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Visions from Professional Development School Partners: Connecting Professional Development and Clinical Practice

reviewed by Maria Ruiz-Martinez & Ashley Cartun - October 11, 2018

coverTitle: Visions from Professional Development School Partners: Connecting Professional Development and Clinical Practice
Author(s): Merilyn Buchanan & Michael Cosenza (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1641130377, Pages: 372, Year: 2017
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Merilyn Buchanan and Michael Cosenza’s Visions from Professional Development School Partners: Connecting Professional Development and Clinical Practice encapsulates the need for careful, systematic, and collaborative efforts in crafting partnerships between university teacher preparation programs and school districts. The editors, experts and advocates of the Professional Development Schools (PDS) model, argue in favor of teacher preparation programs centered in clinical experience.

Buchanan and Cosenza frame PDS as an approach to addressing key issues that the field of teacher education most often struggles with: aligning theory with practice in balanced ways and building authentic, meaningful partnerships with partner schools where veteran teachers can also develop their professional growth. Drawing from the Holmes Group (2007), which defines PDSs as partnerships between a P-12 school and a university’s school of education, Buchanan and Cosenza highlight that clinical practice is central to the PDS model. The editors assert that these partnerships involve training new teachers while also providing professional development for veteran teachers, which might include engaging in research inquiry to improve teaching practice and student achievement. The editors organize the case studies into three sections within the volume: “Bringing the Vision into Reality,” “Enhancing the Clinical Experience,” and “Transforming Professional Practice.” Each author’s chapter grounds the discussion of their case study within the National Association of Professional Development Schools’ (NAPDS) nine essentials (2008) and the guidelines outlined by the Holmes Group (2007).

Through the use of vibrant case studies, the authors in this edited volume situate their work within the historical background of PDSs, highlighting the benefits of the collaborative component of the model while providing recommendations for the sustainability of partnerships and for making connections between professional development and clinical practice. The case studies demonstrate the ways in which PDSs can create a structure that fosters opportunities for administrators as well as cooperation among teachers, teacher candidates, and university faculty and staff. They also highlight how essential it is for these partnerships to have strong communication and alignment.

As the authors illustrate in these case studies, strong communication and alignment are a real challenge to developing PDSs, as many administrators, teachers, liaisons, and university representatives often enter these relationships without deep background knowledge in developing the level of robust partnerships needed for a successful university-school partnership. However, what makes this book unique and incredibly valuable to readers interested in implementing the PDS model is that it illustrates how instructional leaders learned from their mistakes to go on to create an effective PDS by using the NAPDS (2008) nine essentials that enriched teacher candidates’ field experiences and transformed veteran teachers’ professional practice. For example, one case study illustrates how university professors were initially not included in the planning phase of the PDS, which led to a lack of buy-in among faculty members. As a result, the university decided to give a teacher education professor a course release to be the PDS coordinator. This step afforded the university better communication between the school and the teacher education faculty, improving collaborative efforts within the partnership.

Various case studies cited eliminating notions of hierarchy between university faculty members and teachers for effective collaboration. As the authors of “Incidental Learning as Professional Development” explain, “Having a stronger bond in this PDS community was a crucial step in doing away with hierarchy” (p. 267). In another chapter, a teacher explains her function as a liaison between the school and university, and that communication was at the heart of her role as she had to facilitate relationship-building among various actors.

Another prominent theme carried throughout the case studies addresses the new opportunities schools gained from their participation in a PDS. For instance, Michael McCambridge and Julia Sieger note that the PDS structure allowed university personnel to advance research, explore, and implement innovative pedagogical practices that benefited the PDS community. As part of the nine essentials, practitioners and faculty are encouraged to participate in sharing their research with the community. In another case study, Isobel, a school liaison, frequently shared her work at NAPDS gatherings. Several authors in this volume also mention how teachers engaging in action research supported their pedagogical practice and often shared their findings in academic conferences.

Visions from Professional Development School Partners: Connecting Professional Development and Clinical Practice accomplishes three main goals. First, the editors gather case studies exemplifying the ways in which PDSs create environments for school innovation and learning. The various case studies demonstrate how learning is not limited to children, and includes adults as well. As they describe, teachers gained just as much knowledge from their experiences within the PDS structure as their students. Second, the volume details critical elements needed to create and sustain PDSs, which they argue include collaboration and communication strategies. Finally, the authors in the volume do not shy away from providing examples of both their successes and challenges. As the authors initiated or expanded their PDS, they encountered obstacles and failures that often served to propel them towards innovative solutions.

The edited volume is compelling in its exceptional attention to how PDSs can transform teaching as a professional practice. It is often the case that veteran teachers who do their job well are recruited into administrative positions. However, not all teachers want to become administrators, yet some do want to engage in leadership roles. PDSs can provide professional development growth for veteran teachers by giving them more autonomy, more time for reflection, and more leadership positions. One potential point of tension in this volume is the role that theory plays in relation to clinical practice. For example, theory appears as an incidental learning experience, as explained in the following case study example:

As a result of conversations at the PDS, Francis learned to more actively seek out such current articles and research on her own to expand her understanding of teaching and learning, and it became clear to her that at this school reading professional literature was going to be an important component of ongoing professional development. (p. 262)

As we know, theory does not need to be incidental and can be intentionally embedded within university courses so that teachers begin to develop deeper understandings their teaching practice.

In sum, this book is an important resource for teachers, school leaders, and university partners who seek to learn more about initiating or expanding a meaningful partnership between universities and schools. Participating in a PDS partnership requires attention not only to teacher candidate field experiences but also to the knowledge and skills of the leaders charged with creating the conditions for sustainable PDS partnerships.



Holmes Group. (2007). The Holmes partnership trilogy. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS). (2008). What it means to

be a professional development school. Columbia, SC: Author. Retrieved from http://napds.org/9%20Essentials/statement.pdf




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 11, 2018
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22531, Date Accessed: 10/23/2021 9:20:03 AM

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About the Author
  • Maria Ruiz-Martinez
    University of Colorado Boulder
    E-mail Author
    MARIA RUIZ-MARTINEZ is a doctoral student in the Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests include exploring the intersection between teacher preparation programs and teacher candidates' language ideologies. In doing so, she is interested in considering the reciprocity of structures and agency in the identity development of pre-service educators and how this influences their linguistic pedagogical practice. In past research projects, she has examined how Latina mothers position their lived experiences and linguistic ideologies when challenged with subtractive language practices in their child's school.
  • Ashley Cartun
    University of Colorado Boulder
    E-mail Author
    ASHLEY CARTUN is the Director of School Partnerships & Accreditation as well as a teacher educator and researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has extensive experience in the preparation and support of teachers within various educational contexts ranging from elementary to post-secondary levels. Her current research interests include critical literacies, educational equity and diversity, affective education, and innovations in school partnerships and teacher education. Ashley recently authored Designing for Critical, Relational, Practice-Immersed Teacher Preparation: Weaving Threads Together in a Critical Project-Based Literacy Partnership, and Partnership Literacies in a Writing Methods Course: Practicing, Advocating, and Feeling Together.
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