Changing teachers' practices for inclusion


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Changing teachers' practices for inclusion a case study of four teachers participating in a schooluniversity collaboration
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xi, 234 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Riley, Tamar Franchette, 1967-
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Special Education thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Special Education -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2000.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 222-231).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Tamar Franchette Riley.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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oclc - 47116891
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Copyright 2000


Tamar F. Riley


Many people have provided assistance and support throughout the

course of this study. I am forever grateful to all those who have helped to

make this project successful.

I extend my appreciation to the four teachers who invited me to be a

part of their worlds and allowed me to be their friend. I have learned a great

deal about teaching, more than when I was a classroom teacher. I appreciate

them for allowing me to be a part of a classroom again. I also want to thank

the principal who wanted the TLC project brought to her school. She

supported the group's work as well as my work. I thank her for all the

personal recognition she gave me to show her continued appreciation for my


My research project was supported by small and large grants

throughout the years. I sincerely appreciate my advisor, Dr. Mary Brownell,

for finding the funds to support my work. To Dr. Elizabeth Yeager, Dr. Mary

Sue Rennells, and Stephanie van Hover who worked on the TLC project with

me--they all helped me clarify my thinking, keep my perspective, and laugh

when I wanted to cry. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with

such dynamic people. I learned so much about myself from each of them.

As my committee chair, advisor, mentor, and friend, Dr. Mary

Brownell had an active role in helping me to define myself as a professional.

She has helped me in every step of my dissertation as well as my program.

She is a talented researcher and committed educator. Mary has taught me to

look for the positives and stay committed to helping people even when the

task is hard and seems impossible. I especially thank Mary for extending her

ear and becoming my friend. I have learned so much from her!

Dr. Paul Sindelar has also served as my advisor, cochair, mentor, and

friend. He has helped to keep me sane and rational when life seemed

overwhelming. He continually offered a thoughtful perspective when

discussing problems, successes, and findings from my work. I especially loved

his wonderful stories and his attempts to teach me about birds.

I offer my appreciation to Dr. Karen Kilgore for her assistance in

helping me wade through the murky waters of my data analysis. She worked

countless hours to help me convey 2-1/2 years of data in a meaningful way.

Thanks go to Shelby and Luke who let me invade their time with her so I

could finish.

Thanks go to my other committee members--Drs. Elizabeth Bondy and

Cary Reichard. They were always supportive of my work and offered me

thoughtful feedback along the way. I have appreciated their encouragement

and support.

Special thanks go to my friends I made along the way. Dr. LuAnn

Jordan, "Lulee," was often my hope. She had walked the dissertation road a

few years before and always had a logical perspective. I especially appreciate

her for helping me to be a better person. Dr. Holly Lane was always checking

on me to see how I was doing. She gave me a lot of useful information that I

used with the TLC teachers. Dr. Paige Pullen shared her home with me

during a time when both of us were furiously writing our dissertations. She is

a blessing from God!

I wish to extend my appreciation to my friends in Gainesville--to my

former roommates who lived through my doctoral program with me--Stacey

Garnett Fogler, Chanda Stebbins, and Summer Hallett. They are true friends

who have been supportive of me the whole way. I wish to thank the Focks'

family--Dana, Debby, Rebekah, Ken, Peter, and especially Kelly "Smelly"-- for

becoming my lifetime friends. They have helped me develop my spiritual

person through a hectic time in my life. I have a deeper love and commitment

for the Word as a result of the investment they made in my life.

Most of all I would like to thank my family. They have overwhelmed

me with their unconditional support, prayers, encouragement, and love. My

family is one of the greatest gifts from God! A special appreciation goes to my

sisters who were always checking on me, getting tough when I needed it, and

listening to all my self-absorbed conversation. A very special thank you goes

to my parents, Lois and Bill Riley. They have supported me financially in

more ways than imaginable. More than financially, my parents have told me

I could do it and that I did not have to do it to be a success. I am who I am

because of the tremendous investment and sacrifices they have made. A

grateful and special word of thanks goes to my mom, Lois, for convincing me I

was a successful woman. No one has been there for me like she has!

Finally, and most importantly, my most humble gratitude goes to the

Lord God Almighty. To Him be the glory forever and ever.



ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS...................................................... ....................... iii

ABSTRACT......................... ............. ... ............................ x


1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM....................................... 1

Current Practice in Staff Development............................. .......... 5
How Special Education Research Has Responded to These
Issues............................................................................ 6
Lingering G aps.......................... ................. .......... ............. 9
Contribution of My Study ....................... ....................... 12
Purpose ..................................... .................. 13
Design of the Study ........... ................... ........... 14
Definition of Term s .................................... ............................. 15
Possible Uses of the Results ..................... ........... ............ 16
Lim stations ............................................................... 17

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................................18

Selection Criteria for Relevant Literature .......................... 19
Conceptual Framework for Teacher Change ............................. 19
Practical, Understandable, and Concrete Innovations.............. 20
The Practicality of the Innovation .........................................
Compatibility between Teacher and Innovation .................... 24
Need for Concrete Examples ................................................... 27
Outside Perspective..................................................................... 28
Demonstration .................................. ...................... 30
Reflection............. ........... ....................... 30

Professional Collaboration...................... ................... 34
Critical Discourse............................... ...................... 35
School Context that Promotes Change .............................. 41
Teacher Readiness for Change ...................... .................... 48
Ability to Reflect ................................... ........................ 49
Knowledge and Beliefs....................... ...................... 50
Commitment to Learning ...................... ......... .......... 51
Sum m ary ...................................................................................... 52
Considerations for General Education Teachers Working
with Diverse Learners.............................................. 53
Issues to Resolve .......................................................... ......... 54
Special Education Versus General Education Perspective.... 55
Extensive Time for Reflection ...................... ....................... 56

3 METHODOLOGY............................................. ..................... 60

Collaborative Group Work ........................ ......... ........... .. 62
Broader Context.................................................. 62
Gaining Access ................................... ....................... 65
Participants...................... ......................... 66
Evolving Role of the TLC....................... .................... .. 68
Role of the Researcher/Reflective Friend............................ 72
Research Procedures...................... ..................... 72
Research Design.................................................. 73
Data Collection.............................................. 74
Data Analysis ................................... .............................. 79
M ethodological Issues ................................... .... ................... 81
Construct Validity.............................................. 81
External Validity ................................... .... .................... 83
Reliability...................... ........... ....................... 83
Investigator Bias ....................... ... ...................... 84
Ethical Issues ............................................. 84

TEACHERS' COGNITIVE CONTEXT.......................... 86

School Context...................................................... 87
Supportive Administrative Style....................................... 87
Congenial But Isolated Faculty.................................. ........... 88
Pressure to Meet Performance Standards.......................... 91

Designation as an REI School............................................... 93
Sum m ary .................................................. 94
Classroom Context ................................... .......................... 94
Overwhelming Curriculum................................. .......... 95
Common View of Curriculum Reified through Standardized
Testing ................................... ........................... 96
Diversity of Learners...................... ...................... 98
Summary .................................................... 100
Teachers' Cognitive Context ....................................... .. 100
Standardized Instructional Framework ............................... 101
Individualized Instruction Framework................................. 105
Sum m ary ...................................... .............. 110

PRACTICES...................... ... .. ....... 112

Role of the TLC........... ... ............ .... ................... 112
Forum for Discussions....................... ................................. 113
Access to Resources............................ .................... 121
Issues to Resolve in the TLC Process.................................... 128
Role of the Reflective Friend..................... .... ............. 135
Gaining Trust and Confidence ............................................. 136
Teaching Coach and Partner........................ ....................... 138
Research Interpreter................................................................ 143
Promoting Teacher Reflection, Problem Solving, and
Efficacy....................................... .. ............... ...... 145
Issues to Resolve in the Reflective Friend's Role ................. 151
Changes in Practices....................... ........................... ............ 155
Standardized View of Instruction ......................................... 155
Individualized Instructional Framework.............................. 163
Summary ....................................................... 166

6 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS.................................... 168

Findings ............................................. ...... ...... 168
The Role of School Context.............................................. 169
Classroom Context....................... .... ........ .......... .. 170
Teachers' Cognitive Context................................................. 171
The Role of the TLC ................................................................ 172

Issues to Resolve in the TLC Process.................................... 173
The Role of the Reflective Friend............................................ 174
Issues to Resolve in the Reflective Friend's Role ................. 175
Changes in Practices.................................. ......................... 175
Relationship of Findings to Previous Studies............................ 177
Facilitators to Change .................................................. 177
Inhibitors to Change................................................................. 180
Use of Findings to Research Community and Practitioners .......185


A TABLE OF TEACHER CHANGE STUDIES............................. 191

B LETTER OF INFORMED CONSENT .........................................204

C INTERVIEW PROTOCOLS.................................................... 207

D DEBRIEFING QUESTIONS..................................................... 214

E PATHWISE 19 CRITERIA ............................................... 216

F ACTION PLANS/NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS........................... 219

REFEREN CES. ........................................................ .......................... 222

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ......................................................................... 232

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Tamar Franchette Riley

December 2000

Chair: Mary T. Brownell
Major Department: Special Education

This study described teachers' change in practices to accommodate

students with academic and behavioral challenges as a result of their

participation in school/university collaboration. Questions were posed

regarding the roles of teachers' context, the collaborative group (TLC), and

the participant-observer (reflective friend).

The four teachers taught at an elementary school in a large, urban

district in the South. The context included a supportive administrator, a

congenial yet noncollaborative and isolated environment, district and

state pressure to improve students' standardized test scores, and Regular

Education Initiative school designation.

The teachers' contexts influenced their practices. They were

overwhelmed by the adoption of a new reading curriculum, had a

standard view of curriculum that was reinforced by district and state

assessments, and were challenged by the diversity of learning problems.

The TLC supported teacher change by providing a discussion forum

through which a structured process for problem solving and questioning of

beliefs and practices was implemented. The TLC also provided teachers

access to research-based innovations and resources.

The reflective friend, who initially served as a teacher's aide,

gathered data. The reflective friend's role as a participant-observer

developed to include a teaching partner and coach, research interpreter,

and facilitator for teacher reflection, problem solving, and efficacy. Data

were collected by the reflective friend from 327 hours of classroom

observations during a period of 2-1/2 years. Four interviews were

conducted with each teacher, and minutes from 126 hours of meetings and

workshops were maintained. Data were coded and categorized

thematically according to event similarity.

All participating teachers made varying degrees of change in their

classroom practices. Each teacher's instructional approach influenced that

change. Teachers using a traditional approach were able to incorporate

student-centered instruction, alternative instructional groupings, and

refined assessment instruments. One teacher who was innovative

constantly revised her practices to improve student learning and used

more directed remediation resources to help students with learning



For the past two decades, researchers have noted little change in the

way teachers teach (Cuban, 1990; Fullan, 1993; Hargreaves, 1994b; Sarason,

1990; White 1991). Despite the surge of innovative practices, such as

cognitive strategy instruction, phonological awareness, and integrated

thematic instruction, teachers rarely use these practices in their classrooms

(Adams, 1990; Elmore, 1996; Harris & Pressley, 1991; Kovalik & Olsen,

1998) Most classroom teachers continue to teach the way they were taught in

spite of the compelling research evidence that suggests they should change

(Elmore, 1996; Sarason, 1990).

Many proponents of school reform suggest that teachers' adherence to

traditional practices will doom many children to failure, especially given

changes in the student population. Significant changes in the student

population suggest that, to succeed in school, many children will require

innovative classroom approaches. To illustrate the current diverse student

population, Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, and Simmons (1997) projected this

scenario for the future:

Now picture this: 34 children in an urban third-grade classroom, one
third of whom live in poverty. Six live with grandparents, and three
are in foster care. Five come from homes in which a language other
than English is spoken; two children do not speak English at all.
Seven, six, five, three, two, and one are African American, Hispanic
American, Korean, Russian, Haitian, and Chinese, respectively. Six
are new to the school. and four will relocate to a different school next

year. Only five of the 34 students are at or above grade level in
reading; 10 are two or more grade levels below. There is a 5-grade
spread in reading achievement ... two other students in the class have
been physically or sexually abused. (pp. 176-177)

These students will require considerable support in general education

settings because their sheer numbers overwhelm the resources available in

specialized settings. According to Goodlad (1990) our nation has become

increasingly diverse, which places enormous demands on teachers to redesign

schools capable of meeting the challenging demands of society at large. Thus,

schools and teachers are under increased pressure to accommodate more

diverse students in general education settings. Educational researchers and

staff developers need to know more about how to help teachers, especially

general education teachers, address the educational needs of a diverse

population (Elmore, 1996; Fullan 1993).

Over the past decade and a half, schools have been under increasing

pressure to include students with disabilities, even those with significant

disabilities, in the general education classroom (Gartner & Lipsky, 1987;

Henley, Ramsey, & Algozzine, 1999; Salend, 1994; Smith, 1998; Turnbull,

Turnbull, Shank, & Leal, 1998; Will, 1986). Including special education

students in general education classrooms has only made matters more

complicated for general education teachers (Gersten & Woodward, 1990;

Sailor, 1991). Previously, special education had been thought of as a place

where teachers transferred their most difficult problem students into the

hands of experts (Gersten & Woodward, 1990). Once students were placed in

special education, rarely were they returned to the mainstream (Gersten &

Woodward, 1990).

For teachers, the inclusion of so many diverse students in a classroom

presents enormous challenges. For example, teachers typically expect to use

grade-specific curriculum for all students in their classroom (Pugach &

Warger, 1996). However, students with cognitive disabilities may have

difficulty succeeding in grade level curriculum and will need teachers to

adapt the curriculum to meet their individual instructional needs.

Differentiating the curriculum and making modifications and

accommodations have typically not been within the scope of general

education teachers' responsibilities. Additionally, teachers have more

behavioral problems in their classrooms, and they are ill equipped to deal

with them (Landrum & Kauffman, 1992). In the past when teachers

encountered such behaviors, they typically referred students to other school

personnel; increasingly they are being asked to address these challenges in

the mainstream (Salend, 1994).

Although many general educators support the concept of including

students with disabilities in general education, they have reservations about

its actual application (Baker & Zigmond, 1995; McIntosh, Vaughn, Schumm,

Haager, & Lee, 1993). General education teachers have to make adjustments

in their teaching practices to meet the challenges presented by such a diverse

student population (Zigmond & Baker, 1990). Teachers' reservations stem

from what they perceive as lack of support for making adjustments. In a

literature review on teachers' attitudes toward mainstreaming, Scruggs and

Mastropieri (1996) concluded that most teachers supported the principles

behind mainstreaming although many indicated personal hesitancy about

providing services to students with disabilities. They had concerns about the

need for more time, training, personnel resources, and materials, as well as

reduced class size. Other researchers have found that general education

teachers feel ill-prepared to teach students with disabilities (Vaughn,

Schumm, Jallad, Slusher, & Saumell, 1996) primarily because they find it

hard to manage curricular adaptations (Baker & Zigmond, 1990; Schumm &

Vaughn, 1995; Vaughn & Schumm, 1994). Teachers' concerns about their

preparation make sense given that general education teachers have a good

understanding of content but limited knowledge of learning problems and the

accommodations and strategies necessary to include special needs students

(Pugach & Warger, 1996).

Researchers examining inclusive classrooms have found that teachers'

concerns about preparation are well founded. Zigmond and Baker (1990)

reported that even when teachers willingly participated in inclusive efforts,

their instructional styles were not compatible with the principles of inclusion.

