Monthly Mentor

Jody Boyer (August)
Jody Boyer is a visual artist and arts educator originally from Portland, Oregon. In her studio practice she explores the broad interdisciplinary possibilities of traditional and new media with a specific interest in personal memory, cinema, landscape and a sense of place. She received her B.A. in Studio Arts from Reed College, her M.A. in Intermedia and Video Art from the University of Iowa, and her K-12 teaching certificate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Her artwork has been shown in over 25 exhibitions across the country. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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Thursday 07.30.09

Now What? Recommendations - Part 1

I have spent the entire month writing about all of the barriers to art educators receiving good professional development. It’s about time I make some recommendations and wrap up this month’s blog posts with some helpful tips for teachers who know the difficulty of getting quality professional development all too well.

Art educators need to explore supportive spaces in which they can investigate their problems of practice. I have argued that art educators rarely find these spaces in school-based professional development, and run into obstacles that discourage them from participating in off-site opportunities. This may seem like an inevitable dead end, but I see possibilities beyond what we have experienced as “professional development.” 

In my view, surveys that report the amount of time art educators spend in professional development grossly underestimate the time we spend learning. Those seeking professional development opportunities will benefit from problematizing their practice in order to figure out what they would like to learn. What do you need to learn? How can you best learn it?

Valuable learning that happens when art teachers collaborate (Lind, 2007). I recommend that art educators consider what they want to learn and with whom they can learn it. Art educators who value the rich learning that takes place when they collaborate with others must work to initiate shared professional learning experiences. Teacher-created collaborative spaces are free from standardization and allow for sustained inquiry over time.

Recently, while supervising student teachers, I ran into a county art supervisor. After a discussion about the struggle to authentically assess student learning in the arts, I shared my love for assessment-related issues and some names of colleagues with whom I have learned much about assessment. She immediately asked if I thought one of those people would be willing to come speak at a county-wide in-service day. It struck me as odd that she hadn’t considered offering a book study for some interested teachers, or using teachers in her county who do assessment well to mentor other teachers in that area. 

The predominant professional development model involves an expert coming and passing knowledge to teachers who do not yet have that knowledge. However, I believe teachers have a wealth of knowledge, and given the chance to collaborate, create rich learning opportunities. I recommend ways to create these opportunities in my next post.

-Leslie Gates

References
Lind, V. (2007). High quality professional development: an investigation of the supports for and barriers to professional development in arts education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 8(2).

Wednesday 07.29.09

Now What? Recommendations - Part 2

I recognize that creating shared learning spaces like a book study group, or a collaborative inquiry group, requires a high level of commitment, especially if this happens in addition to time required in learning experiences that “count” (i.e. meet criteria for re-certification and other necessary requirements). 

Art teachers can make professional development within their district more meaningful (or negotiate release time, when applicable) by volunteering to be part of planning committees that determine professional development content and structure. Using research about effective professional development (e.g. Barret, 2006; Hawley & Valli, 2007) can provide common language for art teachers and administrators to discuss and negotiate how the school can best provide meaningful learning experiences for the art educator that also contribute to the school’s goal of improving student achievement.

I recommend that art teachers and administrators who design professional development opportunities intentionally move away from the role of a content provider and towards the role of a facilitator. As a facilitator, the time previously spent preparing and delivering content can now be spent supporting teachers’ inquiry and working to present teachers’ professional learning as sophisticated and able to meet criteria set by outside agencies. Furthermore, embracing a facilitator role challenges the notion that professional learning requires an expert, and acknowledges that teachers can take the lead in designing their own professional learning opportunities both within and outside their districts.

I believe that professional learning experiences can honor emergent, learner-defined content and, with few concessions, meet requirements from departments of education and funding agencies in order to create learning opportunities that “count” for participants. This attempt requires creative attention and full commitment. 

NOTE: I have enjoyed sharing these ideas with you. If you would like to continue this discussion, please feel free to email me at lesliegatespaea at gmail dot com. Thanks also to Linda Scott from NAEA for giving me the opportunity to be the monthly mentor.

-Leslie Gates

References

-Barrett, J. R. (2006). Recasting professional development for music teachers in an era of reform. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 19-28.
-Hawley, W. & Valli, L. (2007). Designing and implementing school-based professional development. In Hawley, W. (Ed.). The keys to effective schools: Educational reform as continuous improvement (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Tuesday 07.28.09

Obstacles – Part 2

Do you feel trusted to pursue professional development activities that are meaningful to you? Who has the power to determine how you spend “professional development” days in your district?

