R. Lloyd Ryan
Assistant Superintendent
Notre Dame Integrated School Board
Winter 1994

 Not so long ago, we all believed in the virtues of continuing education, especially the inservice variety.  It is strange, is it not, that the former adjective, "inservice," qualifying the type of continuing education, has evolved into a noun. INSERVICE now stands alone - in more ways than one.

 INSERVICE is a funny animal.  Everybody believes it to be necessary, but the product itself does not enjoy a great deal of popularity (Nicholson & Joyce, 1976).  While the invective may not now be quite as severe as it once was, many teachers are still not greatly charitable in their assessment of their inservice education experiences.  Many inservice providers are undoubtedly puzzled and are probably asking "Why is this?  Why do teachers not appreciate the inservice that we burn our buns preparing for them? What do teachers want, anyway?"

 In any review of the inservice continuing education literature, there is one lesson that seems to come through quite strongly.  That lesson is that teachers want to be INVOLVED in their inservice.

 Being somewhat of an amateur semanticist in my personal search for meaning, I wondered what INVOLVEMENT meant, but found that the literature did not clarify the meaning.  What I did discover was that everybody using the term had his/her own assumed personal meanings.

 I wanted to give the word back its meaning, because I thought that it would be useful to do so.  I undertook a piece of research to find the meaning of "involvement," as it applied to teachers and inservice continuing education or inservice staff development.

 The task that I set out to do was a difficult one, I found, because the words "inservice" and "continuing education" and "staff development" have also lost their meanings.  One organization, the National Education Association (1966), for example, suggested that camping constituted inservice teacher education.  It appeared that a great variety of experiences could qualify as inservice teacher education.  So it was in the context of fluid meanings of words and slippery concepts that I tried to determine what teacher "involvement" in inservice education might mean.

 People are complex beings.  Becoming a teacher means that the human being becomes even more complex.  At one time we believed that once a person turned 21, then s/he was an adult and continued on without much change until senility.  The eventual recognition of the female, and later still the male, menopause caused beliefs to change.  Eventually, through the research of people like Gail Sheehy (1981, 1982) and Patricia Cross (1981), we came to realize that adults are undergoing almost constant change - physically, cognitively, sensually, emotionally, socially, attitudinally,
morally, egotistically, personally, mentally, psychologically, self-conceptually, aggressively, sexually, relationally, and so on.  We now know that the typical adult is a virtual maelstrom of change and that very few of our stereotypes are valid.  The manifestations of these changes were investigated by a research group at the Ontario Institute for Study in Education (Miller, et al, 1982; Miller & Taylor, 1983) who discovered, for example, that as male and female teachers progress through their
careers, they perceive themselves and their careers differentially and they develop different career aspiration patterns.  For example, after a certain age and career stage, male teachers typically abandon their aspirations to promotions to administrative positions, while female teachers experience an awakening in their administrative aspirations.

 One of these significant changes characterizing adults is that they change as learners.  Malcolm Knowles (1980) calls the related knowledge ANDRAGOGY and suggests that adult learners, such as teachers, want their wealth of experience to be acknowledged and to be used as a learning resource; they want greater independence and self-direction in their learning experiences; they want new learning to meet their real-life needs; and they want their learning to be goal-directed or performance-centred.  Some of the implications of this new knowledge are: (i) inservice has to have an emphasis on experiential techniques; (ii) it has to have practical application; and (iii) it has to provide initial experiences to help teachers prepare for the new learning. 

 Other researchers (e.g. Schaiper & Delforge, 1982; Dunn & Bruno, 1985) have inferred from their research that adults have different preferred and optimal learning styles.  For example, some prefer field-dependent, and others field-independent methods; some prefer auditory methods but others are more comfortable with visual, or tactile components.  Other researchers talk about various  conceptualizations of learning styles: visual language, visual numeric, auditory language, auditory numeric, tactile concrete, social individual, social group, concrete random, abstract random, concrete sequential, abstract sequential, oral expressiveness, and written expressiveness.  These theorists claim that teachers will prefer some, maybe personally-unique, combination of these learning modes.  One researcher (Guild, 1988) says that "every individual has basic fundamental patterns and approaches...as learners" (p. 2), that these styles can be identified, and that they can be taken into account when staff development activities are being designed.  He also says that individuals study and organize differently, and that different staff development decisions about materials demand different instructional styles.

