Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Tempe, Ariz
Tampa, Fla
Arizona State University
University of South Florida.
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Education -- Research -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
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E11-00310 ( USFLDC DOI )
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Teacher learning in context : the special case of rural high school teachers / Jay Paredes Scribner.
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1 of 23 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 11 Number 12March 27, 2003ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2003, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES .Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education .Teacher learning in context: The special case of rural high school teachers Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri-ColumbiaCitation: Scribner, J. P. (March 28, 2003). Teacher learning in context: The special case of rural high school teachers, Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11 (12). Retrieved [date] from 12/.AbstractFalling under the umbrella of teacher quality, prof essional development is an important policy issue in US public education Understanding teacher learning and its relationship to teacher wo rk is critical if efforts to improve teacher quality are to be successful. Th is article examines one overlooked context in the discourse about teacher l earning and work—rural high schools. The study focuses on 20 te achers across 3 case study schools and conceptualizes the relations hip between teacher learning and work according to three contexts: the core, intermediate and peripheral contexts. These contexts are explored an d important features


2 of 23discussed. A growing consensus exists among scholars, policyma kers, and education leaders that sound organization and implementation of profession al development enhances teacher quality and, as a result, student learning. For ins tance, it has been argued that professional development resources should focus on (1) closing the gap between teachers’ knowledge and student performance goals ( Hawley & Valli, 1999; Sykes, 1999), (2) strengthening teachers’ understanding of the connections between content and students’ thinking and learning (Thompson & Zeuli, 1999), and (3) creating a tighter organizational fit between teacher learning activit ies and teacher work (Little, 1999). In spite of this growing consensus, traditional approa ches to professional development persist in most schools. This study continues a lin e of research (Scribner, 1999) that aims to more deeply understand the reasons behind t his persistence. Specifically, the study explores the relationship between teacher wor k context and teacher learning in rural high schools. In so doing, the study describe s from the perspectives of teachers a broad view of work context that spans across the in stitution of education, with each contextual level influencing teacher learning in di fferent ways. In short, rural schools provide an important contex t for study for several reasons. Foremost, rural schools have been historically unde r studied. But also, exploring teacher learning in rural contexts provides a platform from which to question assumptions inherent in prevailing conceptions of effective pro fessional development policy and practice, most of which emanate from research that focuses on urban and suburban teachers and students. The following research quest ions were addressed: What are the predominant features of work context a ccording to these teachers? How does the work context of rural high school teac hers influence how they learn? In the discussion section I explore the relationshi ps among the themes developed and draw implications for policy, practice, and future research.Conceptualizing Teachers’ Work ContextDescribing the nature of teacher work has been the focus of more than a few researchers (Eraut, 1994; Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996; Huberman, 1993; Jackson, 1986; Johnson, 1990; McLaughlin, 1993; Scribner, 1999; Talbert & M cLaughlin, 1996). While the purpose of this study was to further develop a grou nded theory to explain the relationship between work context and teacher learn ing, it is useful to examine how others have conceptualized teacher work. Johnson (1 990) conceptualized teacher work as being comprised of multiple dimensions including political, economic, physical, organizational, psychological, cultural, and sociol ogical. As such, Johnson’s “constellation of workplace variables” described th e workplace as a place where structure of formal authority, organizational polic ies and procedures, and informal norms that shape behaviors, beliefs, and actions co nverge. To further complicate matters, the manner with which these variables conv erge in any given school or district varies across organizations. What is fairly constan t, Johnson argues, is the presence —in some form—of these variables.Two general perspectives of the relationship betwee n teachers and their work context


3 of 23obtained in the literature. One view took a determi nistic slant—that teachers are almost fully constrained by their work context. For exampl e, Hatton (Hatton, 1987) argued that “situational constraints” inherent in teachers’ wor kplaces exist in the present and past to shape teachers’ dispositions, behaviors, and action s taken in the here-and-now. One such constraint, resources, can support a status quo app roach to practice in cases where the resources to support innovative ideas do not exist. A more subtle constraint, hidden pedagogies (Denscombe, 1980, 1982; Hatton, 1987), r eflects the cultural and historical dimensions of school contexts that contribute “sign ificantly to the formation of culturally based attitudes, preference, and disposi tions which have their own momentum” (Hatton, 1987).Others, however, argued that while organizational c onstraints might influence the nature of teacher work, teachers maintain a certain freedo m to act autonomously within the constraints, or presumably to expand the limits of those constraints (Grant & Sleeter, 1987). Grant and Sleeter argued that “teachers do have room to act, and they do not all act in the same way, in spite of similarities in th eir present and prior experiences” (p. 62). In other words, the fact that teachers working in similar work environments with identical constraints can act in different ways cha llenges the hegemonic view of teacher work context and its relationship to teacher action Ultimately, rather than posing an opposite view of the deterministic perspective of t eacher work, Grant and Sleeter pose a middle ground argument. That is, teacher action is “neither totally free nor totally determined” (p. 62). Instead, their autonomy lies i n a gray area in which “actors draw on practical knowledge to guide their actions, often w ithout acknowledging many of the taken-for-granted conditions that give rise to this practical knowledge, or the unintended consequences of their actions which tend to reprodu ce those conditions” (p. 62). This middle ground approach supports findings by Scribne r (Scribner, 1999) that teachers experience their professional learning broadly, but that work context can shape the possibilities of teacher learning in subtle and not -so-subtle ways (Eraut, 1994; Jackson, 1968, 1986).Two of the most immediate contextual factors facing teachers within schools are students and teachers’ subject matter. Most would agree with McLaughlin (1993) that students are the most prominent feature of the scho ol as workplace. She argued that students help to define the context of teacher work through their diversity, their individual and cohort personalities, their and thei r families’ commitment to school, issues related to school safety, and so on. McLaugh lin also found that teachers responded to students in one of three ways: 1) main taining traditional standards; 2) lowering expectations for coverage and achievement; or 3) adapting practices and pedagogy. While teachers’ perceptions of their stud ents influenced how teachers approached their work, a school’s mission, organiza tional structure, formal polices and “patterns of communication” (p. 89) also shaped tea chers’ objectives toward teaching. However, in high schools the contextual factor of m ost significance in determining the nature of professional community was the department (McLaughlin, 1993; Talbert & McLaughlin, 1996) where teacher work processes shap ed how they perceived their students’ abilities, their subject matter, and thei r relations with other teachers. Eraut (Eraut, 1994; Scribner, 1999; Talbert & McLau ghlin, 1996) provided a framework useful for understanding how the contexts of teache r work might contribute to teacher learning. The classroom context—where teachers spe nd the bulk of their professional lives—“corresponds with more private contexts in wh ich normal professional practice is


