Creating Sustained Professional Growth through Collaborative Reflection

Creating Sustained Professional Growth through Collaborative Reflection

(C) Julie Boyd
Originally commissioned by the (State) University of New York. This adapted online version contains the chapter by entitled ’Creating Sustained Professional Growth through Collaborative Reflection’ Chapter 2 Page 14 in Professional Development For Cooperative Learning

“The most powerful form of learning, the most sophisticated form

of staff development, comes not from listening to the good words

of others, but from sharing what we know with others. Learning

comes more from giving than from receiving. By reflecting on

what we do, by giving it coherence, and by sharing and

articulating our craft knowledge, we make meaning, we learn.”

Roland Barth[1]

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Several years ago, the highly respected Australian educator, Garth Boomer, said that ‘putting money into professional development for teachers is tantamount to pouring it down a drain.’ What Boomer was referring to was the lack of sustained professional development opportunities which enable teachers to develop a principle-based approach to their own professional learning and teaching. He saw that professional development tended to be offered in an ad hoc, piecemeal and disjointed form, both within schools and at district and state levels. Over the past decade, there has been a slow but steady upsurge in the realization that professional growth involves teachers not only having access to new information and a broader worldview, but most importantly, time and opportunities to practice, dialogue, reflect, support and challenge each other. Communication, collegiality and risk-taking among adults are the essential elements in creating an atmosphere of learning for all.’In-service’ alone does not create sustained change, without some form of on-site peer support.[2] There are many forms that this peer support can take and it is essential that educators, like children, have access to a variety of learning strategies to apply and use for their own growth and development. In this chapter, we discuss the conditions that are essential for collaborative reflective practice, as well as the rationale for using a variety of methods of reflection, in facilitating educators’ change and growth.

The essential conditions for interactive reflection are:

1. understanding the variety of methods and approaches available;

2. establishing the conditions of collaboration; and

3. establishing ways to begin implementing these practices.

Collaborative Reflective Practices:

Collaborative reflective practices are methods for reviewing one’s learning and development with a peer colleague. The purpose is for the educator to become more aware of his/her attitudes, skills and knowledge, by gaining understanding and creating new meaning of one’s craft. Engaging in on-going reflective practices reaffirms and reshapes our knowledge. Reflection helps us to analyze our actions, decisions or products by focusing on what we did or are doing so we learn lessons that can be applied to new situations. Reflection involves a particular stance toward one’s thinking and behavior, an awareness of what we are perceiving and how we process information. Reflection can occur “on” action, or “for” new action, or while in the course of doing our work—“in” action. Reflection-on-action occurs after the fact as we examine our actions and practices. Reflection-for-action is the generation or clarification of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enables new action in our work. Reflection-in-action is the observation and mental processing of actions as they occur.[3] This involves a sensitivity and responsiveness to the thoughts and feelings we observe in ourselves. It includes jotting notes to ourselves and pausing to make conscious decisions as we are teaching or learning. It includes describing to group members what we are experiencing and thinking so they can see and feel our processing and help us make meaning from it. There are several forms of reflective practice that involve all three types of reflection—On, For, and In–action.

Not only does professional growth require conscious thinking and meta-cognition about our craft, it also requires taking the time to reflect within a structure for doing so. First, we will address various types of collaborative reflective approaches.[4]

Individual Reflective Practices—

Self-Contracting and Monitoring



Case Studies

Professional Reading, Writing and Study

Partner Reflective Practices—

Learning Buddies


Peer Coaching

Work Exchanges or Shadowing

Small Group Reflective Practices—

Action Research

Study Groups

Peer Support Groups

Professional Dialogue Groups

Electronic Professional Development Networks

Large Group Reflective Practices—

Assessment Centers

Exhibitions and Panels


Professional Development Schools

Teacher Centers

Teacher Institutes

Business, Community Partnerships

In this chapter, we emphasize partner and small group reflective practices as these need to be a central part of a school/district’s sustained professional development plan. The individual practices, listed above, are formats one could use in many of the more collaborative approaches. For example, peer support groups could involve individuals sharing their portfolios or case study writing; action research projects may take advantage of the checklists, rating scales, and surveys needed for self-contracting and self-monitoring.