 Related to these findings are those having to do with career stage.  Several researchers (e.g. Neugarten, 1968; Kimmel, 1980) have discovered that people have unique personal ambitions and that they are always checking their career timetables to determine whether they are on track with their life plans.  If they are on-course, they appear to be somewhat satisfied; if they are not on-course, if they are not achieving their aspirations, then dissatisfaction begins to set in.

 There is a significant lesson for educational administrators and other inservice providers in these findings.  It appears that a great many teachers are not finding fulfilment in  their careers.  They feel that they are not making valuable personal contributions and that their contributions are not recognized.  Consequently, they begin to pursue other interests outside of school where they do find either personal self-fulfilment, or recognition for their achievements, or both.  That is, their energies are directed away from their jobs and they do not invest the effort and energies into teaching
responsibilities as they might otherwise, at one time, have done. 

 The challenge for principals and other administrators, here, is two-fold.  Firstly, administrators have to try to enhance jobs so that teachers are able to develop a sense of self-fulfilment from them,  and secondly, undoubtedly related to the first, administrators have to let teachers know, individually, that their contributions are recognized and that the teachers, as people, are appreciated and valued.

 All of this is made to appear more complex, from a research perspective, when the literature of psychiatry is added to the mix.  Then, we find that a person's behaviour is a function of personality and that personality is a function of personal experiences, at least to a significant degree.  For teachers, some of these experiences are, of course, those having to do with past involvement in inservice continuing education. 

 It appears that the most significant experiential component affecting a person's psychological structure is the matter of general satisfaction, which seems to have an inverse relationship with the cumulation of stress related trauma.  Again, continuing education experiences can play a significant role.

 Numerous researchers have documented the degree of teacher stress and its dysfunctional effects, both personally and professionally.  There is almost unanimous agreement (Moorhead, 1983; NTA, 1983; Rogers, 1992; Sparks, 1979) that teacher stress is quite high and that teachers at all teaching assignments and at all ages experience it.  The effects of stress, popularly called "burnout," is readily recognized, and follows a sequence: lack of enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, and apathy
(Freudenberger, 1986).  This results in deteriorating job performance and morale, gradual loss of confidence, diminished self-esteem, lack of creativity, poor performance, conservatism, fear of change, less patience with children, ulcers, high blood pressure, allergies, heart attacks, mental breakdown, (e.g. Selye, 1981; Kaiser & Polczynski, 1982; Moorhead, 1983) and general physical, emotional, and attitudinal exhaustion (Scrivens, 1979), and so on. 

 Probably, one of the most significant findings in the teacher stress literature is that there is one major culprit contributing to teacher stress ... and that is administrative behaviours (e.g. Lambert, 1968; Schroder, 1971; Holdaway, 1978; Moorhead, 1983). One might take some comfort (but it is cold comfort) from the research findings that indicate that the same is true of many business and industrial settings, where worker stress can be traced substantially to the behaviours of their managers and supervisors.

 This relationship between the behaviour of principals and teacher stress is manifested in a number of ways.  From one study in Ontario (Morehead, 1983) it was concluded that teachers' least complementary remarks are reserved for district administrators, supervisory people, and their principals.  Teachers called them inept, incompetent, unreasonable, and inflexible.  In particular, teachers seemed to resent the lack of involvement they had in decision-making which affected them.  Another researcher (Scrivens, 1979) claims that teachers feel used, and are frustrated because
their principals force fads on them.  The experience of Sentinel Secondary School (Gould, 1993) is a dramatic example. 

 Related to this, Matteson & Ivancevich (1979, 1980) claim that teachers are stressed because of a lack of support from their principals, lack of status, poor communication, and other factors over which teachers have little control.  Other researchers (Blase & Matthews, 1984) say that principals do not provide recognition to teachers for their accomplishments. They say that teachers feel manipulated, helpless, impotent, and frustrated over lack of possibilities for input.   Another researcher (Unger, 1986) says that when teachers feel that they have little control over their professional lives, they become less productive. 

