Back to research
Collaboration amoung teachers
Math & Science
LASW with Families
Ann Lieberman and Lynne Miller.
Teaching and Teacher Development: A New Synthesis for a New Century
In Education in a New Era: ASCD Yearbook 2000 (Ronald S. Brandt, Ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2000, pp. 47-66.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RESEARCH ON TEACHER DEVELOPMENT
In this review of research and practice, Lieberman & Miller consider the changing context of teaching in America. The change forces they identify are:
- new demographics and technologies;
- competing strategies for school reform;
- the press for standards;
- new social realities of teaching;
- broadening concepts of intelligence; and
- new knowledge about learning and teaching.
According to the authors, the "new social realities of teaching" require seven transitions teachers need to make. The first four are quoted below in full:
- 1. From individualism to professional community.
By forgoing individual work for joint work, teachers can build a strong school culture that values collegiality, openness, and trust over detachment and territoriality (Little, 1981; McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993; Rosenholtz, 1989). This new culture supports experimentation, risk taking, and feedback that is necessary for reflecting and improving teaching practice.
- 2. From teaching at the center to learning at the center.
When teachers direct their attention away from the technology of teaching and towards the construction of learning, they approach their charge in a very different way. They situate student work at the center of the educational enterprise, and they craft learning opportunities that respond to particular contexts. Such an approach leads to "authentic instruction" (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995) that ultimately connects in-school learning to life beyond school.
- 3. From technical work to inquiry.
The emphasis on student work leads to a broader formulation of the teaching task. Teachers can no longer think of themselves as mere technicians who can only be held responsible for the mastery of a prescribed set of skills and techniques. Rather they see themselves as intellectuals engaged in the process of discovery and reflection. As researchers, meaning makers, scholars, and inventors, they establish a firm professional identity as they model the lifelong learning they hope to infuse in their students.
- The others are:
"From control to accountability; from managed work to leadership; from classroom concerns to whole school concerns; from a weak knowledge base to a stronger, broader one."
Lieberman & Miller identify several trends in professional development "that hold the greatest promise for maintaining a teaching force equipped for the task of educating the next generation of Americans":
...In supportive communities, teachers reinforce each other in a climate that encourages observing students, sharing teaching strategies, trying out new ways of teaching, getting feedback, and redesigning curriculum and methods of instruction. Teachers' professional communities serve as important mediators for teachers' interpretations and analyses of student learning. In communities where reform, restructuring, and school transformation are the vision, teachers learn to make public their challenges as well as their successes. Teachers receive support, learn from one another, and gain confidence for changing their practice to better meet their student's needs (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, Lieberman, 1995a).
Using Both Inside and Outside Knowledge.
Teachers' growth and development come about in many ways. Teachers learn from outside knowledge (e.g., research, reform ideas, conferences, workshops, speakers, books, and consultants); they also learn from each other by looking at student work, from helping shape assessment tools, and from examining their own practice (Ayers, 1993; Cochran -Smith & Lytle, 1993; Lieberman, 1995b; Schon, 1995). ... a number of efforts are looking at how teachers produce knowledge by documenting their own practice. This form of professional development is becoming more important; it is one way that teachers not only look at their own practice and gather evidence of its effect, but also build "teacher knowledge" to be put alongside "researcher knowledge" (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Richert, 1996; Zeichner, 1998).
Networks, Coalitions, and Partnerships.
... staff development is expanding to include networks, coalitions, and partnerships that provide a new model of teacher involvement and learning--one that not only encourages teacher knowledge, but also is far more sensitive to the contexts that help shape teacher practice. We are learning that professional development that increases teacher knowledge is more likely to occur when such development provides teachers with opportunities to be members of a community; respects local knowledge (i.e., problems and practices that attend to the particulars of a context); and uses inside and outside knowledge as sources for teacher learning.
A Professional Continuum for Teacher Development.
Preparation of new teachers cannot be isolated from the ongoing professional development of experienced teachers. ... Following the induction period, teachers have available a wide array of professional development activities that occur in and out of classrooms and incorporate the principles and practices of effective teacher learning. Along the way, teachers have opportunities to exhibit their knowledge and skills to an audience outside their classroom, receive feedback, and remain connected to professional communities.