A basic assumption here is that the knowledge teachers need to teach well is acquired through experience and through considered and deliberative reflection about or inquiry into experience. To improve teaching, then, teachers need opportunities to work in communities to enhance, make explicit, and articulate the tacit knowledge embedded in experience and in the wise action of very competent professionals. Teacher learning communities with these underlying assumptions often include facilitated teacher groups, dyads composed of more and less experienced teachers, and other kinds of collaborative arrangements that support teachers' working together to reflect in and on practice.
TLCs that operate according to these assumptions often include pre-service contexts where prospective teachers learn how experienced teachers plan and reflect on their work, induction programs wherein novice teachers work with experts, and school-based groups where teachers share stories and experiences. The third approach is "knowledge- of -practice," wherein it is assumed that the knowledge teachers need to teach well is generated when teachers treat their own classrooms and schools as sites for intentional investigation at the same time that they treat the knowledge produced by others as generative material for interrogation and interpretation.
In this sense, teachers learn when they generate local knowledge of practice by working within the contexts of inquiry communities to theorize and construct their work and to connect it to larger social, cultural, and political issues.
Here basic questions about what it means to generate knowledge, who generates it, what counts as knowledge and to whom, and how knowledge is used and evaluated in particular contexts are always open to question. From this perspective, new information is not necessarily expected to be used or applied to an immediate situation but may also shape the interpretive frameworks teachers develop to make judgments, theorize practice, and connect their efforts to larger efforts.
Teacher research groups, action research groups, inquiry communities, and other school or cross-school collectives in which teachers and others conjoin their efforts to construct knowledge are the major kinds of TLCs that work from this set of assumptions. Finally, it is important to point out that although TLCs share the goal of enhancing students' learning and improving the quality of schooling, all communities do not share the same ideas about the ultimate purposes of teachers' work and educational change.
Some TLCs are overtly committed to working for social change and social justice by altering the fundamental arrangements of schooling and society. Others are more in keeping with the basic goals of the current educational system. Some TLCs fit comfortably with a university's or a school district's stated commitment to teacher leadership, site-based management, or curricular revision. At other times, members of TLCs challenge fundamental school practices such as tracking, promotion and retention policies, testing and assessment practices, and school-community-family relationships, as well as what counts as teaching and learning in classrooms.
To the extent that TLCs fit comfortably with a university or school district's institutional agenda for reflective practice, increased professionalism, and teacher accountability, they can be regarded as compatible with ongoing efforts toward teacher education and professional development. But sometimes TLCs critique and seek to alter cultures of collegiality; ways that school or program structures promote or undermine collaboration; ratios of teacher autonomy to teacher responsibility; norms of teacher evaluation; relationships among student teachers, teachers, and their university colleagues; and the ways power is exercised in teacher-to-teacher, mentor-to-teacher, and school-university partnerships.
What this suggests is that there is a whole range of TLCs—some that are more readily integrated into the existing social and institutional arrangements of schools, school systems, and universities than others.
A relatively small number of school-based professional communities have been treated in the literature. Many TLCs are subject-centered and offer teachers opportunities to learn from their own experiences as learners. In the area of literacy, teacher inquiry communities have been sponsored by a range of social and organizational structures, including the federal government, national professional organizations, national networks, foundations and centers, and university centers and university-generated networks. With a few notable exceptions, those connected to universities are most likely to disseminate their work through presentations and publication.
A few of these are described here to provide a sense of the range and variation across communities. Many TLCs have been formed with participants in the National Writing Project, perhaps the most prominent subject-centered teacher professional network nationally. All M-CLASS teacher researchers seek to improve literacy learning in their urban multicultural classrooms and to communicate the results of their research to other professionals.
Since its inception in , PhilWP has organized and received funding from various foundations and other sources for more than fifteen teacher inquiry communities, lasting from two to six years each and many linked with other TLCs nationally. Other TLCs exemplify local collaborations between school districts and area universities.
More than teachers and administrators have participated in this program within small groups facilitated by teachers or staff development staff. The research studies, which are published by the school district each year, employ an action research model and use a variety of mostly qualitative research methods. Collaborations have existed since between this program and teacher education programs at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Using mediating dialogue and action research, they inquire into issues of culturally engaged teaching, educational equity, and social justice.
Often TLCs evolve and take different shapes over time as membership changes and groups develop new purposes and interests.
Led by Susan Florio-Ruane and Taffy Raphael, the Teachers Learning Collaborative Network, for example, brought together a diverse group of teachers who lived and taught in school districts across southeast Michigan. The Network comprised three study groups, all focused on improving their understandings and teaching practices in literacy and diversity. Activities included reading and writing autobiography and autobiographical fiction, developing curriculum to support struggling readers, and engaging in school reform of literacy instruction and assessment practices.
Another example of teachers working with a university-based faculty member is Kathryn Au's work with the Ka Lama Teacher Education Initiative, established in This is an effort to create a community of teachers committed to working on the Leeward Coast, a rural area in which the majority of residents are Native Hawaiian.
