This book offers an innovative approach to understanding and supporting teacher inquiry groups, Critical Friends Groups, “PLCs,” and other vehicles for the school-wide professional learning community. It takes the reader outside traditional sites of professional development for teachers and into the black box theatres and rehearsal studios of contemporary theatre companies. It investigates the methods and specific tools these theatre artists use to collectively create new works for performance. Drawing on these methods and tools, it provides a model for understanding and improving the practices of teacher learning groups, one that highlights the means, materials, and modes of engagement of a group’s activity.
Applying the model to elementary and high school teacher learning groups, it demonstrates how teachers, coaches, and administrators can use it to foster meaningful professional learning and instructional improvement. The book provides not only new ways of thinking about teacher learning in schools, but also frameworks and specific tools to bring teacher learning as collective creation to life.
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David Allen is an Assistant Professor of Education at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. His recent books include Coaching Whole School Change and The Facilitator’s Book of Questions (with Tina Blythe).Review:
David Allen's book is intelligent and insightful as well as useful in practice. A wonderful read. (Anne Bogart, artistic director, SITI Company, New York City)
Into an era obsessed with describing and prescribing learning and teaching – often in the most desiccated ways – comes a refreshing book, the product of boundary-crossing research. The explanations of the functions of 'Exquisite Pressure and Cumulative Progression' are alone worth the price. (Joseph P. McDonald, Professor of Teaching and Learning, New York University)
This book makes clear the connection that has existed all along between creating theatre and recreating schools as places for learning. For schools and teachers, it will encourage collaboration that is more than merely working together, but is instead constructing meaning together. (Teri Schrader, Head of Upper School, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, New York)
Through his well-researched, wise book, David Allen opens our eyes to the many ways in which the cores of teaching and rehearsing are the same: groups of people in a room, solving problems, building something together. (Marcus Geduld, Artistic Director, Folding Chair Classical Theatre Company, New York)
Allen uses a cross-domain methodology and extends it from teachers' preservice experiences to practicing teachers as they work together in teacher learning groups (TLG) in K-12 schools. The opening chapters apply the theoretical foundation of such educators as John Dewey, who maintained that the qualities of 'esthetic experiences' allow perceptions of the nature of any experience to become clearer and more intense. Powerful Teacher Learning focuses on the specific practices of theater artists. Allen investigates the methods of theater artists and their contemporary theater companies, such as the methods of Anne Bogart and her collaborator Tina Landau, and the work of the Ghost Road Company and the RSVP Cycles developed by Lawrence and Anna Halprin. The concluding chapters shift back to TLG, but the thinking and practices of the TLG with the theater arts contribute to the framework for the collective creation. The lessons learned from the theater companies offer inquiry groups and critical-friends groups in schools specific tools for meaningful professional learning and instruction improvement. This book is highly recommended for practicing teachers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers, graduate students, and professionals. (CHOICE)
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