I. Partner Reflective Practices:

In partner relationships, there is reciprocity in learning. Each person commits to helping facilitate improvement and growth for both themselves and the other person.

Learning Buddies are two people who are in similar positions in an organization. They share common concerns and agree to working together to discuss and plan ways to resolve those concerns. They may or may not actually observe the other in action. They may be teachers at the same grade level who plan lessons together and discuss how the lessons went and what they are learning about their own teaching, students or the curriculum. The learning buddies may be two teachers who work at different grade levels or in different departments, who want to buddy their two classes together periodically for learning experiences, or two principals who agree to meet and focus regularly on specific topics in order to increase understanding and improve performance. Team teaching could be a structured learning buddy arrangement if the two parties actually plan and de-brief their learning together. It is not a learning buddy relationship, if they devote little or no time to facilitating each other’s learning and growth. A Learning buddies relationship is a good way to begin to break down the isolation of educators in order to begin staff collaboration. It helps teachers ease into reflective practice, and it can improve their ability to plan, consider the needs of students and others, articulate results and reactions of the implementation of cooperative learning, and begin to self-assess their teaching.

Mentoring has recently enjoyed a resurgence in business, health, law and finance professions. It is similar to learning buddies; however, there may not be the equality in roles. Mentors are trusted and experienced practitioners who have an interest in the development of less experienced individuals. Proteges are people who want to improve their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes by entering into a relationship with a mentor. This is particularly effective for improving teachers’ implementation of cooperative learning. People who have become experienced in cooperative learning often cite the importance of a role model at the beginning to help refine the complex subtleties of collaborative classroom work. Like the sages of the past, mentors can set educators on their paths.

Peer coaching involves an on-going relationship with a partner, but includes classroom observation and a frequent cycle of planning, observing and de-briefing. The partner relationship is strong as in mentoring; yet, more mutual and equal. Unlike the mentoring, however, there is no evaluation in the peer coaching relationship. There are generic coaching programs, aimed at the self-directed concerns of the teacher, or content-specific coaching programs, aimed at a particular teaching strategy, such as cooperative learning. However, whether generic or specific, in each coaching cycle there is a declared area of improvement—the content of the coaching—for each partner. [See Fig. 1: “What to Coach for Cooperative Learning”]. In our experience as staff developers, we highly recommend that educators intending to develop peer coaching relationships go through a professional development program. Peer coaching relationships can be quite tenuous and fragile, particularly in cases where there is some reluctance to ‘have someone else in my classroom’. We have unfortunately observed a number of cases where poor preparation for the relationship has occurred, with the result being a teacher’s confidence has been severely undermined. Therefore, we advocate the following coaching cycle:

1. Establish the Relationship

-Trust-building: getting to know each other, commitment to the coaching process and to each other and openness around the craft of teaching, goals for effective teaching and learning;

-Discussions about Coaching: what it is and isn’t, benefits and problems, defining expectations;

2. The Pre-Conference

-May involve planning lessons and visualizing each step of the way;

-Always includes setting the date, time, place, role of coach and focus for observation, data collection;

3. Observe the Teaching

-Non-judgmental collection of data on focus area;

-May be a narrative, or checklist of critical incidents;

4. Self-Reflection

-For coach: review notes, mentally replay and formulate open-ended, probing questions;

-For teacher: review notes from observer, re-play in mind the events, draw conclusions;

5. Post-Conference and Processing

-May involve teacher sharing general impressions

-Always involves teacher focusing on an area and what it means for his/her teaching;

-Does not involve evaluation by the coach;

6. De-brief the Coaching Session

-Coach solicits feedback on her/his assistance and on the coaching process itself.Coaching takes skill, sensitivity, commitment and time; yet it is essential to the on-going refinement of teaching practice, especially cooperative learning, where the goal is for students to construct new ideas, attitudes, skills and meaning.