Issues of Power and Trust
Hawley and Valli (2007) describe the importance of including teachers in the process of identifying what they would like to learn and the process through which they might learn it. I have observed a variety of obstacles that prevent art teachers from playing a role in the design and implementation of their own professional development. These obstacles include:

(a) a lack of knowledge about the unique professional needs of art educators,
(b) district attempts to standardize professional development in response to political pressures,
(c) a general distrust that teachers can define and investigate individual learning goals, and
(d) a lack of resources that support this type of investigation for art teachers.
      
Knapp (2003) describes the role district policy plays in defining and offering professional development to its teachers, however, districts may lack knowledge of art teachers’ needs. In addition, school and district-level administrators face increased pressure to raise students’ test scores, and center much of the professional development content offered within districts on a fixed set of topics (which the administrators have chosen). Attempts to standardize a professional development agenda works against recommendations in the professional development literature that describes the benefits of teachers creating their own learning goals (Fenwick, 2004). Unless teachers have access to additional time and resources for professional development, a fixed agenda also discourages teachers from methodically investigating problems of practice that emerge in their own classrooms throughout the year. 

Allowing teachers to define and investigate their own learning goals is a logical way for professional development to be effectively differentiated based on individual teacher needs. However, this process assumes a level of trust that may not be present between teachers and those responsible for designing the professional development. Even when the goals are teacher-defined, Fenwick (2004) writes, “in practice, school districts and supervisors sometimes exert intentional influence on these goals” (p. 265). The silencing of voices and the promotion of certain lines and modes of inquiry creates situations where “the inquiry stance described with such power by Cochran-Smith and Lytle may potentially be co-opted and misinterpreted until it appears as frozen as the methods it was intended to replace” (Beiler & Thomas, 2009, p. 1033).

In addition, districts that utilize teacher-directed inquiry as a professional development model may lack adequate resources to appropriately support it. Instructional coaches or mentors can significantly enhance the learning experience for teachers, especially when the coach is not also an evaluator (Fenwick, 2004). However, until there is political pressure for increased student learning in the arts, it is unlikely the resources currently spent on literacy and math coaches will also be available for art educators. These obstacles, though not an exhaustive list, demonstrate the challenges art teachers experience in accessing effective professional development.

-Leslie Gates

References

-Bieler, D., & Thomas, A. B. (2009). Finding freedom in dialectic inquiry: New teachers' responses to silencing. Teachers College Record, 111(4), 1030-1064.
-Fenwick, T. J. (2004). Teacher learning and professional growth plans: Implementation of a provincial policy. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 19(3), 259-282.
-Hawley, W. & Valli, L. (2007). Designing and implementing school-based professional development. In Hawley, W. (Ed.). The keys to effective schools: Educational reform as continuous improvement (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
-Knapp, M. S. (2003). Professional development as a policy pathway. Review of Research in Education, 27, 109-157.

Monday 07.27.09

Obstacles - Part 1

Every once in awhile, I get a postcard or brochure in the mail describing a summer artist residency program that promises time for serene art-making bliss and continuing education credit for teachers. As wonderful as it sounds, I have never been able to make this a reality. I imagine that I am not the only one who foregoes potentially transformative experiences due to a lack of time and money paired with things like family commitments. In this post, I describe some common obstacles to effective professional development for art educators: funding, isolation. Tomorrow’s post will cover issues of power and trust.

Funding
Sixty-one percent of art teachers attend professional development opportunities on weekends, after school, and during the summer (Sabol, 2006), and “art educators bear the major degrees of responsibility for pursuing their own professional development” (p. 48). Despite receiving some funding from their schools, 58% of art teachers reported that the support they receive to attend professional development experiences is inadequate. When asked about drawbacks to attending professional development opportunities, teachers’ most frequent response (35%) was that attending professional development was “too expensive.”

Isolation
Teachers value time where they get to work together (Clark, 2001; Birman et al., (2003) with colleagues who “have a shared set of ideas and a vocabulary that [allows] them to understand one another” (Lind, 2007, p. 8). The isolated reality of art teachers creates a logistical challenge to providing art teachers with content-specific professional development that is collaborative and school-based (i.e., affordable). Art teachers who attempt to overcome their isolation by attending professional development outside their school district run into the additional obstacles of distance and time, both of which create the need for funding. Sabol (2006) reports that 17% percent of art educators cite problems with professional development opportunities being too far away, and 34% identified time as an obstacle to attending professional development activities. Art teachers attending professional development outside their districts often do so outside their normal school day when time for professional development is in competition with personal and family responsibilities.  

