What Teachers Learn in High School: Professional Development and the Redesign of Vocational Education

J. W. Little

What happens to professional development when schools enter the throes of ambitious reform? The current shift in vocational education requires big changes from teachers, like collaborating with colleagues on the other side of the vocational/academic fence, and thinking in new ways about their own subject in order to connect it with others. Drawing on the experience of teachers in three urban high schools, Little charts the school structures, cultures, and policy environments that encourage change. She points out that we must provide teachers with the same fertile learning environment we want them to provide for their students. As a New Mexico principal has said, "If you don't feed your teachers, they'll eat their students." This paper offers a new understanding of professional development, one rooted less in bolstering the skills of individual teachers and more in transforming the high school as a whole.

MDS-1038 / January 1996

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