4 of 23produced in a relatively routine manner without que stioning assumptions on which it is based” (p. 26). Eraut saw a strong link between cla ssroom contexts and teacher learning. He argued that, “teachers are in a ‘doing’ environm ent more than a ‘knowing’ environment” (p. 31), and therefore, tend to rely o n procedural (how to) knowledge that often is acquired unreflectively. In other words, k nowledge acquired is not atheoretical, but theories that guide practice remain implicit an d serve to make life tolerable. In this regard, Denscombe (Denscombe, 1980) warned that whe n guided by implicit theories teachers are more susceptible to the displacement o f one set of teaching goals for another—i.e., shifting focus to controlling the cla ssroom at the expense of student learning. Thus, while important, knowledge that gui des practice often remains tacit; and in the isolation of the “classroom, the only signif icant validator of knowledge are the teachers themselves….the validation is individual r ather than collective” (Eraut, 1994, p. 32).Clearly, the school also serves as an important con text of teacher work. Professional learning in the school context focuses primarily on the business of the organization. For example, developing consensus and solidifying teach ers’ understanding of the school’s mission and vision are central learning activities (McLaughlin, 1993). Learning the language of policy (Eraut, 1994) is an ever increas ing focus of school learning also. The language of education reform, such as performance a ssessment, high stakes testing, and other accountability measures, often becomes the fo cus of teacher learning for at least a couple of reasons. First, teachers must make sense of reforms that are promulgated from “on high.” Second, teachers often sense the politic al dimensions of their work and realize the need to be able to communicate the purp oses and potential impacts of the reforms to parents and other education stakeholders (Bredeson & Scribner, 2000). Thus, learning is sought to cope with external demands, n ot necessarily to expand the pedagogical repertoires or content expertise of tea chers. As a result, it is at the school (and district) level that much professional develop ment is associated with formal activities that are well suited for “getting people on board with the policy language” (p. 31).Finally, teachers work in a more diffuse context, a lso. Eraut (1994) calls this the academic context, while others have described profe ssional networks such as professional associations as places where teachers acquire knowledge (McLaughlin, 1993; Scribner, 1999). Contrasted with the procedur al and tacit knowledge acquired in the classroom, the academic context is where teache rs acquire propositional knowledge and where theories are made explicit. A specialized language characterizes knowledge acquired in the academic context, with a high value placed on understanding theories rooted in the disciplines (Eraut, 1994). Furthermor e, in this context knowledge is typically assessed formally to measure its acquisit ion, although determining how it is ultimately used is less sure. While the knowledge a cquired in the academic context is arguably detached from practice, Eraut argues that the knowledge and habits of mind acquired in the academic context are not irrelevant to teachers, “…the academic context has norms that support and expect learning to be a lifelong process, that new knowledge will be acquired by all members of the institution, and that new knowledge will be put to good use” (p. 30). Thus, the academic context is wh ere theories are made explicit for critical analysis.Teacher Learning: Best Practices


5 of 23In spite of the attention paid to teacher professio nal development, organizational learning in schools, professional community, and so on, the act and impact of teacher learning remains difficult to observe and even more challenging to measure over the long term. Fullan’s (Fullan, 1995) description of t he potentials and limits of professional development continues to ring true. Specifically, o ne dilemma stands out. That is, as we continue to seek ways to foster school improvement we struggle with balancing the learning needs of organizations and the individual professionals within them (Scribner, Hager, & Madrone, in press). A second dilemma under scores the fact that meaningful change ultimately occurs locally. But still, the ch ange agenda is largely determined external to the school, perhaps at the district lev el, but more likely at the state level. Finally, the focus of what professional development efforts should look like and focus on continues to be debated. For instance, scholars have argued convincingly that the purposes of professional development in any given s chool or district should be determined by the gap between student achievement g oals and actual student performance (Thompson & Zeuli, 1999). However, actu ally identifying the teacher learning activities that might fill that gap is eas ier said than done. Defining professional development as a gap implies that teachers have not been achieving adequately themselves. While certainly the case for some teach ers, not all teachers are failing. Secondly, research also suggests that teachers have multiple reasons for engaging in professional learning activities that they believe will assist them in becoming more effective with students, but to the external observ er may appear to be unhinged from the core issue at hand—teaching and learning (Scribner, 1999). With persistent challenges like these, the staying power of teacher professional learning as a policy concern suggests that the concept is im portant to the lives of students and teachers. Furthermore, in spite of the dilemmas dis cussed above, a consensus on professional learning practices has emerged that ca n serve as a useful guide. Consensus surrounding teacher learning today focuses on the i mportance of learning in context and acquiring knowledge that is relevant to one’s profe ssional context. Furthermore, it has been argued that the specific focus should be direc tly linked to student learning (Sykes, 1999). In addition, to make professional developmen t meaningful in a reform environment, deeper coordination between schools an d districts must occur to ensure its relevance. Sykes argued that the coordination betwe en schools and districts should ensure that professional development is driven by t he “teacher-student learning connection for the selection and design of teacher professional development” (p. 159). Further, teacher learning should focus on deepening teachers’ knowledge of the specific content that students are expected to know. And fin ally, multiple sources of evidence (especially, the assessment of student work) should be integrated into teacher learning experiences.Thompson and Zeuli (1999) argued that in the face o f standards based reforms, professional development for teachers has failed. I nterestingly, they argued that because of the nature of teachers and teaching, tinkering w ith the social and structural arrangements of teacher learning is insufficient. Indeed, policy makers must ensure that the professional development content and pedagogy a re appropriate. In their view, “appropriate” professional development assists teac hers with developing their own ideas and connections among the materials that students a re to learn, understanding the various ways students experience a given content ar ea, and learning how to foster student engagement with the material.