Work exchanges and shadowing are also means of professional growth and reflection because as one colleague follows the daily activities of another or as one exchanges places with another, each takes a broader perspective about effective teaching and learning. Work exchanges or shadowing can increase the educator’s ability to empathize, can help to develop new interests and can highlight concerns that one normally might not see. This kind of collaborative work can help a teacher better understand the application of cooperative learning to various age levels and to students different needs and abilities. Shadowing enhances the application of the principles and processes of collaboration and interactive learning.

II. Small Group Reflective Practices:

Included here are reflective methods that typically involve more than two people. Action research, study groups, peer support groups, professional dialogue groups and electronic professional development networks provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate with others in order to refine their knowledge and improve their implementation of cooperative learning. Each works to remove the isolation of teachers and to improve the learned practice of professionals.

Action Research: In the past, teachers and administrators have been more consumers of research data than creators of it. As a result, studies do not have the impact they could on teacher knowledge and practice. Some of the questions academic researchers ask are not pertinent to teachers, and conversely, some of the questions most relevant to classroom teachers are not studied. Action research, on the other hand, involves teachers and principals in the conduct of research for their own intended use. Teachers who ask and seek answers to their own questions in their own settings are more likely to improve their teaching than by reading research results in a book.[5] In action research, the teacher defines the research question. Sometimes they are a part of a collaborative team that includes a university researcher and other staff members; sometimes they undertake a project in collaboration with their students. Action research programs can be designed in different formats: individual action and reflection, individual action and collaborative reflection or collaborative action and reflection.

Study Groups meet regularly to discuss a question or topic, or to study and plan topics of common interest. Groups, of no more than six people, research what is happening in the broader field of education and then use that information in their own classrooms to implement curricular, instructional and assessment innovations or collaboratively plan school improvement. Study groups often look at the effect of group size, gender contribution and status, inclusion or gifted and talented factors, effective group decision-making skills, group cohesion factors, group competition, use of higher order thinking strategies, or any number of factors related to cooperative learning. By formalizing the study process and encouraging teachers to work together, those who might never have been involved in reflective practice, often do so. Those teachers who might only work with other teachers to learn a new activity or to socialize become engaged in dialogue about the craft of teaching.[6]

Peer Support Groups are formed by interested people from a school or local geographic area who want to meet regularly to share and generate new ideas, materials and experiences. They engage in problem-solving and remain current with events and developments in cooperative learning. Participation in peer support groups is

usually voluntary. We have found that peer support groups are usually more successful if they do the following:

1. Designate a regular time each month for the meeting;

2. Rotate the meeting place so members can meet in each other’s classrooms or schools;

3. Rotate the co-facilitation of the meetings;

4. Select a topic from a list generated in an initial support group meeting;

5. Use a group memory (easel) to record decisions;

6. Have a “ticket-in-the-door” (that is, each person brings something to share and all leave with many ideas for their time);

7. Use both large and small groups during the meeting;

8. De-brief the meeting;

9. Have refreshments.

Professional Dialogue Groups differ from discussion groups because the members explore complex, difficult issues from many points of view. During the group all participants must use three processes or group norms:

1. They “suspend” their assumptions for all to see and examine and critique to reveal incoherence of thought.

2. They regard one another as colleagues.

3. There is a facilitator who holds the context of the dialogue.

Dialogue, therefore, assists one in looking at one’s assumptions, increases one’s ability to hold multiple perspectives and helps one to speak in his/her authentic voice. Dialogue groups are not decision-making groups; they are simply to help one clarify one’s own thinking on relevant issues. David Bohm and Peter Senge (see bibliography) have written extensively about dialogue in education and the workplace.

