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Title: Readiness Conditions and Transformational Change in a Middle School Setting
Author: Thalheimer, Patrick
Advisor: Donlevy, Kent
Keywords: Education--Administration
Issue Date: 15-Dec-2015
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between certain cultural conditions in two middle schools with the occurrence of transformational change. This multiple case study included responses from teachers and administrators at two middle schools research to answer the following research questions: Are there readiness conditions in schools which may contribute to transformational change? If so, what is the nature of those conditions with respect to the concept of transformational change manifest within schools and in the literature? How can readiness conditions contribute to transformational change? Participants in this study included two principals and eleven teachers from two middle schools in a single school division. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with each participant, a questionnaire sent to three superintendents and documents that were provided by one of the schools. Analysis of the data produced seven themes that were correlated with the occurrence of transformational change in the two schools. These included the existence of an approach to decision-making that focussed on perceived student needs, the existence of trust in both colleagues and leaders, organizational, collegial and personal support, alignment of the work in the school, high levels of individual and collective efficacy, a strong sense of community, as well as feelings of resistance. These characteristics were found to be produced by specific behaviours and actions on the part of school district and school-based leaders, as well as the staff themselves. Leadership characteristics and actions included developing a culture of trust by behaving honestly and with integrity, providing support for both professional and personal aspects of teachers’ lives, aligning work expectations and direction as much as possible, supporting the development of individual and collective efficacy through structuring collaborative teams, and supporting efforts to build and maintain a strong sense of community. Teacher behaviour that was seen to be important was a strong focus on the needs of their students and a willingness to work together with their colleagues on behalf of students. Emerging from the findings is a framework for increased understanding of transformational change in middle schools.
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