Analysis of Teacher Community

Principal Investigators

Pam Grossman, Stanford University
Sam Wineburg, University of Washington


These analyses drew from a project supported by the James E. McDonnell and Spencer foundations and were carried out in conjunction with the National Research & Development Center on English Learning & Achievement. The project explored the development of teacher community in an urban high school across a two and a half year period. To do so, the project brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, a special education teacher, an ESL teacher, and university facilitators twice a month to participate in joint readings and discussion of history and literature texts and to plan interdisciplinary curriculum. The work of these teachers was documented in various ways through participant observation, interviews, and other means that tracked the participants thinking and collaborative dynamics over time. Analyses done under the aegis of CTP explored the meaning of teacher community, the dynamics of community formation, and the ways in which participants managed the conflicts and tensions associated with diversity of purpose, background, and subject matter identity.

Main Research Questions

  • What are some of the indicators of "professional community" among teachers? How do such communities develop over time? And what unique challenges confront professional communities that are situated in the workplace of high schools?
  • How do professional communities for teachers provide opportunities for learning more about both subject matter and about teaching? How can professional development maintain a productive tension between the need for teachers to continue their own learning within their disciplines and the need for teachers to focus on the improvement of student learning?
  • How can diverse perspectives be maintained and respected in community-building efforts?


Interview data, joint book discussions


Research Completed


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  1. Related Article: Grossman, Pamela; Wineburg, Sam; Woolworth, Stephen (2001). Toward a theory of teacher community. Teachers College Record, 103(6), 942-1012.
  2. What Makes Teacher Community Different from a Gathering of Teachers?
    An Occasional Paper by Pamela Grossman, Sam Wineburg, and Stephen Woolworth, January 2001.

    This CTP Occasional Paper details the formation and development of teacher community through a project that brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, a special education teacher, and an ESL teacher to plan interdisciplinary curriculum. It includes colorful sections of dialogue among the teachers and sheds new light on definitions of professional community, its stages of development, and the challenges that confront community building in a fast-paced high school workplace.

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