Electronic Networks: A network is a professional community organized around a common theme or purpose. McConkey and Crandall define a network as “a pattern of interaction characterized by information exchange, usually leading to other human interactions.”[7] This also holds true for electronic networks. Networks are characterized by the spontaneity, flexibility and informality in contacts with other network members. Network members regard each other as fellow problem-solvers who willingly give help. Electronic networks can serve three distinct functions:

1. Resource Networks: Provide data and information to the user who reads the information from data files maintained by the network;

2. E-Mail: Provide the capacity to send messages to other users, and

3. Dialogue Networks: Allow the community of users to discuss and confer with each other.

All networks expand the boundaries of the members. They increase communication across all levels of a system, breaking down barriers which include those of institutions and hierarchies. Electronic networking eliminates the barriers of time and space, can put educators in direct contact with each other, as well as the great writers and thinkers or the past and present, and can enhance reflective practice.

Collegial reflective practices are anchored in the authenticity of the classroom and school in the view that teachers facilitate their own and others’ learning. These approaches put the emphasis on becoming a better teacher and learner, not just on a final product such as “a good cooperative learning” teacher. They involve both formative and summative information that can facilitate changes in both behavior and thinking patterns. Collaborative approaches to reflection help to expose a teacher’s stated and displayed values. In Robert Garmston’s words, collaborative reflective practice helps us to “live at the edge of our competence”.[8]

“In everyday life, good thinking and learning depend not just on what you have in your head but on the physical, social and symbolic support systems around you.”

David Perkins, “Where is Intelligence?”,

Educational Leadership, May,1994.

Conditions for Collaboration:

For any collaborative models to be truly effective, it is essential that (1) there is a collaborative climate; (2) partners commit to each other’s growth and development; (3) effective group skills and reflective thinking skills are a part of the content and process and (4) the principles of adult learning are applied when working together.

1. Collaborative Climate

Group members experience a collaborative climate as a feeling that “we care about each other and help each other learn”, “we want you and everyone to be successful”, “it is OK to ask for help and help will be given when asked”, “our learning will be better because of each of us working together than what any one of us could have done alone”. This climate does not happen overnight or simply because teachers agree to work together to improve each other’s practice and learning. It is essential that all partners understand the need to give the time to build the trust and rapport that helps participants feel comfortable thinking out loud with another, sharing their fears and strengths, having someone else in their classrooms, and admitting mistakes and determining successes. It takes dialogue, team-building, self-disclosure, feedback, common goals, knowing one’s responsibilities to the process and each other, and commitment to carrying those responsibilities out, along with a steadfast commitment to each other’s growth. In a collaborative community, everyone is regarded as a teacher and learner; there is equality in the community. In a collaborative group, each person understands and acknowledges that no one individual knows everything, but each person knows something and can contribute in unique ways. No one is as good as all of us. A collaborative climate exists when each member succeeds and learns.

2. Personal Characteristics in Partner or Group Members

Most of us want to work with others who love their work and their students, who have personal and professional passion and energy. A sense of humor also helps one to persist, to be more objective, to gain a richer perspective and to appreciate the fun in learning. A person who shows up and is prepared, who is caring, approachable and fair, and who is able to instill confidence is a good learning partner. Someone who has a knowledge of resources can also extend one’s learning. People who are persistent yet patient, and work toward action are great team members.

3. Effective Communication Skills and Group Skills

Actively listening, questioning, testing assumptions and perceptions, paraphrasing and summarizing; organizing ideas; clearly defining issues, problems, criteria; seeking alternatives, negotiating and resolving conflicts; monitoring, documenting and evaluating results; acknowledging and appreciating each person’s contribution; and adhering to group commitments and ground rules.

