In the Pasadena Partnership Project, college staff and schooldistrict administrators designed a collaborative effort to improve quality in the district's prekindergarten programs. Faculty interest in issues of teacher growth and learning was an important component motivating active college participation in the project. Vie challenge of collaboration with school district administrators who had, of necessity, their own agendas created dynamic tension between the partners. Facilitators' advocacy for teacher choice and empowerment within these constraints led, over time, to, mutual problem solving that benefited all of the participants and generated the conceptual framework for this book.
* Here the storytteller is Betty Jones, resource team leader in a college-public school partnership, and this is a sample of the weekly newsletter in which classroom observations are shared with all of the district's prekindergarten teachers.
Washington Children's Center-Kathy Reisig, teacher; Caridad Bonilla, aide
The four-year-olds are very interested in hole punches these days. Several children are absorbed at a table with paper, hole punches, paste, scissors, and some other items, like buttons. For a while they were trying to figure out how to make buttons stick to paper. Kathy shows me two little papers Charles had produced (see p. 56). Then she points out the bulletin board. "Did you see Mrs. Bonilla's penguins?"
We admire the penguins together. Black and white penguin parts, big and little, orange beaks and feet (all skillfully cut by the adult), and assorted white shapes cut from styrofoam trays have been glued on blue construction paper. Children have chosen different combinations of shapes and sizes, and their inventions are lively and not all alike. Each child's name is clearly printed twice by Mrs. Bonilla, once on the picture and once with the child's words about the picture. Mrs. Bonilla is working in the afternoon these days, when there is relaxed time for her to sit at an outdoor table with interested children; she cuts, and they glue, and draw, and everybody talks together. Children who don't want to sit can ride off on bikes and come back later to join the conversation. It's a lot like a safe neighborhood with grandma watching out for children, working with her hands, and being present as a source of care and attention.
When parents and visitors see the evidence of children's work posted in the classroom, how will they know that the pasty little pictures children create on their own are just as important as the beautiful pictures co-created with a skilled and careful adult? Teachers can post signs that "tell it like it is," explaining briefly the process that led to each product. Visitors can read them, and children may like hearing them read as well.
MRS. BONILLA AND
THE CHILDREN CUT AND GLUED THESE PENGUINS.
CHARLES MADE HOLES WITH THE HOLE PUNCH.
HE MADE ONE HOLE.
HE MADE TWO HOLES.
HE MADE THREE HOLES.
HE MADE MORE AND MORE HOLES.
HE WORKED FOR A LONG TIME.
THEN HE PASTED THE HOLES ON THIS PAPER.
Each picture on the wall has its story; we can, understand it better if we know something of that story. Each teacher has her story too; we can understand each other better if we know something of those stories. Mrs. Bonilla's schooling emphasized order and obedience and neat work, and these are values she continues to hold. Kathy has come to value most highly the work children do for themselves, but she is able to appreciate other staff members' values too.
In her recent in-service Bev Bos talked about risk taking. She commented on "the spiritual risk of getting to know other people-who they really are." The risk, I think, is that as we accept other people's differences from ourselves we necessarily become more open to other possibilities for our own growth as well, and less certain of who we really are.
Emergent curriculum is risky, too. It involves planning-and letting go of plans if something unpredicted but important happens. In teaching it is never possible to predict everything that will happen. Valuable curriculum emerges out of our goals for children's learning, out of children's interests, and out of teachers' interests as well.
Betty Jones, observer
The Pasadena Partnership Project, which began in 1987, has involved faculty from Pacific Oaks College and Children's Programs collaborating with teaching staff in Pasadena Unified School District's (PUSD's) Children's Services Department, which administers both full-day children's centers and half-day state preschools serving income-eligible families. In this community of 120,000 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the majority of the low-income families are Latino and African American. Young children in preschool may speak English, Spanish, or any of the dozens of other languages found in this metropolis. Some of the preschool programs are Spanish bilingual.
Child care and preschool programs are located on elementary school (and one high school) sites and receive both state and local funding. The half-day preschools, for three- and four-year-olds, are free. In full-day care, fees are charged on a sliding scale, and care is provided both for three- and four- year-olds and for school-age children. California's child care centers date back to the the 1930s; the state took over after federal funding was discontinued at the end of World War II. State preschools began in the 1960s, when they were defined as compensatory education.
