Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
Ellen P Corcoran
In this case study of a middle school team of teachers, I describe and interpret daily meeting conversations among one group of practitioners over the course of one school year. Through the lens of the social construction of reality, I examine processes of sharing and co-constructing aspects of professional knowledge in this setting.
To conduct the study, I collected data from the regularly scheduled daily team meetings of my own interdisciplinary middle school team. The result is an insider view of the conversations of a group of practitioners who share the same population of students. For purposes of elaboration and triangulation, I conducted individual interviews with the members of the team, and other professionals in the school context. An important aspect of the study is the effect of my presence on the team as a researcher, and my own constructions of professional knowledge that occurred as a result of working on the team as both a researcher and a teacher.
Through narrative description, I develop the story of our interaction. The story begins as we establish tasks and roles. After the school year begins, the focus of our meetings is the students whom we share. Our shared commitment to the success of our students leads to the unveiling of our various conceptualizations of effective teaching practices, and the continual struggle to co-construct team practices. Large segments of verbatim data invite the reader to participate in our conversations and to experience the difficulties and rewards of teaming with us. The chapters of the dissertation are developed around important themes of the middle school team structure: implementing aspects of school organization, following the progress of students, coordinating classroom strategies to meet individual student needs, and developing interdisciplinary curricular projects related to the middle school concept.
Critical analysis of the data aims to demonstrate how a team functions as a subreality of a school and how a team co-constructs that reality. I present team meetings as a context that encourages collaborative reflective practice. The data demonstrate ways in which members of a team may support and challenge one another in their daily teaching world. Team meetings illustrate how groups of teachers reflect on their practice through conversation. While the team story points to ways to improve and facilitate team processes, it also suggests the place of teacher groups in implementing school policies and teaching theories contextually, and the place of this and similar structure for implementing effective and responsive school change.
Mulligan, Carol Walker, "Sharing reality: The construction of professional knowledge in a middle school team setting" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations. 1974.