The group skills listed above are critical to productive, long term work together, especially when what is at issue is one’s own professional practice. Whenever people work together, conflict does develop. In fact, it is a poorly functioning group if conflict does not develop; it means that no one cares enough to share honest opinions. Groups invariably enter into the “storming” stage. At this point, it is necessary to practice conflict resolution principles:

1. People: Separate the People from the Problem;

2. Interests: Focus on interests, not positions;

3. Options: Invent options for mutual gain;

4. Criteria: Insist on using objective criteria.[9]

4. Reflective Thinking and Meta-Cognition Skills

“How does one grow up?” I asked a friend. She answered, “By thinking.” May Sarton, At Seventy: A Journal

Reflective learning means focusing on thinking and understanding and not just on what you did or are doing. Good thinkers think about their own thinking; they reflect in action, for action and about action. They are able to:

1. recognize relevant patterns—patterns in movement, principles, reasons that are used to explain, and designs, data and problems;

2. ask themselves probing questions—open-ended questions that help one to analyze and synthesize information, and questions they don’t know how to answer without probing, mapping, wondering and researching;

3. make connections—such as comparing and contrasting, considering differing points of view, looking at things systematically, relating ideas and information, and seeing the interdependence of things, generalizing, personalizing and integrating new data into their understanding and practice;

4. articulate their learning in precise and concise ways—summarizing, paraphrasing, grabbing the essence of an issue, illustrating and mapping ideas, putting a complex idea in student terms, being conscious of their actions and how these reflect their thinking.

Reflective practices are designed to encourage this kind of thinking. In the past, the participant’s engagement was typically only around agreeing or disagreeing with the presenter, not on the thinking and learning that occurs in an interactive, questioning, ongoing, reflective process.

5. Apply the Principles of Adult Learning

For adults, the drive toward competence is linked to their self-worth and efficacy. This is true for children; yet, more so for adults since most adults tell themselves they should already know things or that they should be able to easily implement something new. Adults have different concerns, strengths and needs at different stages of their lives. People new to an idea may experience self-protective concerns. Once a new approach has been tried over time one is ready to experiment and take more independence in molding it to fit their style and their situation. As a teacher does this, s/he gains in confidence and competence and new concerns take precedent.

We need multiple experiences, time for self-reflection, self-assessment and self-direction. Adults learn when they are actively involved. Adults, like children, vary in their ability for cognitive complexity; they see learning both as an opportunity and a risk. What is learned must hold meaning and connect with their current understanding. For adults, development is not automatic. It is a continual process of identity formation and re-formation. Traditional models of staff development generally ignore these principles of adult learning because of the lack of opportunity for philosophical congruence, the lack of connections so that anything new is seen as an ‘add-on’ to an already packed schedule, or because of the attitude perpetuated by the ‘my model is best’ staff developers. Reflective, interactive approaches do consider the principles of adult learning:

A. Opportunities to try out new practices and to be self-directed and supported in the learning process;

B. Careful and continuous guided reflection and discussion about proposed changes and time to analyze one’s own experience, since experience is the richest source of adult learning;

C. Continuity of programs and time for making changes and personal support as well as challenge during the change process;

D. Provisions for greater differences in style, time, place and pace of learning.

These reflective practices allow for the flexibility and conditions described above. After close examination, the reader will see that the principles of collaboration and adult learning we are now discovering also apply more and more to children’s (in fact, all people’s) learning.

Ways to Implement Collegial Reflective Practices:

Reflective practice works (Costa and Garmston, 1994: Joyce and Showers, 1992; Richert, 1988; Shoen, 1987). Our long-term work with teachers and school systems indicates that when teachers become authentically involved in reflective practice, there is sustained personal and professional growth. Why do schools and educators not insist that this be a part of their on-going staff development program? Mainly, because it takes time! It is essential to provide time for reflective practice. Some successful ways many schools are providing time so educators can integrate reflection into their practice are listed below:

Finding Time for Reflective Practice

-Use substitute teachers on the same day of each week;

-Organize the coaching and reflective teams in triads, so one or two teachers can take a teacher’s class;

-Organize the reflective teams in “family” interdisciplinary teams so a couple of teachers can take the large group while one or two teachers are freed for reflective practice;

-Use other times during the week or day when there are larger than normal classroom groupings occurring, such as assemblies;

-Use short visits (you can be in another’s classroom for 5-10 minutes and still document and learn a lot);