In Pasadena there are five full-day children's centers with separate classes for threes and fours; each class enrolls up to 18 children and is staffed by a teacher and morning and afternoon aides. The six half-day preschool teachers each have two classes, morning and afternoon, with an aide for each. The 16 teachers in these two programs have been the primary participants in the staff development activities of the partnership project. In some activities they have been joined by aides; children's center head teachers; school-age program staff; parents, staff and students from Pacific Oaks children's school; and staff from other programs in the Pasadena community. In the fifth year of the partnership, a training contract with Pasadena Head Start added in-service for some 50 Head Start staff as a partnership responsibility, involving both partnership staff and PUSD teachers in leadership roles.
Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena offers upper-division and graduate work in human development/early childhood education. Its faculty work in college and/or children's programs. The Children's School, with more than 200 children from birth to age eight, enrolls primarily families who can afford its tuition, while representing diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.
Several key players initiated the idea of a partnership. The school district's Adopt-a-School office-responsible for developing public/private partnerships, most of which provided materials and other curriculum resources-had approached Pacific Oaks. Joyce Robinson-a Pacific Oaks graduate, district teacher for some years, and now program coordinator for the district's Children's Services Division, was looking for ways to introduce more developmentally appropriate practice into long-established early childhood programs. In need of a support system and resources, she also looked to Pacific Oaks, not for "adoption," but for a mutual partnership in which Pacific Oaks and PUSD Children's Services would become resources for each other. Pacific Oaks Research Center, seeking funded projects, was aware of the Ford Foundation's interest in supporting educational partnerships with emphasis on staff development and dissemination of findings. Brainstorming between the two institutions began, with both administrators and teachers represented. Ford provided seed money and then a three-year grant.
The model was an emergent one, changing in response to the interests of participants and to our successes and failures in working together. During the pilot year we were able to agree that our focus would be on supporting staff to support children's play and language development. Play had not been a district value, but language development was, and we were clear about the linkage between them. Documentation of children's play could reinforce teachers' modification of their behavior in order to support play. A teacher empowerment model was necessary; if teachers were to support choice making by children, they would have to experience choice making themselves.
The original vision focused on interactions among teachers of children at Pacific Oaks and in the school district, and a variety of exchanges took place in the early stages of the project. The project's major emphasis, however, has been staff development for the school district's teachers of young children.
The partnership also received simultaneous and subsequent support from the ARCO Foundation (project evaluation), the Stuart and Irvine Foundations (parent support component), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (career development), and the Hasbro Corporation (Head Start component). Grants to Children's Services under Title VII Bilingual Program and the state's literacy and nutrition programs added further resources, as did a grant from Roger Tory Peterson Foundation to develop a nature education curriculum. In the project's fifth year, State Preschool Expansion funds became available, and the number of preschool sites has tripled.
The project employed a full-time coordinator and was overseen by a steering committee representing PUSD and Pacific Oaks. Classroom observations were made-as permitted or requested by teachers-by members of the Resource Support Team, several external facilitators. The persons initially active in this role were Betty Jones of Pacific Oaks faculty; Gretchen Reynolds; Pacific Oaks adjunct faculty; and Mel Lindsey, a consultant who knew the teachers throughhis work with them as a High/Scope trainer. Mel focused on planning environments with teachers; Gretchen and Betty observed children's play, took notes, and wrote a newsletter. Gretchen also offered video observations, as did Bill Smith, a video specialist. All of these people participated in the monthly in-services required of the school district's teachers, which proved an important way of building relationships. In the second and fifth years of the project, relationships were also built in a weekly seminar on play and language development and in biweekly seminars attended by PUSD teachers interested in working with adults in Head Start and other settings.
Gretchen and Betty had asked to be included in the project because of their interest in both play and teacher growth. Observers and writers, they had data collection in mind. Gretchen was able to sustain systematic observations for her dissertation research in a sample of classrooms in PUSD and Pacific Oaks, but observations for the partnership took their shape from our commitment to write a weekly newsletter and our wish to communicate our thinking about the importance of play while acknowledging and sharing interesting events from as many classrooms as possible. Gretchen and Betty also led the weekly seminar on play and language development, in which regulars (teachers and Pacific Oaks students) and visitors were encouraged to talk about whatever interested them. Teachers' concerns about power and communication sometimes took precedence over their interest in children's play. We tried, not always successfully, to be supportive without taking sides.
