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Changing Classroom Practices through Teacher Networks: Matching Program Features with Teacher Characteristics and Circumstances


by James R. Pennell & William A. Firestone — 1996

Teacher networks are a recent innovation in professional development that are being used in California and Vermont to support state policy initiatives. Our analysis relies on interviews, observations, and document analysis to identify how teachers?program experiences are affected by the fit between their backgrounds and program goals and methods. Drawing on insights from symbolic interactionist and social movements theory, we treat the teacher networks in these states as professional-area movement organizations sharing the common goal of changing instruction in a constructivist direction. First, we describe the common goals of the programs in both states. Then we describe key features of the network programs and their different policy environments. Finally, we identify how teachers?beliefs, background experiences, social influences, and contextual circumstances can color their program experiences and willingness to make changes in classroom instruction.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 98 Number 1, 1996, p. 46-76
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9619, Date Accessed: 11/20/2017 6:58:36 AM

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About the Author
  • James Pennell
    Rutgers University

  • William Firestone
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    William A. Firestone is Professor of Educational Policy at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and Director of the Center for Educational Policy Analysis. He is continuing his research on the effects of assessment on practice with a large-scale survey study in New Jersey. He is co-author with James Pennell of “State-Initiated Teacher Networks: A Comparison Of Two Cases” (American Educational Research Journal, 1997).
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