Posted on: May 06, 2002 at 10:44 AM
The issue you raise of teachers not changing practices is also an administrator problem. Administrators must provide leadership that leads to teachers making changes. Administrators can't be "wimpy" on this matter. We are beginning to see some efforts in Michigan in some schools and districts to begin work on aligning instructional practices--not putting everyone on the same page at the same time--in which schools are providing professional development in inquiry-focused approaches so that practices, such as small group problem solving or teacher probing questioning strategies are introduced in kindergarten and are consistent across grades. This is usually a school-level decision--part of the school improvement plan, so there is some "buy-in" at the outset. In addition to the specific PD in these areas, many of these same schools have adopted instructional materials that are more investigative in nature and so require teachers to use a more inquiry-based approach if the materials are to work at all. There will also be a few recalcitrant teachers, but as the critical mass is formed, we do, over time, see changes in classroom practice among most teachers in a school. It also helps to create "support groups" among the teachers so as they change from more traditional strategies to inquiry-based strategies they have colleagues who can offer assistance.