Teachers planned and instructed students as a whole group, making little

accommodation for individual differences. Baker and Zigmond (1995)

conducted case studies in five different states to determine the effectiveness

of inclusive programs for students with mild disabilities. After observing

classrooms that district administrators identified as examples of successful

inclusion, the authors concluded that definitions of success were based on

students needing little or no accommodation. Baker and Zigmond questioned

general education teachers' ability to include students when they were not

providing individualized and specially designed instruction. In a similar vein,

McIntosh et al. (1993) investigated teachers' planning practices and found

that teachers made few instructional adjustments. If classroom teachers are

to change how they teach so as to accommodate difficult students, they will

need staff development.

Current Practice in Staff Development

Successful inclusion requires teachers to learn innovative practices to

meet diverse student needs. Radical changes in teachers' practices, however,

are unlikely given the difficulty of change and the nature of current staff

development practices in schools (Leiberman & Miller, 1991; McLaughlin,

1991). In most staff development efforts, teachers typically learn about

innovations outside of their classrooms with little follow-up or feedback. Staff

development has generally taken a "one size fits all" approach to educating

teachers about effective practices for inclusion. For instance, districts often

provide one-shot workshops that give teachers general information about

disabilities and some teaching tips for working with students (McLaughlin,

1991; Tillema, 1995).

In recent years, researchers have advocated that teachers' roles must

be reconceptualized to make a lasting impact on teachers' practices

(Hamilton & Richardson, 1995; Joyce & Showers, 1988; Sparks & Loucks-

Horsley, 1990). In a literature review on staff development, Sparks and

Loucks-Horsley (1990) concluded that effective staff development should be

comprised of (a) schools with norms that support collegiality and

experimentation; (b) district and building administrators who clarify goals

and expectations and actively commit to and support teachers' efforts to

change their practice; (c) school reform efforts that are strongly focused on

changes in curricular, instructional, and classroom management practices

with improved student learning as the goal; and (d) adequate and

appropriate staff development and follow-up assistance that continues long

enough for new behaviors to be incorporated into ongoing practice.

Until now, staff development has neglected factors such as individual

teachers' knowledge and beliefs or personal ability (Showers, 1990). Although

we know that teachers' beliefs play a powerful role in their adoption of an

innovation, rarely are entering levels of knowledge and personal beliefs

addressed as part of staff development (Richardson & Anders, 1994; Stein &

Wang, 1988). Staff development has also been delivered in ways that do not

consider teachers' ability to implement changes (DuFour, 1997; Fullan, 1991).

Trainers make faulty assumptions about teachers' abilities to understand,

commit, and reflect on new teaching practices and wrongly assume that

teachers can make substantial changes without personal support. For

teachers to change practices as inclusion requires, professional development

will have to be reconceptualized. At this point, there are few research studies

describing efforts to restructure professional development for inclusion.

How Special Education Research Has Responded to These Issues

In recent years, special education researchers have become involved in

training general education teachers who work with students with disabilities.

Knowing that the teachers find staff development ineffective and that

research often does not translate into practice, researchers have attempted to

create training opportunities that result in sustained changes in practice. As

a result, common elements of best practice in professional development have

emerged. In my review of the literature on special educators working with

general education teachers, I found 10 studies that described effective

professional development. In these studies, researchers provided teachers (a)

information relevant to their needs, (b) opportunities to receive feedback from

an observer, and (c) collaboration or consultation between special education

and general education teachers and researchers.

First, as a result of working with researchers or special education

teachers, teachers learned new practices specific to their personal needs

(Boudah, Deshler, Schumaker, Lenz, & Cook, 1997; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett,

Phillips, & Karns, 1995; Gersten, Morvant, & Brengelman, 1995; Marks &

Gersten, 1998; O'Connor, Jenkins, & Leicester, 1992; Pugach & Johnson,

1995; Stein & Wang, 1988; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn, Hughes, Klingner, &

Schumm, 1998; Voltz, Elliott, & Harris, 1995). In these formats, teachers

learned about instructional accommodations for individual students (Marks

& Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992; Pugach & Johnson, 1995), small

groups of students (Boudah et al., 1997; Gersten et al., 1995), and whole

classes (Fuchs et al., 1995; Stein & Wang, 1988; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al.,

1998; Voltz et al., 1995). In some cases, researchers asked participants what

areas of the curriculum they had concerns about when including diverse

learners and then responded with innovations to address those subjects

(Vaughn et al., 1998). Also, to increase the likelihood that teachers would use

innovations, researchers chose innovations that were easy to use and

implement (Fuchs et al., 1995; Gersten et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998).

Second, many of these professional development projects provided

observation and feedback through meetings with researchers (Boudah et al.,

1997; Fuchs et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998) or special education teachers,

who acted as consultants (Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998;

O'Connor et al., 1992; Pugach & Johnson, 1995; Voltz et al., 1995). All of

these projects lasted for at least a year, with one lasting for two (Boudah et

al., 1997). In these studies, teachers met on a regular basis either to

collaborate with a researcher or consult with a special education teacher

about observations in their classrooms. The special education consultants

observed the general education teacher, provided feedback, and suggested

interventions to improve instruction (Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten,

1998; O'Connor et al., 1992; Pugach & Johnson, 1995; Voltz et al., 1995). In

some of these consultations, specific scripted processes were used (Pugach &

Johnson, 1995; Voltz et al., 1995). Occasionally, researchers worked directly

with teachers, providing them with assistance in implementing the

innovations. They then debriefed with teachers about specific problems and

successes (Fuchs et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). In other cases, the

observer provided teachers with student assessment data that helped

teachers to understand students' response to instruction (Fuchs et al., 1995;

O'Connor et al., 1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). With researchers' assistance,

teachers used student data as a basis for implementing changes in their

instruction. Teachers selected interventions to implement after considering

the types of problems students had. Overall, the results of these studies

underscored the importance in of in-class observers: They provide teachers

with feedback on students, problems, and implementation success, and they

offered them suggestions about how to solve classroom problems.

Third, teachers received ongoing support in their development of new

practices through interactions with observers (Boudah et al., 1997; Fuchs et

al., 1995; Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992;

Pugach & Johnson, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998; Voltz et al., 1995). In such

studies, teachers' collaboration with one or two individuals focused on solving

problems of practice in their classrooms. In one study, Boudah et al. (1997)

used group collaboration between teachers and researchers in which teachers

learned about a comprehension strategy. Teachers reviewed videotapes of

their teaching and talked about how well their practices matched the

innovation they had learned. Researchers in this study also asked teachers to

think about individual students with special needs when they planned for

instruction. As a group, teachers were able to generate ideas about how to

accommodate individual students; they also received ongoing support in their

efforts to implement new practices. Reflection within a group provides

teachers support to experiment and develop new practices.

In sum, general education teachers learned about information that was

relevant to their needs for teaching students with disabilities. They also had

interaction with an outsider; either a researcher or consultant watched them

implement new practices and then provided them feedback. Throughout the

professional development experience, teachers received ongoing support in

their efforts to learn new practices.

Lingering Gaps

In spite of the efforts made in professional development to provide

support for learning inclusive practices, teachers have not always used them

and sustained their implementation. In some cases, teachers reported that

innovations were complicated to use (Stein & Wang, 1988). In others, they

chose easy-to-implement innovations over ones that were more complicated

(Fuchs et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; Vaughn et al., 1998). Even when

teachers learned about multiple strategies and innovations that had proven

helpful to their students, rarely did they use them consistently after support

from the outsider ended (Fuchs et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). Observers

provided teachers motivation to engage in new practices by providing them

assessment data on their students as part of their observations (Fuchs et al.,

1995; O'Connor et al., 1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). However, teachers did not

continue to collect assessment data on their students once outside

involvement had ended.

Critical feedback from an outside observer can help teachers to reflect

about their practices. Outside observers can assist teachers in their

acquisition of new practices by providing them demonstrations and

assistance in their initial attempts at change. When observations are

discontinued, teachers typically get no critical feedback, and as a result,

teachers may not see or understand problems that arise. To complicate this

problem because the outsider is no longer involved, teachers do not have

anyone with whom to problem solve. Most studies focused on temporary

assistance rather than on techniques for teachers providing critical feedback

to peers. Teachers were afforded consultation (O'Connor et al., 1992; Voltz et

al., 1995), coaching (Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; Pugach &

Johnson, 1995), and researcher support (Fuchs et al., 1995; Vaughn et al.,

1998) for periods up to 1 year. Only in one case (Vaughn et al., 1998) did

researchers go back the following year to determine if teachers had

implemented practices at the same level as the previous year. Not

surprisingly, Vaughn and her colleagues found that they had not done so.

Providing teachers with intense support through observation, feedback, and

assessment for 1 year did not guarantee continuing implementation in

subsequent years without support for doing so.

Finally, teachers were presented uniform innovations (Fuchs et al.,

1995; Stein & Wang, 1988; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998) or ones that

were at odds with their perspectives of teaching and learning (Marks &

Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992). These studies established that teaching

the same innovations to a group of teachers would not guarantee that they

would implement them to the same degree. Teachers have different

motivations, interests, needs, and beliefs that may inhibit or facilitate their

learning (Vaughn et al., 1998). Teachers need to learn innovations that are

appropriate for their needs and that match their beliefs. When special

education consultants work with individual teachers to accommodate

students with disabilities, they need to suggest strategies that are consistent

with teachers' frameworks for teaching and learning.

Consultants must also take into consideration teachers' concern for the

whole group (Marks & Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992). Students who

require accommodations are just one of many concerns for teachers. For

teachers to implement an innovation effectively, they have to understand the

innovation, believe that it will be effective for most of their students, and see

how it will fit within their current routines. For professional development to

be effective in assisting general education teachers to implement inclusive

practices, we need to have a better understanding of (a) how to provide

supportive structures for learning that can be sustained when outside

involvement has ended, (b) how to provide innovations that are compatible

with individual teachers' frameworks for teaching and learning, and (c) how

to address teachers' concerns for all of their students while helping them

think about students' individual needs.

Contribution of My Study

A review of the existing special education staff development literature

revealed several problems; chief among them is the lack of ongoing support

for participating teachers. In the present study, I attempted to avoid this

problem by supporting individual teachers' learning and their subsequent

adoption of more effective instructional practices. Teachers received support

through collaboration with their peers and feedback from an outside

researcher. Part of the design of this study included procedures for tracking

teacher change as levels of support from the outside researcher changed.

Many studies in general education describe the group change process,

yet change occurs also with the individual (Guskey, 1994). Therefore, the

need also exists to understand how individuals are affected in the process of

change (Loucks-Horsley & Roody, 1990). Teachers may voluntarily

participate in a staff development program, learn the same innovations, and

yet make different degrees of changes. Deford (1993) stated that

understanding a teacher's ability to change requires an analysis of teachers'

beliefs, the context of teaching and learning, and how they both relate to the

practices implemented. In her study of teachers learning Reading Recovery,

Deford found that instructional practices and beliefs about reading influenced

the teachers' learning. She concluded that researchers needed to understand

the risk that teachers take in rethinking traditional practices and replacing

them with unfamiliar techniques (Deford, 1993). Genuine changes in

instruction will occur when teachers are able to think differently about what

is going on in their classrooms and then incorporate new practices that match

(Richardson, Anders, Tidwell, & Lloyd, 1991). Outside researchers who act as

critical friends can provide teachers with the opportunity to reexamine their

beliefs, develop understandings of innovations, and develop skill in their use

(DuFour, 1997). Costa and Kallick (1993) defined the critical friend as one


provides feedback to an individual--a student, a teacher, or an
administrator--or to a group. A critical friend is a trusted person who
asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through
another lens, and offers a critique of a person's work as a friend. (pp.

In spite of the evolving research on effective professional development, few

studies exist that provide rich descriptions of teachers involved in

collaboration with a critical friend. Equally absent from the literature are

studies of general education teachers involved in professional development

efforts aimed at improving the inclusion of students with disabilities. Given

the current state of instructional practice in inclusive classrooms, researchers

need to have a better understanding of how effective professional

development efforts can be designed and implemented to help teachers

develop inclusive practices.


The purpose of my study was to describe the individual change process

of teachers involved in a collaborative learning group with university

researchers. Within the context of the learning group, one of the researchers

acted as a reflective friend. The term reflective friend is used instead of

critical friend to distinguish between one who prompts teachers to reflect on

their practices as opposed to one who critiques practice. The reflective friend

assisted members in addressing dilemmas they encountered while

instructing and managing high-risk learners through questioning and

problem solving. The reflective friend, as part of the collaborative group,

worked to help teachers recognize conflicts in their teaching and to develop

resolutions to those conflicts by incorporating effective teaching strategies

and innovations. In addition, the reflective friend provided opportunities for

reflection on and evaluation of new practices.

Through careful documentation of the change process, I addressed the

following research question: Can general education teachers collaborating

with university researchers change their practices to include students with

academic and behavior challenges? The following subquestions helped to

focus the study:

1. How does teachers' context support or hinder teacher learning?

2. What role does the collaborative group play?

3. What role does the reflective friend play in this process?

Design of the Study

Qualitative research methods were used to gather and analyze data.

Data were collected on four teachers who participated in a collaborative

teacher learning group, which is referred to as a Teacher Learning Cohort

(TLC), from February 1997 to June 1999. Data included (a) observations of

the teachers' classrooms; (b) documentation of collaborative group meetings

and workshops; (c) notes from conversations with individual teachers; (d)

interviews concerning teaching practices, difficult students, and the learning

process; and (e) action plans in which teachers documented the types of

interventions and strategies they implemented in their classrooms. Relevant

artifacts were also collected to add to the richness of data. These artifacts

included newspaper clippings about the TLC, teacher-made products, and one

teacher's description of the TLC.

Definition of Terms

This study described teachers working with researchers to solve

challenging problems that occurred in their classrooms. These teachers

worked together as a group to help each other meet academic and behavioral

challenges. The following terms are used throughout the dissertation.

Staff development is used interchangeably with the term professional

development and understood to mean processes that improve job-related

knowledge, skills, or attitudes of school personnel.

Innovation is any idea, product, or process that calls for changes in

behavior, beliefs, or understanding as a result of participation.

Framework is teachers' understandings, knowledge, beliefs, and

practices that influence their teaching and learning.

Inclusion is the full-time placement of students with disabilities in

general education classrooms, where traditional support services are brought

to the child. Inclusive classrooms may be characterized as communities

where all students are valued and are engaged in learning.

Collaboration is two or more individuals committed to working

together for a previously agreed upon purpose. School/University

collaborations involve teachers and researchers who work together for a

specific purpose.

Teacher Learning Cohort (TLC) is a specific name for a single

school/university collaboration. The TLC may be characterized as a group

that regularly met to discuss problems of practice, generate solutions to those

problems, and report the results of attempts to solve the problems.

Reflective friend, in this study, is an outside special education

researcher who worked with a collaborative group of general education

teachers to change their practices. The reflective friend observed and

provided feedback to teachers about their current practices and the new

practices they implemented. The term reflective friend is used instead of

critical friend to emphasize the role of helping teachers reflect about their

own practices as opposed to offering a critique of their practices.

Possible Uses of the Results

This study is a contribution to the small body of literature focusing on

teacher development of inclusive practices. The focus of this study was to

document the change process and, in particular, the role of the reflective

friend, the collaborative group, and the teachers' context in the process of

change. The results of this study will contribute to an understanding of how

individual teachers change and the influence that teaching context and

external agents have in that process.

