Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out

Chap. 4 – Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out
(Adapted from Teaching and Learning from the Inside and Out: By Judy F. Carr, Janice R. Fauske, Stephen Rushton, pp. 59-62)

Chapter 4: Inside Connections – Commitment and Collaboration

Carr highlights the differences between congeniality and collegiality.  In congenial work spaces, people are pleasant and respectful.  Carr sets a scene in which teachers and administrators congregate in the lounge or halls.  People feel well-liked and discussions about extracurricular activities and the students social scene proliferate.  Teachers may spend time together outside of schools and the atmosphere in school is one of ease with colleagues.  However, the conversation and action amongst colleagues does not focus on the positive and negative aspects of actual practice.  Colleagues do not push one another to improve, as that might be perceived as not “congenial.”  The atmosphere is comfortable to the point that it may become stagnant. 

In a collegial atmosphere, the portrait Carr paints is different.  In this setting, colleagues sit together at meetings to discuss particular strengths and weaknesses.  They observe one another frequently and plan together daily.  There are professional development opportunities that are designed and offered by the staff based on particular strengths.  In the first, congenial scene, conflict does not arise and is in fact discouraged.  In the second, collegial scene, “a collegial partnership encourages collective reflection on practice and open discussion of choices—a setting where examining one’s work is expected routinely, new ideas and risk taking are encouraged, and there is a focus on shared purposes. This process includes deeper, “inner” learning and shared, “outer” learning (Fullan, 1993) that can reshape a school and redirect its resources and energy through true collegiality as a school learning community.”

According to Carr, there are four practices that are necessary to produce collegial relationships:
1.     Talk about practice in conversations that are frequent, continuous, concrete, and precise
2.     Observe each other engaged in the practice of teaching and administration
3.     Engage together in work on curriculum by planning, designing, researching, and evaluating curriculum
4.     Teacher each other what they know about teaching, learning, and leading (Little, 1981, as cited in Barth, 1990, p. 31).

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