-Institute a shortened day, where minutes are added on to four days a week and subtracted from the fifth day; fifth day is then used for reflection (ie., every M, T, W, and F are longer 8:00-3:30, T is 8:00-1:00);

-Have an administrator or teacher on special assignment take your class;

-Use part of staff meetings for partner or small group reflection;

-Use the time when students are in computer, library, physical education, etc.;

-Use student teachers and aides;

-Use a “prep” period bank where each teacher gives up a prep time once a month to the bank and teachers draw on the banked time if they need it;

-Use your business/community partnership people to take the class;

-Videotape the class and meet with partner or small group to discuss;

-Meet before or after school;

-Meet at lunch time once a week or bi-weekly.

These reflective practices usually require organizational changes that reduce the norms of isolation. Administrators must see the direct correlation between teacher professional growth and student learning. Parents need to understand that their children need different skills for the 21st Century than what they needed growing up; therefore, teachers need different knowledge and skills to best facilitate student’s needs both now and in the future. Parents must understand that these changes are based on what we now know about learning and thinking, the conditions for effective professional development, and the change process. This goal requires that schools are re-created as collaborative learning communities—where the focus is on (a)collaboration, rather than isolation or competition, (b)on learning, as opposed to teaching as telling; instead, the focus is on who is learning and growing, and (c) on community, where the school involves the community, builds community with the students, parents and greater community, and where the students are benefiting the community.

In order to have a collaborative learning community, there must be on-going collegial practice. Start by talking about “why schools must change” and by having teachers develop individual professional development plans that correspond to the school improvement plans. Then, assist teachers to choose those reflective practices that fit them and their conditions. Provide encouragement, modeling, time and resources. The rest will happen from there because learning is intrinsically motivating—frustrating a times, yet in a supportive environment that encourages growth, it is stimulating and rewarding.

Another reason these practices are not used is because of fear—to pursue one’s own learning, of being seen as incompetent, of building relationships with others that are more than social, of lacking the confidence to be that intimate and vulnerable with others, and with oneself—so, educators make excuses. There is not enough time, interest, facilities and resources. They do not think they will “do it right”, so following human nature, they avoid it. They say they (and the students) are OK without it and thereby avoid giving the gift of real learning to themselves. This can not continue. Educators must continually grow and they must have opportunities to reflect, because currently (a) we are not seeing real, sustained change in most teachers’ classrooms unless they are involved in sustained professional development; (b) we are not retaining the best teachers in the classroom; and (c) we are not enlisting the brightest youth into teaching.

“I am certain that our only hope

for improving education,

for retaining our best and brightest practitioners, and

for attracting curious and intellectual teachers

is to have schools that can fulfill the intellectual,

as well as the affective needs of adults.”

Carl Glickman[10]

We believe there are only three ways of behaving: out of fear, out of ignorance or out of love. With this information, the reader is no longer ignorant. One can choose fear or love. We would hope that the reader chooses love, if not love for self, at least love for one’s students. As Carl Glickman says, we need to stop “pretending not to know what we know” and implement effective teaching and learning strategies, such as cooperative learning and effective professional development practices like these collegial reflective practices.

We must change our forms and procedures of staff development from isolated inservice programs to comprehensive, sustained professional growth opportunities based on a new paradigm of learning and thinking, change and effective professional development practices. Until now, most staff development has taken the form of in-service ‘training’ for teachers and administrators aimed at equipping teachers with new classroom strategies and experiences. Both research and the personal experience of educators quite clearly demonstrates that simply providing information and experience will result in a small minority of teachers actually implementing the ideas several months, and even years later. Sustained implementation requires much more. It needs to be recognized that:

* Professional growth is achieved through a long-term, planned

developmental program of professional development that involves

inservice, practice and reflection.

* A program destined to create sustained professional growth must

incorporate: affirmation of current practice, new information, adaptable

challenges, transferability of ideas to multiple settings, creation of a

learning network among those trying similar ideas, and regular dialogue

and reflection time.

