surveys defined “poor administrative support” as including a lack of recognition and support from administration and a lack of resources and material and equipment for the classroom.
Some research indicates that teachers do not respond to sustained professional development by taking their new knowledge and skills to other schools, but rather by staying and creating new benefits where they are. One study found that schools that provide more support to new teachers, including such professional development activities as induction and mentoring, have lower turnover rates (Ingersoll, 2003, p. 8). In addition, some researchers argue that, although professional development expends resources (time, money, supplies), it also creates new human and social resources (Gamoran et al., 2003, p. 28).
Gamoran and others studied six sites where teachers and educational researchers collaborated to reform science and mathematics teaching, focusing on teaching for understanding. “Teaching for understanding” was defined as including a focus on student thinking, attention to powerful scientific ideas, and the development of equitable classroom learning communities. Gamoran and colleagues found that, although the educational researchers provided an infusion of expertise from outside each of the six school sites, the professional development created in collaboration with the local schools had its greatest impact in supporting local teachers in developing their own communities. These school-based teacher communities, in turn, not only supported teachers in improving their teaching practices, but also helped them create new resources, such as new curricula. The teaching communities that developed, with their new leaders, succeeded in obtaining additional resources (such as shared teacher planning time) from within the schools and districts (Gamoran et al., 2003) and also from outside of them. Although the time frame of the study prevented analysis of whether the teacher communities were sustained over time, the results suggest that school districts can use focused professional development as a way to create strong teaching communities with the potential to support continued improvement in laboratory teaching and learning.
Currently, most schools are designed to support teaching that follows predictable routines and schedules (Gamoran, 2004). Administrators allocate time, like other resources, as a way to support teachers in carrying out these routines. However, several types of inflexible scheduling may discourage effective laboratory experiences, including (a) limits on teacher planning time, (b) limits on teacher setup and cleanup time, and (c) limits on time for laboratory experiences.