The results of this study may aid teacher education professionals in

developing strategies for supporting teachers' adoption of inclusive practices

in the general education classroom. Teacher educators and staff developers

may find the framework helpful in guiding their future work with teachers.

Finally, researchers will gain additional knowledge of how to strengthen

their relationships with individual schools, teachers, and students.


There are two main limitations of this study that must be taken into

consideration when interpreting the results. First, because of using case

study methodology, only a small number of teachers could be included in the

study. Case study research requires the researcher to provide rich

descriptions of the phenomenon; therefore, an intensive amount of time is

focused on a particular interest--in this case, four teachers learning inclusive

practices. The time involved in observing, interviewing, and debriefing the

participants was the chief reason I limited the number of participants to four.

Second, findings are specific to the four participants, the TLC group, and the
school at which the study took place. Caution should be exercised when

applying the results to any other population or context or when drawing

general conclusions about the results. The present study does, however,

provide insight into the change process, the role of the reflective friend and

the collaborative group, and the influences of teachers' context at one school.

Specific descriptions of the participants, the school, and the work of the TLC

may allow other researchers to make comparisons with other, similar

circumstances. The reader, therefore, must determine how useful or

applicable the results of this study are to his or her particular situation.


The focus of my study is to describe general education teachers' use of

inclusive practices and how those practices changed through their

participation in a collaborative learning group with university researchers.

Issues relevant to my study are the roles of the collaborative group, reflective

friend, and teachers' context. Typically, teachers learn about new ideas

through professional development programs. For professional development to

be meaningful to its participants, specific elements need to be in place to

provide them with relevant experiences and information. Elements of

professional development addressed in this literature review are (a)

practicality of the innovation, (b) demonstration of and feedback about the

innovation, (c) collaboration as a means for teacher development, and (d)

personal qualities of teachers that are important for change.

This chapter is divided into three major sections. First, I describe the

selection criteria for the inclusion of studies. Second, I summarize the teacher

change literature through the discussion of four essential components of

professional development. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the issues

that are important to resolve when working with general education teachers

who are learning inclusive practices.

Selection Criteria for Relevant Literature

Studies considered for this literature review met certain criteria. They

were empirical and included descriptions of participants, methodology, data

analysis, and findings. The literature search came from two data bases: ERIC

(1984-1998) and Education Index (1984-1998). The following terms were used

to conduct the search: teacher, change, innovation, research, practice,

collaboration, teacher assistance teams, collaborative consultation, staff

development, university, and study. All studies included for this review were

published between 1984-2000.

I identified 11 books, 46 journal articles, and 21 professional

conference presentations for a total of 78 studies. Studies were excluded from

this review if (a) the study did not address either collaboration or teacher

change in beliefs or practices, (b) the authors' conclusions were general,

vague, or lacking rigor, and (c) findings were not clearly stated. Table A-1

(see Appendix A) presents a list of 36 studies that specifically addressed

change in teachers' practices as a result of participation in professional

development. The table provides information on the author, participants,

methodology, and findings.

Conceptual Framework for Teacher Change

This review considered studies that described a teacher or group of

teachers that participated in learning a new innovation and the changes in

practices, structures, or quality of their job that resulted. Specifically, studies

had to document how a teacher developed (a) new knowledge or practices, (b)

structures in their environment (e.g., team teaching, interdisciplinary

planning), or (c) support, trust, or confidence as a result of the innovation.

Studies were also included if changes in teacher practices occurred as a result

of greater collaboration in the environment.

Researchers in education have advocated that creating changes in

teachers' practices can occur through meaningful professional development

that includes specific factors to promote teacher learning (Gersten &

Woodward, 1990; Hamilton & Richardson 1995; Hargreaves, 1994a; Joyce &

Showers, 1988; Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). These factors include (a)

practical, understandable, and concrete innovations, (b) outside perspective,

(c) collaboration, and (d) teacher readiness for change. Learning occurs when

the specific factors are embedded in an authentic context and is sustained

over time. Professional development programs described in this review were

either a one-time workshop or an on-going project. All the studies addressed

one or all of the four factors that create teacher change.

Practical. Understandable. and Concrete Innovations

Gersten and Woodward (1990) used the term "reality principle" to

emphasize the importance of teachers learning in a natural context

innovations that are practical and useful to their personal needs and interest.

If innovations are deemed impractical, unmanageable, or complicated,

teachers will abandon their use. Just explaining the research behind the

innovation is not enough for teachers to incorporate it into their classrooms

(Gersten & Woodward, 1990; Richardson, 1996). Teachers incorporate new

practices when they are able t3 see (a) the practicality of the innovation, (b)

the match between the innovation and their teaching style and beliefs, and

(c) concrete examples of application.

The Practicality of the Innovation

Teachers consider their time valuable and want to implement

innovations that enhance student learning. Three issues of practicality are

important to consider. First, if teachers learn new practices that are feasible

to incorporate into their teaching repertoire, then they will more likely

sustain their use (Gersten & Woodward, 1990; Fullan, 1982). Teachers need

to understand how to implement the innovation, how it will benefit students,

and how it fits into their current routine. Failure for a teacher to understand

the logistics of the innovation will result in little or no change (Briscoe &

Peters, 1997; Gersten et al., 1995; O'Connor et al., 1992; Prawat, 1992; Stein

& Wang, 1988; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al.. 1998).

In an attempt to understand teacher success in implementing

innovative programs, Stein and Wang (1988) studied 14 teachers whose

schools were implementing the Adaptive Learning Environments Model

(ALEM). Teachers were assessed in their success in implementing 11 critical

dimensions of ALEM. In two particular areas--interactive teaching and

creating and maintaining instructional materials--teachers had more

difficulty implementing the procedures and did not reach the criterion for

mastery. These teachers did not reach mastery because they had difficulty

managing and understanding all the components. The authors concluded that

"some dimensions appear to be easier to improve on than others" (p. 179).

Overall, innovations must be feasible and easily implemented for teachers to

find value in them.

Second, teachers have to see demonstrable changes in their students to

find value in innovations. As teachers see students improve academically,

they become committed to their change efforts (Courtland & Welsh, 1990;

Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Fuchs et al., 1995; Lipman, 1997; McIntyre & Kyle,

1995). In a 3-year period, Courtland and Welsh (1990) described the evolution

of an elementary teacher in the implementation of a writing process

approach. In the first year, the teacher used one component of the program

and saw little improvement in student work. After consulting with literacy

experts, he committed the next year to implement additional components of

the program. As he saw students improve in their writing ability over the

second year, he decided to implement the complete program in the third year.

He then became the writing expert in his school and assisted other teachers

in implementing process writing into their instructional routines.

Innovations have to show improvement from what typically occurs in

classrooms before teachers will adopt them into their instructional routines.

Generally, teachers who implement changes and see that the innovation

improves student learning will want to continue in the development of their

practices (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; O'Connor et al., 1992; Richardson &

Anders, 1994).

Third, not only must innovations demonstrate student improvement,

but also they must address the needs of most students in the class, and this is

particularly true for general education teachers working with students with

disabilities. General education teachers need to understand how innovations

benefit most of or all their students or they will not use them (O'Connor et

al., 1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). For instance, in a year-long teacher-

researcher professional group, Vaughn et al. (1998) found that general

education teachers who were including students with disabilities wanted to

learn instructional practices that could be used with the whole class.

Teachers wanted to learn strategies that would benefit their students with

learning disabilities and enhance the learning of the other students.

Strategies that benefit few students are not viewed as valuable by a

teacher concerned with the whole group. Because of this view, when general

education teachers receive classroom support from a special educator to

include students with learning disabilities, they expect that new strategies

and procedures that are student specific are the responsibility of the special

education teacher (O'Connor et al., 1992). In general, teachers including

students with disabilities need to accept responsibility for the individual

progress of their students. As general and special education teachers

continue to work together, general education teachers should be primarily

responsible for choosing, implementing, and evaluating strategies to use with

students who are experiencing problems. For example, when general

educators who collaborated with a specialist to improve student difficulties

correctly identified learning problems and developed their own solutions to

implement, they were able to take ownership of the intervention being

implemented (O'Connor et al., 1992). As they observed student improvement,

teachers continued in and valued their work with the specialist. These

teachers were able to develop practices that addressed individual concerns of

students while maintaining the needs of the whole group. Once the

practicality issue is addressed, however, teachers need to understand how the

innovation fits with their personal style and beliefs so that they will sustain

its use.

Compatibility between Teacher and Innovation

Teachers implement changes in their practices when they see the

application and usefulness of the innovation for their classroom. Often,

researchers report that participants change in varying degrees even when

participating in equivalent professional development experiences (Briscoe &

Peters, 1997; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998; Wilson, 1990). Perhaps the

different levels of change are a result of the match between the teacher's

instructional style and beliefs and the innovation (Briscoe & Peters, 1997;

Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Etchberger & Shaw,

1992; Gersten et al., 1995; Kohler, McCullough, & Buchan, 1995; Martens,

1992; O'Connor et al., 1992; Peterson, McCarthey, & Elmore, 1996; Prawat,

1992; Stein & Wang, 1988; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998; Wilson, 1990).

Teachers bring diverse backgrounds, expertise, and experiences to staff

development projects. They also have different needs and levels of

understanding (Tillema, 1995). Because of these differences, teachers need

professional development opportunities that provide diverse learning

experiences and address beliefs about teaching and learning.

Professional development projects should allow teachers to pursue an

area of personal improvement. Englert and Tarrant (1995) described a

literacy project over a 3-year period where researchers worked with four

special education teachers. Teachers chose to specialize in different areas of

literacy based on their interests and teaching histories. All teachers initially

chose activities to implement based on what they knew and what they

wanted to know. One teacher, Melissa, had previous experience in a whole-

language classroom and wanted to learn about strategy instruction. She

focused on developing a strategic approach to literacy instruction. Another

teacher, Kate, was interested in learning about teaching writing to her

students. She developed an author's center with cross-age groups. These

teachers chose areas of personal interest to develop and stayed committed to

implementing those changes. Making individual choices about what ideas to

incorporate in classroom routines increases the teachers' level of ownership

in their professional development.

Addressing beliefs as part of the staff development process is also

important to fostering teacher change (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Richardson,

& Anders, 1994; Wood, Cobb, & Yackel, 1991). Beliefs, when not addressed or

reconciled as a component in the staff development program, can work

against teachers learning an innovation (Lipman, 1997; Martens, 1992;

Prawat, 1992; Voltz et al., 1995; Westheimer, 1998; Wilson, 1990). The way

teachers implement an innovation is influenced by their framework of

understandings, beliefs, and practices. Accurate implementation requires a

match between a teacher's framework and the principles underlying the

innovation. Teachers are more likely to persist in implementation when such

a match occurs (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Etchberger & Shaw, 1992; Martens,

1992; Prawat, 1992; Wilson, 1990). Based on observations and interviews,

Wilson (1990) described the instructional practices of Mark Black, a fifth-

grade math teacher, during his first year implementing a new math series

adopted by the state of California. No considerations had been made for

developing teachers' personal beliefs to ensure for compatibility between

beliefs and curriculum rationales. Consequently, the teacher selected and

used portions of the text based on his own understanding about how to teach

math. Even though the new curriculum provided rationales for the concepts

included in the text, all were subject to interpretation, based on his personal

understanding. Consequently, teachers need opportunities to understand

rationales behind the innovation and recognize incompatibilities that exist

with personal teaching styles and beliefs.

Not only must beliefs be addressed, but also innovations selected for

implementation must closely match the teachers' current understandings of

instruction. When teachers are presented with new ideas that contradict

their personal frameworks, they may discard the new ideas (Pajares, 1992).

Teachers need a compatible match between what they understand about

teaching and learning and the innovation. One way for outside researchers

and staff developers to facilitate this process is by observing in classrooms in

order to gain a better understanding of the participant (Vaughn et al., 1998).

Observing teachers provides the researchers with information that enables

them to fine-tune the product to meet the needs of the teacher better. It is

important to create learning opportunities for teachers based on their

interests, experiences, and concerns (Englert, Tarrant, & Rozendahl, 1993).

Professional development relationships can become stronger when teachers

believe the researcher understands their environment, the demands of their

job, and provides appropriate experiences for their development (Englert et

al., 1993). Researchers should assist teachers in understanding the potential

power of the innovation and how it fits in their current classroom routine.

This process helps teachers reconcile their personal beliefs and knowledge

and best practice.

Need for Concrete Examples

One important way to develop teachers' understanding of an

innovation is providing them with concrete examples of how the innovation

works. If teachers can visualize how an innovation works in their classroom,

then they will be more successful during implementation. Classroom

innovations can be difficult to understand when first introduced. Teachers

need concrete examples to illustrate how new practices or strategies will

work in their personal settings. Teachers use modeling as a form of effective

instruction while introducing new concepts to their students and

subsequently need it themselves to understand how an innovation will apply

in the context of their classroom (Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Etchberger &

Shaw, 1992; Gersten & Woodward, 1990; Peterson et al., 1996; Vaughn et al.,

1998; Wilson, 1990).

Courtland and Welsh (1990) worked with one teacher, Bob, to

implement a process writing approach. In his first year of implementation,

Bob used the process writing approach during journal writing activities. He

had difficulty understanding how to use the approach across the writing

curriculum. As a consequence, he participated in a university course on

language and writing and attended conferences and inservice. He sought

support from his principal and a language arts instructor at a local university

to better understand and implement the process writing approach. The

principal and instructor provided the teacher with support by discussing

reading materials, observing his class, providing demonstration lessons, and

giving him feedback. Through his work with other professionals and their

assistance in helping him see the application of concepts through

demonstration lessons, he was able to incorporate changes in writing

throughout the curriculum. Generally, teachers benefit from concrete

examples to assist them in understanding innovations.

In summary, if innovations are to be used by teachers, they must be

appropriate given teachers' individual needs. Innovations have to be practical

and relatively easy for teachers to incorporate. Changes that have many

components, do not demonstrate student improvement, and do not benefit

most of the students will not be sustained. To increase the likelihood of

sustaining new practices, teachers' personal frameworks for teaching have to

match the rationales behind the innovation. Teachers also require support in

understanding how to use practices, strategies, and curriculum through

concrete examples. Assisting teachers in understanding the importance of

innovations and their applicability to their classrooms will require on-going

support through demonstrations and reflection.

Outside Perspective

Teachers benefit from watching demonstrations of how innovations

work and need time to reflect individually and as a group with someone from

outside the typical school environment (Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Wood et

al., 1991). Outside professionals, such as researchers and teacher educators,

can bring diverse perspectives to a group (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Jones,

1997; Richardson & Anders, 1994). District personnel with expertise in given

areas have been advocated as a resource to reflect critically with teachers

about their practices (Senge, 1990). However, in studies reporting the

importance of outsider perspectives, the outsiders are typically researchers,

who are more likely to write about their work than district trainers. Diverse

perspectives can challenge traditional practices and assist teachers to reflect

critically about their instruction. Outsiders can help teachers to conceptualize

the innovation through demonstrations and then provide them with

opportunities to reflect on difficulties in implementation and

incompatibilities that might occur with their current practices.