-Leslie Gates
     
References

-Birman, B., Desimone, L., Porter, A., & Garet, M. (2000). Designing professional development that works. Educational Leadership, 57(8), 28-33.
-Clark, C.M. (Ed.). (2001). Talking shop: Authentic conversation and teacher learning. New York: Teachers College Press.
-Lind, V. (2007). High quality professional development: an investigation of the supports for and barriers to professional development in arts education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 8(2).
-Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional development in art education: A study of needs, issues, and concerns of art educators. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Friday 07.24.09

Accessing High-Quality Professional Development – Part 3

This is the third of three posts describing obstacles that art educators may encounter when attempting to access high quality professional development that takes place outside their schools. In this post, I describe issues of power and trust as an additional obstacle.

Have you ever been involved in designing your own professional development? Hawley and Valli (2007) describe the importance of including teachers in the process of identifying what they would like to learn and the process through which they might learn it. Professional development experiences are most meaningful when they align with teacher needs (Watson & Manning, 2008). My experience working to support art teacher learning tells me that when given the opportunity to articulate their own learning goals, art teachers quickly identify things that they would like to learn. Yet, I’m not convinced that art educators are often invited into this process.

I have observed a variety of reasons that art teachers do not play a more significant role in the design and implementation of their own professional development. These reasons include:
* a lack of knowledge about the unique professional needs of art educators,
* district attempts to standardize professional development in response to political pressures,
* a general distrust that teachers can define and investigate individual learning goals, and
* a lack of resources that support this type of investigation for art teachers.

Knapp (2003) describes the role district policy plays in defining and offering professional development to its teachers, however, districts may lack knowledge of art teachers’ needs. While Jeffers’ (1996) survey attributes some of the variety of art teachers’ professional development needs on their years of experience, other needs vary depending on the school and broader contexts in which the teachers work.

As school and district-level administrators face increased pressure to raise students’ test scores, much of the professional development content offered within districts is likely to center on a fixed set of topics chosen by administrators. Attempts to standardize a professional development agenda works against recommendations in the professional development literature that describes the benefits of teachers creating their own learning goals (Fenwick, 2004). Unless teachers have access to additional time and resources for professional development, a fixed agenda also discourages teachers from methodically investigating problems of practice that emerge in their classroom throughout the year. 

Allowing teachers to define and investigate their own learning goals is a logical way for professional development to be effectively differentiated based on individual teacher needs. However, this process assumes a level of trust that may not be present between teachers and those responsible for designing the professional development. Even when the goals are teacher-defined, Fenwick (2004) writes, “in practice, school districts and supervisors sometimes exert intentional influence on these goals” (p. 265). The silencing of voices and the promotion of certain lines and modes of inquiry creates situations where “the inquiry stance described with such power by Cochran-Smith and Lytle may potentially be co-opted and misinterpreted until it appears as frozen as the methods it was intended to replace” (Beiler & Thomas, 2009, p. 1033).

In addition, districts that utilize teacher-directed inquiry as a professional development model may lack adequate resources to appropriately support it. Instructional coaches or mentors can significantly enhance the learning experience for teachers, especially when the coach is not also an evaluator (Fenwick, 2004). Data presented about district spending in five urban districts (Miles, et al., 2005) reveal large percentages of professional development contract money spent on instructional coaches, mentors, and outside consultants. Current pressure to increase student achievement scores in reading and math has created a felt need for districts to help their teachers improve the quality of reading and math instruction. Currently, literacy and math coaches are in place throughout U.S. schools. Until there is political pressure for increased student learning in the arts, it is unlikely the resources currently spent on literacy and math coaches will be available for art educators. These obstacles, though not an exhaustive list, demonstrate the challenges art teachers experience in accessing effective professional development.

-Leslie Gates

References

Bieler, D., & Thomas, A. B. (2009). Finding freedom in dialectic inquiry: New teachers' responses to silencing. Teachers College Record, 111(4), 1030-1064.
Hawley, W. & Valli, L. (2007). Designing and implementing school-based professional development. In Hawley, W. (Ed.). The keys to effective schools: Educational reform as continuous improvement (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Fenwick, T. J. (2004). Teacher learning and professional growth plans: Implementation of a provincial policy. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 19(3), 259-282.
Jeffers, C. (1996). Professional development in art education today: A survey of Kansas art teachers. Studies in Art Education, 37(2) 101-114.
Knapp, M. S. (2003). Professional development as a policy pathway. Review of Research in Education, 27, 109-157.
Miles, K. H., Odden, A., Fermanich, M., & Archibald, S. (2005). Inside the black box school district spending on professional development in education: Lessons from five urban districts. Washington, D.C.: The Finance Project.
Watson, R., & Manning, A. (2008). Factors influencing the transformation of new teaching approaches from a programme of professional development to the classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 30(5), 689-709.

