[Summary by David Strahan & Melissa Hedt (2009) from Teaching and Teaming More Responsively: Case Studies in Professional Growth at the Middle Level]
Spillane conducted systematic observations with 25 elementary and middle grades math teachers who had participated in districtwide reform initiatives and reported high levels of implementation on surveys. Over time, only four of these teachers demonstrated teaching practices consistent with the reform. In contrast to their colleagues who tended to work individually, these four had created functional “enactment zones” which Spillane defined as “the spaces where the world of policy meet the world of practice.” Enactment zones featured ongoing deliberations with colleagues and facilitators, reading and discussing documents related to the reforms, and watching and discussing videotapes.
Spillane's account suggests three important characteristics of the enactment zones of those teachers who had changed the core of their practice. First, their enactment zones extended beyond their individual classrooms to include fellow teachers and local and external `experts’ on the reforms. Second, their enactment zones involved both deliberations on the reform ideas and teachers’ efforts to put these ideas into practice. Third, their enactment zones included a variety of material resources that were used to support learning about the enactment of these reform ideas.
Whether teachers who do not have the requisite individual capacity enact reforms in ways that revise the core of their practice will depend on the extent to which their enactment zones are
- social rather than individualistic;
- involve rich deliberations about the substance of the reforms and the practicing of these reform ideas with other teachers and reform experts;
- include material resources or artifacts that support deliberations about instruction and its improvement.