* Professional development must align individual needs with those of

the school and system.

* Professional growth plans are living entities which need to be both guided

and adaptable.

* Professional growth must be sought by the teacher(s) themselves. In the

same way that counseling and therapy will not work with a reluctant client,

professional growth occurs only in the willing. Creating this willingness is

part of the skill of an effective administrator or colleague.

* Very few people are totally unwilling to change, however many are afraid.

Sustainable professional growth, then, requires the development of trusting

relationships in which the people involved are willing to take risks.

* Teachers need to learn how to develop their own ‘present/future’ maps and

clarify personal, professional and systemic directions in order to know what

they want and need in their own development.

* Teachers also need periods of intensive guided reflection to assist them to

develop and articulate a set of internal learning and teaching principles which

will form the basis of their professional growth.

* Learning is an ongoing and developmental process. One inservice day does

not an expert make! Unless on-site support, challenge and reflective practices

are incorporated into the overall school development plan, one of two things

will happen. Either a handful of teachers will benefit and the school runs the

danger of developing ‘them’ and ‘us’ groups, or the idea will die or be replaced

by the next ‘new’ idea that happens along.

* We all learn best by teaching someone else. Teachers need the opportunity to

facilitate each others’ learning, both within and across schools, and structures

need to be created for this to occur.

* Professional networking is crucial for professional growth. Teachers need the

capacity to build supportive/challenging networks within their own schools, across districts and states.

* People learn and grow differently and individually, as well as part of a team.

Each individual has a preferred learning mode and style. Hence a guided smorgasbord of possibilities will be more likely to meet the needs of all involved rather than one mandated form.

The professional development approaches of the next decade will not be workshops; they must be workgroups with teachers working together in and across schools and systems cooperatively to improve teaching and learning, and build schools into collaborative learning communities. They will be based on providing opportunities for teachers to make informed choices based on their own well-developed principle-centered approach to teaching and learning. They will not be mandated, disconnected, short term or piecemeal. We need to practice what we preach in staff development for cooperative learning—give the responsibility for learning to the students—in this case, the adult student. Learning is a continuous, self-directed process constructed through experience (action) and reflection (thinking about our actions and behavior and values). The models in this chapter give educators the opportunities for both action and new ways to learn from their experiences. They provide a foundation from which we can continue to experiment and even if we fail—we “fail” forward, ever learning, ever challenged and supported, and ever growing in our craft.[11] These reflective practices provide a foundation for looking at our profession, our school, our colleagues, our students and ourselves.

(c) Julie Boyd 1995

Further elaboration of the material in this chapter is available in the recently published book, Collaborative Approaches to Professional Learning and Reflection by Julie Boyd and Carole Cooper, Global Learning Communities, 1996. Available from Global Learning Communities: 1500 West El Camino, Suite 325, Sacramento, CA 95833, Fax 916-922-4320 and 163 George Street, Launceston, Tasmania 7250, Australia, Fax -61-03-317376. Global Learning Communities also provides comprehensive professional development programs and planning, and resources designed to support the professional growth and work of educators.

Further Reading

Barth, Roland. (1990). Improving Schools from Within. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Beare, Hedley, et al. (1989). Creating an Excellent School. Melbourne, Aus.: Routleage Publishers.

Beasley, Bev. (1981). “The Reflexive Spectator in Classroom Research (a Second Reflection,1981).” Paper presented at the Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education.

Benard, Bonnie. (1989). “Working Together: Principles of Effective Collaboration.” Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Laboratory.

Bohm, David. (1990). On Dialogue. Ojai, CA: David Bohm Seminars.

Bull, Geoff. (1989). Reflective Teaching: Using Process and Thinking as Content. Victoria, Australia: Australian Reading Association.

Cazden, Courtney, Diamondstone, Judy and Naso, Paul. (1989). “Teachers and Researcher: Roles and Relationships.” The Quarterly, National Writing Project, Fall Issue.