If we all have choices and we each have our own agendas, we need to learn to dance together without tromping too hard on each other's toes. There were many players in the partnership, and multiple lines of communication and understanding had to be established. As administrators and facilitators observed and interacted with each other, we grew in mutual understanding and respect. As participation in out-of-town conferences brought teachers into informal contact with administrators and college faculty, everyone had opportunities to share planning, anxieties, and the sense of a job well done
Richard Cohen. who joined the partnership as project evaluator, stayed on as Pacific Oaks research director, contributing his experience in teaching young children, ethnographic research, relationship building, and community sings with his guitar. Diedra Miller, who became project coordinator in the third year of the partnership, brought clarity of vision, administrative experience, and endless reserves of support for everyone. Her background with Head Start provided useful liaison when the partnership expanded to include Pasadena Head Start The partnership faces new challenges as we expand our collaboration with the school district to include support for more developmentally appropriate practice in kindergarten and primary grades. Writing the proposal for support for this new venture, we were pleased to discover our agreement on replicating, with a new group of teachers, the staff development strategies that had evolved in our preschool work.
During the project, definitions of roles and responsibilities at all levels continued to emerge as we experienced what worked and what didn't. Except for in-services and an evaluation component, teacher participation was defined as voluntary. The project design stated our expectation that some teachers would be active participants, some moderately active, and some remain on the periphery. That expectation has proved true, as has our prediction that, over time, the number of active participants would increase. Each new choice, we have found, "hooks" a few more teachers; so does an atmosphere in which being "hooked" is acceptable, even the norm. As teachers of young children, we haven't been surprised by this discovery. By the end of the third year, all but one teacher had taken advantage of at least one of the choices available; by the end of the fourth year, all of the teachers had.
Like teaching, working in partnership is an emergent process. Some parts of the original design prove not to work. Other parts develop a life of their own, serendipitously becoming the partnership's most significant accomplishments..
Each member of the team has her own agenda, often hidden, to which others must learn to accommodate. If all team members become co-learners, continuing partnership is possible and even exhilarating, although never tension free.
At first we confidently passed around a sign-up sheet at in-services asking, Would you like an observer in your classroom? That approach gained response only from a few teachers interested in environmental assessment with Mel and from a few friendly and confident souls who said, "Sure, any time." These gave us starting points. Later we approached other teachers with "Would you mind if I visited? I'm watching children's play." Some agreed to let us observe; a few didn't. Their confidence was not helped by the fact that shortly after we had assured teachers that we would visit only if welcome and that we would be observing children, the project's evaluation component began with required classroom visits to gather baseline data on teacher behavior. A few teachers flatly refused to admit the evaluation observer, and those of us more interested in teacher empowerment than in evaluation were pleased by their assertiveness. Prompt formation of an evaluation task force that included teachers reduced their opposition, however; and the significant quantitative changes shown in these systematic observations proved important in reporting to funders, the school district, and the professional community.
Stories selected from informal observations were shared in conversations with and written notes to teachers, a weekly or biweekly projectnewsletter featuring observations from one or more classrooms (with teacher permission), videotapes (which were given to teachers for their private viewing or discussed with the observer at the teacher's request), plan drawings for environmental changes, and storytelling at in-services by teachers or by others with the teachers' permission.
Seminars: Teachers as researchers
During the second year a weekly afternoon Research Seminar: Play and Language Development, co-led by Betty and Gretchen, was attended regularly by a group of PUSDteachers and aides and Pacific Oaks college students, and irregularly by other teachers and people with project connections. Its content emerged out of all of our observations, questions, and concerns. This seminar was discontinued in the third year when preschool staff had afternoon sessions added to their teaching load. In the fifth year, when our relationship with Head Start began, we instituted a Working with Adults seminar, meeting biweekly in the evenings, for teachers interested in moving into mentor relationships. This seminar is described on page 63 under "Mentor Teaching."