6 of 23How teachers experience their own learning has also become an important dimension of teacher professional development. Challenging the n otion that teachers are merely tinkerers who favor improving around the margins of their expertise, some believe that transformative learning should be the goal of profe ssional development. For instance, Thompson and Zeuli argued that to be meaningful tea cher learning activities must provide cognitive dissonance-creating and dissonanc e-resolving opportunities related to teachers’ classroom experiences. This reflexive app roach to professional learning should be designed to develop “new conceptual knowledge (u nderstanding), rather than, say, new habits of practice” (Thompson and Zeuli, p. 356 ). It is through new conceptual knowledge that new practices develop.MethodsThe present study employed qualitative methods and procedures of grounded theory in three rural public high schools in a midwestern sta te to further explain the relationship between teacher professional development and the co ntext of teacher work at the high school level (Scribner, 1999). The study utilized a multiple case study design (Yin, 1994). Data collection and analysis occurred over t wo academic years and involved several stages. First, three rural high schools wer e identified and an initial investigation was made to ensure the schools were indeed rural in nature (e.g., small, dispersed school populations, seasonally-based community economies). Second, using purposive sampling techniques, in-depth interviews were condu cted with 20 teachers across content areas (academic and career and technical ed ucation) and years of teaching experience. Teacher interviews focused on teachers’ perceptions of their work environments, their learning strategies, and the co nnections between the two. School administrators were interviewed to develop an under standing of each school's organizational goals and philosophy toward teacher professional development. Interviews lasted from 45 minutes to 2 hours and we re audio-taped and transcribed. In each school focus group interviews with previously interviewed teachers were conducted to further explore emergent themes that developed f rom the analysis of initial interviews and observations. Third, observations of teachers a t work and in learning activities were also conducted. In each school three teachers were shadowed for one day each; these teachers were later interviewed to gain further ins ights. In addition, schools were each visited on other occasions to observe such activiti es as professional development days, faculty meetings, and extracurricular activities to gain a deeper understanding of teacher work. Finally, teachers were provided an opportunit y to read a draft of the manuscript. Several teachers provided comments and insights to further hone categories.FindingsAs a result of a constant comparative analysis of t he data, this section explores three contexts of teacher work: the core, intermediate, a nd peripheral contexts. Each context was described according to its dimensions, includin g how those dimensions facilitate or impede teacher learning. Most importantly, findings showed that teachers defined their work context more in terms of relationships (and th e nature of those relationships) and less in terms of physical plant, resources, pace of work on so on. By examining these relationships in terms of dimensions occurring at d ifferent contextual levels the reader will see more clearly how context, broadly defined, influences teacher learning.


7 of 23The Core ContextThe “doing” environment of the classroom is represe nted here as the core context. Like an atom, the core context is difficult to change pr ecisely due to the strength of relationships that define it. Teachers and their re lationships between students and teachers’ subject areas comprise this triadic relat ionship. While the intensity of interaction among this triad may provide a rich sou rce of continuously renewing knowledge, it also requires expeditious problem res olution. This need for decisive action makes the core context difficult to penetrate with knowledge from other contexts. Students as context. Students did more to shape the context of teacher work than any other dimension. Teachers were keenly aware that st udents shaped their work contexts hourly, daily, by semester, and each year. The flui dity of the student dimension manifested itself in the ever-changing student body Teachers were aware that on any given day, semester, or year, their students might come to school with different set of needs. A math teacher described how the changing ne eds of students influenced his learning and classroom practice: You learn from year to year that you can't teach di fferent students the same way. And you won't know that until you get involved with the problems, and what you have to be really flexible. In other w ords, you have a standard way of doing business, but you're going to see the look on their face, the big question mark come across, and if you see a lot of that, then you're probably going to have to back up and start over again and t ry a different approach. However, the fluidity of students also created dail y learning opportunities for teachers. According to teachers, students constantly, and in ways difficult to predict, questioned teachers regarding subject matter and other issues that expanded teacher understanding of the content. A novice English teacher described the phenomenon: The reason I don't like to use tests, like say a Sh akespeare unit we just did, every class is very different, and every class is g oing to have a very different discussion, and they're going to focus on different elements. They're going to be drawn to a certain character or they're more into analyzing the motivations instead of looking at the overall plot, so I don't like to treat every class the same. This type of student question brought to light the different levels of subject matter knowledge needed to engage students and facilitate learning. As a first year teacher described having in-depth knowledge of the details of her subject matter were key to “running a smooth class,” and it was her students t hat acted as a catalyst for her learning by causing her to reassess and expand her own conte nt knowledge of world history: I was teaching students about Hannibal and his elep hants back in ancient history, and one of my students goes, ‘well did the y use camels in warfare?’ I really don't know. Let me see if I can't find tha t out, and I actually was able to find the information that, yes, the Assyrians us ed camels in warfare, and that told me that, yes, it's good to have the broad picture, but I need to know the details to make it more interesting and be able to answer some of the questions for the kids.


8 of 23Another predominant teacher learning theme within t he student dimension was learning how to control the classroom. Teachers who addresse d this phenomenon described a negotiation process that, through trial and error, allowed teachers to control the classroom in order to achieve learning objectives b y establishing a good rapport with students. A veteran English teacher was observed re lying on this rapport to motivate an otherwise unmotivated section of students one parti cular day. She told them: You tell me, what do you want to learn? Because, yo u know, you've got to be in here; I'm not cutting you loose any time soon so what will make sense to you? This is an English class; you know you've g ot to do some kind of reading, some kind of writing; we've got to communi cate with each other. We know this has to be done. What do you want to do ? How do you want to apply it? That afternoon she explained her approach toward he r students: That really helped because it gave them a little bi t more ownership. Because I do find that a lot of the kids, especially the on es who are not college-bound, do not take ownership of their educa tion. And they'll even say, ‘I'm sorry I didn't get my homework done.’ And I say, ‘you don't need to apologize to me. I've already graduated from hig h school. This does not affect me. This is yours. You should own it; you're the one that you're messing up.’ Another English teacher described how she moved fro m direct instruction to a more collaborative learning environment in response to s tudent reaction and behavior: I’ve learned to deal with students most from experi ences, I guess. When I first started, I was very traditional, direct instr uction, whole group, follow the Madeline Hunter method. Then as I learned more about what it is to be a teacher and what I learned from my students and wha t they needed, then I began to refine methods and to relax a little bit…. One thing I resent about teaching is that you have to spend so much time dam pening little fires, especially if it's a whole-class instruction model or direct instruction with the whole class. So, hopefully, working with smalle r literature groups, more group activities, you can engage the students bette r. Subject matter as context. Stein and D’Amico (Stein & D'Amico, 2000)argued th at the degree to which a subject area is perceived as a we ll defined discipline (e.g., mathematics) or a more loosely defined set of knowl edge and concepts (e.g., social studies or language arts) influences how teachers u nderstand and approach their subject matter. These data suggested that these differences might also influence how teachers approach their learning. Teachers in the core acade mic areas tended to have broader notions of professional learning than their career and technical education colleagues. For example, teachers in the arts and career and techni cal education areas described learning that focused on developing their own technical skil ls. Little if any discussion revolved around learning issues of pedagogical theory and sk ill, education reform, or content area knowledge. The focus of these teachers was squarely on developing concrete, “real world” skills to pass on to their students.