Wednesday 07.22.09

Accessing High Quality Professional Development – Part 2

This is the second of three posts describing obstacles that art educators may encounter when attempting to access high quality professional development that takes place outside their schools. In this post, I describe the obstacle of isolation.
 
Recently, an art teacher in Pennsylvania described her appreciation for professional development that allowed her to collaborate with other art teachers:
“It’s been really nice to interact with other art educators because in my situation, even though I work at three different school buildings, I don’t interact with any other art educators…It’s been great to share stories and experiences and things we’ve learned…it’s been really valuable to me.” (K. Spencer, personal communication, April 3, 2009)
Teachers value time where they get to work together (Clark, 2001; Birman et al., 2003) with colleagues who “have a shared set of ideas and a vocabulary that [allows] them to understand one another” (Lind, 2007, p. 8). 

Although many reform efforts have attempted to dissolve the autonomous and isolated nature of teaching, teachers still describe their practice as lonely and isolated. This is especially true for elementary art teachers, who are likely to be working as the sole teacher in their discipline within their school setting (Barrett, 2006; Chapman, 2005). 

The isolated reality of art teachers creates a logistical challenge to providing art teachers with content-specific professional development that is collaborative and school-based. Art teachers who attempt to overcome their isolation by attending professional development outside their school district run into the additional obstacles of distance and time. Further compounding problems with funding, 17% cite problems with professional development opportunities being “too far away” (Sabol, 2006).  Thirty-four percent of teachers identified time as an obstacle to attending professional development activities. Art teachers attending professional development outside their districts often do so outside their normal school day when time for professional development is in competition with personal and family responsibilities. 
 
In my next post, I will continue considering obstacles, and will look specifically at issues related power and trust.

-Leslie Gates

References
Barrett, J. R. (2006). Recasting Professional Development for Music Teachers in an Era of Reform. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 19-28.
Birman, B., Desimone, L., Porter, A., & Garet, M. (2000). Designing professional development that works. Educational Leadership, 57(8), 28-33.
Chapman, L. H. (2005). Status of Elementary Art Education: 1997-2004. Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research in Art Education, 46(2), 118-137.
Clark, C.M. (Ed.). (2001). Talking shop: Authentic conversation and teacher learning. New York: Teachers College Press.
Lind, V. (2007). High quality professional development: an investigation of the supports for and barriers to professional development in arts education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 8(2).
Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional Development in Art Education: A Study of Needs, Issues, and Concerns of Art Educators. National Art Education Association.

Monday 07.20.09

Accessing High Quality Professional Development – Part 1

In the previous post, I recommended that we consider professional development effective along five dimensions (contextual fit, disciplinary fit, collaborative interaction, self-directed inquiry, and a focus on student learning). As an art teacher, I was not always able to attend more meaningful professional development opportunities (that exhibited these five dimensions) outside my school. In the next three posts, I will discuss how funding, isolation, and issues of power and trust can work as obstacles that stand in the way of effective professional development for art educators. And don’t worry—next week we’ll talk about what to do to overcome these obstacles!

The small number of art teachers within a school building can make it difficult for school districts to provide meaningful school-based professional development for their art teachers. In Sabol’s (2006) report, 83% of survey respondents indicated that their district provided local professional development, but only 41% percent agreed that district-sponsored professional development was beneficial. Given that 61% of art teachers are attending professional development opportunities on weekends, after school, and during the summer, much of art teachers’ professional development is happening outside of their regular workday, and “art educators bear the major degrees of responsibility for pursuing their own professional development” (Sabol, 2006, p. 48).

However, many school districts offer some support for teachers to attend off-site professional development experiences. Sabol (2006) reports that 88% of respondents receive some type of support from their district, with the most common supports provided as professional leave days (64%), substitute teachers (60%), conference registration fees (53%), and travel expenses (41%). This support does not appear to provide for all of the needs or mitigate all of the barriers that exist. Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported that the support they receive to attend professional development experiences is inadequate.