Visiting between classrooms
Some teachers, both in the district and in Pacific Oaks Children's School, arranged visits to each other's classrooms or shared field trips. Pacific Oaks' art studio and artist-in-residence were a resource for a number of teachers and children from the district.
Task force decision making
Teachers gained opportunities to engage in decision making at the project and district levels through several task forces established during the project (and meeting during teachers' work time, with substitutes provided). An evaluation task force was begun in direct response to teacher complaints about the intrusion of project evaluation procedures. Additional task forces worked on selecting children's books for classrooms, developing a parent support program, and planning presentations at early childhood conferences.
Each year we have scheduled conference presentations at state and national AEYC conferences and have invited teachers to apply to participate. This has proved a highly motivating and affirming experience for teachers. Some have gone on to get involved in other conferences as well; they are seeing themselves as professionals with knowledge to share.
Although the monthly in-service was a district requirement throughout the project, attendance and involvement increased significantly from year to year. From the earlier training-by-expert model, in-services were restructured to encourage teacher presentations and peer dialogue. A facilitator, focusing the topic, created opportunities for teachers to describe related classroom activities they have found successful. Teachers who chose to enroll for Pacific Oaks Extension credit were expected to present a project; some others volunteered to participate. Dramatic play kits, bulletin boards, story stretchers, field trips, and a wide range of classroom activities have been shared among teaching staff. Both teachers and aides have gained notably in confidence in talking to a group of peers and in appreciation of the quality of their own professional practice.
A grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has enabled Pacific Oaks College to offer career-incentive opportunities to PUSD staff involved in the project. A dozen teachers and aides have entered part-time bachelor's, master's, and credential programs in early childhood education.
Some of the experienced teachers empowered by this variety of experiences have expressed interest in becoming external facilitators themselves. They now constitute a resource support team available to Head Start teaching staff under a recent contract with Pasadena Head Start, the newest member of the partnership. They have taken a leadership role in Head Start in-services and have begun exchange visiting. The biweekly Working with Adults seminar enables teachers to share stories and questions and to build a mutual support network. Facilitation for that seminar has been provided by Betty Jones, Diedra Miller, and Mary Beth Lakin, another Pacific Oaks faculty member who now has PUSD staff in some of her college classes.
In the implementation of a facilitation model, size is important; the model won't work on an impersonal scale. To extend the model to a Head Start program serving twice as many children in 25 classrooms, extension of the resource support pool to draw on teacher-peer leadership is both necessary and desirable.
The success of this choice-based, emergent model in this setting has depended on (1) a stable teaching staff coming from a baseline of training in developmentally appropriate curriculum, and (2) supervisory staff who are willing and able to support, albeit with some reservations at times, teacher growth in autonomy.
Choice presupposes baseline competence. For new or borderline teaching staff, clear requirements and a training plan are the first priority. Training, unlike facilitation, sets specific goals for teacher behavior, and teachers are held accountable for meeting those goals.
Pasadena Children's Services teaching staff is exceptionally stable, thanks to relatively high (for early childhood education) wages and benefits. Most teachers have been with the program for 5 to 15 years and have been through several training plans, most recently just before the partnership began) the High/Scope curriculum. This model emphasizes the development of classroom learning environments that support play; it was selected by supervisory staff to promote program development in this direction. While it offers a clear framework for teacher performance, it is an open framework, necessitating teacher inventiveness within its perimeters; thus it is compatible with the choosing and questioning inherent in a facilitative model.
Teachers who have mastered the basic elements of such a curriculum are ready to experience the creative tension of raising questions about it and inventing variations reflecting their own unique styles. Facilitators in this project raised questions with teachers as a matter of strategy and, as trust was established, out of their own thinking, as well. Both Betty and Gretchen had doubts about the appropriateness of several aspects of High/Scope and mentioned them on occasion. A teacher who refused classroom visits for the first two years and later became an enthusiastic project participant, making changes in her classroom that went beyond the High/Scope structure, talked in a conference presentation about her earlier perceptions of the project: "We'd been told all the things we were supposed to do, and there were you folks saying something different, and there was no way I was going to deal with that. I know who pays my salary."
