The middle school team: A case study of influences on planning time and implications for curriculum and instruction

Kenneth John Mitchell, Fordham University

Abstract

This study analyzed the emergence of team leadership and explored the relationship between team leadership and the use of common planning time. In addition, it examined how a team's decisions were made within the context of the common planning period and how such decisions affected the implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction. With an ever-expanding body of evidence that links team teaching with improved student achievement, it is essential that efforts to draw such a connection be continued.^ The methodology for this study employed a multiple-case study inquiry strategy. In this study the units were two interdisciplinary teaching teams in a middle school. Each team was examined in the context of leadership, decision-making processes, use of common planning time, and implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction. Data collection included interviews, observations, surveys, and document analysis.^ Seventeen findings that either supported the current body of literature or identified emergent themes were identified. These findings supported the literature which suggests that successful decision making in the team setting requires practice and a common set of beliefs. Emergent themes included the suggestions that decisions were often influenced by coalitional leadership, that decision making sometimes involved a circumvention of resistant team members, and that decisions are sometimes made outside of a team's planning period.^ The literature on team leadership was supported by the findings that suggested that leadership is essential in the design and implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum, that leadership roles can rotate according to need and ability, that dominant leadership can be divisive and counterproductive, and that perceptions of leadership can influence team dynamics. Emergent themes suggested that external leadership is necessary for influencing team performance and that leadership can take the form of purposefully formed coalitions.^ The literature on common planning time was supported by the findings of this study which suggested that common planning time requires strong facilitation, is dominated by teacher talk about students and policies, and provides a forum for team learning. An emergent theme suggested that common planning time is insufficient for the design and implementation of interdisciplinary curriculum. In addition, recent literature on middle school teams has indicated that teams can become organizational isolates. This was also suggested in the findings of this study. Recommendations were made for practice. These addressed the need for team training, orientation, assessment, and supervision; furthermore, the need for planning time beyond the common planning period was presented. Suggestions were made for further research in all aspects of the findings. ^

Subject Area

Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Kenneth John Mitchell, "The middle school team: A case study of influences on planning time and implications for curriculum and instruction" (January 1, 1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9839526.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9839526

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