Deep Change: Professional Development from the Inside Out
reviewed by Susan Landt - 2005
Deep Change: Professional Development from the Inside Out focuses on the importance of teachers becoming involved in the process of educational change. According to Peery, educational change requires improving the ongoing education of the adults who facilitate student learning (p. 1). Peery emphasizes the necessity of nurturing teachers and providing positive support for their ongoing development.
Peery draws on well-known theorists Malcolm Knowles (1984), Michael Fullan (1991; 1993), Parker Palmer (1999), and Donald Schon (1983; 1987), to support her vision of teacher learning and educational change in Chapter One, Why Staff Development Must Change. She emphasizes that change needs to come from the inside, from the teachers themselves as they seek answers to questions concerning improving their practice.
In Chapter Two, Peery presents a picture of an inside-out model of staff development, which includes: process over product; helping participants to feel comfortable and engaged; teachers reflecting on their learning and seeking to improve their own practice; teachers processing new information and collaborating with colleagues; and supervisors participating in the process of inquiry, reflection, and collegiality. It is particularly important, Peery believes, that in-service offerings begin with consideration for participants basic needs by providing food and warm-up get to know you exercises so that people will feel comfortable with one another.
Peery also uses this chapter to illustrate the problems of current professional development through statements by five practicing educators as they describe why they became teachers and discuss the joys and frustrations of education. Throughout this section, Peery refers to the Coastal Area Writing Project (CAWP), which she co-directs, frequently citing it as a positive example of professional development. The five teachers she quotes were all participants of the Writing Project in some form. What Peery does not do, however, is provide a description of the CAWP for readers unfamiliar with this particular project.
Chapter Three focuses on teachers as learners. Peery maintains that teachers need to re-experience education from the perspective of a student in order to revitalize their learning selves and connect with their students as learners. Reaching into the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner , 1993) and the Myers-Briggs model of temperament, Peery proposes that personality and intellect are the keys to understanding our learning selves and advocates helping teachers discover their own learning preferences so that they may become better teachers to their students by incorporating a variety of activities reaching all learning styles.
According to Peery, The National Writing Project (NWP) is a model of teachers learning as students would (p. 44). A central concept of NWP is the belief that the best teachers of writing are writers themselves (p. 44). To this end, NWP participants are expected not only to write, but also to share their writing publicly. Peery relates how the CAWP summer institute models the practices and beliefs of NWP with writing and reading projects. She also describes the supportive social components, such as food and socializing, which contribute to participants comfort and success.
In Chapter Four, Peery focuses on teachers knowing themselves as teachers. She points out that the challenge for staff developers is to get the teacher to elucidate her professional learning, bring forth the educational theory embedded within, and teach more strategically as a result (p. 55). Peery describes five strategies that, she states, work well with all teachers and are relatively inexpensive and thus high-yield in terms of cost versus benefit (p. 56).
Teaching Journals is compared to buying a dress for a very special occasion (p. 58). Peery first describes the process of thinking and decision-making during shopping and then states, writing in ones journal is like experimenting with ones wardrobe, although it is far more than surface level (p. 58). Sharing examples of teachers journals, Peery illustrates how journals can be used to promote metacognition, try on strategies, align theory with practice, respond to presentations, respond to professional reading, vent frustrations, and affirm and celebrate ones own teaching.
Classroom Research is briefly illustrated through examples from students she worked with on different research projects. In the appendix, she offers general suggestions for beginning inquiry research including talking to other teachers about your teaching, using tools from the Coalition of Essential Schools, and participating in discussions after reading a professional text.
Observations with Feedback focuses on administrators as she offers advice for conducting observations and follow-up based on the level of concern for the individual teachers competence.
Professional Reading is briefly described as the importance of teachers keeping up with what is going on in their field. She suggests that administrators can encourage professional reading by providing suitable material and arranging for follow-up discussions.
Attending Professional Conferences can revitalize teachers, according to Peery. She urges administrators to send teachers to state or national conferences, despite the cost, because teachers return with attitudes of openness and excitement (p. 64).
Chapter Five is devoted to encouraging teachers to give back to the profession by becoming role models and contributing to the teaching community. Engaging in professional reading, joining professional organizations, and pursuing advanced studies are the three major ideas proffered by Peery. She urges teachers to share their best practices with one another and to consider presenting or publishing their lessons and ideas.
Supervisors are the target audience for Chapter Six as Peery provides suggestions on facilitating change. She advises starting slow because, Real change takes time (p. 96). Talking with teachers about their needs and observing in classrooms are offered as good ways to begin.
Peery ends with suggestions for further research and provides an appendix containing material relevant to several of the chapters. In Deep Change Peery offers general ideas for teachers and administrators considering ways teachers can become involved in professional growth. While she presents few specific details, she suggests various paths to travel and activities to engage in that should enhance teachers professionalism and serve to facilitate change.
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