When asked about drawbacks to attending professional development opportunities, two of the top three most frequent answers related to funding. Teachers’ most frequent response (35%) was that attending professional development was “too expensive.” The third most frequent response, “no support provided by district” (28%), indicates that funding is one of the main obstacles preventing teachers from attending professional development outside their district.

In my next post, I will continue considering obstacles, and will look specifically at the issue of isolation.

-Leslie Gates

References

Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional Development in Art Education: A Study of Needs, Issues, and Concerns of Art Educators. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Wednesday 07.15.09

Working the Framework

In my previous post, I described five dimensions of professional development (based on Barrett, 2006). The list of five dimensions included:
* contextual fit (Would this work with my students and at my school?)
* disciplinary fit (Does this relate to art and art education?)
* collaborative interaction, (I am so alone! Can someone help me with this idea?) and
* self-directed inquiry (Why can’t this professional development be about things that I really want to know?).
* focus on student learning (What does this have to do with my students?)
My experience and the professional development scholarship indicate that teacher learning increases when professional development opportunities exhibit these dimensions. I like to think about these dimensions as sliders on a soundboard. Each opportunity has a different “mix.”

In order to demonstrate how these dimensions may be useful for assessing the “mix” and potential effectiveness of any professional development experience, let us consider a National Art Education Association (NAEA) conference. I chose this professional development venue based on my assumption that many of the readers of this blog have attended an NAEA conference.

Attendance at an NAEA conference may meet teachers’ need for professional development to “fit” with the discipline that they teach (disciplinary fit: it relates to art and art education). Conferences also provide opportunities for teachers to self-direct their learning, allowing teachers to choose the sessions that they attend (self-directed inquiry: you get to choose which sessions you attend based on what you want to know). I acknowledge that whether or not an attendee feels that conferences provide collaborative interaction is contingent on a number of factors. However, my own experiences at NAEA and state-level conferences have included valuable times of networking and of collaboration with colleagues whom I correspond with electronically the rest of the year. The have become, in a sense, family reunions1 and rich times of collaboration.

While a conference might work well in three of the five dimensions, the structure of conferences does not guarantee contextual fit or a focus on student learning. It is possible to go to a dynamic session about the work of an artist who creates bronze sculptures, but return to life as an elementary art teacher where your only supplies are construction paper and glue. Sometimes, there is a large disconnect between what you learn at conferences and what you realize with your students in your situation.

Think about some of your recent professional development experiences in terms of these five dimensions. Which get met regularly? Which are you starving for?

References
Barrett, J. R. (2006). Recasting professional development for music teachers in an era of reform. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 19-28.

1 At the Pennsylvania Art Education Association Conference in 2008, our co-president’s opening line was, “Good morning and welcome to the annual family reunion that you want to come to!” I felt that this line effectively captured the energy in the room.

-Leslie Gates

Monday 07.13.09

What Makes Professional Development Effective?

Many professional development opportunities exist outside school districts. These off-site opportunities often include: professional specialized associations, professional networks, seminars and workshops hosted by non-profit, for profit, and private agencies, and courses offered through colleges and universities (Barrett, 2006). The diversity of these experiences make it hard to talk about all non-school based professional development as a singular entity. Visiting an exhibit at a local museum provides a learning experience that is different than what is expected from a graduate course, for instance.

Art teachers have found professional development opportunities outside their district helpful (Sabol, 2006). This is not surprising, given the fact that the professional development opportunities offered within school districts are not meeting the needs of visual art educators (Charland, 2006; Conway et al., 2005; Sabol, 2006). 

However, we should be careful not to automatically assume that the content-specific nature of the professional development we get outside our district is a higher quality than what we receive inside our school districts. Commenting on my previous post, my colleague Jamie wrote, “I think the biggest disservice we do to ourselves and our students is to automatically assume that an inservice doesn't ‘apply to us’ and tune out. And then I think we assume that PD we receive at our state and national conferences is always valuable simply because it's content-specific. That's definitely NOT true!”