The notion of a critical friend has been introduced as a way for

individuals, groups, or schools to receive thoughtful feedback and assistance

in improving instructional practice (Costa & Kallick, 1993; Muncey &

McQuillan, 1993; Senge, 1990). Knowledgeable outsiders who offer expertise

in specific areas can assist teachers in learning innovations through

demonstrations and then help them reflect on how to use them effectively

(Boudah, et al., 1997; da Costa, 1993; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Englert et

al., 1993; Fuchs, et al., 1995; Richardson & Anders, 1994; Vaughn et al.,

1998). However, the outside person must be one the teachers trust before

they feel comfortable with him/her in their classrooms and listen to his/her

feedback (Costa & Kallick, 1993; Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wood et al.,

1991). In summary, outsiders provide another viewpoint, one that is removed

from the everyday situation of the classroom. When outsiders have gained

teachers' trust, they can (a) demonstrate new innovations and (b) promote

reflection in participants. Demonstrating for teachers the implementation of

new practices and providing them with feedback provides teachers with a

different perspective than what they are typically afforded through personal

reflection (Hargreaves, 1994a).


Teachers benefit from having someone in their classroom to assist

them in applying a strategy or practice (Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Englert &

Tarrant, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). Teachers have commented about the

importance of having another set of hands in the classroom to assist them in

correctly incorporating the new practice and to get assistance in solving

problems as they arise (Englert et al., 1993; Richardson & Anders, 1994;

Wood et al., 1991). In a project where special education researchers worked

with general education teachers to learn four inclusion strategies, teachers

indicated that one of the perceived benefits of the project was to have the

research partner provide demonstration lessons in their classroom (Vaughn

et al., 1998). One of the teachers indicated that teachers are often afraid to

try new things because of the fear of failure. Having the researcher

demonstrate the strategy in the classroom and having an opportunity to

implement it while being observed assisted teachers in becoming competent.

Through the demonstration process, teachers were able to receive assurance

from the outsider about adapting strategies to best meet the needs of their

individual classrooms. Overall, teachers benefit from another perspective as

they attempt to implement new practices.


Teachers need opportunities to reflect on their practices with

researchers and other members in the collaborative group (Lipman, 1997).

One way for teachers to understand the need for change is having them

review videotapes of their instruction (Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wood et

al., 1991). Some researchers videotaped or audiotaped teachers during

instruction and then reflected on those lessons with the teachers (Boudah et

al., 1997; da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wood et al.,

1991). Not all teachers are comfortable being taped (da Costa & Riordan,

1996; Marks & Gersten, 1998); therefore, reviewing observation notes and

student data with teachers may be more appropriate. Promoting reflection

through collaborative discussions benefits teachers by (a) making connections

between their personal beliefs and the rationales behind innovations, (b)

providing student data on the effects of their work, and (c) considering

diverse perspectives through other members' viewpoints.

To create opportunities for reflection, researchers must work in

classrooms and provide feedback to teachers (Boudah et al., 1997; da Costa &

Riordan, 1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Fuchs et al., 1995; Gersten et al.,

1995; Hunsaker & Jolmston, 1992; Marks & Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al.,

1992; Oja, Kull, & Kelley, 1995; Richardson & Anders, 1994; Vaughn et al.

1998; Wood et al., 1991). When debriefing about an observation, researchers

and teachers can critique practices in light of the rationale behind the new

innovation or what they know is best practice. Researchers can question

teachers about the thinking and reasoning behind their actions to help them

articulate personal beliefs (Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wood et al., 1991).

Discussion among teachers and researchers allows members to reconcile

practices and rationales. Wood et al. (1991), for example, described a case

study of a second-grade teacher changing her pedagogical approach to

mathematics. The teacher met weekly with researchers to discuss her

videotaped math lessons. As the teacher engaged in conversations with

researchers, she found that the mathematics information provided by the

researchers was in conflict with her current teaching practices. The teacher

spent time discussing those dilemmas with researchers. Researchers

provided the teacher with possible suggestions for change until the teacher

was able to resolve the conflict. The authors concluded that learning occurred

as a result of conflict followed by reflection and then resolution. They believe

that times of conflict enable teachers to seek resolutions and then choose

their own resolutions to increase the likelihood that changes will be

sustained (Wood et al., 1991).

Researchers can also promote reflection by providing assessment data

on student progress and helping teachers reflect on the lesson itself. To

illustrate, in a literacy project, Englert et al. (1993) provided teachers with

assessment data on students to show them the effects of an instructional

innovation. In doing so, they modeled for the teachers how to evaluate the

effectiveness of their instruction through assessment. When researchers show

the effects of instructional changes by using student assessment data, it can

be a powerful reinforcement for teachers to continue innovation use (Englert

et al., 1993; Fuchs et al., 1995). As teachers begin to understand the

effectiveness of their work, they will value the professional development

process and continue to refine their practices.

Being exposed to diverse perspectives is important in collaborative

work. Lipman (1997) described a collaboration where an outsider was absent

and teachers had similar mindsets. They made no progress toward

fundamental change. This collaboration involved two teams of middle school

teachers who worked together to decrease racial disparity in student

achievement. Teachers decided to restructure to reduce tracking. All but one

of the teachers in this group was White. The author found that discussions

often focused on individual students who were African-American, and

teachers reassured themselves that their own practices were not at fault.

Teachers traded stories about individual students and their deficiencies and

family pathologies, areas of students' lives over which they had little control.

Conversations about racial disparity were purposely avoided. These findings

suggest that beliefs have to be examined as a part of reform or only surface

level change occurs. Teachers need assistance from others outside of the

school context in examining their beliefs about students who are different

from them or they will not change their practices in fundamental ways.

Outside educators provide opportunities for teachers to understand

research-based teaching techniques and address their beliefs when they are

in contradiction with new ideas (Costa & Kallick, 1993; Jones, 1997). As

researchers work with teachers in assessing the effects of their instruction,

teachers begin to understand the importance of refining their practices.

Outside educators, especially researchers and teacher educators, can offer a

different perspective because of their knowledge of the literature and

discussions with professionals in the field (Courtland & Welsh, 1990). In

addition, they bring an outsider perspective that can shed new light on

teachers' taken-for-granted beliefs and practices. Teachers need to learn

about innovations that are appropriate for their individual needs and beliefs.

Teacher educators and researchers can assist them in effectively

incorporating changes by providing them demonstration lessons and assisting

them in reflecting on their change efforts. Once teachers are provided with

realistic innovations, demonstrations, and opportunities to reflect on these

changes, they need support in their development process through

collaboration with other teachers and researchers.

Professional Collaboration

Many researchers have agreed that changes resulting from

professional development were sustained or dissipated depending on the

follow-up, or collaboration, that occurred (Cox, 1983; Fullan, 1982; Miles &

Huberman, 1984; Showers, 1990). Collaboration provides teachers

opportunities to work continuously through their understanding and beliefs

regarding a new innovation in a sustained context. All but five studies

(Etchberger & Shaw, 1992; Martens, 1992; Prawat, 1992; Tillema, 1995;

Wilson, 1990) in this review described collaborative efforts among teachers,

and in some cases, university researchers. Collaboration in these studies

involved teacher groups, teacher-researcher groups, dyads, peer coaching, or

consultation between teachers and specialists. The majority of studies

involved a small subset of teachers from the same school or different schools

that met together in an on-going effort to explore or learn an innovation;

however, some studies examined middle and high school teachers involved in

school-wide collaboration.

Collaboration facilitates learning because it provides teachers with a

structure for sharing their knowledge and beliefs, support for changing their

practices, and opportunities to develop their thinking about teaching and

learning (Pugach & Warger, 1996). Providing teachers time to discuss what

they know about teaching and learning allows them to consider their beliefs

and practices in a context with other diverse perspectives. Over time,

teachers develop relationships that allow them to trust and support each

other during times of change (Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996; Talbert, 1993).

Teachers also experience greater confidence in solving problems of practice

and in their ability to find solutions to problems (da Costa, 1993; da Costa &

Riordan, 1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Oja et al., 1995; Pugach & Johnson,

1995; Stein & Wang, 1988; Warren & Payne, 1997). As their perspective

about teaching and learning evolves, they view themselves as able to

implement innovations and are more likely to be successful in doing so than

peers who lack confidence (Stein & Wang, 1988). Confidence in one's ability

leads to having confidence in the group and the ability of members to assist

each other in making changes (Oja et al., 1995; Rosenholtz, 1989). As

teachers develop a collective efficacy, they view themselves as empowered to

engage in more leadership roles and develop a sense of control over student

outcomes. Shared leadership becomes an outcome when participants are

expected to be contributors (Englert et al., 1993; Jones, 1997; Rosenholtz,

1989; Shafer, 1995). In the beginning, researchers often fill the role of leader,

and as teachers become more confident in the collaborative process, roles

shift to teachers leading the group and sharing their areas of expertise

(Englert et al., 1993; Jones, 1997). Elements of collaboration that are critical

for promoting teacher change are (a) opportunities for critical discourse and

(b) supportive school context.

Critical Discourse

On-going collaboration provides opportunities for teachers to discuss

their current framework about content and curriculum and its match with

the rationales behind the innovation (Englert & Tarrant, 1995).

Opportunities for academic discourse with other participants assists teachers

in resolving conflicts between their framework for teaching and rationales for

innovation (Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992). Discourse deepens teachers'

conceptual understandings, and as a result, their framework for teaching

begins to change (Boudah et al., 1997). Then teachers are able to engage in

new practices that derive from their evolving understanding (Englert &

Tarrant, 1995; Peterson et al., 1996; Richardson & Anders, 1994). Through

their consideration of other views and experimenting with supporting

practices, teachers develop deeper knowledge of teaching and learning (Voltz

et al., 1995). As teachers share knowledge and learn new practices through

collaboration, they are also able to develop a common vision for students and

teaching (Englert & Tarrant, 1995).

Develop conceptual understanding. Collaboration provides teachers

with opportunities to talk with other professionals about pedagogical

knowledge (da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Jones, 1997;

Martin, 1995; Meichtry, 1990; Prawat, 1992; Torres, 1996; Westheimer,

1998). These discussions help teachers formulate new ideas and develop

understandings that contribute to the commonalties of group knowledge

(Donahue, Van Tassell, & Patterson, 1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Lasiter,

1996; Nias, Southworth, & Yeomans, 1989). As teachers create shared

meanings about learning and children, they are able to develop new practices

to meet the need of students better (Rosenholtz, 1989). For example, da Costa

and Riordan (1996) studied the engagement of dyads of teachers in

collaborative conversations about classroom problems. These dyads involved

the pairing of general education teachers with other classroom teachers,

speech teachers, or administrators. Dyads met together to assist the general

education classroom teacher in solving problems of practice they encountered

in their classrooms. Teachers who were successful in developing strong

professional relationships with the dyad partner often engaged in discussions

of pedagogy during and outside of meetings. As the general educators'

understandings developed, they were able to change their orientations about

student learning and change their practices to meet the diverse needs of


As teachers change how they think about teaching subject matter or

student learning, their practices will reflect those changes (Pajares, 1992;

Richardson, 1996). In studies of collaboration involving teachers and

researchers as well as general and special educators, teachers changed their

practices in two important ways. First, teachers were able to change how

they viewed subject matter as a result of participation in collaboration.

Teachers changed their views of and practices in literacy (Englert & Tarrant,

1995) and writing (Peterson et al., 1996) as a result of collaborative learning

groups. For instance, Peterson et al., (1996) described how teachers were able

to improve how they teach writing as a result of having access to well-

articulated ideas within their school. Teachers met regularly to discuss the

importance of writing within the curriculum and shared their practices of

how to improve student learning. Second, teachers also moved away from

being teacher-directed and text-driven to student-centered and constructivist

in their view of instruction (Boudah et al., 1997; Etchberger & Shaw, 1992;

Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992; McIntyre & Kyle, 1995; Richardson & Anders,

1994; Torres, 1996; Wood et al., 1991; Woolsey, 1991).

To illustrate, Boudah et al. (1997) described the changes Becky, a

sixth-grade teacher, made as a result of participation in a group project to

learn how to implement a comprehension strategy with students. Becky was

described as a traditional teacher as evidenced by her planning and teaching.

She emphasized teaching content and assessing the whole group, with little

attention to individual or subgroups of students. In the second year of the

study, she participated with other teachers and researchers in study group

meetings. These meetings focused on improving and implementing the

comprehension strategy. Additionally, she was asked to target one or two

students with learning disabilities when making instructional and planning

decisions. Through these collaborative interactions, Becky began to plan and

gear instruction to the individual needs of her students. She was able to add

modeling to instruction and continued working on building prior knowledge

for all students. Researchers concluded that her greatest change occurred as

she was able to move from being content-centered to student-centered. As

teachers are able to develop their orientations about teaching and student

learning, they begin to implement practices to reflect those views.

Developing conceptual understanding contributes to better knowledge

of resources teachers can draw upon when thinking about instruction. These

resources involve outsiders, other colleagues, literature, or ideas teachers

learn about through learning together. Collaboration is an effective tool for

professionals to share what they know, learn from others' knowledge, and

learn about a new innovation. With the diversity of knowledge presented and

represented within a group, teachers add to their existing knowledge by

developing their teaching repertoire (Gersten et al., 1995; Pugach & Johnson,

1995). In other cases, teachers were able to deepen their knowledge of content

and instructional strategies (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; McIntyre & Kyle,

1995; Meichtry, 1990; Peterson et al., 1996; Torres, 1996; Vaughn et al., 1998;

Voltz et al., 1995). In two studies, teachers working together to design new

curricula had opportunities to share their knowledge and expertise (Martin,

1995; Meichtry, 1990) and, consequently, were able to improve their

understanding of that curriculum. Martin (1995) explored three sixth-grade

teachers' team approach to designing new curriculum for their students. This

team viewed their work as successful as a result of sharing their personal

knowledge of curriculum, each considering themselves an expert in a given

area, and then creating a joint construction of their knowledge to develop new

curriculum. The group regarded their diversity in knowledge as a key factor

to their effectiveness. It is the diversity of knowledge that allows teachers to

learn about new instructional strategies and student groupings when

collaborating (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Peterson et al., 1996). In sum,

opportunities to talk about subject matter or strategies assist teachers in

deepening their knowledge of resources. Through collective conversations

about a central topic, participants have the opportunity to develop a common


Common vision. Schools with a coherent sense of both vision and goals

are better equipped to meet those goals (Rosenholtz, 1989; Wasley, Hampel,

& Clark, 1997). Working together regularly helps teachers develop shared

understandings and beliefs about students and learning (Donahue et al.,

1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Englert et al., 1993; Lasiter, 1996; McIntyre

& Kyle, 1995; Meichtry, 1990; Nias et al., 1989; Warren & Payne, 1997).

Teachers are provided opportunities to discuss progress students make

academically, problems a student may be encountering, or available

resources to assist the teacher or student (Meichtry, 1990). As teachers share

their stories and assist one another in solving problems, they develop a

collective responsibility for students and learning. Additionally, collaboration

can assist teachers in articulating personal beliefs about students, learning,

or subject matter and then help them develop beliefs that are shared by the

group (Donahue et al., 1996; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Tillema, 1995; Wood et

al., 1991). Shared beliefs allow the group to work toward a common focus and

support one another through the change process. Because of the common

beliefs and commitment to the group, they are able to work through conflicts.

When controversial issues arise, the community works as a group to resolve

issues and views the resolution process as part of their work (Wasley et al.,

1997; Westheimer, 1998). The opportunity to share beliefs can contribute to

the success of the implementation of an innovative practice or collaborative


Westheimer (1998) examined the goals and beliefs from two middle

schools committed to fostering professional communities. He studied the

school's functioning as a whole and then teams of teachers responsible for the

same group of students. The author concluded that beliefs played an

important role in determining the success of a school-wide restructuring

effort. Teachers were committed as a collective group to formulate curriculum

and school events that fulfilled the school vision. To conclude, a common

vision, which promotes clarity and focus for beliefs and values, is essential to

create any type of deep and sustained change.

