Academic journal article Education

Collegiality, Collaboration and Kuleana: Complexity in a Professional Development School

Academic journal article Education

Collegiality, Collaboration and Kuleana: Complexity in a Professional Development School

Article excerpt


Many school/university partnerships have formed under the banner of a Professional Development School (PDS). The goal of many of these partnerships is to leverage change by transforming models of traditional professional development. Commonly these new models change the way partners make decisions. The chief characteristic of the PDS partnership described herein is common effort toward common goals in a collaborative way. Thus decision-making is always mutual and all partners benefit to some degree from the arrangement. This is somewhat different from the definition usually found in the literature (Simmons, Konecki, Crowell, and Gates-Duffield, 1999; Grobe, 1990). Frequently, participants are described as having different hierarchical roles with each contributing talents, experiences, and perspectives to the common enterprise.

Mutual benefit in this partnership implies that all activities must help each partner in some demonstrable way. Without this mutual benefit, the activity is likely to receive less attention from the partner without recognized gain. Minimizing notions of status and maximizing mutual decision-making produce a more effective relationship and acknowledge each partner's abilities and contributions. Thus, conscious effort must be made to design activities that provide benefit to all participating parties.

Professional Development Schools

A PDS partnership between a university and a public school is a powerful structure supporting professional growth of the participants and institutional change (Teitel, 2003). When unity is achieved on a majority of goals, the partnership functions effectively (Harris and Harris, 1992). Valli (1999) sees the mutual goals of a PDS partnership as (a) schools receive the resources, perspectives, and know-how from the universities; (b) universities have a vehicle for teacher preparation; and (c) both are able to work together to address their responsibility to effect positive social change.

Professional development has an essential role in successful education reform. In recent years, researchers have examined the environment in which teacher development occurs or stalls (Daloz, 1999). Research reveals that a one-time workshop or seminar is unlikely to result in significant, long-term changes in the practice of a teacher (Fullan, 1991; Joyce & Showers, 1988; Little, 1993). Both practicing teacher professional development needs and pre-service teacher preparation are served best in long-term connected field-based experiences (Darling-Hammond, 1996; Goodlad, 1984, 1990; Holmes Group, 1986, 1990, 1995).

The implementation of a PDS supports continuous professional development (Rice, 2002). It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 PDSs in 47 states (Abdal-Haqq, 1998). As these numbers have increased, it has become apparent that to sustain a PDS requires continued attention to the partnership (Kochan, 1999; Kochan & Kunkel, 1998) and that this attention is labor-intensive for both partners (Rice, 2002). We suggest that maintaining a partnership requires recognition of the complexity of the relationship. Continuous assessment and reflection of the changing needs of each partner contribute to this complexity.


Colleagues should ideally represent a close-knit community with an emphasis on the "connectedness" between people (Boyer, 1993). We believe that collegiality is closely related to Harris and Harris's (1992) description of "dignity" as the recognition that everyone is a person of worth, that all have equal value in the partnership, and that equity and trust are characteristics of all collegial relationships. We see two elements as essential to the development of this degree of collegiality, building strong relationships and validation of colleagues as equals.

Robinson (1996) argues that a new kind of collegiality is needed to overcome separations that have been institutionalized and assigned different status. …

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