therealso exists a danger of perpetuating preconceivedstereotypes. It would be naive for us to suggestthat merely reading these books is enough mo-tivation for a reader to engage in the reflectivework necessary to begin understanding another’sexperience; therefore, we see them as most usefulwhen they are integrated into professional devel-opment book study programs. Using LBLNs in ProfessionalDevelopment Book Study Groups:Our Approach Although there has been documentation of the importance of using practice-based bookswith those in the education profession, we sug-gest substitutingor supplementing this discussionwith a young adult LBLN. In this setting, afacilitator and/or participants identify an issuethey like to learn more about, such as eatingdisorders, relational aggression, or sexual iden-tity. Someone, preferably a member with someknowledge of the topic, then puts together somebackground information on the issue, such as alist of frequently asked questions or terms. Groupmembers may either read this information beforeor during the first meeting, which generally runsabout an hour. The members then each read acommon book and meet a second time to discussthe book with each other. Many of these novelsnow include discussion questions, as well asadditional resources, in the back of the book toassist in commencing and maintaining discus-sions. In our experience, we find that an infor-mal approach, one that depends on free-flowingconversations rather than structured questions,encourages more participants to contribute to thediscussion (Parker & Bach, 2009).Before our initial meeting, we send partici-pants a packet of information about the adoles-cent issue discussed in the novel. The packetsmight include a glossary, a frequently askedquestions page, and some introductory informa-tion from a professional organization. In orderto “create a safe environment and embrace aculture of trust” (Dunne & Goode, 2007) duringour initial session, participants introduce them-selves and then collaboratively set ground rulesfor group meetings. These might include beingrespectful of others’ opinions and views, feelingcomfortable to challenge each other’s and one’sown assumptions, and referring to the text toground our discussion.After discussing several sections of the infor-mational packet, the conversation turns to mem-ber self-awareness (Phillion & Fang He, 2004).Participants are invited to engage in this processby sharing personal experiences related to theparticular adolescent issue, although it should beemphasized that personal disclosure is optionalwithin the book study setting. It is importantto note that, in our experience in facilitatingthese groups, we find that using LBLNs withadults can sometimes stir vivid memories of theirown teenage years, just as they sometimes evokestrong reactions from our young adult readers.Therefore, facilitators should be prepared tohandle possible situations in which participantsmight disclose painful memories from their pasts.In such cases, facilitators can emphasize theimportance of confidentiality within the group,limit excessive disclosure by redirectingthe focusto the characters’ experiences in the text, orencourage the member to continue to process hisor her reactions in a different setting (possibly  200    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   J  a  c  q  u  e   l   i  n  e   B  a  c   h   ]  a   t   1   5  :   1   7   0   3   S  e  p   t  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2


Mar 20, 2018
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