I agree with Jamie’s ideas, and believe that this raises the need for a framework through which we can discuss the (potential) effectiveness of professional development opportunities—both those inside and outside our schools. Whether the professional development is school-based or off-site, there are common characteristics that make these experiences effective in transforming teacher practice and ultimately transforming student learning. While Hawley & Valli’s (2007) recommendations are specifically for school-based professional development, Barrett (2006) proposes just four dimensions that summarize much of the professional development research and are useful for all forms of professional development. She identifies the following four dimensions of professional development:
* contextual fit (Would this work with my students and at my school?)
* disciplinary fit (Does this relate to art and art education?)
* collaborative interaction, (I am so alone! Can someone help me with this idea?) and
* self-directed inquiry (Why can’t this professional development be about things that I really want to know?).
I believe that another dimension is necessary:
* focus on student learning (What does this have to do with my students?)
A focus on student learning reminds us that our professional development should be serving our primary goal as educators: facilitating student learning. In the next post, I will demonstrate how these dimensions are useful in assessing the effectiveness of a professional development experience. Stay tuned!

References
Barrett, J. R. (2006). Recasting professional development for music teachers in an era of reform. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 19-28.
Charland, W. (2006). The art association/higher education partnership: Implementing residential professional development. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 31-39.
Conway, C. M., Hibbard, S., Albert, D., & Hourigan, R. (2005). Professional development for arts teachers. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(1), 3-9.
Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional development in art education: A study of needs, issues, and concerns of art educators. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

-Leslie Gates

Tuesday 07. 7.09

School-Based Professional Development

Schools often require art teachers to take part in the professional development workshops that take place in their school buildings. These experiences, like the one described in my previous post, are often used by the district or school to advance a new initiative such as Response to Intervention (RTI), Understanding By Design (UBD), or Reading Apprenticeship (RA).

In 2007, Bill Hawley and Linda Valli described principles of effective, school-based professional development (listed below). The type of professional development they describe calls into question the effectiveness of one-day workshops and seminars. When schools employ Hawley and Valli’s principles, the professional development usually involves teachers in professional learning communities viewing student work while planning, implementing, and reworking assessments of student learning. Teachers may be organized into learning communities based on the grade level or subject matter they teach, or assigned to interdisciplinary teams.

Because art educators share students with other teachers, it is plausible to think that they may contribute substantially to any assigned group. However, because art is almost never the focus of the professional development, grade level and subject matter groups often do not reciprocate the same level of content-specific professional learning back to an art teacher. The art teacher may help identify weaknesses in a piece of student writing, but if the focus of the group is improving a fourth grader’s writing, the fourth grade teachers are not responsible to provide the same feedback on a fourth grade student’s painting.

It is not my intention to claim that it is impossible for art educators to be meaningfully involved in a school-wide improvement in the ways described above. Stewart and Davis (2007) describe both the advantages and disadvantages of having art educators on disciplinary teams. Certainly, an art teacher is very much concerned about the overall school goals and should be expected to participate in and contribute to professional development opportunities related to the school at large. However, districts that always require art teachers to take part in learning communities organized by grade level or interdisciplinary group are not providing the same quality of content-based professional development to the art teachers that is regularly afforded to other teachers.

Art teachers who lack art teacher colleagues in their school building may find that participating in school-based professional development does not meet their need for content-specific professional development. Not surprisingly, then, art teachers who seek out content and pedagogical content knowledge often turn to sources outside their school. My next post will explore some of the professional development opportunities art teachers value that take place outside of school districts.

Characteristics of Effective School-Based Professional Development
1. Focus on what student are to learn and how to address the different problems students may have learning that material;
2. Be driven by analyses of the differences between (a) goals and standards for student learning, and (b) student performance;
3. Involve teachers in the identification of what they need to learn and, when possible, in the development of the learning opportunity or the process to be used;
4. Be primarily school based and integral to school operations;
5. Provide learning opportunities that relate to individual needs but are, for the most part, organized around collaborative problem solving;
6. Be continuous and ongoing, involving follow-up and support for further learning—including support from sources external to the school that can provide necessary resources and an outsider perspective;
7. Incorporate evaluation of multiple sources of information on (a) outcomes for students, and (b) processes that are involved in implementing the lessons learned through professional development;
8. Provide opportunities to engage in developing a theoretical understanding of the knowledge and skills to be learned;
9. Be integrated with a comprehensive change process that deals with impediments to and facilitators of student learning (Hawley & Valli, 2007, p. 87-91).

References
Hawley, W. & Valli, L. (2007). Designing and implementing school-based professional development. In Hawley, W. (Ed.). The keys to effective schools: Educational reform as continuous improvement (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Stewart, P. J. & Davis, S. (2007). Including middle school art teachers on interdisciplinary teams: a case study. In Hall, N. (Ed.) The Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference of the European Teacher Education Network. Retrieved 5/26/09 from
http://www.eten-online.org/eten.publications.php.

-Leslie Gates