Preparing Invitational Teachers

Purkey, W. W. (1995). Preparing invitational teachers for next-century schools. In G. A. Slick (Ed.), Making the difference for teachers: The field experience in actual practice (p. 1-18). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Summary: In this chapter the author defines invitational teaching, discusses the characteristics of invitational teaching, and describes how these concepts should be applied to the teacher education curriculum.

For my purposes, I would like to apply this author’s concepts to supervision.

Invitational Teaching

  • The four purposes of invitational teaching are trust, respect, optimism, and intentionality. He defines the four as follows:

    • “Trust: The teaching-learning process should be a cooperative, collaborative activity in which process is as important as product (p. 2).”
    • “Respect: People are able, valuable, and capable of being responsible, and they should be treated accordingly (p. 2).”
    • “Optimism: People possess untapped potential in all areas of human endeavor (p. 2).”
    • “Intentionality: Human potential can best be realized by places, policies, processes, and programs specifically designed to invite development and by teachers who are intentionally inviting with themselves and others, personally and professionally (pp. 2-3).”

(Note: Without invitational teaching, there will be a RIOT. That could be a way to remember the purposes. I created that saying.)

  • “It is geared to the total development of all who interact within the school. It is concerned with more than grades, attendance, and even perceptions of self. Invitational teaching is concerned with the skills of becoming (p. 3).

Levels of Functioning

  • There are four ways to characterize the functioning of a person’s teaching and they function on a continuum: intentionally disinviting, unintentionally disinviting, unintentionally inviting, intentionally inviting

    • Intentionally disinviting

      • Most negative and toxic, insulting
      • “…those actions, policies, programs, places, and processes that are deliberately designed to demean, dissuade, discourage, defeat, and destroy (p. 4).”
    • Unintentionally disinviting

      • These usually result from a lack of invitational teaching.
      • Because their actions are disinviting even though they weren’t necessarily intended to be that way, others view these teachers as “uncaring, chauvinistic, condescending, patronizing, sexist, racist, dictatorial, or thoughtless (p. 5).”
      • They do not intend to be hurtful or harmful, but because they lack consistency in direction and purpose, they act in unintentionally disinviting ways (p. 5).”
    • Unintentionally Inviting

      • Effective but can’t explain why
      • “…stumbled serendipitously into ways of functioning (p.5)
      • often seen as natural teachers
      • They lack the consistency and dependability in their actions, which are the two required characteristics of intentionality.
      • Novices are often at this level.
      • “Those who function at the unintentionally inviting level lack a consistent stance – a dependable position from which to operate (p. 6).”
    • Intentionally Inviting

      • These teachers “…seek to consistently exhibit the assumptions of invitational teaching (p. 6).”
      • Consistent and dependable in their actions


I wrote a note to myself – Levels of sophistication? What did I mean by that note here?


  • The Plus Factor

    • These teachers make invitational teaching look easy or effortless.
    • “Teachers who function at the highest levels of inviting become so fluent that the carefully hones skills and techniques they employ are invisible to the untrained eye (p. 7).”
  • Dimensions of Inviting

    • Being Personally Inviting With Oneself

      • “This means that they view themselves as able, valuable, and responsible, and are open to experience (p. 8).”
    • Being Personally With Others

      • “Being inviting requires that the feelings, wishes, and aspirations of others be taken into account (p. 8).”
    • Being Professionally Inviting With Oneself

      • Keeping alive professionally
      • Ethical awareness
      • Trying new teaching methods, pursuing additional degrees, attending conferences, forms of scholarship including reading, writing, and publication, any forms of professional learning
    • Being Professionally Inviting With Others

      • “It requires honesty and the ability to accept the less-than-perfect behavior of human beings (p. 9).”
      • “In everyday practice, being professionally inviting with others requires careful attention to the policies that are introduced, the programs established, the places created, the processes manifested, and the behaviors exhibited (p. 9).”
  • The Characteristics of Self-Actualization Individuals

    • Empathy

      • “Empathy is understanding of another person from that person’s point of view (p. 10).”
      • “To teach a student, it is imperative that the teacher know something about that student from the student’s point of view (p. 10).”
    • Respect

      • “…an unconditional acceptance of the other person as he or she is, without judgment or condemnation, criticism, ridicule, or depreciation. It is a respect that includes a warmth and liking for another as a person, with all his or her faults, deficiencies, and undesirable or unacceptable behavior. It is a deep interest and concern for the person and his or her development (p. 11).” Does that sound like liking someone?
    • Genuineness

      • “Genuineness is the congruence or integration of the teacher in the professional relationship (p. 11).”
  • The Focus of Teacher Education
  • Some Specific Suggestions for Teacher Education

    • Focus on the Teacher Educators
    • Establish an Internal Frame of Reference

      • Note to self: For me being able to see the interns perspective
      • “Such experiences should be accompanied by seminars in which students discuss their observations and experiences, and also their philosophy, beliefs, and attitudes toward themselves and others (p. 14).”
      • Laboratory experiences, supervised laboratory experiences and role playing help to create an internal frame of reference. (My wondering – what about the context of a PDS?)
    • Select Supervising Teachers Carefully

      • This author talks about selecting the mentor teacher or cooperating teacher carefully. The author says that often principals are the ones that make the selection. This selection is based on the assumption that good teaching because the teacher can manage a classroom. It makes me wonder about supervisor selection – which relates to my research. I have a note here that says – Why a PDS structure makes sense!
      • The author says, “In teacher education, the supervisor also becomes the facilitator of the student teacher’s personal and professional development (p. 14),” but in this case the author is referring to the mentor teachers or cooperating teachers as supervisors not university faculty or reassigned teachers as supervisors. They are really talking about mentoring.
    • Use Group Processes Frequently

      • “Teacher education should focus on the development of the teacher as a person: a person who can offer the necessary conditions of learning and self-actualization to others (p. 15).”
    • Conduct Continuous, Integrative Seminars
    • Educate for Perceptual Clarity

      • “Teachers are more likely to take risks, recognize achievements, set realistic expectations for themselves and others, and maintain good discipline in classrooms when their perceptual processes are free from distortion (p. 16).”
  • Conclusion