9 of 23Interestingly, academic teachers also voiced concer n that relevant learning be concrete and applicable immediately in the classroom. Howeve r, when probed further academic teachers described a process in which they banked k nowledge gained. That is, while they expressed a desire to focus their learning on pract ical and immediately relevant knowledge, they actually sought a wide array of kno wledge that often was used over a much longer time frame. While it may not be surpris ing that teachers associate knowledge use with need, teachers were surprised to admit that they used a wide array of knowledge (including e.g., propositional and proced ural) to inform their practice. An English teacher explained how in reality learning a nd the use of knowledge acquired are not linear processes: I’ve been to a lot of different conferences and hav e met different speakers and gurus in the field. I have a lot of books I’ve collected from those things and other places that at the time I didn’t have a c hance to read. But a lot of times, I’m finding I still pull them down, and they are still current and useful as far as how to teach writing. Like their career and technical colleagues, several academic teachers described the importance of learning the skills associated with t heir subject area. They believed that their effectiveness with students relied at least p artly on their ability to “practice what they preached.” One English teacher described the i mportance of developing her own skills related to the craft she was teaching to stu dents: Participant: I do a lot of free writing. A lot of t imes there'll be some kind of nugget that comes out of it. The writing group that I started this year helped a lot because a lot of times, we'd just sit around and write. Then we'd read it and talk about it a little bit. And I used to be in a couple of all-teacher writing groups. We just started talking about how i mportant it is for us to start a writing, reading, or art group where we all get together. Interviewer: Among the teachers?Participant: Yes.Interviewer: Why was that important for you profess ionally? Participant: I think I was hassling [my colleagues] about the lit magazine, actually. I kept saying, kids really want to see th at we can do what we say we can or what we teach. It's really awful to be a writing teacher and never share your writing or an art teacher and never shar e your art. On the other hand, some teachers focused their lear ning more narrowly on their discipline. For example, a math teacher described h ow his professional learning was focused squarely on developing a deeper understandi ng of content knowledge. He believed that the topic of math kept him from havin g to deal with or, for that matter know about, some of the social issues facing studen ts. For example, when probed about how he had learned to work with a growing number of students who were not white, he responded: [Math teachers] don't have that problem [teaching a nd discussing issues of


10 of 23diversity], whereas I've talked to other teachers f rom other areas, and that's really a challenge for them. And there again, teach ing math, you know, that's the reason I stick with math; I don't want t o get involved with other issues. I found out if I can avoid that, I have few er conflicts with students disagreeing or whatever. If we can all talk about a lgebra, there's not much to argue about. It's pretty cut and dry. These examples shed light on the ways students and subject matter together define the core context of teacher work. The triadic relations hip is complex. The teacher-student relationship can shape teacher learning of subject matter, and the teacher-subject matter relationship can shape teachers approach to student s. The fluidity and unpredictability of teacher work in the core context can make a priori attempts at teacher learning seem quixotic. Teacher learning in the core context was experiential, usually non-reflective, and lonely with few signs of encroachment from the intermediate and peripheral contexts. It is no wonder that teachers described l earning from experience as the most important source of learning. As a result, the lear ning spurred by students occurred through experience, i.e. trial and error. Furthermo re, the focus of the trial and error learning ranged from learning to control students, to deepening and broadening one’s content knowledge, to learning about student experi ences outside of school and how those experiences influence the classroom.The Intermediate ContextThe intermediate context focused on the dimensions of teacher work that existed within the school, but beyond the core context. The small faculties in these isolated schools shed light on a high school context different than those already reported in the literature. In particular, three dimensions of school context e merged as most salient in the case study schools: strain of multiple roles, faculty re lations, and principal leadership. Strain of multiple roles While teachers predictably discussed the problems posed by lack of time and other resources, especially as the y pertained to teacher learning, these issues were exacerbated by the small size of these schools. In these rural schools teachers took on numerous curricular and extracurri cular activities and often taught a wide array of subject area levels. This stretching of teacher responsibility shaped how teachers thought about their own learning. Across e ach school, teachers explained that they did not spend adequate time in meaningful disc ussion with their peers because of the “many hats” all teachers wore to meet the acade mic and social needs of students. It was not uncommon for teachers in these small rur al schools to be in departments that consisted of one to three teachers. One-person dep artments were quite common, while departments of more than three were rare. As a resu lt many of the teachers interviewed and observed taught multiple “preps”—some teaching four or five different levels within a subject (and across subjects) each day. The daily grind caused by these multiple class preparations had a profound effect on how teachers approached their own learning. Faced with four or five class preparations teachers had to simultaneously cover a wide breadth of subject matter knowledge and varying lev els of student needs. For example, during one set of observations an English teacher d escribed how preparing and continuously honing multiple sessions had constrain ed her ability to deeply explore content knowledge. She described how she only margi nally improved her classes and was reluctant to commit too much time to in-depth l earning in one area for fear that


11 of 23three or four other groups of students would suffer Furthermore, because teachers were constantly preparing for a variety of classes they did not have time to discuss issues of practice with other teachers or collaborate on inte rdisciplinary units. The following exchange during a focus group reflects teachersÂ’ fr ustration: Participant 1: We do need to do more. See, we tried last year. Remember, we tried to do the big unit. We were going to do it around the Olympics or something, and it's just we got so busy that it jus t didn't get done. Participant 2: I think at the high school level, we need to collaborate more, team-teach more. That's something that this school, we haven't done. But we're all interested in doing that. The problem is that because we're limited with faculty, our planning times are different. Aft er school, we have so many committee meetings, because in a small school district, one person could be in charge of ten committees because we jus t don't have as many people as larger school districts. We wanted to do some type of an end-of-the-school-year theme, and all teachers had to teach about that theme. Like, this year we wanted to do the Olympics but we just didn't get to it.Participant 3: Yeah, we've talked about wanting to do a thematic unit and having like the theme be ancient Greece or the Olym pics or something. And then trying to incorporate all of the different sub jects into that. We didn't get it done this year, but we did a lot of talking about it Faculty as work context Not surprisingly, teachers described their facult y peers as important factors in shaping the character of their workplace. However, several issues in these rural schools stood out. First, while teacher s sought out their colleagues to address questions of practice, these interactions were ofte n spontaneous and unplanned and did not focus on deep examinations of teachersÂ’ behavio rs and beliefs. Teacher interactions typically addressed mundane matters and with minima l impact on teacher practice. This is not to say that teachers were irresponsible or i ntransigent; it only suggests that learning aimed at supporting changes in practice di d not typically occur via faculty interaction.Contrary to the image of faculty cultures as deeply rooted constructs, teachers at each of the schools described cultures that were somewhat u npredictable. Teachers argued that the small faculty size and isolation of the schools led to a revolving-door phenomenon among faculty that could easily destabilize school cultures. For example, a faculty culture could become transformed over one summer wi th a few key faculty retirements. Several teachers described this as a benefit of wor king in a small rural school because it allowed the school to hire teachers with fresh idea s. On the other hand, from the perspective of teachers who had decided to make a school their professional home, the flow of faculty in and out of the school created a challenging environment. In two of the schools, sev eral teachers described how their departmental colleagues were all novices. The veter an teachers found that while discussions with their more novice peers were often engaging, they found themselves more often than not in mentoring roles. While they accepted this role and enjoyed mentoring new faculty, their learning was not of th e same depth and reflection as might have occurred with teachers of their same experienc e level. As one teacher put it:


12 of 23It's me and then two first-year teachers in the lan guage arts department. So there isn't a whole lot of collaboration because th ey're so new that they're just working on getting through….Before we had two, more experienced teachers….We did more talking with each other and s uggesting or asking, what kind of novels would you suggest for this? Ironically, while the small size of these rural sch ools facilitated communication among all teachers, teachers still operated within limite d spheres of interaction. In other words, even in schools with faculties of 18 teachers, teac hers still worked primarily with a small number of colleagues. Within these spheres of inter action, teachers described norms that guided the course of relationships and often bounde d the conversations. For example, most teachers’ collegial relationships focused more on discussions around classroom logistics, curriculum, even content, and less on th eir successes or failures with particular students and their approaches to teaching. Where di scussions among teachers were focused on teaching, they swirled around the surfac e and did not penetrate deeply into the core context. For example, teachers shared mate rials, provided interdisciplinary support (e.g., art and English), but rarely describ ed in-depth sharing or challenging assumptions in each other’s practice. One teacher’s comments capture this hesitancy to pry too much into the practice of other teachers: Our high school has very good working relationships We're all on different committees or we're assigned activities together, a nd we all work pretty well together. As always, you'll have some teachers that you don't feel do their job correctly, but you don't want to say anything t o anybody. They'll figure it out. Teachers also described how the reluctance to engag e or even challenge peers in substantive ways affected faculty relations in nega tive ways. For example, at one school several teachers mentioned the damage to faculty mo tivation that one incompetent teacher brought. That incompetence caused a ripple effect that was felt within the core context. As a result of one teacher’s failures, ano ther teacher’s students in the same subject area were influenced each year. The teacher ’s focus was on remediation and not the teaching of the material she was meant to teach Further, her motivation to learn more deeply the subject matter she was supposed to be covering was lacking. She said: I had students in Spanish 4 when I first got here t hat could not even complete an entire sentence, could not respond to como estas," for example. And so that was very frustrating for me be cause I came in and I knew how long she had been here. I knew she had her masters. She was making twice as much as me, and she didn't do anyth ing while she was here for three years. So that is the kind of thing that I find frustrating. For me, that is one thing that will make or break whether I stay. I'm very self-motivated. I keep going. I really want my kids to learn, but if you constantly see people getting rewarded for not doin g what they're supposed to be doing, it impinges on what you're trying to d o. However, while the competence level of co-workers w as an important characteristic of work context, teachers did little on their own to c onfront faculty unable to meet the needs of students. Incompetence, while seen, was no t discussed. “Intrusions” into the practices of peers were acceptable only when invite d or through some formal channel,


13 of 23such as a mentoring program.The Principal as Context This study showed that principals as part of the intermediate context can influence teacher work and learning in several ways. The principal’s engagement in the classroom and focus on teachers’ concerns enhanced teacher learning within the core and intermediate contexts. It was c lear that the small size of these rural schools (and consequently the small number of facul ty) increased the potential for principal-teacher interaction, and certainly provid ed opportunities for principals to support and foster teacher learning. Through their actions or inactions, principals influenced the students-as-context, teachers’ perce ptions of subject matter, and teachers’ relationships with their colleagues.While principal activism does not guarantee a posit ive influence on work context, in this study the one principal who took an active role did create learning opportunities for teachers. The principal’s positive influence on sch ool culture was compared to the previous principal who had become overly passive at the end of his career. Under the previous principal, the school culture had turned d ysfunctional as teachers took an “us versus them” stance toward their students; and, acc ording to teachers, students disregarded basic rules of conduct by fighting in h allways, disrespecting teachers, and coming and going at will during the school day. Jux taposed against this scenario, the new principal was a “change agent” who immediately influenced school culture. First, this principal influenced student-ascontext in wa ys that refocused teachers’ perspectives of students in much more constructive ways. The new principal began to institute policies that required students to be responsible and accountable for their actions. By gaining control a nd reorienting the student culture, teachers’ described a shift in their mindsets that had been teacher-centered to more student-centered approaches to teaching. Furthermor e, teachers began to feel empowered in the school. As one teacher said, “Finally, we’re running the school with input from the students.” Teachers attributed this positive change to the principal. One teacher explained: He’s got me seeing the possibilities for each stude nt, even for some of them that are squirreling around. Why would a kid who's squirreling around that morning in first hour class—why did they come in at the end of the day? Well, it's because they know they can, and it's a s afe place. So you can grab him and say, you know, you're being a real dork. Wh y don't you get to work. And he'll go with that; he can accept that. So I gu ess [the principal’s] whole message…he's not real hung up on how much English d id you teach today in 10 minutes?….It's more of how did you get into t heir heads?…I appreciate the fact that he has said that to us, th at our curriculum or our subject matter is how we get into these kids' heads Second, compared to his predecessor, this principal blurred the boundaries between the roles of teachers and of the principal. Teachers de scribed the rejuvenating effect of a principal who would spontaneously teach side by sid e with teachers. One teacher described it this way, “He’ll just walk in the room and he and I just have this way we can just play off each other, which is very exciting be cause we did a little team teaching.” In a later interview, she added: I did this survey with these kids…it was mid-year w hich I was really seeing


