PDS Collaborative Structures by Nolan et al

Nolan, J., Badiali, B., Bauer, D., & McDonough, M. (2007). Creating and enhancing professional development school structures, resources, and roles. In R. E. Ishler (Ed.), Professional development schools: Enhancing teacher quality, (pp. 97-126). Philadelphia, PA: Research for Better Schools.


The NCATAE Standards as a Framework

Teitel's Dilemmas as a Framework

·      Sustainability requires a combination of personal relationships and organizational connections.

The Penn State University-State College Area School District Experience as a Framework

·      Development of the PDS

·      Programmatic Themes (for curriculum)

o   "a strong focus on community building at the classroom level, school level, and across the PDS community;

o   enhancing student understanding of subject matter through teaching practices that emphasize conceptual understanding;

o   the development and exercise of teacher leadership both within the PDS community and external to it;

o   the seamless integration of culturally responsive teaching and a deep awareness of one's own level of cultural proficiency; and

o   a strong focus on teacher inquiry (p. 101)."

·      "We now conceive of our goal as developing a community of practitioners (interns, mentors, and professional development associates) who embrace an 'adaptive inquiry' orientation toward their practice, a community of adaptive inquirers (p. 102)."

·      Characteristics for an inquiry-oriented stance towards teaching:

o   "They approach teaching as a complex, problem-solving endeavor. This disposition leads them to view problems as opportunities and to raise important questions about their practice, student learning, the curriculum, and general practices of schooling.

o   They engage in teacher inquiry, either formally or informally, as a means of making sense of the problems of practice. They systematically collect data and use evidence derived from those data to assess the impact of their practice on student learning.

o   They critically examine their own and others' underlying beliefs and assumptions that are taken for granted about learners, teaching practice, curriculum, schools, and schooling.

o   They seek professional development as a means of gaining access to resources that will enable them to inquire into the problems of practice more fruitfully.

o   They see themselves as engaged, contributing members in communities of practice that may be either internal or external to the context in which they teach on a daily basis. They see knowledge as distributed across these communities of practice. They seek opportunities to connect their own inquiries with the knowledge of the larger community.

o   They exhibit a strong commitment to enact practices that are consistent with their own commitments to learning and with the evidence concerning the impact of their practice on learners, even when those practices are contrary to prevailing norms and practices within the school culture.

o   They demonstrate a willingness to move beyond existing routines and to transform their ideas and practices based on new insights gained from personal, practical, and professional knowledge. They are willing to live through the temporary lack of efficiency, caused by the disruption of familiar ways of acting, when they believe that alternative ways of thinking and acting will be more beneficial for learners (p. 102)."

Leadership, Collaborative Structures, Instructional Capacity, Instructional Quality and Learner Engagement

·      Cornerstone dispositions: "Without thoughtful leadership, widespread trust, mutual respect, and goodwill, a partnership is doomed from the outset (p. 104)."

The authors present this diagram as a figure for understanding the support structures in PDS specifically in their PDS context. Leadership dispositions are the foundation. They include : collaboration and consensus, commitment, shared decision-making, supporting, listening, collegiality, focus on strengths, forgiveness, success breeds success, and a strong sense of optimism.

The collaborative structures are the next level. They divide them into three categories: structures that sustain the work, structures that provide vision, and structures that celebrate and ritualize.

·      Structures that sustain include intern meetings, mentor meetings, PDA meetings, and seminars

·      Structures that provide vision include principal meetings, ad hoc research committee meetings, slice groups, advisory groups, parent contacts, alumni contacts, grants and gifts, mentor retreats, steering committee, and course planning teams

·      Structures that celebrate and ritualize include opening ceremony, beginning of the year picnic, pinning ceremony, and national awards

Within these structures are the personnel and resources that are the engines making the structures function. All of these concepts work towards building instructional capacity.

Community ideals support instructional capacity.

·      "A PDS is a place where the wisdom of practice joins the wisdom of practitioners in such a way that no one claims to have superior expertise simply by virtue of his or her credentials or by their years in the classroom (p. 116)."

Instructional quality is achieved through instructional capacity. Adaptive inquiry is the means through which it is achieved. The instructional quality impacts learner engagement. All of these structures work towards the mission of the PDS.



They go on to describe hybrid educators based on their experiences.

·      "We have found that experienced hybrids appear to be the best mentors for new hybrids (p. 122)." (What are the downfalls with this?)