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School-University Partnerships: Power of complementarity. Joseph P. McDonald New York University American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting San Diego April 2009. Two Claims.

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school university partnerships power of complementarity

School-University Partnerships:Power of complementarity

Joseph P. McDonald

New York University

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting

San Diego

April 2009

two claims
Two Claims
  • Complementarity arises from paired institutional traits that under the right circumstances balance asset and deficit.
  • The power of complementarity is the power to lend a necessarily joint enterprise (for example, teacher education) adventurousness and continuity.
university v school

Very Loosely coupled


Increasingly Tightly coupled

University v. School
university v school1




University v. School
university v school2


Comparatively lots of resource slack


Under threat

Comparatively little resource slack

University v. School
what is needed to tap the power of complementarity
What is needed to Tap the Power of Complementarity?
  • Championship
  • Interpretation
  • Contact
  • Formal Agreement
  • Action space
1 championship
1. Championship

Champions with clout on both sides

Aware of the culture gap

Appreciate the value of the university’s social capital, and of the school’s grounding.

Speak well of the other

2 interpretation
2. Interpretation
  • Bi-cultural liaisons on both sides
  • Return each other’s phone calls
  • Show up in each other’s world
  • Feel empowered in each other’s world
  • Scout opportunities for mutual self-interest
  • Expect and handle problems
  • Interpret one world to the other
3 contact
3. Contact

Critical mass of interning professionals

Research involvement

Shared space

Service on each other’s committees

4 formal agreement
4. Formal agreement

To operate in mutual self-interest

To exchange liaisons

To scout needs and resources on both sides

To license each other’s use of the relationship

To work toward critical mass in contact

To expect sustainability, but exit gracefully at either partner’s choosing

5 action space
5. Action Space
  • Something of mutual interest and obvious importance is at stake.
  • A community of reliable inquiry has formed.
  • Multiple sources of knowledge and intuition are brought to bear.
  • Resources are committed.
  • A strong sense of we develops.
example of action space
Example of Action Space

Co-teaching Inquiries into Teaching & Learning in NYC schools

  • Introductory course for all NYU aspiring teachers
  • Co-taught by NYU faculty or doctoral students, and NYC teachers appointed as NYU adjunct faculty
  • Taught in high-needs schools
  • Up to 28 sections a year