14 of 23some attitudes and hearing about some behaviors and stuff that were really disturbing to me….I was very pleased with what I fo und; they just want to be thought of as very good, and they want to do wha t is right, but their actions don’t show that. I took the results to [the principal]…and boy that just got his brain working. We ended up team teachi ng our seniors for three days together. Initially a shock, teachers soon began to welcome t he principal into their classrooms as a colleague. These interactions and the principal’s b readth of subject matter (especially math and science) and pedagogical knowledge created avenues for the principal to motivate and empower teachers to learn about their own subject matter. Teachers argued that the expectation of unexpected classroom visits had a positive effect on teachers because they had grown complacent and teacher-cente red under the previous principal. Finally, the principal played a critical role in sh aping the ways teachers interacted with each other. Through his actions in the classrooms a nd efforts to act as a conduit between teachers, the principal was able to begin to develo p a foundation upon which faculty could build their own relationships. For example, o ne teacher described the value of an off-campus retreat during summer break that the pri ncipal sponsored to help the staff get to know each other and “how they clicked.” Also, as a result of his constant presence in classrooms, the principal was able to help teachers see connections and possibilities among them that were previously overlooked. Through means such as these the principal communicated to the faculty his belief in the impor tance of investing in and developing strong professional relations among the staff. He a lso modeled that fact by engaging groups of teachers in informal conversations focuse d on student issues, content, and pedagogy. In short, this principal exhibited what S tein and D’Amico (2000) identified as an aptitude for subject matter leadership. He was a n excellent teacher and could translate his skills and knowledge base about teaching for te achers in any subject area. For example, compared to the other high schools studied teachers at this school were more involved in learning with each other, the norms of secrecy were breaking down as the principal made his presence known in each classroom Beyond presence, however, the manner in which the principal spontaneously engaged himself into the flow of the classroom helped shaped teachers’ perspectives of t hemselves as learners. Put differently, the principal acted as “principal coll eague” for teachers, many of whom had no (or few) other colleagues in their subject areas On the other hand, in the other two schools teacher s perceived the principals as less activist. A principal’s perceived inaction vis a vi s teachers’ work context is neither good nor bad, necessarily. However, in two of the case s tudy schools principals’ inaction with regard to developing contexts that supported vigoro us teacher learning climates may have reinforced traditional approaches to teacher l earning. For example, in the case regarding an incompetent teacher, the principal’s a nd district’s lack of disciplinary action lowered staff morale, and increased the need of another teacher who taught the upper level sections of that subject to remediate s tudents. Unfortunately this situation lowered her enthusiasm for pursuing her own learnin g. In the third school, the principal played a minimal role in facilitating teacher learn ing by limiting his activities to authorizing travel and reimbursing participation in formal professional development activities. In this case the principal and teachers tended to see the principal’s role as traditional—e.g., professional development through formal evaluation.


15 of 23Peripheral Context: The District and State ContextsIt was apparent that districts and the state policy milieu also formed facets of teachers work context. Both the districts within which teach ers worked and the policy milieu—that is, state policy initiatives that were designed and able to influence teacher work—formed part of teachers’ learning contexts, bu t not necessarily with the immediacy of the core and intermediate contexts.The district-as-context influenced teacher learning in two ways. First, teachers across schools believed that district leadership was respo nsible for setting the agenda for formal professional development. In describing the distric ts’ role in professional development, the tension teachers felt between meeting individua l teacher needs and organizational needs was palpable. A second factor influencing tea cher learning at the district level were professional development committees (PDCs) tha t consisted solely of teachers. State law required that each district fund professi onal development to at least one percent of the basic district funding formula and t hat each district establish a professional development committee responsible for allocating those funds. Teachers at each of the districts experienced simil ar patterns regarding the organization of their learning. Teachers identified several prob lems. In each case, districts had allotted approximately 5 professional days througho ut the school year. In order to stretch resources and achieve economies of scale, t he districts often held district-wide professional development events. While some teacher s benefited from the workshops and speakers, most teachers interviewed found the e vents to be ineffective. For example, because most teachers in the district represented p rimary and middle school grades, teachers in this study often found the activities t o be irrelevant to their needs. These teachers believed that by casting a wide net to acc ommodate all teachers, learning became superficial. Generally, teachers were frustr ated by the waste of time spent at district professional development activities. A lan guage arts teacher’s comments capture this tension: I dread the PDC days, and I've been saying that sin ce last year. I get in trouble with elementary teachers. I don't think the y're crazy about me. But I don't know why we all meet as a group. I do think w e're in this together, and I think every now and then we do need to meet as a group and say, what are you teaching, what are we doing, where can we go fr om there? One of the high school’s PDC representatives descri bed the tension this way: The high school people are outnumbered since we hav e three elementaries. The reading workshop's kind of good, because like I said the elementary people felt it was useful mostly, and they are 3/4 of our population of teachers, and our high school people were sitting t here kind of like....And if we had turned that around and had something that wa s more specific for high school that didn't apply to the elementaries, they would have been equally rude or disgruntled. So it is difficult to come up with something that works for the whole district. By and large, however, teachers approved of distric ts’ PDCs. PDCs were valued by teachers in a few ways. For example, teachers belie ved that the districts’ professional


16 of 23development committees (PDC) provided the freedom f or teachers to pursue their own learning goals even if those goals were not complet ely aligned with district goals for teacher learning. Teachers explained that their in terests in attending regional, state, or local conferences were usually supported by the PDC if their requests were within the committee’s budgetary constraints. Furthermore, the types of teacher learning activities funded by the PDCs offered teachers the opportunity to “benchmark” their own practices against their peers’ across the state and nationall y. Benchmarking practice was a theme among teachers across schools that highlighted the important role of oft-maligned large-scale conferences. The venues for learning se rved as a way to overcome the isolation of professional practice in these small r ural schools. From teachers’ perspectives, the predominant statelevel feature influencing teacher work was the state’s program for performance assess ment. The purpose of the assessment program was to increase student achievem ent levels by increasing the levels of school and district accountability. While the in tended effects on schools and teachers were to change multiple aspects of professional pra ctice (e.g., pedagogy, content knowledge, and assessment practices), interview dat a suggested that the density of the core contexts often deflected these intentions. Fur thermore, the program’s influence was limited by its focus on teachers of the core academ ic subjects. As a result, it was not surprising that core subject teachers discussed the assessment program and its influence on them more than teachers of career and technical subject areas. However, teachers’ descriptions of how their practices had changed as a result of the program were telling because the changes do not penetrate deeply into mu ltiple aspects of the core context. As interview data repeatedly showed, teachers react ed to the new performance assessment primarily by changing the way they asses sed students in some cases. A language arts teacher described a typical response to the state’s assessment program: [The assessment program] is about critical thinking and comprehension….It's altered the way that I approach mostly my testing. I try to [re flect the assessment program] in my test questions even though my grade levels do not t ake it in communication arts. I've tried to support that. We've had training. We've ha d an [assessment program] leader here, and we will next year also.This tweaking on the margins of teacher practice di d not appear to influence teachers’ thinking of their subject area, content knowledge, or student needs for leading productive lives in the future. Instead, with obser vations of fairly traditional teacher directed learning environments, most teachers artic ulated a presumption of compliance with the policy intent of the program. That is, tea chers believed that they already taught critical thinking skills and changed their approach es to their students in preparing them for taking the high stakes tests. For instance, an English teacher stated: I'm fresh out of college, so I know what skills the y need to go in there. So I look at real life, what are they going to need, and teach to that, and thankfully that's what's on the [State Assessment P rogram (SAP)]. We do the whole writing process, the revising, webbing, g raphic organizers, and those are very important on the SAP….If a teacher i s truly doing his or her job, then they are naturally teaching to the test. What I don't do is, I'm not going to review for five weeks and think, “I’ve co vered what's on there.” In part, the muted impact of the policy milieu on t he classroom context may stem from teachers beliefs that their students needs are much broader than academic. Teachers