In a school system there are structural constraints that limit the autonomy of supervisors as well as teachers. Shifting enrollments and budget limitations threaten teachers' job security some years, introducing, if not fear of actual job loss, at least uncertainty about one's placement for the following year. Transfers from one site to another happened to some staff every year. Bilingual funding shifted priorities, giving Spanish-speaking teachers precedence in some instances over teachers with greater seniority. Before the third year of the project, the job of preschool teacher was redefined to include both morning and afternoon sessions (previously it was a six-hour job, with one session's teaching plus preparation time); there was considerable moving of teachers, and we gave up our weekly afternoon seminar, which preschool teachers had previously been free to attend.
Such changes create anxiety. Anxious teachers often devote less energy to curriculum than to worry about the future and complaints about administrators. An external facilitator, outside the loop but available to listen sympathetically, may hear a good many complaints about the frustrations in teachers' work settings. If the facilitator says, "What could you do about that?" and supports teachers' initiative in requesting meetings with supervisors, she risks becoming a troublemaker-if supervisors are experiencing their own anxieties and are demanding loyalty, not challenge. We learned about these risks by taking them and by struggling through the consequences together.
When staff is relatively stable and baseline competence is established, facilitators can introduce healthy disequilibrium by
In Los Angeles in the spring of 1992, many people acted out their anger over injustice. There are many diverse peoples living together in this city, and some of them have trouble gaining self-respect or hope for the future. Their stories aren't taken seriously by people in power. You can't train teachers to create riot curriculum; riots aren't in the lesson plan. But in classroom after classroom of teachers with whom we've been working, riot curriculum emerged because it was part of those teachers' and children's stories. If we share our stories, perhaps we can learn to problem-solve together in classrooms and in our communities (Jones, 1992: see also p. 67, this volume).
Constructive problem solving and supervisory support
We all had some uneasy moments. Several factors made it possible to move beyond these moments: teacher initiative in problem solving, the function of the project steering committee in providing external facilitation for supervisors, and supervisors' genuine commitment to teacher growth.
A crucial contribution to shared problem solving was made by a teacher who had one day used the play and language seminar to vent some of her system complaints. Shortly afterward, she explained at the next inservice, she had suddenly thought, If I have complaints, it's my responsibility to think of something to do about them. And so she arrived at the in-service with a suggestion box that she had asked the children in her class to decorate "for all the teachers." "This is for us," she explained. "I'll bring it to every meeting. And I'm giving a party and you're all invited and it will be there too. Put any suggestions or complaints you have in the box, and I hope somebody will do something about them."
"I will," the project evaluator volunteered. "I'll type them up and give everyone a copy. And we'll do our best to see that each one is followed up."
"What if someone recognizes our handwriting?" asked a teacher. It was clear that she wasn't kidding.
"Print, if you like," said the evaluator, "but I really don't know your handwriting, and I promise you no one else will see it."
The party took place, and many people came. The suggestion box was there, and not all of the conversation at the party was unrelated to work issues. And then another teacher gave another party. The suggestion box lasted for the rest of the school year and then faded away; people had become more at ease at speaking up, and there was less to complain about. Suggestions, faithfully transcribed and distributed, ranged from play dough recipes to the resentment about the evaluation procedure that led to teacher inclusion in an evaluation task force and, shortly thereafter, some procedural changes. It was clear to teachers that their voices were being heard, and they continued to speak up. They also found increasing energy to devote to curriculum and children.
Administrators often lack peers to talk to. And in supervisory positions in a larger system, they are under pressure from both directions-those whom they supervise and their supervisors. Participation in a small project-steering committee that meets weekly and whose other members are not school district employees offers facilitative relationships to the supervisor-and a place to complain about the behavior of resource support team members who work directly with teachers (and are not members of the steering committee). Tolerance and confrontation are alternative follow-up strategies, and both were employed. Over time, increasing trust was built, and both became less necessary.