The initiative emphasizes the themes of literacy, multicultural education, and Hawaiian studies, and teachers engage in a variety of inquiry activities, including creating literacy portfolios, writing family educational histories, and developing Hawaiian studies units with challenging academic content.
Some TLCs connected to universities reflect the priorities of academic research centers or departments. For example, The Action Research Group ARG , an affiliated program of Community Psychology's "Partners for Progress" at the University of Illinois, Urbana, is one part of a long-term commitment by staff from a university and public school to work together to develop awareness and sustain initiatives that will make connections between communities in order to enhance student achievement in a predominantly low-income, African American area.
In addition to dialogue about work in classrooms, the "Partners" group has worked on a school-based course in "Race and Teaching," a community garden on the school site, and a community arts project.
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- Small Hangers.
- Miraculous Treatments Testimonies and Cures (Natural Health Hints Book 5).
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- Teacher Education and Cultural Imagination: Autobiography, Conversation, and Narrative;
It is currently involved in efforts to develop more project-based learning through regular planning meetings of grade-level teams, to create an evaluation of students' learning that goes beyond standardized test scores, and to develop a practice-based course in "Teaching for Social Justice. These include university and school-based seminars, informal teacher research groups that meet after school over a period of years, and a number of Spencer Foundation supported efforts from their Practitioner Research, Mentoring, and Communication grant program.
This work has resulted in the publication of books, videos, articles, and presentations at national conferences. A common thread in this work is the focus on talk and the importance of the teacher's role as orchestrator of rigorous, coherent, and equitable classroom conversations. Quite a number of TLCs function outside any school or university context.
Among the most prominent and widely published is the Brookline Teacher Researcher Seminar founded in as a collaborative of seven teacher researchers whose members have adapted the research tools of sociolinguistics and ethnography to the classroom in order to explore their own questions, dilemmas, and concerns for equity through the study of "talk" or classroom discourse.
The weekly meeting serves as a central part of the methodology where teachers assist one another as each member, through collaborative exploration of an individual's data, begins to uncover new understandings of children's meanings and to cast away habitual ways of seeing and thinking.
References in: A Contemporary Autobiography of a Science Educator
Also widely known is the Philadelphia Teachers' Learning Cooperative, which is closely related to Patricia Carini's work at the Prospect School in Vermont, founded in Using the documentary processes developed at Prospect, the Philadelphia TLC has been meeting weekly for more than twenty years. Members of this group and others connected with Prospect consult with other TLCs—locally and nationally—to acquaint others with ways to use these processes in different contexts and for various purposes. The work of Prospect and the Philadelphia TLC is disseminated through summer institutes and a growing number of publications.
Many TLCs—particularly those that involve local, regional, or national teacher networks—have developed online technologies integral to their collaborative work. One of the oldest and best known, The Bread Loaf Teacher Network, creates online communities of teachers who have attended one of the campuses of Middlebury College designed to bring together rural and urban teachers for intensive graduate work related to teaching writing, theater, literature, and multicultural studies.
For more than ten years, Bread Loaf has been giving teachers financial assistance for ongoing research and has used major grant support to make it possible for rural and more recently urban teachers to participate in summer graduate work designed to foster learning communities supported by technology. Linked across sites by an electronic network called Breadnet, many Bread Loaf teachers focus on teacher and student generated collaborative and community-based projects that combine action research, service, and advocacy. Increasingly, teacher learning communities are using electronic media to disseminate their work for other audiences.
The examples above represent a small number of the teacher learning communities that have burgeoned over the last several decades. In contrast to training programs for teachers or transmission-oriented, in-service staff development programs, this growth is not yet well-documented. Teacher learning communities represent a major cultural shift with considerable potential for promoting lifespan learning in the teaching profession and altering the cultures of teaching and teachers' work.
Realizing this potential clearly depends upon the willingness of teachers to engage with each other in a joint search for meaning in the work of teaching and schooling. But it also depends upon support at all levels of the educational system to reconceptualize teaching as learning and teacher education and professional development as continuous work in learning communities.
The rapid growth of learning communities signals that practicing teachers can effectively self-organize for intellectual work, collaborate with consultants and university partners, generate new knowledge about daily practice that is of value beyond their local community, and contribute meaningfully to the transformation of schools and districts. New York: Teachers College Press. Maynard C.
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Sometimes I Can Be Anything. Discourse Strategies. Cambridge, Eng. Teacher Development and Educational Change. Philadelphia: Falmer Press. Linda Darling-Hammond and Gary Sykes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Teacher Learning and the New Professional Development, Community, Teacher Learning Communities
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This study critically and reflexively explores the professional learning of five English language teacher educators of Indonesian nationality in an Indonesian context. The main focus of this qualitative study is an investigation into how the five teacher educators from a single private university in Indonesia understand their professional work and lives in dialogic Bakhtin, relationship with various national policy documents and with international ELT professionalism discourses.
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I explore how the Indonesian teacher educators experience and understand their work and professionalism in the area of English Language Teaching ELT , their commitment to their profession and the various factors that mediate these experiences and understandings. In this exploration, there is a particular focus on the nature of language, identity and culture in intercultural teacher education settings. I use a narrative-based inquiry framework cf.