These key concepts are embedded into the content and the structure of the PDS Standards.
1. Time Before the Beginning
The initial draft standards recognized the importance of building professional development school partnerships on a foundation of shared interest, mutual commitment, and trust. This foundation is often laid by individuals from both schools and universities working together over some period of time. Partners either need to have this pre-existing relationship or spend time in their initial stages building it, before they can enter into the very difficult and high stakes work of a PDS partnership.
2. Integration of Professional and Student Learning Through Inquiry
Our understanding of what is unique about teaching and learning in a PDS has evolved over the course of the development of the initial draft standards and the field-test. Initially we identified candidate preparation, faculty development, student learning, and inquiry as the four functions of the PDS partnership. We believed that somehow these functions needed to be integrated and that integration resulted in what would be defined as PDS work. Parallel activities focused on each of the separate functions were neither acceptable conceptually, nor practical in the real world. Through the field-test we have learned how inquiry, often the function to get least attention, is the process through which professional and student learning are integrated. In PDS work, candidates and faculty, together, use a process of inquiry to identify and address the diverse learning needs of students. PDS partners and candidates engage in inquiry:
- to identify and meet students’ learning needs;
- to effect candidate learning; and
- to determine their professional development agenda.
3. Placing Students at the Center of PDS Work
Placing students’ needs at the center of PDS work is critical to achieving the integration of professional and student learning. PDS partners and candidates focus on identifying and meeting students’ diverse learning needs by drawing on academic and practitioner knowledge. Just as the patient provides the curriculum for medical students, residents, and staff physicians in a teaching hospital, the P–12 students provide the focus for candidate learning and faculty development in a PDS. The curriculum for candidates or for professional development for teachers does not come from outside the school. Rather, it is generated from the needs of students in the PDS.
4. Learning in the Context of Practice
PDSs embrace the concept that certain kinds of learning occur best in the context of real world practice. Candidates learn about teaching and what to teach in the university; they learn how to teach in schools. Similarly, some aspects of student learning are best achieved by doing. Professional development schools are grounded in this concept and designed to support this kind of learning.
5. Boundary Spanning
University and school partners share responsibility for candidate preparation, faculty development, and student learning. In order to accomplish this, partners and candidates must cross institutional boundaries to develop new roles and relationships. Partners take active roles as teachers and learners in each other’s partnering institutions; cohorts of candidates assume appropriate responsibilities in schools.
6. Blending of Resources
Partners must use their resources differently in order to achieve their goals—blending, reallocating, restructuring, and integrating their funds, time, personnel, and knowledge.
7. Principal Partners and Institutional Partners
PDS partnerships exist on more than one level. There are principal partners (higher education and P–12 faculty) in a PDS who agree to work together, but institutional partners (school district, teachers union or professional association, and university) support their work. Absent the support of institutional partners, the PDS partnership can be severely limited in its development.
8. The Expanded Learning Community
The learning community of the PDS partnership extends beyond the principal and institutional partners and includes other educators, parents, and the community. The involvement of arts and sciences faculty is important in the content and clinical preparation of candidates, the professional development of faculty, and the quality of learning for the P–12 students. Families and community members need to understand and support the partnership that exists between their children’s school and the university. It is their right and responsibility to be informed and, as families, they bring important knowledge about their children into the partnership.
9. The PDS as a Standards-Bearing Institution
PDSs have a unique role in the preparation and development of professionals and in school reform. They are dedicated to the support of good teaching and learning and are committed to implementing standards for professionals, curriculum content standards, student learning standards, and institutional standards for schools and universities.
10. Leveraging Change
PDS partnerships can lead to changes in policies and practices within the partnering institutions. Because the work is inquiry-based and focused on improving teaching and learning for candidates, professionals, and students, PDS partnerships generate new knowledge that is relevant to both university and schools. At the height of their development, PDS partnerships can have impact on local, state, and national policy.