Supervisors directly responsible for teacher performance have good reason to be skeptical of the behavior of so-called facilitators, who have little to lose by raising questions. The facilitator's role is a tricky one. She is working to empower teachers, to increase their autonomy and capacity for decision making both in their classrooms and in the larger system. To do so without undermining supervisors or training goals requires the capacity to see both sides, to pay attention when confronted, and to build and maintain trust with supervisors as well as teachers. Things have not been all smooth sailing in the partnership; there have been substantial issues to work through. This would not have been possible if supervisors were too vulnerable or too rigid and did not share the goal of increasing staff autonomy at some level.
4, No. 14
TELLING OUR STORIES
For teachers, it's different to be told by an official expert, "This is what you should do in your classroom," than to be told by a friend, "This is what I did in my classroom. "Experts are sometimes wrong, but everyone's story is true; it is what happened for a teacher and children, and another teacher can choose whether to try the idea herself. Piaget has pointed out that children construct knowledge more solidly in dialogue with a peer than in discussion with a teacher. That's because you can argue with your friend, knowing that your understanding is probably as good as hers-but your teacher knows everything.
In-services for teachers often rely on the transmission of expertise by outsiders. Partnership in-services have become mostly storytelling by insiders, from which we all keep learning. Here are some of the important stories teachers told at the May in-service.
Emergent curriculum: The riots
The Los Angeles riots had both emotional and physical impact on the three- and four-year-olds we teach. Children were acting out their feelings with fists and attacks but sensitive teachers found ways to help children use their words to express their fears.
"At first I thought they weren't affected. They said nothing about it for two days," said Mamie. But when she brought a microphone to circle time and invited children to do "interviews," they went on all morning "with all this stuff on killing and burning-from three-year-olds! It shocked me," said Mamie.
At Willard, Sue's threes wouldn't talk about it at circle time, and drawing didn't do it either. So Sue brought her tape recorder and told the children she was making a newspaper. "Know what a newspaper is? It's everyone's stories. Can you tell me your stories about what's been happening in Los Angeles?" Children went off by themselves so they wouldn't be heard and talked to the recorder. Sue transcribed their stories which are full of their fears. She plans to invite children to talk about it again, later, to see if anything has changed for them.
Next door, Joyce invited her fours to draw and dictate stories. She made their pictures and stories into a book: A Child's View of the LA Riots. "The police were chasing Rodney King." "Grandma's house is on fire. The policeman is on fire." "They beat Rodney King. Why do they only beat Black people?"
You're my friend
Mainstreaming children with special needs at Roosevelt, which began on a small scale in Jackie's classroom, has expanded into contacts among all the children in both state preschool and special-needs preschools. "We're putting them all together," Mamie and Jackie explained. A doll named Sarah, who has crutches, has helped Mamie's children deal with their anxieties about differences: "They treat her like a person. And they see I'm not afraid, and now they're not." Shared circle time, with children in partners, focuses on being friends: I like me, I like you. And children are becoming friends, seeking each other on the playground and caring for each other, touching, holding hands, straightening glasses, and cheering new accomplishments.
Joyce Robinson commented that children with special needs often don't have much opportunity to be independent and make choices. Their interactions with normal children challenge both them and their teachers to discover what they can do. "Stand up, boy. She didn't say siddownl" said a child to Johnny during a group activity. Johnny can't stand up, but he can get himself around and is keeping up with the rest of the children.
"We're a good teaching team," said Mamie to Jackie. And antibias curriculum is alive and well at Roosevelt.
Bookmaking-and watching children grow
At Hodges, Rosi knows that dictating stories is one of the things children do in order to learn to read and write, and she has invented a variety of strategies to encourage them. "Do you have a story you want to tell today?" she asks, as she goes around with a clipboard. "How about looking at these animal pictures; what can you say about them?" "Want to make a pop-up book?" "Want to add a page to our Dinosaur Book?" A child's collection of stories becomes a beautifully bound book. Rosi said about Christopher's, "When we went to the library, I snuck in Christopher Climbs a Tree for the librarian to read to the children. When she announced it, I thought Christopher was going to pass out. He was so pleased." And everyone went back to school wanting to make books. "I can't bind them fast enough," said Rosi.
"All of us are supposed to be keeping a portfolio on the children," explained Rosi, showing us Miguel's portfolio as a vivid record of his growth, over the year, in drawing, planning, writing and storytelling. His story of Miguel and Sticky Bear, with clear sequence and wonderful dialogue, reminded us all of the wonder of children's growth, and our "Oohs" filled the room.