School Context that Promotes Change

Another important element of collaboration is the school context.

School context is critical for providing teachers a climate of support for

learning together where they are able to take risks and implement changes in

their practices (DuFour. 1997; Fullan, 1991; Nias, Southworth & Campbell,

1992). Collaboration provides the context for teachers to discuss their failures

and successes and receive support in their everyday environment to continue

learning new practices (Englert et al., 1993; Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992;

Wood et al., 1991). Variables that are important for establishing a

collaborative school context are (a) facilitative leadership, (b) a trusting,

supportive community, (c) commitment to learning, and (d) a supportive


Facilitative leadership. Researchers agree that administrators play a

key role in creating instructional improvement in schools (Fullan, 1999;

Westheimer, 1998). They provide leadership to the group by communicating a

clear, meaningful vision for teaching and learning (Westheimer, 1998). Good

principals share leadership roles and allow teachers to have a stake in

developing and interpreting the school vision (Peterson et al., 1996;

Westheimer, 1998). Additionally, they support teachers in their endeavors to

learn and develop professionally (DuFour, 1997). Principals committed to

teacher development through collaboration build vision, create an expectation

for learning, foster collaboration, and share power.

The administrator provides opportunities to discuss the vision of the

school and philosophies underlying that vision. With school personnel, the

effective administrator helps to establish a common vision that promotes

clarity and focus for beliefs and values (Westheimer, 1998). Teachers use that

vision to guide, refine, and develop their practices (Peterson et al., 1996). In

some cases, principals recruit and hire teachers who will support the school

vision and have common beliefs about collaboration, participation, and joint

work (Peterson et al., 1996; Westheimer, 1998). Administrators set the

example to influence change.

Effectual principals play a critical role in creating an attitude and

expectation for learning within the school environment (DuFour, 1997;

Hargreaves, 1994a; Peterson et al., 1996). They are seen as contributing

members in school study groups and not as supervisors of teachers'

participation (Jones, 1997). Teachers need to have access to well-articulated

ideas that assist them in developing their own ideas (Peterson et al., 1996). A

savvy principal looks outside the school to bring in outside resources to assist

teachers in their improvement of practice. These outsiders provide regular

critical feedback to administrators, teachers, and staff on their efforts to

improve student learning (Wasley et al., 1997).

Good administrators foster collegial environments by socialization of

individuals who hold common views about purpose and principles of good

practice (Peterson et al., 1996; Westheimer, 1998). One of the ways that

principals create a collaborative context is by developing structures in the

environment that promote face-to-face interactions among school personnel

(Carter, 1995; Martin, 1995; Meichtry, 1990; Rosenholtz, 1989; Westheimer,

1998). School-wide events where teamwork is emphasized have been used as

vehicles to create interaction among school personnel (Nias et al., 1989;

Talbert, 1993). Effective administrators also foster positive school climates.

In collaborative cultures, they model characteristics that support positive

collaboration through their openness, tolerance, and flexibility (Nias et al.,

1989). Administrators and teachers provide positive feedback to each other on

their efforts and work (Chalfant & Pysh, 1989; Hargreaves, 1994a; Kruger,

Struzziero, Watts, & Vacca, 1995; Lasiter, 1996; Louis et al., 1996, Nias et

al., 1989).

Good leaders share decision-making power with their staff. Groups of

teachers and staff members work together with the principal in creating

school-wide projects and jointly assume responsibility for the students,

curriculum, and discipline (Carter, 1995; Lipman, 1997; Martin, 1995;

Meichtry, 1990; Peterson et al., 1996; Westheimer, 1998). Exemplary

administrators also distribute power by allowing teachers the freedom to

design curriculum, formulate school policy, and create collaborative

partnerships (da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Hargreaves, 1994a; Lasiter, 1996;

Nias et al., 1989; Talbert, 1993; Webb & Romberg, 1994). Teachers and staff

members are recruited for various leadership roles throughout the school

based on the talents they bring (Westheimer, 1998). Diversity among talents

and perspectives contributes to the collective good of the school (Martin,

1995; Westheimer, 1998). On the other hand, principals who have difficulty

giving up control or who are threatened by teacher decision making will not

support collaborative efforts or allow time to meet during the school day

(Jones, 1997). Collaborative groups that function effectively have shared

leadership among all the participants (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Shafer,


Trusting supportive community. Researchers discuss the importance

of support and trust to developing and sustaining collaboration. When

teachers and researchers work together for an extended period of time,

support and trust increase and become a perceived benefit of participation in

collaboration (Carter, 1995; da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Jones, 1997; Lipman,

1997; McIntyre & Kyle, 1995; Oja et al.,1995; Torres, 1996). Developing trust

takes time (da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Hargreaves, 1994a; Lasiter, 1996;

McIntyre & Kyle, 1995). In a reorganization of a K-3 program into a

nongraded program, McIntyre and Kyle (1995) described the evolution of

teachers as they learned about developmentally appropriate instruction and

teamwork. They concluded that the opportunity to converse repeatedly over

time with colleagues and teachers led to trusting relationships. When

teachers work together frequently, they begin to see colleagues as friends and

family and are able to accept differences of opinion and philosophy (Nias et

al., 1989).

When teachers encounter instructional and behavioral challenges,

those who work in teams and share the same students can offer collegial

support through idea sharing (Carter, 1995; Louis et al., 1996; Nias et al.,

1989; Talbert, 1993). These teachers can share what has been effective for

them and encourage their colleagues to continue in their efforts to find

solutions to problems. Teachers need support from colleagues when trying

out new instructional procedures and developing knowledge because the

change process is uncertain and difficult (Jones, 1997; Oja et al., 1995;

Torres, 1996). Teachers need opportunities to experiment with new ideas

through the support of other group members engaging in new practices

(Englert & Tarrant, 1995). Torres (1996) described how 25 teachers benefited

emotionally from collaboration as a result of their participation in Systematic

Inquiry Groups. Teachers experienced affective support as their ideas and

actions were validated and encouraged by group participants. Participants

reported that they maintained their commitment to developing new ideas

because they knew others were struggling along with them in attempting to

implement changes.

Commitment to experimentation. Creating supportive environments

where teachers are committed to risk taking allows teachers to make changes

(Englert et al., 1993; Hargreaves, 1994a; Lasiter, 1996; Nias et al., 1989;

Talbert, 1993). In a supportive environment committed to learning, teachers

are likely to try new ideas (Fuchs et al., 1995; Hunsaker & Johnston,1992;

Jones, 1997; Peterson et al., 1996; Shafer, 1995; Torres, 1996; Vaughn et al.,

1998). When learning an innovation, and particularly one that may be

contrary to their framework for teaching, teachers need opportunities to

experiment with the new information. When teachers implement new ideas

and observe success or benefits from the innovation, only then will their

beliefs change and, consequently, their practices (Guskey, 1985).

Experimentation allows teachers to practice and eventually develop new

instructional techniques (Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992). For collaboration to

be successful, teachers have to be committed to experimenting with new

practices and be supported in doing so (Chalfant & Pysh, 1989; da Costa &

Riordan, 1996; Lasiter, 1996; Meichtry, 1990; Nias et al., 1989; Saurino,

1996; Talbert, 1993; Webb & Romberg, 1994).

Teachers can create meaningful products as part of their participation

in a professional development group by conducting research in their

classroom (Oja et al., 1995; Torres, 1996). When teachers design products

that are tailored to their individual needs, they allow them to see the effects

of their efforts. Oja et al. (1995) described a middle school mathematics and

science collaborative where teachers from four middle schools talked with

university researchers and consultants from the state department of

education. Authors reported that the data collected on results of teachers'

research efforts had a positive effect on teacher growth and interest in the

research process. They concluded that an important force for effective change

was the creation of meaningful products. Teachers' participation in the

process and outcomes of the innovation made them want to continue to revise

their instruction. Teachers that choose the interventions or practices to

implement were more likely to be dedicated to consistent implementation

(Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). Generally, teachers who are

committed to collaborate about an innovation are encouraged by the group to

implement new ideas in their classroom (Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992).

Collaborative infrastructures. Principals can create opportunities for

teacher development by creating time for them to meet and promoting

collaborative interactions. Teachers need time to work on group projects

(Peterson et al., 1996; Westheimer, 1998), discuss student progress

(Meichtry, 1990; Mitchell, 1994; Westheimer, 1998), develop shared

knowledge (Englert & Tarrant, 1995), plan together (Webb & Romberg,

1994), and reflect on practices (Boudah et al., 1997; Pugach & Johnson, 1988;

Webb & Romberg, 1994; Wood et al., 1991). Most effective professional

development programs are conducted during the school day and not as an

add-on responsibility (Jones, 1997). Time is essential for teachers to engage

in activities that allow them to become agents of change where they openly

discuss their failures and successes (Oja et al., 1995).

Principals create structures that allow groups of teachers the

opportunities to work together throughout the school day. Opportunities to

collaborate should not be limited to grade level colleagues but should extend

to other school staff and outsiders (da Costa & Riordan, 1996; Jones, 1997;

Peterson et al., 1996; Westheimer, 1998). Teachers who work in community

pods with other teachers who share the same academic responsibilities for

students receive encouragement and support from one another when making

decisions about curriculum, schedules, and grades (Carter, 1995; Meichtry,

1990; Warren & Payne, 1997). Teachers report that common planning

allowed for greater reflection about their teaching (Carter, 1995; Meichtry,

1990), better integration of material across content areas (Meichtry, 1990;

Warren & Payne, 1997), and more refined understanding of student needs

(Carter, 1995; Gersten et al., 1995; Warren & Payne, 1997). By working in a

group context, teachers come to understand that they have greater ability to

help students and coordinate appropriate learning experiences for them

(Carter, 1995; Gersten et al., 1995; O'Connor et al., 1992; Warren & Payne,


To illustrate, Carter (1995) described a case study of two teams of four

teachers each at a high school where teachers and students were grouped in a

community pod. Teachers felt they could exert more authority in making

school decisions and felt they had the ability to make changes in the

curriculum, schedules, and grades. Teachers indicated that they felt more

control over the educational outcomes of their students. In general,

participants who are allowed to share in the creation and development of new

ideas can gain a sense of shared leadership and sense of control in student


In summary, collaboration provides teachers a forum to discuss their

knowledge about instruction and subject matter so that pedagogical shifts

can occur. Developing thinking about pedagogy increases the likelihood that

a teacher will be successful in making shifts about teaching content matter

(Guskey, 1985; Nespor & Barylske, 1991; Richardson, 1994). As the group

develops, they are better able to critique their practices in light of their

collective vision for student learning. A supportive school context provides

school personnel with opportunities to meet together to develop themselves

professionally and collectively. Even when a highly collaborative environment

exists and teachers are assisted in learning appropriate innovations based on

personal interest, change is not guaranteed. A teacher's level of readiness for

change also influences the degree of changes that they will make.

Teacher Readiness for Change

For teachers to engage in effective practices, they need opportunities to

develop them (DuFour, 1997; Joyce & Showers, 1988). Vaughn et al. (1998)

discussed the idea of selecting teachers to participate in professional

development programs based on interest and commitment to changing their

practices. However, they concluded that even when participation is voluntary

and teachers indicate they are interested in the topic, some teachers still do

not make changes. Teachers' level of readiness for change can facilitate or

hinder their learning of new practices. Qualities of readiness that are

important for teacher development are teachers' (a) ability to reflect, (b)

knowledge and beliefs, and (c) commitment to change.

Ability to Reflect

Personal reflection allows teachers to critique their practices and make

changes as needed (Carter, 1995; Jones, 1997; Martin, 1995; Meichtry, 1990;

Peterson et al., 1996; Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wood et al., 1991). As

teachers reflect about developing their practices, they need to know how to

access new ideas and assistance (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Hunsaker &

Johnston, 1992). Reflecting on personal frameworks for teaching and how

those match with newly learned practices is important for sustaining change

(Martin, 1995). In contrast, teachers' lack of reflection can inhibit their

ability to make enduring changes (Hunsaker & Johnston, 1992; Martens,


Martens (1992) studied a science teacher who was learning to use a

problem-solving approach. The teacher made some alterations in teaching

strategies and materials, but no change occurred in her view of her role as

the teacher. She learned about new curricular practices but did not

understand the rationale behind the innovation. She never did effectively

teach students to solve their own problems. Martens concluded that the

teacher was not reflective and was not able to resolve her beliefs about

teaching and learning as they related to the new problem solving emphasis of

the curriculum. Not being able to reflect on the larger principles and

rationales undergirding a new curriculum can inhibit a teacher from making

substantial changes in practices. Instead, teachers make surface changes to

give the appearance of change but actually change very little (Fullan, 1991).

Knowledge and Beliefs

Developing knowledge and beliefs is essential to the successful use of

new practices (Briscoe & Peters, 1997). Teachers' level of knowledge directly

affects the types of practices they use. Teachers who have limited

understanding of content rely heavily on the text and teach based on their

personal experiences with subject matter (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Courtland

& Welsh, 1990; Etchberger & Shaw, 1992). As teachers come to understand

subject matter better, they are then able to refine their practices to enhance

student learning (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Prawat, 1992; Richardson &

Anders, 1994).

Beliefs about students and how they learn influence how teachers

approach learning tasks (Richardson & Anders, 1994; Wilson, 1990; Wood et

al., 1991; Woolsey, 1991). Teachers have different beliefs about instruction

and, therefore, integrate changes that are compatible with their own

perspectives (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Etchberger &

Shaw, 1992; Martin, 1995). If teachers are unable to find compatibility

between innovation rationales and their framework, they will make surface

level changes or no changes at all (Briscoe & Peters, 1997; Englert & Tarrant,

1995; Martens, 1992; Peterson et al., 1996). Even when teachers want to

make changes and they collaborate with a successful teacher, some still find

it difficult to change their teaching approach (Briscoe & Peters, 1997). In

contrast, teachers who typically have successful teaching records may not see

the need for participating in innovative projects; subsequently, their beliefs

and practices remain the same (Martens, 1992). Therefore, when teachers see

no need to change, they will not incorporate new practices (Briscoe & Peters,

1997; Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Etchberger &

Shaw, 1992; Martens, 1992; Martin, 1995). Thus, what teachers understand

and believe about instruction influences what they learn and the degree to

which they learn it.

Commitment to Learning

Commitment to learning is another essential aspect of teacher

readiness for change. Teachers who are committed to learning persist

through conflicts until they find resolution, are open-minded to new ideas,

and are able to self-assess and determine areas they need to change. These

teachers have a mindset for improvement and work toward changing their

practices to best meet the needs of their students (Boudah et al., 1997;

Peterson et al., 1995). Change is often a difficult process filled with

uncertainty (Vaughn et al., 1998). Teachers committed to learning are able to

withstand times of ambiguity and persist in change (Boudah et al., 1997; Oja

et al., 1995; Peterson et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998; Wood et al., 1991).

As noted earlier, knowledge and beliefs play an important role in

developing new practices. Teachers who are committed to learning are able to

suspend immediate judgment about an innovation until they have had time

and opportunity to reflect and develop its use (Briscoe & Peters, 1997). Being

open-minded to change allows teachers to deepen their knowledge and

develop their beliefs about teaching and learning. A commitment to learning

seems tied to one's ability to critically reflect on one's teaching abilities.

