Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Critical Issues in School Reform


I N N O V A T I O N S  I N
P R O F E S S I O N A L  C O L L A B O R A T I O N

A Community of Learners
with Activities and Resources

I. About the Program | II. On-Line Activities | III. Viewer Activities | IV. Resources

Research in educational reform consistently points to the value of professional collegiality and its role in improving schools. Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire, has created a schoolwide learning community that includes teachers, administrators, and students alike. This video focuses on frank discussions among the faculty about meeting the challenges that arise in their teaching and about engaging their students in similar collaborative processes in the classroom.

"A Community of Learners" will be helpful for teachers and school-based administrators from kindergarten through high school. It can also be helpful to district leaders, especially those who provide and oversee professional development efforts, and to professionals in teacher education.

This video can be used to:

  • Provide an example of a school in which professional development is collaborative and school-based and structured around the work of the Critical Friends Groups (CFGs).

  • Demonstrate use of processes (such as consultancies) for providing collegial feedback on teaching practice.

  • Raise questions about how adult collaboration can impact and set an example for student learning.

  • Explore the impact that professional collaboration can have on the culture of a school.

Souhegan High School, Amherst, New Hampshire

In its mission statement Souhegan High School declares that it "aspires to be a community of learners, born of respect, trust, and courage." All its programs and policies stem from this mission. Students benefit from the school's commitment to personalization; each student spends one-half hour a day in an Advisory program.

Since it opened in September of 1992, Souhegan has grown from 550 students to almost 900 in grades 9 through 12. Students work in an inclusionary environment, in interdisciplinary classes. In Division One (grades 9 and 10), students are members of an academic team. At the end of tenth grade, all students participate in a Division One "exhibition" in which they present a portfolio of their work to a panel of teachers, students, and parents and reflect on their readiness to enter Division Two. All seniors must complete a Senior Project, a rigorous independent study; presenting their project to a panel of teachers is their final graduation requirement. Around 90 percent of Souhegan's graduates go on to further education.

Professional development at Souhegan is driven by Critical Friends Groups (CFGs), which provide both time and structures to promote adult professional growth directly linked to student learning. In their CFGs, Souhegan faculty offer each other assistance in curriculum development and authentic assessment and provide feedback on each other's work.


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