ERIC Number: ED450416
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Dec
What Makes Teacher Community Different from a Gathering of Teachers? An Occasional Paper.
Grossman, Pamela; Wineburg, Sam; Woolworth, Stephen
In this paper, the researchers draw on their experience with a professional development project to propose a model for studying the formation and development of teacher community. The project described brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, as well as a Special Educator and an ESL teacher, from an urban high school for a period of 2 1/2 years. The teachers met twice a month to read together in the field of history and literature and to work on an interdisciplinary curriculum. This detailed account of the first 18 months of the project sheds new light on definitions of professional community, its stages of development, and the challenges that confront community in the workplace of high schools. One of the challenges consists of the need to negotiate an "essential tension" at the heart of teachers' professional community. Among this group of teachers, many felt that the primary reason to meet was to improve classroom practices and student learning, while others were more interested in the potential for continuing intellectual development in the subjects they taught. The researchers--who deliberately built the essential tension into the project--claim that these two views must both be respected in any successful attempt to create and sustain intellectual community in the workplace. The researchers also describe the challenges of maintaining diverse perspectives within a community and how familiar fault lines--both in society and in school--threaten the pursuit of community. The paper includes a model of the markers of community formation--as manifested in participants' talk and actions--and concludes with a discussion of why teachers must continue to care about professional communities. (Contains 33 notes, 109 references, 2 figures, and a table of data.) (Author/SR)
Descriptors: Curriculum, Educational Research, High Schools, Higher Education, Interdisciplinary Approach, Literature Appreciation, Models, Professional Development, Secondary Education, Secondary School Teachers, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Collaboration, Urban Education
National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222. Web site: http://cela.albany.edu. For full text: http://www.ctpweb.org.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.; National Inst. on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, Albany, NY.; Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattle, WA.
Note: Supported by grants from the James S. McDonnell Foundation Program in "Cognitive Studies for Educational Practice" and the MacArthur/Spencer Professional Development Research and Documentation Program. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000.