Ability to self-assess helps teachers determine the areas where they want to

develop. Teachers who have a good understanding of what they know and

what they need to know participate in professional development that is

meaningful to them (Courtland & Welsh, 1990; Englert & Tarrant, 1995). As

teachers choose their own areas to develop, they see the need to conduct on-

going research and continue fine tuning their practices (Englert & Tarrant,

1995; Oja et al., 1995; Torres, 1996). On the other hand, teachers who

participate in professional development for the purpose of receiving inservice

points or because they feel pressure from school personnel or district

mandates may lack commitment to the development process (Englert &

Tarrant, 1995; Tillema, 1995; Vaughn et al. 1998). These teachers inhibit

personal learning from taking place and may hinder a group's development

(Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Tillema, 1995). Even when teachers are told that

participation in professional development projects is voluntary, many still

perceive pressure to participate (Englert & Tarrant, 1995; Vaughn et al.,

1998). Commitment to learning and willingness to endure the ambiguous

nature of change is essential for teacher change.


Professional development is essential for teachers learning new ideas

and altering their practices to meet the diverse needs of the students in their

classroom. To allow teachers opportunities to learn new practices, they must

be presented with innovations that are concrete, practical, and

understandable. Ideas that are easily understood have a better chance of

being incorporated into teachers' instructional routines. Providing teachers

on-going support through collaboration during the learning process assists

teachers in developing their understanding and beliefs about new concepts.

Through their learning with colleagues and outsiders, they develop a common

vision for teaching and learning and experience an increase in self-efficacy

and collective efficacy. Supportive structures promote common vision and

allow teachers to develop practices that match that vision. By providing

support through innovative structures and time, principals create

opportunities for the school community to work together to solve problems of

practice. Participants begin to experience trust and support as they realize

others are engaged in the uncertainty of change. Teachers' individual level of

sophistication influences the types of changes and development that will

occur. Being reflective, committed, and having well developed knowledge and

beliefs assist teachers in learning and incorporating changes in their


Considerations for General Education Teachers Working with
Diverse Learners

General education teachers face a great challenge in meeting all the

needs of such a diverse student population. Because so many factors

influence change, the degree of change is hard to predict (Fullan, 1993).

Determining the needs of participants and providing them with meaningful

experiences can be quite challenging, especially when they are learning about

an innovation that is quite different from their experiences. For example,

assisting general educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities

can be difficult. According to Schumm and Vaughn (1998), general education

teachers face many challenges when attempting to meet the needs of

students with disabilities. These challenges include (a) a history of providing

whole-class, undifferentiated instruction that includes minimal adaptations

for students with mild disabilities (Baker & Zigmond, 1995); (b) the

perception of adaptations as being desirable for student learning but not

feasible to implement; (c) minimal time for general and special education

teachers to collaborate; (d) access to few resources to make adaptations; and

(e) desire for instructional practices that assist students with disabilities,

while meeting learning needs of all their students.

If students with disabilities are to be educated effectively in general

education, then great effort is necessary to change traditional instructional

practices (Vaughn et al., 1998). Researchers and special educators have

recently looked to find ways of assisting general education teachers in

learning strategies to use with students with disabilities (Marks & Gersten,

1998). Yet, little is known about how to best meet teachers' needs. Few

studies have focused on general education teachers learning new practices to

better include children with learning problems (Boudah et al., 1997; Fuchs et

al., 1995; Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992;

Pugach & Johnson, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). In order to understand the

complexity of working with general education teachers to assist them in

learning inclusive practices, these studies have indicated that two important

issues must be resolved.

Issues to Resolve
The problems reported by researchers when working with general

education teachers related to one or more of the four critical components of

professional development. Even when programs were well developed with

many or all of the components, some teachers experienced difficulty in either

learning or sustaining the innovations because of (a) diverse perspectives and

(b) too little time for reflection.

Special Education Versus General Education Perspective

Special education and general education operate under two different

perspectives about teaching. General education teachers concern themselves

with teaching content and covering specific concepts in a given amount of

time and, therefore, have a group orientation towards teaching (Pugach &

Warger, 1996; Schumm & Vaughn, 1995). They understand general

curriculum and the skills students should master by a given grade level

(Pugach & Warger, 1996). Special education teachers have specific knowledge

in learning strategies, modifying instruction, and adapting materials and

textbooks (Gable, Hendrickson, & Lyon, 1987; Pugach & Warger, 1996). They

have individual students in mind and think about how to change what exists

to better meet student needs.

General educators seek interventions or strategies that would be

helpful to a larger population, not just a few isolated students (Gersten et al.,

1995; O'Connor et al., 1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). When teachers learned

interventions that targeted a few students and were very systematic, they did

not incorporate them as often (Gersten et al., 1995) and sometimes expected

the special education teacher working in the classroom to be responsible for

executing them (O'Connor et al., 1992). General education teachers' concern

with all students helps to explain their hesitation in changing their practices

to accommodate a few students, especially when those practices are

complicated, cumbersome, rigid, and student specific. Often when special

education researchers have worked with general education teachers, they

taught them interventions that differed from their general educators'

perceptions of improving student learning (Fuchs et al., 1995; O'Connor et al.,

1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). These programs had multiple steps and often

required a great amount of extra teacher time and effort (Fuchs et al., 1995).

Even when researchers made efforts to demonstrate, assist, and provide

feedback during implementation, teachers abandoned the strategies once the

project ended (Fuchs et al., 1995; Vaughn et al., 1998). When given multiple

strategies to learn about and use, teachers continue to use the easiest ones

and abandon the more complex ones regardless of their power in improving

student learning (Fuchs et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; Vaughn et al.,

1998). Also, scripted problem-solving programs, often seen in special

education innovations, limit participants' ability to personalize innovations

(Pugach & Johnson, 1995). These programs do not allow for extending and

adapting structures to create a compatible fit with individual needs. A

balance must be found in providing teachers with supportive structures

without inducing rigidity. Teachers need to see the benefits of an innovation

to their personal context before they will commit to incorporating it into their

teaching routines.

Extensive Time for Reflection

Making inclusion work takes fundamental changes in how we think

about classrooms and the instructional methodologies we use (McLeskey &

Pugach, 1995). Teachers need time to support the philosophy and practice of

inclusion (Fullan, 1991; McLeskey & Pugach, 1995; Sarason, 1990). When

general and special education personnel work together, they may not share

common understanding and beliefs about children with learning problems

(Gersten et al., 1995; Marks & Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992; Pugach

& Johnson, 1995). To help general education teachers understand the

importance and practicality of new interventions, they need multiple

opportunities to practice, reflect, and resolve any conflicts they might have

with the innovation (Wood et al., 1991). Teachers need assistance in

understanding the larger picture of how the innovation is important to

current routines and not just another isolated, add-on responsibility (Marks

& Gersten, 1998; O'Connor et al., 1992; Vaughn et al., 1998). Teachers need

time to discuss their views of teaching and learning and concerns they have

about the usefulness of an innovation. Teachers who do not receive feedback

on the progress of incorporating new ideas and are not given the opportunity

to develop compatible beliefs will abandon the use of the innovation

(O'Connor et al., 1992).

In sum, professional development that facilitates teacher's learning

about an innovation can be a powerful tool for influencing teachers' practices.

Specific components have been effective for creating this type of change.

First, teachers need to learn about innovations that are practical, compatible,

and understandable. Innovations need to be appropriate for individual needs,

compatible with teachers' personal beliefs about teaching, and

understandable through a provision of concrete examples. Second, teachers

need to work with outside researchers and teacher educators who can assist

them in developing their use of innovations through providing demonstration

lessons and helping them to reflect about their progress. Third, continuous

support through collaboration is important for teachers to continue in their

experimentation with new practices. Group members engage in critical

discourse that allows for developing and refining their beliefs and practices.

Collaborative structures also provide teachers with the expectation and

support for improving their work. And fourth, teachers' level of readiness for

change is an important factor for determining their development of new

practices. In order to facilitate their personal development, teachers need to

reflect, have knowledge and beliefs that will assist them in understanding

the innovation, and exhibit a personal commitment to change. When

considering all these factors affecting teachers' professional development, it is

understandable why many programs prove to be ineffective with some or all

of their participants. Making lasting changes in teachers' framework for

teaching and learning is a difficult task that takes exceptional planning and

possibly, a little luck.

It is the intention of my study described in Chapter 3 to add to the

teacher change literature. My study is unique; it focuses on general education

teachers who participate in a collaborative professional development program

to learn new practices to better include students with behavioral and

learning problems. Teachers have access to an outsider who helps them in

their personal development of inclusive practices. This study includes to the

greatest extent possible the four essential factors of professional development

programs. No study has addressed all these components in school/university

collaboration with general and special education teachers. Additionally, I

make efforts to address the problematic issues that may arise when working

with general education teachers who are attempting to learn more inclusive

practices. Hopefully, the results of this study will provide a better

understanding of how special education researchers can work with general


education teachers to help them include students with behavior and learning



Rarely are teachers afforded opportunities to work in the context of a
group with colleagues and teacher educators; thus, little research exists to
document school/university collaboration with general and special education
teachers. Collaboration and university/school partnerships often are
described as effective practices to assist teachers in addressing problems in
their classrooms (Joyce & Showers, 1988; McLaughlin, 1991; Sparks &
Loucks-Horsley, 1990). Yet, little is known about how these collaborations
assist teachers in changing their practices. In a collaborative effort between
teacher educators and general and special elementary education teachers
from an urban school district, we established a Teacher Learning Cohort
(TLC) to assist teachers in addressing problems of practice. The TLC was
established to assist teachers in learning how better to include students with
challenging behaviors and academic problems.
The purpose of this study was to describe general education teachers'
use of practices, the extent their practices support the inclusion of
challenging students, and how those practices changed through their
participation in a TLC. The TLC allowed teachers to meet with colleagues
from their school and teacher educators to discuss problems of instructing
students who are hard to teach and manage and then work toward solving
those problems. The teachers worked not only in a collaborative group but
also individually with one university researcher who acted as a reflective
friend. I, the reflective friend, worked with four general education teachers

for 2-1/2 years to assist them in learning instructional innovations. In
addition to describing the changes teachers made in their practices, other

aspects of the change process were studied, including (a) the role of the
collaborative group, (b) the role of the reflective friend, and (c) the role of
teachers' context.
To change teachers' instructional practices, they have to be provided
with new information, observed implementing it (or not implementing it),
and questioned and observed over time during the process (Richardson et al.,
1991; Wood et al., 1991). Through the TLC, teachers met monthly with
participating colleagues and university researchers. Teachers discussed
problems they encountered in their classrooms and, as a group, discussed
possible solutions. Teachers created a plan to address their concerns and in
later meetings shared the progress of their actions with the group. To fulfill
the observation and feedback component, I, as the reflective friend, spent 2 to
4 hours a week in each teacher's classroom. Through observing individual
teachers, I was able to understand the types of problems they encountered as
well as the specific context in which they worked. Through interviews and
conversations, teachers expressed not only their concerns but also personal
perspectives about teaching, students, and learning. Considering what I
learned about individual teachers, I was able to provide them with
innovations that I believed had a high probability of being implemented in
their classrooms.
To describe how teachers changed, I participated and observed in
classrooms, interviewed teachers, conducted informal meetings with
individual teachers, participated in and documented collaborative group
meetings, and collected other evidence that demonstrated the
implementation of new practices. I spent time managing and working in the

collaborative group. I recorded what teachers said and how they talked with
colleagues about students and the new practices they were implementing. In
essence, I became a part of the school culture. Because of the nature of the
research question and type of contact with the participants, I determined
that qualitative case methodology was the most appropriate approach for this

Collaborative Group Work
The purpose of the following sections is to describe the data collection
and data analysis procedures for this study. These sections include
descriptions of the broader context of the study, methods for gaining access

into the school and individual classrooms, participants and their classrooms,
the evolving role of the TLC, and the role of the researcher/reflective friend.
In the final section, research procedures and methodological issues are

Broader Context
As part of an effort to begin a collaborative project with teachers in an
urban school district in Florida, the Dean of the College of Education at the
University of Florida (UF) provided travel funds in the spring of 1997 for
three faculty members and a graduate assistant from the Department of
Special Education. The intention of this seed money was to help secure
external funding for a large-scale project in this district. The project proposed
to develop collaborative groups in urban schools to promote sustained
collaboration among teachers with the intention of improving the inclusion of
students with learning and behavioral problems. The following year a small
grant was awarded through UF to provide funds for me to continue my work
in the selected school. In the third year, the Office of Special Education

Projects awarded three faculty members external funds to work in one
additional school.

The focus of the larger project was to determine the effectiveness of the
TLCs through studying (a) the creation of TLCs and how they facilitate
inclusion of students with learning problems, how these teachers develop
inclusive beliefs and effective practices that contribute to the learning of all
students, and how the groups contribute to the development of a collaborative
culture in the school; (b) how participation affects the inclusion of students in

individual classrooms and referrals to special education; (c) the conditions
and processes that make collaboration viable; (d) how participation in the
group affects teacher attrition rates; and (e) how the group helps teachers to
improve students' academic performance.
My study was different in that I focused specifically on four teachers
and how they developed new practices by being a part of the TLC and having
access to a reflective friend. This study was about individual change and
development within the context of a collaborative group and interaction with
an outsider. I also considered other conditions within and outside of the work
context that influence how teachers change.
I conducted this study at Hidden View Elementary, a school that had
been associated with the TLC project since 1997. Hidden View serves
approximately 570 pre-K through fifth-grade students and employs 27 full-
time classroom teachers. There is one classroom for pre-K, three classrooms
each for kindergarten, first, second, and fifth grades, and four classrooms for
third and fourth grades. Third- and fourth-grade classes have a lower number
of students to allow teachers to prepare students for standardized testing. In
addition, there is a special projects classroom for previously retained students
and four classrooms that serve students with moderate mental retardation.

The student population is diverse in terms of ethnic background and
socioeconomic status: 56.8% are Caucasian, 36.7% are African-American, and
6.5% are members of other minority groups. Nearly 42% of students receive
free lunch, and an additional 10% receive fee-reduced lunch. The school
district has designated Hidden View as a Regular Education Initiative (REI
school where students identified with learning disabilities and emotional
handicaps are served full-time in the general education classrooms. A full-
time special education teacher serves in a consultant role. As part of her
responsibilities, she spends 1 hour each day in five teachers' classrooms
assisting students with disabilities. These five teachers, one at each grade
level from first through fifth grades, are designated as the REI teachers. REI
teachers generally have reduced class sizes and are assigned anywhere from
one to five students with disabilities. Students with more severe learning
disabilities and mild mental retardation are served at other schools.

The principal assigned teachers to REI classes. She chose teachers who
were supportive of inclusive practices and able to work with the special
education consultant. The principal, Mrs. Summerlin, has been at Hidden
View Elementary for almost 10 years. Half the teachers at the school were
there before she came. Mrs. Summerlin really wanted the TLC project in her
school because this was her first year implementing the REI model and she
wanted the expertise of special education researchers to foster collaboration
and leadership among her teachers. She asked specific questions about the
data collection. She was informed that the information we collected was
confidential, and we could not discuss any information about the teacher
participants with her. We have communicated with her about the workshops
and meeting purposes, and she created time to meet and provided substitutes
for the teachers.

