Professional development should provide learning opportunities that relate to individual needs but are, for the most part, organized around collaborative problem solving (CPRE, 1995; Fullan, 1991; Guskey, 1995; Hargreaves, 1994; Huberman, 1995; Little, 1993; Miller, Lord, & Dorney, 1994; NGA; NISE, 1996; NSDC, 1995; Rosenholtz, 1989). But what exactly does collaborative problem-solving look like? Activities can vary from interdisciplinary teaming (Whitford & Kyle, 1992) to curriculum development and critique (Bryk, Rollow, & Pinnell, 1996; Miller, 1992) to collaborative action research (Eaker, Noblit, & Rogers, 1992) to study groups (Hodges, 1996). In each case, however, educators working together to address issues of common concern facilitate the identification of both the causes and potential solutions to problems.
Although collaborative problem-solving can result in potentially irreconcilable positions or merely perpetuate existing practice, when done skillfully, it leads to the clarification of learning needs and the sharing of knowledge and expertise. It breaks down teacher isolation (Bryk, Rollow, & Pinnell, 1996), collectively empowers teachers (Hargreaves, 1995), creates an environment of professional respect (Guskey, 1995), and develops a shared language and understanding of good practice (Little, 1982). Without collaborative problem solving individual change may be possible, but school change is not. The inherent difficulties in implementing this principle are what make the following principle so critical.
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