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Several types of publications were mentioned as in-service education aids. One school, for example, issues a publication containing ideas that teachers wish to pass on to others for professional improvement. The publication includes examples of: Ways of working in specific areas, ideas for studying children, ways of keeping records of progress, and reviews of professional books which they found helpful. Another school stresses the importance of its teaching manuals which are prepared to give teachers information pertinent to the local school system that will contribute to their growth as teachers. Some schools issue a series of special leaflets dealing with specific problems such as: "Teaching in the Kindergarten," "Helping Slow Readers," "Planning the School Day." In some cases these are planned and produced by a committee of interested teachers; sometimes by parents and teachers; sometimes they are prepared by the supervisory personnel. In many cases they are used as a basis for discussion at teachers meetings.
Seeing Other Teachers at Work
Several schools make provisions for teachers to see other teachers at work in their classrooms as part of the in-service educational opportunities. In some schools new teachers in small groups are provided with opportunity to see special demonstrations of work with children. In other schools this opportunity is open to all interested teachers. Provision is then made for discussion and evaluation of the procedures observed.
One Ohio school reports a rather unusual procedure as part of its in-service education program. An elementary supervisor set up a demonstration room in one of the schools where the learning opportunities for children seemed to be fewer than in the other schools. Pupils from the first three grades from different classrooms in the building made up the group. The elementary supervisor demonstrated with children for a period of more than a month. School in this room lasted during an entire morning. It was open to all interested teachers and there were discussions following the observation. There was great enthusiasm for this activity, and as a result of it several bulletins were issued explaining and expanding the activity that had been observed. The school considers this experiment one of the activities that greatly influenced practice in the classroom.
Appraising Professional Growth
In-service education should, of course, result in growth of all concerned in it; however there seems, at least from the school reports examined, to be little evidence to show how much and what kind of growth results from participation in such programs. One Illinois school system has given some attention to growth of teachers although it is not entirely tied in with the in-service education program. It is described briefly here for what value it may have to schools interested in giving attention to this phase of in-service education.
In this city the board of education, a few years ago, made a ruling that each teacher would be required to give some type of evaluation of his growth as a teacher. This ruling placed a great responsibility on the administration because of the danger of undermining teacher morale through fear of teacher ratings. Therefore, an attempt was made by the school policies committee to work out a method of evaluation which would be acceptable to the teachers, would encourage growth, and would not be thought of as a rating device. After careful work for several months, the policies committee developed a pamphlet called “A Growth Pattern To Be Used for the Study and Stimulation of Good Teaching, Supervision, and Administration."
According to this plan each teacher works out a statement of his own growth pattern and in a personal interview with the principal of his school discusses ways in which the pattern might be improved. The principals also prepare written statements of their own growth patterns which are discussed with the elementary supervisor.
There are many problems in connection with this plan. For example, it has been found that teachers write very few suggestions for their own professional growth. An analysis of this tendency has shown that teachers are afraid "the Central Office" will hold the suggestions up as an assignment.
One growth pattern a year is prepared by teachers on probation. One growth pattern every other year is prepared for teachers on tenure. There is no tie-up of this study of professional growth with salary. Salary is based solely on experience and years of service. For the most part, the teachers believe that working out the growth pattern is good. If nothing else, it requires time for teachers to confer with their principals. This school indicates that the method of evaluating professional growth is considered still to be in an experimental stage.
A large city school system in Texas has issued a bulletin called The Growing Teacher, which sets forth a somewhat similar plan for promoting and measuring professional growth of its teachers. The superintendent says: “The Growing Teacher is a suggestive guide in analysis and improvement and is the outgrowth of a year's serious study in which our elementary teachers participated. The teachers met in committees, discussing, planning and making recommendations concerning the various topics: How I Qualify as a Person, How I Qualify as a Teacher, How I Develop Democratic Living, How I Cooperate with others. Studies were made of present-day evaluation programs used in other cities throughout the Nation. The best available educational books, pamphlets, and periodicals about teacher qualifications were read. Findings and suggestions assembled by the various committees served as a basis for this handbook. The value of the bulletin will depend on the manner in which it is used by the individual. It is not a finished product; rather, it is offered as a challenge to all teachers to strive toward optimum growth.”
The foregoing in-service education programs seem to recognize certain basic principles of teacher education: that it is important for teachers to identify the problems which they feel are essential for study; that they themselves should develop the method for studying these problems and carry out their plans; that there should be provision for individual differences in these plans since teachers have different aptitudes, interests, skills, and abilities and work best when these are taken into account; that learning by doing is appropriate for teachers as well as for any other learner and consequently the program should not be entirely a "listening” one; that a variety of ways may be employed to bring about growth in teaching ability and professional attitude; and that studying children and how they grow and develop is fundamental to an in-service teacher education program.
In describing the planning of a school program, one superintendent of schools writes, “The school exemplifies the meaning and spirit of democracy in all its organization, personnel, and processes. The board, superintendent, teachers, and pupils all have their part in planning and participating in such a program." There is evidence from the record of the work in his school that he also includes parents in this over-all organization and participation. A similar point of view is expressed by many other administrative staff members who are charged with the responsibility of initiating curriculum changes. They are practically unanimous in believing that teachers must be actively involved in curriculum planning if the school's program is to be successful.
A wide variety of ways of working are used to bring about democracy in planning curriculums, establishing school policies, and operating the school in general. For example, several types of planning groups were reported. One New York State school system has a superintendent's cabinet that has been in operation for a dozen years. It consists of principals, supervisors, teachers, board members, parent-teacher groups, representatives from various community clubs, and other community groups. This cabinet makes recommendations regarding school matters to the board of education.
An Illinois city school reports that for the past 8 years a planning committee has directed all major curriculum activities and
has helped with other teaching problems. It is composed of a teacher representative from each grade level from kindergarten through grade eight, a representative from each school building, the chairmen of any standing committees for improvement of teaching subject matter areas, chairmen of any current professional committees, and representation from administration groups. This planning committee reviews problems, plans areas of study, coordinates the school calendar, and works on many other phases of the total school program. Committee recommendations are submitted to all school personnel for criticism, additions, deletions, and other changes. Sometimes the problems for consideration by the planning committee arise from groups of teachers as in the case of the kindergarten teachers who wanted a free morning during the first week of school for the purpose of holding parent conferences. They submitted their case to the planning committee who took action. As one of its projects the group planned a 4-day teachers pre-school workshop. The group reports periodically to all concerned. Other school systems reported similar plans.
The following brief description of an Indiana school system's work on revision of report cards illustrates how a school system, through committee organization, attacks a specific problem related to instruction. The work began when teachers questioned the validity and value of the report cards they were using and asked to experiment with different types of reporting. They requested the parents to discuss reporting problems at parent-teacher meetings. Then an initial working committee was appointed by the superintendent of schools. It consisted primarily of principals because the teachers felt that it would, under the present set-up, be easier for principals to meet for initial discussions. The teachers themselves were represented through the principals of their buildings. These principals also worked with the parent groups.
The committee obtained copies of report card forms from various parts of the United States. They obtained 15 copies of each sample, mounted them and gave the samples to each school for study by parents, teachers, and children. The samples were also studied and evaluated by the committee. On the basis of this study a philosophy of reporting was evolved. Then a questionnaire was sent to all teachers in the system asking for reactions to many different problems and suggestions. The results of this questionnaire were tabulated and incorporated in a report of progress, which included a temporary report card.