What's in the bathtub?
If a teacher reads stories in one language, how can she help the children who don't speak that language understand? Georgina treated us to a Spanish reading, acting out the story with props. "Chinchinchirina!! Que hay en la tina?"
Risk taking: Trying new things
At Washington, Kathy has been consciously risk taking in lots of different ways. She described her staff's varied approaches to artwork with children and her own decision to concentrate on open-ended exploration of materials. They have been eagerly inventing with scrap materials, and "What you see on my lesson plan may not be what we do," as creativity takes over. To children's posted work she adds their Polaroid pictures and a list of the materials used, to interpret the process to parents. Glue and tape are essentials, but, "I'm blessed with a head teacher who values these things. If we use a whole roll of tape, it's OK." Children do their share: they set up the art area all by themselves. "They even fill the glue bottles." "Ooh," said several teachers.
Connie has expanded her dramatic-play kits-carefully organized collections of resources related to field trips her children at Muir take. She offers to loan them to anyone interested-and already has. "I feel a little selfish because this year I did something for me," she began. "Whoops," burst in Georgina. "You find a Key Experience for that. no problem!"
And Jackie at Jefferson has been collecting great resources, too-, a tornado tube - "This is a blast!"-a ball and bat, a birthday kit, and inexpensive juicers in which each child made his/her own cup of orange juice. She had fun telling us about them, too. Joyce Robinson spoke about her administrative risk taking, too. We've all come a long way in trusting each other.
Betty Jones, observer
The last partnership newsletter of the 1991-92 school year, which describes teachers' contributions at an in-service, reflects teachers' growth in knowledge, leadership, and trust.
When the project began teachers who shared ideas and materials did so only with their close friends; the openness reflected at the in-service described in the newsletter on pages 67 to 69 did not exist. Teachers had fewer opportunities to get to know each other, and when they came together in a group, they were often listening rather than sharing. Joyce Robinson was able to continue her weekly meeting with the preschool teachers even when afternoon classes were added by asking staff how it could be done. Their collaborative decision was to make each Wednesday morning a combined day for morning and afternoon children; but child care teachers, who need substitutes to enable them to leave the classroom, were included only in the High/Scope in-services and later in the monthly partnership inservices. In the bureaucratic thicket of a city school district, making time for staff development is no small accomplishment.
Opportunities to share ideas informally have led to remarkable growth in teachers' leadership skills. Child care teacher Rosi Pollard has presented her bookmaking workshop to all Head Start staff as well as to her PUSD colleagues, copresented at several national conferences, supervised Pacific Oaks practicum students, and won a merit scholarship as she completes her M.A. and teaching credential through the partnership's Success program. With Sue Bush and Connie Wortham, Rosi also participated in Louise Derman-Sparks' ongoing antiblas seminar for community teachers. Sue joined a Pacific Oaks master teacher in developing and implementing a nature education curriculum (for the Roger Tory Peterson Foundation) and has in-serviced other teachers in the program nationally as well as at home. Sue and her teaching partner, Joyce Mortara, deciding they needed daily planning time together, asked their head teacher to start covering for them at naptime, and she agreed.
Half of the 16 teachers have copresented at state and national conferences, representing not only the partnership but also the bilingual program and the antibias task force. Their adventures were reported to their colleagues at in-services and, on one occasion, were listened to with increasing interest by teachers visiting from another agency. A round-the-group structure introduced by the facilitator asked each person to tell us, Why did/ didn't you go to the conference? If you did, tell us, "Fortunately..." and "Unfortunately..." about your good and bad experiences there. The ensuing conversation became exceedingly lively, and our visitors made comments like "We didn't go 'cause no one told us about it" and "Do you always have this much fun at in-services? All we do at ours is listen." Teachers advised them to start questioning their director. "But be careful. You'll get in trouble if you start risk taking. We did," said one teacher with a grin. "But it's worth it."