Cooper, Carole. (1990). The Coaching Manual: A Guide to Peer Coaching.

Redwood City, CA.: Developmental Studies Center.

Cooper, Carole and Boyd, Julie. (1994). Collaborative Approaches to Professional Learning and Reflection, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia: Global Learning Communities. Re-edited and Republished 2010

Cooper, Carole and Henderson, Nan. (1994) Why Schools Must Change: Bringing Coherence to Educational Restructuring. Launceston, Tasmania, Australia: Global Learning Communities.

Costa, Art and Garmston, Robert. (1994). Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools. Norwood, MA.: Christopher Gordon Publishers.

Dalton, Joan and Boyd, Julie. (1992). I Teach: A Guide to Inspiring Classroom

Leadership. Melbourne, Australia: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

“The Professional Teacher Issue” (1993). Educational Leadership 50, No. 6.

Francis, D. and Young, D. (1979). Improving Work Groups. San Diego, CA: University Associates.

Fullan, Michael. (1993). Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform, London, England: Falmer Press.

Fullan, Michael and Hargreaves, Andy. (1991). What’s Worth Fighting For? Working Together to Change Schools Ottowa, Canada: Ontario Teachers Federaton.

Glickman, Carl. (1988). “Developing Teacher Thought,” Journal of Staff Development,

Glickman, Carl, ed. (1992). Supervision in Transition, 1992 Yearbook. Arlington, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Jersild, Arthur T. (1955). When Teachers Face Themselves. New York: Teachers College Press.

Johnson, Susan Moore. (1990). Teachers at Work: Achieving Success in Our Schools. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Joyce, Bruce and Showers, Beverly. (1982). Transfer of Training: The Contribution of Coaching. Eugene, OR: Center for Educational Policy and Management, University of Oregon.

Kemmis, Stephen and McTaggart, Robin, eds. (1988). The Action Research Reader. Victoria, Australia: Deakin University.

Killion, Joellen and Harrison, Cindy. (1992). “The Practice of Reflection: An Essential Learning Process.” Arlington, VA: National Staff Development Council Newsletter, January.

Lieberman, Ann, ed. (1989). Building a Professional Culture in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lieberman, Ann, ed. (1990). Collaborative Cultures: Creating the Future Now.

Philadelphia, PA.: Falmer Press.

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[1]Barth, Roland. Improving Schools from Within. SF, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1991, p. 120.

[2]Joyce, Bruce and Showers, Beverly. “Transfer of Training: The Contribution of Coaching”, Eugene, OR: Center for Educational Policy and Management, University of Oregon, 1982.

[3]Adapted from the work of Joellen Killion and Cindy Harrison, “The Practice of Reflection: An Essential Learning Process” in the National Staff Development Council Journal, Jan. 1992.

[4]Cooper, Carole and Body, Julie. Collaborative Approaches to Professional Learning and Reflection. Launceston, Tasmania, Australia: Global Learning Communities, 1995. This resources explains these models in detail, how to implement them and the benefits of each collaborative reflective practice for professional growth and assessment.

[5]Kemmis, Stephen and McTaggert, Robin. The Action Research Reader. Victoria, Australia: Deakin University, 1988, p. 29.

[6]Murphy, Carlene. “Study Groups Foster Schoolwide Learning,” Educational Leadership, Nov., 1992.

[7]McConkey, D.M. and Crandall, D.P., “A Consultant’s Network Can Improve His Net Worth..and More!”, Consultation, 1984, 5, p. 30.

[8]Garmston, Robert. Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon Publishers, 1994, p. 10.

[9]Bonnie Benard, Working Together: Principles of Effective Collaboration, Portland OR: Prevention Resource Center, 1989, p. 8.

[10]Glickman, Carl. Supervision in Transition, 1992 ASCD Yearbook. Alexandria, VA., 1992, p. 20.

[11]Garmston, R. and Wellman, B. “Using an Action Research Journal”, Educational Leadership, May, 1994, p. 108.


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