17 of 23argued that the assessment program was too distant from the classroom context, and they believed that district and school policies were bet ter situated to keep the students’ best interests in mind. As one teacher stated: I would rather see student achievement done on a po rtfolio-type basis, working out of the school district, not so much a t est to see where we stack up against other [districts]. I would rather see m ore local accountability. More local processing. I feel a school district kno ws its children the best, better than the state can know them…And I really fe el it needs to be done more on a tracking of growth through a portfolio, m aybe that they begin in seventh grade and keep going up through twelfth gra de and look at that as an evaluative instrument rather than a test they ta ke two or three mornings.DiscussionThis study contributes to the literature by taking the concept of teacher work context—a concept that has become synonymous with structural and organizational dimensions of schools—and recasting it in terms of sets of relati onships. Furthermore, by examining these relationship sets within the context of rural high school teachers, several assumptions about teacher learning became apparent. For example, from teachers’ perspectives the gap between teacher and student kn owledge is fluid and not confined to student academic performance. Also, while the virtu es of small schools and small professional communities are extolled in the litera ture, the smallness and isolation of the rural context created significant challenges to tea cher learning and elicited specific teacher learning responses. Finally, current discus sions of teacher learning tend to lightly address, if at all, the critical role of the princi pal and other educational leaders in supporting teacher learning, especially in rural sc hools where subject matter colleagues are limited in number.This article showed how the multiple contexts of te acher work and their relationship to teacher learning are complex and interwoven. To sta te the obvious, each school context is unique. For instance, in these rural high school s the department was not the context of most import as suggest in other studies (e.g. McLau ghlin, 1993). Most teacher did not have departments, per se. The context of most impor t for them was the classroom, or at times, their professional community external to the school and district. Furthermore, this study shows the complex relationship between studen t-teacher and teacher-principal relationships in shaping teachers individual and co llective beliefs about their students. Conceptualizing teacher work context as beginning w ith a dense core and emanating outward to levels of context provides an important image that is less prone to over-simplifying how teachers do and should learn o n the job. More than any other factor, the “hot action” and “here-and-now” urgency of the classroom life (Eraut, 1994; Jackson, 1968)stemmed from the complex and daily in teractions of students. These interactions, marked by the fluidity and unpredicta bility of student needs, attitudes, and behaviors, are what give the core context its densi ty. And it is this density that causes efforts to support teacher learning from the interm ediate and peripheral contexts to be met with resistance. Teachers’ subject matter serve d as the conduit through which most teacher-student interactions took place. In this st udy, teachers of subjects with well-defined knowledge bases such as math and scien ce also tended to define the triadic relationship of the core context narrowly. Their ef forts were focused primarily on


18 of 23transferring the conceptual knowledge. Other teach ers—e.g., language and social studies teachers—used the content of their subject area to broadly address student needs. For example, these teachers would use the content t o explore ethical dilemmas in students’ lives as well as to convey the specific c ontent. The intensity of teacher-student interaction and th e way teachers perceived of their subject matter created an environment in which teac hers believed that only the most practical and immediately applicable knowledge/skil l would suffice to inform their practice. Thus, because of the intensity of interac tion between teachers, students, and content, learning that was valued most was acquired experientially. The intermediate context played an important role i n shaping the broader context of teachers’ everyday lives. The principal was uniquel y situated to influence important relationships within the core and intermediate leve ls. For example, the principal could influence the core context by influencing student c ulture, shaping how teachers perceived students, shaping how teachers approached their own content, and influencing the nature of teacher relations. The principal also was uniquely situated to reshape the norms of professional practice as that practice rel ated to students, subject matter and school culture, and in so doing influence the conte nt and nature of teacher conversations about their work and students.In spite of knowing what strong learning communitie s look like, however, traditional approaches to teacher learning persist. Contributin g to this persistence were teacher attitudes and norms that hold back professional cri tique and shy away from opportunities to “deprivatize” practice (Louis, Kruse, & Marks, 1 996). However, the blame cannot be solely placed on teachers. The important roles of p rincipals were clear in this study. For example, the principal who broke down the metaphori cal walls that isolated teachers was beginning to see more collaboration and learnin g among teachers. In schools where the principals took on passive leadership roles, te achers continued to work in (and worked to maintain) isolation. Furthermore, teache rs emphasized how resources strain limited the possibilities of periodic interaction a mong peers. In short, the potential of intermediate level facto rs for influencing the core context was significant. The potential was found in the possibi lities of school leaders and teachers’ peers in shaping how teachers perceived of their st udents, how they taught their students, and the way they approached their subject matter in terms of their students. Furthermore, in small and isolated high schools suc h as these where collegiality within departments was often a moot issue, the role of the principal as “principal colleague” and facilitator of teacher collegiality was critica l to the health of professional learning. The peripheral context of teacher work did not fact or into teachers’ work lives on a daily basis. Nonetheless, the study uncovered several fi ndings that cast new light on teacher learning in rural schools. Most surprising was that in districts where central offices were often located on the same campus as the high school teachers perceived of the superintendent and district as peripheral to their learning. Without a doubt, district policies surrounding professional development influ enced teacher work context. Unfortunately, district sponsored professional deve lopment programs were of little relevance to high school teachers. On the other han d, teachers found that state legislated district support for individual learning was more u seful. Thus, district professional development committees acted as vehicles for teache rs to broaden their professional networks by attending regional and state conference s. This fact underscored a difference


