Analysis of Teacher Community
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
Hint! Click on a title to see more information about it. Click on that title again to hide the information.
What Makes Teacher Community Different from a Gathering of Teachers?
An Occasional Paper by Pamela Grossman, Sam Wineburg, and Stephen Woolworth, January 2001.Description:
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.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
In this paper, the authors draw on their experience with a professional development project to propose a model for studying the formation and development of teacher community. The project they describe brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, as well as a special education teacher 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 authorsówho deliberately built the essential tension into the projectóclaim that these two views must both be respected in any successful attempt to create and sustain intellectual community in the workplace. The authors also describe the challenges of maintaining diverse perspectives within a community and how familiar fault linesóboth in society and in schoolsóthreaten the pursuit of community. The paper includes a model of the markers of community formationóas manifested in participants' talk and actionsóand concludes with a discussion of why we must continue to care about professional communities.