 This is not surprising, of course.  It is pretty well an accepted phenomenon, now, that when people lose a sense of personal control, they become depressed and cease to strive.  We see the same thing happening to students at school.  Deming (1990) says that all humans want to be effective, and Rhodes (1990) says "that [people] are purposeful cognitive beings intrinsically motivated to seek satisfaction through the accomplishment of their purposes" (p. 34)

 Now, the positive news is that principals have it within their power to reduce teacher stress (Ratsoy, 1986; Dubrin, 1981; Bailey, 1983).  A number of researchers (Bailey, 1983) have pointed out that it is within the power of principals to determine the organizational climate of his or her school.  These researchers say that principals have to assist teachers in believing that they are successful.  One of the most effective ways to achieve this is for principals to ensure that teachers have a real voice in decision-making.  Other researchers (Moorhead, 1983) say that principals must develop better
human relations skills, better communication skills and processes, and must develop a more caring attitude toward teachers.  Some of this will be fostered by frequent and meaningful consultation between teachers and their principals.  It is worth noting that Deming says that between 80% and 90% of organizational problems are caused by the system and processes extant (Schenkat, 1993).

 None of this should seem new or surprising.  It is just well-known psychological phenomena now put in principal and teacher terms.  Everybody knows about Maslow's hierarchy and how it is commonly accepted that the human being strives toward self-actualization - to be all that s/he can be.  More than anything else, people need the approval of others, and they need to have their self-esteem supported and strengthened.

 That is not to say, nor does most of the research suggest, that teachers have to be involved in all school-level decision making.  There are several practical deterrents.  Firstly, teachers simply do not have the time, even if they had the inclination. Secondly, teachers are not willing to spend the necessary after-school time in all the meetings that would be required.  Thirdly, most teachers want to be recognized as professional people, and want their principals to help create a supportive environment so that they can get on with their job.  Fourthly, there are simply too many decisions to
be made.  Somebody has to make the daily and hourly decisions which keep a school operating.  Clearly, then, the role of the principal is not being eroded.  Some of the literature on "restructuring" seems to be suggesting something otherwise.  However, it appears that the "no administrator needed" notions are being advocated by people who have had very little exposure to the realities of schools.

 It has to be noted, though, that there are decision areas which directly affect teachers, and the literature seems virtually unanimous that teachers should be playing key roles in related decision-making.  One of these decision areas is the matter of inservice continuing education.  The wealth of research on inservice education is pointing very strongly toward the principle  that teachers want to be involved in planning and carrying out their inservice, and they want opportunity to individualize their inservice experiences so that these experiences will be personally relevant.  There is, also, the supportive psychological phenomenon that is sometimes called "ownership".  This
translates into teachers perceiving as more relevant, useful, and meaningful those inservice education experiences in which they have had active decision-making roles.

 In research, conducted by Ryan (1989), in which 400 teachers in nine school districts were surveyed, teachers were asked to what degree they wanted to be involved in the various processes of curriculum development for their inservice activities.  The resulting data were analyzed with respect to teacher age, sex, education, teaching experience, career stage, job satisfaction, type of teacher training, and type of teaching assignment.  The teachers were asked to what degree they wanted to be involved in the full gamut of activities characterizing the development and expediting of inservice activities.  These inservice curriculum development activities were perceived to be (a)
developing philosophy, (b) setting objectives, (c) determining content, (d) selecting materials, (e) choosing techniques, (f) sequencing activities (i.e. developing the learning plan), (g) evaluating the success of the efforts, and (h) revising the total experience and planning follow-up activities.

 Analyses revealed that there were some differences in the patterns of involvement which teachers prefer, and that these differences had to do with sex, age, education, and teaching assignment, primarily.  In general, older, male, better-educated, and secondary teachers want more involvement in the various aspects of inservice than younger, female, lesser-educated, and primary teachers.  However, it would be an over-simplification to leave things there.  In actual fact, some teachers want some involvement in some aspects of the inservice curriculum development sequence, and almost no involvement in other aspects.  That is to say that it is virtually impossible to look at a particular teacher or group of teachers and be able to predict what degree of involvement he, she, or they will want in a particular aspect of planning and expediting their inservice staff development.

