Factor 3: A Focus on Learning from Peers On-Site

Factor 3 can be characterized as having a Monticello-Learning from Peers/Colleagues focus. This is the largest factor, consisting of nine participants prior to the Institute, and a total of eleven participants afterwards, with eight remaining constant, creating a fairly stable group. While it is not exclusive, one of the interesting aspects about the individuals who moved into this factor in the post is that all three of them identify as non-white. Given the sensitivity of the topics engaged over the course of the institute, it speaks to the collegiality of the group that there would be such movement. The movement towards Factor 3 also reflects the intentionality with which TJF staff create a collaborative environment for participants, as well as the sensitivity with which slavery is addressed on-site.

In their interviews participants spoke effusively about working with peers from around the country. For example, Participant 2 noted:

“I love the fact that when you come to professional development you meet amazing teachers that come from places different than yours…. After the institute the networking piece moved up for me. Having the Sally Hemings conversation was really powerful for me. I could have gone all afternoon. I love hearing the different perspectives from colleagues.”

With this interest in working with colleagues was a clear sense of connection and fascination with the historic site itself. However, unlike participants who loaded on Factor 2, the participants who loaded on Factor 3 were less concerned with the historical processes and evidence necessary to construct the historic site, than with inspiration that being at a historic site provides.

 

The teachers in Factor 3 consistently ranked the following statements as “most like me:”

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

6: Providing immediate access to the places and objects related to Monticello to improve my understanding of the people who lived there.

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

The teachers in Factor 3 consistently ranked the following statements as “least like me:”

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

58: Providing a break from unsupportive peers that I usually interact with.

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 3 as a unique grouping:

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

Positively Ranked:

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

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

Neutrally Ranked:

16: Helping me consider evidence from multiple perspectives and develop a reasoned argument about the past.

24: Helping me develop critiques of “common knowledge” about historical events and persons.

Negatively Ranked:

17: Providing opportunities to judge people in history against contemporary standards.

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

58: Providing a break from unsupportive peers with whom I usually interact.

 

Throughout their choice of statements and interviews, there were loose suggestions of tying the experience to the classroom or of pedagogy, but few specifics were offered. So while the teachers in Factor 3 were very involved in the Institute as a professional network, their analytical engagement was limited. Therefore, without additional guidance on how to best utilize the unstructured time MTI provides, these teachers could walk away with little beyond the experience of a tourist. As a result of these insights, TJF staff is actively discussing methods for encouraging deeper historical analysis during the Institute as facilitated by this spirit of camaraderie.

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