Half of the teachers have offered leadership at Head Start in-services. At the first partnership in-service with Head Start, district teachers talked about their experiences and then led small group discussions on topics of their (and Head Start staff's) choice. The level of enthusiastic interaction and questioning was high, with little of the suspicion and standoffishness we had experienced in our early district in-services. Teachers-talking-to-teachers is a different experience from experts-talking-to-teachers; after all, they teach children every day, too. Self-selected teachers have participated in a biweekly seminar, Working with Adults, in order to support their developing mentorships with Head Start teachers. "But don't call us mentors," they protested. "That makes us sound like experts. We're ... what? Friends. Buddies. Sisters." This seminar gives Pacific Oaks College credit, useful to the group of district staff who have enrolled for degrees under the Success program, advised by Betty Jones and Diedra Miller.
The partnership has become a natural support network on several occasions when district changes in personnel and program threatened teachers' familiar roles and responsibilities. At meetings teachers made it clear, even when the meeting was ostensibly to plan a conference presentation, that their job agenda took precedence. This happened in the project's fifth year, when a plan for merging state preschools with the district's K-4 program was announced in the newspaper by the associate superintendent. This was news to the teachers, who were especially incensed by his reported remarks that K-4, staffed by credentialed teachers, was a superior program. The preschool teachers promptly demanded a meeting with the administrator and met with their union representative. Eventually they participated with K-4 teachers in a two-day retreat for planning and problem solving. The retreat was initiated by Joyce Robinson, facilitated by a Pacific Oaks faculty member not previously involved with the partnership, and hosted by the college. Partnership staff and Children's Services administrators were full participants in the twoday process.
In Pasadena in 1989-92 all of these programs served three- and four-year-olds from low-income families:
Except for children's centers, all programs offer half-day morning and afternoon classes. Except for teachers of K-4, teachers hold, not elementary credentials, but children's center permits. Head Start teachers may have either a permit or a CDA.
The expected end in 1992 of foundation support for K-4 coincided with the availability of state preschool expansion grants, In the fall of 1992, the two programs merged-with limited continuation of foundation funding supplementing state funding-into 22 classrooms under the supervision of the elementary principals. A plan to increase class size from 15 or 16 to 24-to be staffed by a team including a credentialed teacher, two permit teachers. and an aide-fell victim to last-minute budget cuts, and in 1992-93 credentialed and permit teachers have comparable responsibilities with a large pay differential. This change has threatened permit teachers' accustomed autonomy in their classrooms and ignored their much-longer experience in teaching at the preschool level,as well as creating site changes and a host of interpersonal unknowns. The major issues of professional certification that divide early childhood education are alive and well in Pasadena, creating new tensions and new challenges.
Observation of children is a solid, shared focus for building relationships with teachers.
Giving teachers choices among resources builds feeling of empowerment.
Although no plan will have an impact on all staff members, the more choices given, the more staff who will be "hooked" into investing energy in their own growth.
A good plan is emergent, just as a good curriculum is. It is impossible to predict which choices will be most effective or what staff agendas will be introduced along the way by increasingly empowered teachers.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in which needs for safety and belonging must be met before needs for mastery and competence can take priority, is a good predictor of teacher involvement in staff development (1970). Teachers with personal or job security needs aren't free to focus on learning more about children. Some (but not all) veteran teachers are truly tired (as one of them mentioned, 247 days a year. eight hours a day, for 15 years is a lot of time with children); they welcome sympathy, but not challenge.
In some bureaucracies, mediocrity without making waves is the desired norm. Not all administrators support the risk taking that accompanies change; both those who do and facilitators promoting change need to stay alert to this fact.
As relationships are built and interesting things happen, facilitators may experience a halo effect, as teachers begin attributing everything good to them. It would be easy for administrators to resent this phenomenon.
Empowered teachers can move beyond academic fears to become increasingly confident degree candidates, provided their college classes enable them to draw on their work experience in demonstrating competence.
Trust building and change
take time, measured
in years. There is no quick fix
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Cohen, R., Jones, E., Miller, D., Reynolds, G., & Robinson, J. (1991). How do you grow teachers? The Pasadena Partnership Project. Occasional paper. Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks College. 14 pp. $1.75.
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Jones, E. (Ed.). (1988). Reading, writing and talking with four, five and six year olds. Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks College.
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To contact the authors, write:
Research Center, Pacific Oaks College, 714 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105.