Gaining Access
As a part of the TLC project, teachers were aware that we would be
collecting data on "the influences of the collaborative process in order to
better understand how to assist teachers in developing strategies to assist
students who experience learning and behavioral problems" (see Appendix B,
Letter of Informed Consent).They were informed that they would participate
in interviews and meetings and that someone would observe in their

classroom periodically. All participants were fully aware of the data collection
process and the purpose of our research. Official approval by the University's
Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Human Subjects was granted to observe,
interview, record meetings and conversations, and collect artifacts on
teachers. My study was a small component of the larger project covered by
the IRB approval.

We described the general intent of the study at the initial meeting, and
I repeated this description for newcomers in the following years. The goals of
the research were presented in general terms to avoid influencing the
outcomes of the study. We also explained our work to the teachers in a letter
(see Appendix B). The amount of time spent in these classrooms over the past
2-1/2 years minimized the possibility that the initial discussion would have
an impact on the study's findings. The teachers were reminded over the years
that observations and data collected were not for administrative evaluation.
They were reminded that the school and district administration,
nonparticipants, and any other district personnel would not have access to
the data and that their names would never be associated with the data. To
provide participants anonymity, I used pseudonyms to refer to all teachers,
school staff, and the school itself

The four teachers who participated in the TLC project for all 3 years
were the focus of my study. This study took place from the onset of the project
in February 1997 until June 1999. The four teachers taught different grade
levels and varied in teaching experience and ethnic background. The
principal spoke highly of these teachers and considered them to be strong
Kay is a kindergarten teacher who instructs approximately 28-33
students each year. She is an African-American woman in her early 40s with
14 years of teaching experience. Her educational background is in early
childhood and elementary education. In 1998, she completed a master's
degree in educational leadership. She is also trained as an English for
Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher. Her classroom instruction can
be described as direct, whole group instruction using a center format with an
emphasis on providing individual assistance to every student. She uses
positive reinforcement and classroom routines to manage student behavior.
Although no students at the kindergarten level are identified as special
education students, students who exhibit challenging problems are a part of
the class. At the end of each school year, Kay considers making a few
recommendations for students to be tested if she believes they have a
significant learning or behavior problems.
Diane is a second-grade teacher whose class ranges from 25-28
students each year. She is a Caucasian woman in her mid 40s with 24 years
of teaching experience. She is certified as an elementary, kindergarten, and
ESOL teacher. She was the REI teacher for the second grade during the
1998-1999 school year and taught reading to the students in the REI
classroom during the 1997-1998 school year. Diane typically uses cooperative

learning, center work, projects, and teacher-led instruction as part of her
teaching routines. She uses positive reinforcement to manage student

behavior and teaches her students socially appropriate behavior using a life
skills approach.
Martha is a third-grade teacher with a typical class size of 18-25
students. She is an African-American woman in her mid 30s with 11 years of
teaching experience. She is certified in elementary education and early
childhood education with a master's degree in elementary education. She is
currently working on ESOL certification. She was the REI teacher for the
third grade in 1996-1997 and 1997-1998. Also, she taught math to the
students in the REI class during 1998-1999. Martha relies on textbook
instruction and individually monitors students' progress on seatwork
assignments. She uses verbal reprimands, detention, and parent conferences
to manage student behavior.
Cindy is a fourth-grade teacher with a typical class size of 20-24
students in her homeroom class and 24-28 students in her other three
sections of reading. She is the fourth-grade reading teacher with the other
three teachers covering science/social studies, math, and language arts. She
is a Caucasian woman in her mid 40s with 19 years of teaching experience.

She is certified as an elementary, early childhood, and ESOL teacher. She
was the fourth-grade REI teacher for 3 years from 1996-1999. Initially, Cindy
used teacher-directed instruction and independent seatwork as part of her
teaching routine. She implemented verbal reprimands and detention and
occasionally used tangible reinforcers to praise correct behavior or academic

Evolving Role of the TLC
Mrs. Summerlin encouraged REI teachers and the special education
teacher to be a part of the TLC, but all participation was voluntary. From our
initial meeting in February until June of 1997, nine teachers (four REI

teachers, the special education consultant, the special projects teacher, and
three general education teachers) participated in the TLC project. We met
with teachers bimonthly in half-day and whole-day sessions and talked about
their concerns and how to address them (see Table 3.1). Initially, we used a
problem-solving format where one teacher described a problem and the group
generated solutions. The teacher then selected a strategy and made a plan to
address the problem. We provided them with information on new strategies
(e.g., cooperative learning, behavior management, and phonological
awareness) that would help to solve some of the classroom issues that they
encountered. We observed them only once or twice that first year. We also
interviewed teachers at the end of the first year (see Appendix C). As a result
of our observations and discussions at group meetings, we found that

Table 3.1

Summary of Data Collection Procedures

Year 1 Procedures Hours
Classroom observations and informal follow-up
conversations 4
Formal interviews 2
Full Day TLC Meetings/Workshops 28
TLC Meetings (Hour long) 0
Total Data Collection 34

teachers implemented few changes. We refocused our work the next year to

address this problem.

During this second year, I conducted weekly observations, monthly
meetings, and periodic workshops (see Table 3.2). Specifically, I planned and
scheduled the collaborative meetings, worked with individual teachers to
discuss problems of practice and to learn and implement new innovations, co-
planned and conducted four workshops to teach all members about an
innovation, and assisted teachers in reflecting on and evaluating their
progress. Additionally, all teachers were interviewed in the middle of the
second year (see Appendix C). Five of the original teachers continued with the
project. Three dropouts said they did not have time to commit to the project,
and one left the school for health reasons. We also had a first year teacher
join our group, bringing our total to six.

Table 3.2

Summary of Data Collection Procedures

Year 2 Procedures Hours
Classroom observations and informal follow-up
conversations 221
Formal interviews 2
Full Day TLC Meetings/Workshops 28
TLC Meetings (2-Hour long) 20
Total Data Collection 271

I increased my observations in the second year as a way to learn more
about the teachers' challenges, classroom practices, and understandings
about teaching and learning. I hoped that I could then provide them with

suggestions that were more consistent with their beliefs. I gave teachers
specific feedback on concerns they had about a lesson or student and talked
to them about problems they encountered and the purpose behind some of
their actions. At first they were uncomfortable with being observed and notes

being taken during observations. Because of their discomfort, I decided to
begin by assisting them in monitoring student progress and providing help to
students rather than taking notes. In a sense, I acted as another teacher or
aide in the classroom. As I developed a good working relationship, the
teachers told me how much they appreciated the help, and I began to
understand their classroom practices and beliefs better. My questions and
assistance became tailored to their actual needs. The teachers eventually said
any of us were welcome in their classroom, planned or unannounced.
In addition to the observations and feedback sessions, teachers created
a plan for targeting an area of concern. Previously, teachers had talked about
making changes, often very abstractly, and rarely followed through with
action. We created action plans so teachers could choose a personal goal,
develop an action to take, determine ways to assess their progress, and
establish a time frame for completing their goal (see Appendix F). We asked
teachers to think of one instructional and one behavioral improvement they
wanted to make that they had control of changing. As the reflective friend, I
assisted teachers in choosing reasonable goals, provided ideas (e.g.,
instructional strategies and management plans) to assist them in
accomplishing goals, and helped them develop reasonable assessment
measures and establish a timeline. Teachers who were committed to creating
action plans participated in the TLC.
During the third year, the research team, now expanded to include
another UF faculty member from the School of Teaching and Learning,

received federal funding to include additional schools in the TLC project. A
new school was added in the 1998-1999 school year. At Hidden View the UF
researcher from the School of Teaching and Learning assisted me in
conducting observations, interviews, meetings, and workshops. Although all
six year 2 teachers continued in year 3 of the project, the special education
consultant left the school in December. Five general education teachers
joined the TLC, of whom four were new to the project. All the REI teachers,
except the fifth-grade teacher, participated in the TLC.
Because of the large number of TLC participants, we split into two
groups. One group was for kindergarten through third-grade teachers and
the other group was the entire fourth-grade team. My colleague and I
observed once every other week and conducted two separate TLC meetings a
month (see Table 3.3). We conducted two interviews this year, one in the fall
and the other in the spring (see Appendix C). In addition, each TLC group
met for a full day workshop with the other TLC groups from the new school.
Selected teachers from each group presented innovations they used in their

Table 3.3

Summary of Data Collection Procedures

Year 3 Procedures Hours
Classroom observations and informal follow-up
interviews/conversations 102
Formal interviews 4
Full Day TLC Meetings/Workshops 30
TLC Meetings (Hour long) 20
Total Data Collection 156

Role of the Researcher/Reflective Friend

As the primary researcher, I worked as a graduate assistant on the
TLC project from October 1996 to June 1999. The first year I worked with

two UF researchers as we began our TLC work. During years 2 and 3, I was
the UF contact person and ran the project at Hidden View Elementary.
Together with UF faculty, I co-planned workshops that helped teachers
acquire knowledge and demonstrated innovations that were compatible with
their current practices. In my role as reflective friend, I spent additional time
discussing the benefits and circumstances in which strategies would be
implemented and observed and provided feedback during implementation.
On many occasions during year 2, I not only provided feedback but also
assisted individual teachers with implementing new instructional strategies.
The teachers talked openly to TLC participants and nonparticipants alike
about the positive effects the strategies had in their classrooms. Because of
the participants' enthusiasm for the TLC project, the school principal had me
talk to three reporters and the state-level school accreditation committee
about our work there (see Appendix F). As a result of developing a positive
relationship with these teachers and their principal, it made it easier to
gather "trustworthy data" (Bogden & Biklen, 1982). Often, I was told I was
one of them, and teachers talked candidly with me about themselves and
their perceptions of their work environment.

Research Procedures
Qualitative methodology (e.g., participant observation, interviews) was
used in collecting data to develop my understanding of various factors that
facilitated or inhibited teachers' acquisition of inclusive strategies. According
to Sherman and Webb (1988), "qualitative inquiry is an appraisal or
judgment; its function is to interpret, or appraise, behavior in relation to

contextual circumstances" (p.10). Studying the change process of how
teachers adopted inclusive practices while participating in a collaborative
group was a descriptive task. Teacher collaboration is influenced by
contextual conditions that are not unique to the TLC. These contextual
conditions include personal beliefs about teaching and learning, interactions

with a reflective friend and other colleagues, individuals' classrooms, and the
school. Thus, I employed case study methodology (Yin, 1994).
Research Design
The case study design that was most appropriate for studying teacher
change was the single-case, embedded design (Yin, 1994). A single-case
approach can be employed to document or analyze an extreme or unique case.
It was rare to have teachers collaborating with other teachers and university
researchers where one of the researchers acted as a reflective friend. Thus,
this case was distinct in three ways. First, teacher collaboration groups

rarely exist in schools (Hargreaves, 1994a); second, university faculty seldom
participate in the collaborative group; and third, few such collaborations have
focused on the inclusion of high-risk learners. The main focus of the study
was the individual teacher's development of inclusive practices. Each of the
four teachers studied represented a subunit of analysis, and all were
considered embedded units of analysis within the larger design (Yin, 1994).
Therefore, this study was identified as a single-case, embedded design. This
design can be particularly helpful as the subunitss can add significant
opportunities for extensive analysis, enhancing the researcher's insights into
the single case" (Yin, 1994, p. 44). By studying four teachers, patterns
emerged that provided insight into the change process as teachers acquired
new practices. The individual units, teachers in this case, added substantially
to the findings by illustrating common themes for describing the process of

change. By having multiple units for analysis, I determined if patterns fit
with general change across all participants or were unique to individual

Multiple sources of evidence were gathered in my study to increase the
quality and the substantiality of the findings. Yin (1994) stressed the
importance of multiple sources of evidence so that data would converge in a
triangulating fashion. As the data from different sources supported the same
conclusion, the validity of the findings was strengthened. To gather multiple
sources of evidence, I refer to four types of evidence cited by Yin (1994). The

forms of evidence are (a) participant observation, (b) interviews, (c) direct
observations, (d) and documentation. The following paragraphs describe the
data collection process and each source of evidence that were used in this
Data Collection

Each teacher was observed twice a month for 2 school years, 1997-
1999. Observations lasted anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Some observations

had specific purposes, and others were informal. The teacher's needs and
level of comfort with me being in her classroom influenced the type of
observation. I conducted debriefing sessions with the teacher after these
observations (see Appendix D). The four teachers also participated in four
formal, hour-long interviews that were recorded using a laptop computer.
Teachers participated in a monthly group meeting throughout the project.
These meetings were full-day workshops, half-day workshops/meetings, or
hour-long meetings. The needs of the group determined the focus of the
meeting. I recorded TLC meeting minutes through the use of a laptop
computer. These minutes captured the events that occurred and many
comments and contributions of the teachers. Additionally, after these

meetings and for many of the other days spent at the school, I made reflective

notes that represented my impressions, concerns, and other interesting
events that occurred. I spent approximately 461 hours in total data collection.

A summary of the time spent in total data collection is presented in Table 3.4.

Table 3.4

Summary of Data Collection Procedures

Total for Study Hours
Classroom observations and informal follow-up
conversations 327
Formal interviews 8
Full Day TLC Meetings/Workshops 86
TLC Meetings 40
Total Data Collection 461

Participant observation. A major part of data collection involved
participant observation wherein I assumed a variety of roles. I participated in
most teacher observations through team teaching, assisting students, and

providing other types of help to the teacher. After observations, I met with
teachers to discuss my observation and their reflections (see Appendix D). I

also was an active participant in workshops and group meetings, after which
I recorded reflective notes. These notes were recorded using a laptop
computer as were my reflections of events from the day and impressions I

had as a result of conversations or observations. In some cases, my
recollection of conversations with teachers have been recorded (e.g., laptop
computer) as evidence of teacher change. Observations and reflective notes
informed me about classroom practices and provided me with information

about the changes being implemented. Notes from observations and

reflections provided additional information about teachers' beliefs and
practices. Observations were used to verify that teachers were, in fact,

making the types of changes they claimed to be making in their interviews
and conversations.

Interviews. Interviews are considered one of the most important

sources of information in data collection (Spradley, 1980). They allow others
into the personal world of the interviewee. My interviews were semi-
structured conversations with participants that allowed them to talk about
their problems of practice, the roles of the TLC in helping them learn new
strategies, and how their environments affect their work. Additionally,

teachers discussed their knowledge about teaching, their beliefs about

students and learning, and their perceived sources of help. Interviews were
piloted with teachers not participating in this project. All interviews were

focused and open-ended, and teachers were asked for direct responses and
opinions about their teaching, students, and work environment. Four

interviews were conducted by researchers on the project and myself with each

participant (see Table 3.5). In the first three interviews, we asked teachers
about the problems of practice related to including high-risk students, their
typical ways of addressing those problems, and current sources of support. To

determine if teachers talked differently over time as a result of their
increased involvement in the TLC, these interviews were similar for all 3
years. In the fourth interview, we asked respondents about the TLC group
and changes they incorporated in their classrooms (see Appendix C for
interview protocols).

Direct observations. Direct observations involve documenting an
occurrence, such as a math lesson, for a specified period of time. Particularly,

these observations focused on the implementation of a new strategy,

Table 3.5

Summary of Interviews

Interviews Date
Protocol 1-Year 1 June 1997
Protocol 2-Year 2 January 1998
Protocol 3-Year 3 November 1998
Protocol 4-Year 3 May 1999

classroom management techniques, or student engagement. Three types of

direct observations were used for data collection. First, focused observations

were recorded through notes by the researcher in the form of an anecdotal

record, which later were typed using a laptop computer. These observations
were conducted at the request of the teacher and used to record the number
of verbal reprimands or positive statements made in a given amount of time

or the amount ofseatwork given during an observational period. Because
only one teacher requested focused observations, this type of information

played a secondary role. Second, formal observations were conducted one
time during year 3 as part of the data collection procedures for the larger
study. In these observations fellow researchers and I used PathwiseTM, a
teacher performance assessment, to document practices in four domains
(Appendix E). The first domain focused on organizing content knowledge for
student learning and required an interview between observer and teacher.