 The elegantly simple conclusion is that if one wants to know the pattern of involvement that individual teachers prefer in planning for and expediting inservice education, it will be necessary to ask them, individually. Furthermore, It should be expected that the pattern of involvement that a particular teacher wants will change over time, and may change radically from one inservice activity to another.  In other words, although it is true that teachers want to be involved in the decision-making for their inservice, they simply have to be consulted about their individual desired type and intensity of involvement if the inservice activities are to be worthwhile.

 It is important not to fall into the jargon and cliché trap.  However, it is vital to emphasize that teachers do need to be involved in collaborative decision-making, especially if they are going to be affected by the decisions.  Very few decisions made in schools will affect teachers more directly than those having to do with inservice education.  Not only will teachers feel better about themselves if they are involved in inservice-related decisions, but that collaborative involvement will help create a climate in which principals can have much more professional interaction with teachers.  When
teachers feel good about themselves, they will feel good about the principal, and will be much more conscientious and effective.  Furthermore, when teachers are involved in the inservice-related decisions, the resulting inservice activities will be of higher quality, generally; the activities will be more relevant, and teachers - now having accepted a degree of psychological ownership for the inservice activities - will become much more positive in their perceptions of  the specific inservice activities, as well as of other inservice activities, especially if other teachers have a hand in planning them.

 While the word is used with reluctance, simply because it has already begun to lose its meaning, "empowerment" (Maeroff, 1988) will be gained, to some degree, by teachers when principals and teachers work together collaboratively, with mutual respect and cooperation, on inservice, and on other issues.  From a psychological perspective, teachers are given some power over their own futures and feel more personal control over their own lives.

 It is not being advocated that principals relinquish any of their authority as principals.  That is not the point at all!  The principal will still be principal. Neither is it a matter of "democratic decision-making", which means nothing more than everybody-making-a- decision-and-nobody- taking- responsibility-for-it.  Having teachers involved will mean that they will participate in all aspects of inservice curriculum development.  It also means that they will be involved in needs
assessment, for example.  In other words, they will be consulted; they will have input; they will be listened to; their opinions and advice will be considered; and their perspectives will be taken into account when the final decisions are made.  In fact, there should be occasions when they, or their representatives, will make the final decisions. 

 A related inservice truth is that if inservice activities are not based on adequate needs assessment, then the resulting inservice activities have no valid reason to occur.  One of the first phases of any inservice activity sequence is adequate needs assessment.  Furthermore, needs assessment simply cannot be credibly conducted without teacher participation.

 There is an interesting question related to this issue: "Do teachers know what their inservice needs are?"  There are two answers, an unqualified "yes", and an unqualified "no".  Some advocates say "Yes, because teachers are professional people"; others say "Yes, because we have to trust teachers".  In fact, neither of these reasons supports the "yes" response.  Teachers can be professional, and we can trust them, but that does not answer the question whether they do, in fact, know what their inservice needs are.

 The more rational and supportable response to the question is that SOME teachers know SOME of their inservice needs SOME of the time.  In fact, they will likely know some of their inservice needs that cannot be identified any other way than by asking them -and for that reason they should be involved in needs assessment.  But, the principal, supervisory personnel, and other teachers will also be in a position to recognize inservice needs that individual teachers will not recognize, simply because it is extremely difficult for individuals to look at themselves and see their professional
"needs" objectively and dispassionately.  Furthermore, it is the principal's responsibility to students, and to parents, to ensure that teachers receive the inservice education that is needed to support and foster student success, regardless whether teachers see the need or not.

 The caution is that school administrators can no longer decide for teachers that they are going to be summoned to some central location, where they will be talked to by some "expert", and then told to go back to their classrooms like good little boys and girls and do like the man said.  That whole process has been demeaning; the teachers have gone back to their schools and said that it was all a waste of time, which it usually has been! 


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