19 of 23between these rural teachers and urban and suburban teachers (Scribner, 1999; Talbert & McLaughlin, 1996). That is, teachers in these rural high schools relied to a greater extent on professional community beyond the school walls. Because departments in these schools were small, opportunities for fruitful coll egial relations were often found elsewhere.Statewide performance assessment was the major stat e policy initiative that influenced many teachers in this study. However, by definition only teachers in the core academic subjects were influenced by the program. In some ca ses this policy influenced the core context of teacher work. However, the effect was ma rginal in that teachers described minor changes to their practice—i.e., changing the way they assess students. Many of the teachers interviewed were not in subjects that were assessed and, obviously, they were not influenced by the policy.Thinking about the relationship between teacher lea rning and work context in terms of three concentric contexts brings into focus several important implications for teacher learning. Teacher learning within the core context is inevitable. The question remains, though, how will that learning occur and what will it focus on? Left alone, teachers have no choice but to learn reactively, guided only by t heir own experience and the immediate needs of students. Somewhat paradoxically, professi onal development for principals, superintendents and other educational leaders may h ave important implications for teacher learning. While professional learning oppor tunities for teachers abound, opportunities for principals and superintendents oc cur with less frequency. Professional development for educational leaders must place more emphasis on their roles in shaping the learning cultures of schools and more specifica lly subject matter leadership (Stein & D’Amico, 2000). Furthermore, opportunities for tea cher professional development must consider the situations of rural teachers. For teac hers in this study, statewide professional conferences were places for establishing and mainta ining professional community. And finally, the development of virtual professional de velopment opportunities may be effective strategies for bringing teachers of simil ar subject matters into professional conversations.In summary, this study demonstrated how the density of the core context was defined by intense relationships among students, teachers, and content. For these relationships to be nurtured and shaped in ways that improve teacher pr actice and student learning they must be (1) acknowledged in the broader education c ontext, (2) understood as a strength in the teaching and learning process, and (3) addre ssed in a concerted way across all three contexts. If teachers are left to “figure thi ngs out” on their own in isolation, most of them will be forced to learn solely through expe rience and in unreflective ways. The role of the intermediate and peripheral contexts in teacher learning must be to provide the time, space, and support for practical and conc eptual learning that teachers believe (or come to believe) is meaningful within their mor e immediate work context—the relationship between teacher, student and subject m atter.AcknowledgementThis article was supported entirely through the Nat ional Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship Program. An ear lier draft was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, April 1-5, 2002.


20 of 23ReferencesBredeson, P. V., & Scribner, J. P. (2000). A statew ide professional development conference: Useful strategy for learning or ineffic ient use of resources. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 8 (13). Retrieved on March 25, 2003 from Denscombe, M. (1980). Keepin' em quiet: The signifi cance of noise for the practical activity of teaching. Denscombe, M. (1982). The hidden pedagogy and its i mplications for teacher training. British Journal of Sociology in Education, 3 249-265. Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence London: Falmer Press. Fullan, M. G. (1995). The limits and the potential of professional development. In M. Huberman (Ed.), Professional development in education: New paradigm s and practices (pp. 253-267). New York: Teachers College Press. Grant, C. A., & Sleeter, C. E. (1987). Who determin es teacher work? The debate continues. Teaching & Teacher Education, 3 (1), 61-64. Hargreaves, A., & Goodson, I. F. (Eds.). (1996). Teachers' professional lives London: Falmer Press. Hatton, E. (1987). Determinants of teacher work: So me causal complications. Teaching and Teacher Education, 3 (1), 55-60. Hawley, W. D., & Valli, L. (1999). The essentials o f effective professional development: A new consensus. In G. Sykes (Ed.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice (pp. 127-150). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Huberman, M. (1993). The model of the independent a rtisan in teachers' professional relations. In M. W. McLaughlin (Ed.), Teachers' work: Individuals, colleagues, and contexts (pp. 11-50). New York: Teachers College Press. Jackson, P. W. (1968). Life in classrooms New York: Holt, Reinhart & Winston, Inc. Jackson, P. W. (1986). The practice of teaching New York: Teachers College Press. Johnson, S. M. (1990). Teachers at work: Achieving success in our schools New York: Basic Books. Little, J. W. (1999). Organizing schools for teache r learning. In G. Sykes (Ed.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice (pp. 233-262). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Louis, K. S., Kruse, S. D., & Marks, H. M. (1996). Schoolwide professional community. In F. M. A. Newmann (Ed.), Authentic Achievement: Restructuring schools for intellectual quality San Francisco: Jossey Bass.


21 of 23 McLaughlin, M. W. (1993). What matters most in teac hers workplace context? In M. W. McLaughlin (Ed.), Teachers' work: Individuals, colleagues, and contex ts (pp. 79-103). New York: Teachers College Press. Scribner, J. P. (1999). Professional development: U ntangling the influence of work context on teacher learning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35 (1), 238-266. Scribner, J. P., Hager, D., & Madrone, T. R. (in pr ess). The paradox of professional community: A tale of two high schools. Educational Administration Quarterly Stein, M. K., & D'Amico, L. (2000). How subjects ma tter in school leadership. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Conference: Seattle, WA. Sykes, G. (1999). Teacher and student learning: Str engthening their connection. In G. Sykes (Ed.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of po licy and practice (pp. 151-179). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Talbert, J. E., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1996). Teacher professionalism in local school contexts. In I. F. Goodson (Ed.), Teachers' professional lives London: Falmer Press. Thompson, C. L., & Zeuli, J. S. (1999). The frame a nd tapestry: Standards-based reform and professional development. In G. Sykes (Ed.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice (pp. 341-375). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.About the AuthorJay Parades Scribner University of Missouri-Columbia Email: Jay Paredes Scribner is an Assistant Professor in t he Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research focuses on professional learning in K-12 contexts. Specifically, his research has focused on the relationship between teacher learning and te acher work and the political dimensions of professional communities in schools. He has also conducted research on professional learning in principal preparation prog rams. His other professional experiences include teaching in the Peace Corps, pr ogram evaluation and policy analysis with the US General Accounting Office, and evaluati on consulting in the K-12 and higher education arenas.Copyright 2003 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is


22 of 23Editor: Gene V Glass, Arizona State UniversityProduction Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman California State Univeristy–Los Angeles Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute ofTechnology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Los Angeles Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British ColumbiaEPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez


23 of 23 Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Universidad Autnoma de Puebla Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul-UFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de DanielSchugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)American Institutes for Resesarch–Brazil(AIRBrasil) Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los


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