Domains B and C, creating an environment for student learning and teaching
for student learning, were observed during the actual lesson. The last
domain, teacher professionalism, involved the teacher reflecting on the
lesson. Data were obtained through a postobservation reflection. Third, semi-
formal observations were conducted twice in year 3 using criteria from
domain B (creating an environment for student learning) and C (teaching for
student learning). Observational notes were made under each of the five
criteria for domains B and C. The PathwiseT observation and semi-formal
observations were primary data sources for evidence on instructional
practices (Appendix E).

Documentation. Documents included action plans, letters, agendas,
meeting minutes, administrative documents, teacher generated items, and
newspaper clippings. Documents were used to corroborate evidence from
other sources. In this study, action plans were one of the main sources of
evidence, and teacher work, letters, and school information added to the main
data sources. Teacher action plans were documents that we asked teachers to
complete. These plans indicated how they would implement strategies to
solve a problem of practice in their classroom. This document created
accountability for their actions by having teachers list how they would
document the effectiveness of their strategy and provide a reasonable
timeline for meeting their goals. Action plans were collected once or twice a
year for the second and third years (see Appendix F for action plans).
Additionally, meeting minutes were maintained at each small and
large group meeting. Meeting minutes provided essential information about
teachers' comments and participation, including information about teacher's
intentions and beliefs about new practices and the inclusion of high-risk

students. I took careful notes of the conversations members had with each

other and documented the contributions they made.
Other sources of documentation for this study included letters written
to the teachers and principal regarding project information, agendas for the
collaborative meetings and workshops, meeting minutes taken for the
teachers' review, testing information and scores, and newspaper clippings
regarding the TLC project (see Appendix F for copies of action plans and
newspaper clipping).

Data Analysis
The main purpose of this study was to describe how teachers who
participate in school/university collaboration changed their practices to
include high-risk learners. This purpose was best fulfilled with qualitative
methodology. In qualitative research, data analysis occurs throughout the
study and allows the researcher to fine tune questions and procedures (Miles
& Huberman, 1984; Patton, 1990; Spradley, 1980; Yin, 1994). Thus, during
the first year of the study, data collection involved one or two observations of
each teacher, minutes from four group meetings, and one interview. As a
result of year 1 data, I made changes in year 2 to spend more time with
teachers in individual meetings, group meetings and workshops, and
classroom observations. Over time, questions became more specific as they
related to individual participants, their specific classrooms and students, and
their teaching practices. I again made changes in my role as a participant in
the third year as a result of the teachers becoming more involved in their
personal development.
I reviewed and coded the data (Miles & Huberman, 1984) and then
looked for a pattern of relationships through a set of conceptually specified
analytic categories (Mishler, 1990). As part of this categorization, there were

regularities (patterns) to be found. These categories across participants were
views of instruction and management, role of the reflective friend, role of the
TLC, and role of teaching context. As categories start to produce similarities,
they can be subsumed into a broader category for analysis (Merriam, 1998).
Views of instruction and views of management revealed similar patterns
(practices, challenges encountered, accommodations, and changes). Both
categories were subsumed under the broader category of teachers'
framework. This research orientation is appropriate when the context under
study is unfamiliar and complex as in the instance of a single-case design
where the intention of the study is to describe or explore (Miles & Huberman,
1984). An analytic induction approach allows for patterns to emerge through
the data-collection process. The overall purpose of the study was to describe
general education teachers' use of inclusive practices and how those practices
evolved or did not evolve through their participation in a collaborative group
with university researchers. In addition, I examined the role of the reflective
friend, collaborative group, and the teaching context in the change process.

I then used the evidence in the categories to construct patterns and
themes that described how teachers changed their practices and the roles of
internal and external influences. Examples of patterns for role of reflective
friend included gaining confidence and trust, teaching partner and coach,
research interpreter, and promoting teacher reflection. I used observations,
meeting minutes, conversations, and the reflective notes as forms of evidence
and then organized and coded them into informative categories that provided
concrete descriptions of individuals and their changing practices. These
categories were used to construct profiles in which I looked for patterns
within the descriptions and created new patterns and categories that

provided general descriptions of how teachers changed their practices to
better include high-risk learners.

By focusing on TLC participants for 3 years, commonalties in the data

began to emerge. I continued to review notes and interviews (Patton, 1990)
and coded some of the data (Miles & Huberman, 1984) from the onset of the
study to look for patterns and distinct categories. These categories helped to
fine tune interview questions and narrow observations to collect more specific

data (Patton, 1990; Spradley, 1980). The categories of the role of the
collaborative group, the role of the reflective friend, and the teaching context
turned into specific questions to help guide data collection and analysis.
The next step in data analysis consisted of looking for patterns and
themes across teachers (Patton, 1980). Subunit analysis required in-depth
descriptions of individual teachers and classrooms. Then, I used the themes
that emerged to develop a framework for understanding how teachers
changed their practices. As the themes became clearer, I was able to compare
them with findings in the literature regarding teacher change.
Methodological Issues
Yin (1994) discussed the criteria for judging the quality of research
designs based on the four tests that are common to social sciences: construct
validity, internal validity, external validity, and reliability. Two issues of
validity are particularly pertinent to a descriptive case study and, therefore,
will be described in further detail. They are construct validity and external
validity. A discussion of the issues of reliability, investigator bias, and ethical
issues conclude this section.
Construct Validity
Qualitative research often requires subjective judgments during data
collection. To be considered valid, such judgments must meet two criteria.

First, the researcher has to select the types of phenomena that are studied.
In this study, the focus of interest will be changes in teachers' practices.
Second, the researcher must select measures that reflect the phenomena
being studied. I used observations, interviews, meeting minutes, and

observer notes that focused on individual teachers within their classrooms,
TLC meetings, and the school. These various sources will help create a profile
of teachers and their practices. They provide descriptive information on
individual teacher development.
Construct validity can be established more carefully by using multiple
sources of data, establishing a chain of evidence, using peer debriefing, and
conducting member checks against the drafts of data reporting (Yin, 1994). I
used multiple sources of evidence specifically to document the new practices
teachers learned, how they implemented them, and their sustained use of
these practices. Additional evidence documented the role of the TLC and the
reflective friend and the teaching context that affects teacher change.
Multiple sources of evidence included interviews, TLC meeting minutes,
classroom observations, action plans, and researcher reflections. The design
and implementation of this study provided a chain of evidence (Yin, 1994)
from the research questions, to the methodology, to data collection, and to
data analysis and conclusions. Portions of the data were analyzed by other
researchers on the project to support, clarify, or revise categories and
emerging themes (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Participants in the study also were
asked to review portions of the data (i.e., personal interviews, meeting
minutes, and observational notes) to verify or correct the data (Lincoln &
Guba, 1985).

External Validity

External validity deals with the issue of a study's findings being
generalizable to the greater population. Case studies rely heavily on
analytical generalization where the researcher is working toward
generalization of results to a broader theory. In this sense, the investigator's
goal was to "expand and generalize theories" (Yin, 1994, p.10) based on
existing literature. For this study, I used the teacher change literature. For
readers to compare a study's context to their situation, the researcher has an

obligation to provide a detailed description throughout the study (Merriam,
1998). To enhance the potential for generalization, Merriam (1998) suggested
that the researcher provide a rich, thick description so readers can determine
how closely matched their settings are to the one being studied and,
furthermore, determine if findings can be transferred. Another suggestion by
Merriam is to describe the typicality of the individual compared to other
teachers so that readers can make comparisons to their own situations.
Through multiple forms of data collection and rich descriptions of
participants, readers will be able to determine if findings from this study can
be applied to their personal situation.
Reliability in case study research is achieved when another researcher
conducts the same procedures in replicating the case study and arrives at the
same conclusions. Addressing the problem of reliability of implementation
will lead the researcher to using well-documented research procedures that
would assist other researchers in developing a clear picture of the design
when attempting to replicate this study. Interview protocols, observation
instruments, and meeting agendas are some examples of instruments that
would assist another researcher in replicating the case study. Additionally,

key informants and other researchers working on this project can help me
stay honest through discussions and by reviewing data and reading portions
of the data and drafts of the results.

Investigator Bias
Researchers are prone to bias when they use a case study to
substantiate a preconceived notion (Yin, 1994). To protect against such bias,
researchers are urged to be clear and forward in describing their perspectives
of the phenomena being studied. For me, I have developed friendships and
collegial relationships with the TLC teachers. I have had dinner with some of
them, walked with one of them, created learning centers until early evening
hours with another, had lunch with many of them, team taught with a few of
them, and even supervised their classes on occasion. On two occasions, I

helped one participant by substitute teaching. Also, I have strong beliefs
about the inclusion of students with learning and behavior problems. From
the beginning, I have been an advocate for students who have been difficult
for the teachers. Issues of friendship and my beliefs about inclusion have
played a part in this study. I have worked against bias by being open to
contrary findings and have had two or three colleagues question preliminary
analyses and findings throughout the study. I discussed my initial findings
and emerging patterns with three other researchers involved with the TLC
and have consulted other researchers who engage in qualitative research.
Questioning along the way has assisted me in fine tuning interview
questions, prompted discussions with participants, and resulted in a more
careful analysis of data.

Ethical Issues
Ethical principles adopted by the American Anthropological
Association served as the guide to assist me in remaining ethical throughout

the study (Spradley, 1980). Teachers had the right at any time to make
statements and not have them recorded. Information was not recorded if I
was asked not to do so. Informants' rights, interests, and sensitivities were
safeguarded throughout the process. Teachers were never coerced to
undertake a strategy they felt uncomfortable implementing, nor were they
pressured to implement strategies at all. At times, teachers were
uncomfortable with me taking notes in the classroom. Notes were made after
the observation until the teacher became more comfortable with the

procedure. On occasion, teachers asked me not to observe during a scheduled
visit. I always made sure the teacher welcomed the visit or observation before
it occurred. Over time, many of the teachers welcomed me without an
invitation. Throughout the years of the project, teachers were informed of the
research objectives and knew that their involvement in the TLC was the
focus of the study. The participants have been assigned pseudonyms and in
no manner have their names been associated with the data. Participants
signed a consent form stating they would receive no financial compensation
for participation. They do, however, receive new teaching and management
practices, materials relating to their personal interest, and professional
services from another educator. I have tested students for teachers, brought
them articles that described new strategies they were interested in, and
assisted them with learning materials for their students. Finally, all written
reports will be made available for teachers to read.


I conducted this study to answer the following research question: Can

general education teachers collaborating with university researchers change

their practices to include students with academic and behavior problems? I

also posed related research questions. These questions include the following:

What roles do (a) the teachers' context, (b) the TLC, and (c) the reflective

friend play in stimulating teachers' change in inclusive practices? In this

chapter, I briefly describe two dimensions of context; the school and

classroom. I additionally describe the teachers' cognitive context and how the

context affected their classroom practices. Evidence collected during the 2-1/2

years of this study suggests that teachers can change their practices in an

effort to accommodate students with mild learning and behavioral problems.

These changes were in all likelihood affected by teachers' context, the TLC,

and the reflective friend.

In Chapter 5, I describe the role of the TLC and reflective friend in

stimulating teacher change. I also address issues to be resolved in the TLC

reflective friend roles. I then present descriptions of changes in classroom


School Context

Hidden View was built in the late 1950s in a working class

neighborhood; the original wing has wood floors, doors, and structures. Most

of the teachers at Hidden View had taught there for over 10 years. The school

was 1 of 90 elementary schools in a large urban county. Students typically

scored at the county average on standardized testing. In spite of being an

older school, Hidden View was well kept. The hallways were typically quiet;

students' artwork and projects were neatly displayed outside of their

classrooms throughout the school.

The findings from the school context and other sections came from

interviews, observations, and TLC meetings that involved four teachers: Kay,

Diane, Martha, and Cindy. These four teachers were the focus of the study,

and it is through their eyes that the school context is described. At Hidden

View, administrative style, relationships between teachers, culture of the

school, testing practices, and the school's designation as an REI school all

help to describe the school context.

Supportive Administrative Style

The teachers described Ms. Summerlin as supportive. She provided

instructional materials and opportunities for staff development; as Martha

described, "[Ms. Summerlin] is doing a good job of supporting me, [we have]

"resources ... and access to the things that we need to do a better job." Cindy

echoed Martha's sentiments.

[She is] supportive of what I am doing in my classroom and provides
me with the resources I needed to do my job. Sending me to workshops
that I wanted to attend; the materials that I needed to teach reading,
like supplemental materials that are not provided by the county.

Anything else, whatever I ask, no complaints. I only ask for what I
need. [Principal support] is a worry I just don't have.

Diane also believed that Ms. Summerlin supported their efforts to

improve classroom practices. She believed that Ms. Summerlin was

interested in effective practices and found ways to bring information about

these practices to her teachers.

She is very supportive of things we want to try in our classrooms. I
implemented the early reading strategies for children and it was
successful. I think it will be implemented in more classrooms because
of its success. She saw the success and is doing what is necessary for it
to help other children in the school.

Although Ms. Summerlin was interested in improving classroom

practice, she did not mandate innovations. Instead, she allowed teachers to

vote on whether to implement an innovation school wide. Consequently, her

teachers viewed her as a collaborative leader. Cindy remarked, "Ms.

Summerlin is a wonderful principal because she understood shared-decision

making before it became a concept." Cindy believed that if you worked hard to

help students learn, then Ms. Summerlin would give you the power to make

decisions about implementing new ideas and curriculum. However, Ms.

Summerlin only provided supports within the current structure of the school.

More substantial changes had to be approved beforehand.

Congenial But Isolated Faculty

The Hidden View faculty would be best characterized as congenial but

isolated. Teachers were cordial to one another and talked with each other

about aspects of their personal lives. Often the teachers talked about how

well they worked with some or all of their grade level colleagues. However,

the teachers rarely talked with colleagues about problems in their classroom

or struggles they had with individual students. Teachers did not seem to

know much about how other teachers taught. Although each grade level had

its planning periods on the same day (i.e., the entire fourth grade had their

"specials" on Monday), rarely did two teachers share more than a 30-minute

planning time, and when they did, no co-planning occurred. Teachers often

told me that their planning time was important for them to prepare for

instruction and complete paperwork. They did not prefer to meet with me or

anyone else at that time.

Within grade levels, teachers talked more with their colleagues. The

fourth-grade team shared more than other teams and was viewed by Ms.

Summerlin as the "most collaborative." The fourth-grade teachers

departmentalized by content area (e.g., reading, math) and so taught all

fourth-grade students. According to the fourth-grade teachers,

departmentalizing helped students because teachers could focus all their

efforts on one subject. Often these teachers would discuss students who were

having difficulties, but rarely would they co-plan instruction. Instead, they

would discuss performances for PTA meetings and culminating projects.

Although Cindy was satisfied with her grade level partnerships, she

and other teachers recognized that collaboration was not a prominent feature

of the school. Diane, the second-grade teacher, was distressed by the lack of

collaboration at Hidden View. She noted that congeniality was not enough for

people to develop collaborative relationships and explained that she had no

peers with whom she could work closely and share ideas. Diane expressed her

desire for greater collaboration when she said,

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