Wheelock College and Brookline Public Schools (Brookline, Massachusetts)

The Learning/Teaching Collaborative between Wheelock College and the Brookline Public Schools has been in existence since the 1980s. Like other Professional Development Schools, its stated purpose is the improvement of the preservice education of teachers and the enhancement of teaching. This collaborative was among the first to reinforce the ideas of teachers as “boundary spanners,” that is, teachers assume a variety of roles that usually are reserved either for grades K-12 or for higher education. For example, many teachers in the collaborative have become leaders in formulating class-room-based action research and have participated in the development of the statewide language arts curriculum framework, as well as developed new curricula. They have worked at the college level by presenting staff development workshops to both school and college faculty members. One of the collaborative’s most consistent tenets has been that all teachers must assume a leadership role and be active in the collaborative’s governance, making decisions about everything from budget to personnel.

The collaborative also introduced the concept of “Alternative Professional Time” (APT). In APT, year-long teaching interns assume responsibility for a classroom one day a week while regular teachers undertake research, improve courses, work in teams to restructure curriculum and improve school programs, and engage in college teaching and other endeavors that promote improved teaching.

Chief among the findings from evaluations of the collaborative is that teaching practices have changed significantly and involve more active learning. Also, the partnership has been found to be fragile, due to uncertainties about sustainable funding (Boles and Troen, 1997).

Informal Partnerships

Not all teacher education reform is occurring through PDS models. This section briefly describes several other approaches to the preparation of teachers that contain elements of reform (such as those suggested in Raizen and Michelsohn, 1994). These elements include approaching teacher education more coherently through collaboration with school districts across grades (K-12), encouraging clinical experience collaboration among science, education, and school faculty, and creating smoother transitions for new teachers from their university experiences to first-time employment.

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