Factor 2: A Focus on Learning from the Experts

Factor 2 can be characterized as having a Monticello-Learning from Experts focus. This is the smallest and most stable grouping, comprised of three teachers at the beginning of the Institute, and three afterwards, with two teachers remaining on the factor throughout. These teachers were characterized by statements that emphasized the value of working with the site staff experts, particularly to the exclusion of working with peers. The statements chosen for this factor as “Most Like Me” were exclusively representative of the content-focused C3 statements. The statements chosen as “Least Like Me” were primarily drawn from the Professional disposition-focused NCATE statements. For example, at the outset of the Institute Participant 23 stated, “I don’t know that I have in my teaching career the time or the interest to continue developing peer relationships from seminars…Not knowing in a week the warp and weave of other peers, I don’t know that I’d ask them anything, or that I’ve ever asked them anything.”

The teachers in Factor 2 consistently ranked the following statements as “most like me:”

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

22: Helping me consider the historical context of the motives and actions of people in history.

29: Allowing me to see that the power of place is critical for informing the historical narrative.

The teachers in this factor consistently ranked the following statements as “least like me:”

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

52: Helping me develop a caring and supportive network of peers.

11: Helping me to see the superiority of America’s culture to other world cultures.

The following statements emerged in a repeated pattern that helped the research team distinguish Factor 2 as a unique grouping:

Positively Ranked:

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

22: Clarifying that what happened in the past and our interpretation of it are not the same thing.

27: Helping me question what I think I know about historic events and persons.

28: Helping me recognize that an historic site can serve as a microcosm of larger historical realities.

29: Allowing me to see that the power of place is critical for informing the historical narrative.

34: Giving me tools to provide my students with multiple perspectives to view historical events.

Neutrally Ranked:

2: Helping me establish a clear chronology of events.

4: Helping me recognize that Monticello offers a true picture of life in the Early Republic.

35: Modeling how to integrate historical content and concepts in ways that draws upon students’ family and community experiences.

Negatively Ranked:

42: Providing opportunities for me to collaborate with and provide feedback to peer-teachers.

43: Giving me the opportunity to build a network of peers who share my content interests.

46: Giving me the opportunity to build a network of peers and mentors with culturally diverse perspectives.

48: Providing opportunities to receive feedback from peer-teachers.

52: Helping me develop a caring and supportive network of peers.

55: Providing me refreshing time to spend with peers.

9: Understanding how representing the perspective of a single dominant culture offers a clear national narrative.

 

These participants’ concerns were the most indicative of complex historical thinking and disciplinary learning, both for them and for their students, repeatedly citing the ways in which they would use evidence to make historical claims. Participant 23, discussing why he chose particular statements:

“The statements [chosen] are more analytical, asking what the people, as best as we can tell through primary sources and secondary sources, were thinking at the time that the action was happening. History becomes a story laden with historical memory which is sometimes very accurate and sometimes very inaccurate. […] Once you begin to read more and ask more questions, you begin to discover from experts how much you don’t know. It’s a rewarding experience to ask good questions and be directed to areas to understand additional information.”

With a unique focus on what history is and how it functions, the focus on content and historical analysis of Factor 2 speaks to a small proportion of MTI participants and applicants, whose focus may reflect a more traditional professional development program based around lectures and the transfer of knowledge, rather than the intentionally collaborative, discussion-based format of Monticello’s program. In light of the initial findings as a whole, Monticello staff is reassessing the objectives and admission qualifications of the Monticello Teacher Institute prior to the 2017 pilot.

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