A Discipline-Based Professional Development Faculty: A Case for Multiple-Site Collaborative Reform in the Disciplines

Article excerpt

PDS work occurs in far more elementary than high school settings (Berry & Catoe, 1994; Whitford, 1994). Admirable as the interdisciplinary work of Sizer and the Coalition of Essential Schools and teacher educators collaborating with coalition high schools is (Miller & Silvernail, 1994; Whitford, 1994), many teacher educators work in content-based departments or teach content area methods in Arts and Sciences departments.

The first attempt of the University of Georgia at a secondary school PDS collaboration failed, as have many others (Cohen, 1994). We floundered for local and personal as well as institutional and generic reasons (Clifford & Guthrie, 1988; Goodlad, 1990). However, a variety of collaborations emerged from that work. In this article, I describe a partnership among two English Education faculty members and 25 English teachers in six local high schools. I argue that a multiple-site, discipline-based professional development faculty provides another model for PDS principles-in-action when geography, resources, student numbers, and institutional realities force individual faculty members to move outside a whole school-college PDS concept at the secondary level. In this context, we can examine issues of university and school reform, the departmentalization of both high school and college programs, and changing goals and concomitant roles for all participants to build a powerful local network for ongoing collaborative inquiry. To provide some context for the professional development faculty model, I first describe the school-university conditions that led to its design.

An Aborted PDS Collaboration

The College of Education at the University of Georgia chose not to participate in the Holmes Group in the 1980s, citing a commitment to undergraduate teacher education in a state that expected its flagship university and largest college of education to produce annually a significant number of teachers for Georgia schools and enable them to complete degree requirements in 4 years. Secondary preservice teacher education in the College of Education is based in the departments of Language (English/ language arts and foreign language), Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Social Science. Each department includes faculty members specializing in elementary or secondary programs. Elementary faculty members in each department support the Elementary Education department's preservice methods program; secondary faculty members run department-based preservice teacher education programs grounded in strong arts and sciences majors. Although these departments are organized as a School of Teacher Education, preservice teacher preparation is not the major element of most faculty members' research agendas. Instead, departments and faculty members have established reputations and careers in content-based research on teaching and learning.

The national reform movement affected the University of Georgia in indirect ways including a collegewide forum in 1990-1991 to discuss recent research in teacher education, participation in Goodlad's study of teacher education programs (1990), a Georgia Professional Standards Commission shift from centralized to programmatic sign-off for teacher certification, growth of the League of Professional Schools initiated at the University of Georgia (Allen & Glickman, in press; Lunsford, 1995), and a dean from a teacher education department, All these events encouraged anew focus on teacher education as a process of coreform with schools. However, the sheer number of faculty--200 in the college and 70 in teacher education--made collaboration across departments rare and difficult.

Supported by funding from the Coca-Cola Foundation in the late 1980s, faculty members in the Elementary Education department and colleagues in the content departments established PDS collaborations with four local schools (Allexsaht-Snider, Deegan, & White, 1995). …