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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Emancipation, empowerment and embodiment : exploring the influence of organizational dynamics on one school's journey to promote positive behaviour and social responsibility White, Vincent


Over the course of an eighteen-month period, the staff and students at a K-7 elementary school were engaged in a district-sponsored pilot project that examined new and existing approaches to promoting positive behaviour within their school community. This research, conducted by a member of the school’s staff, retraces this investigative journey to explore various dynamics related to the approaches used by him, his teaching colleagues, and the school’s administration to increase social responsibility within the student population. Situated within an emergent methodological design, this study employed a variety of investigative approaches in a manner informed by Joe Kincheloe’s (2004) conceptualization of the bricolage. Data collected included researcher field notes that reflect everyday observations of project-related events, as well as informal discussions with staff and administration about their ongoing impressions of the school’s approach to behaviour, digital audio recordings of project meetings, and interviews with teachers and administrators during the final weeks of the pilot. The researcher’s ongoing process of self-conscious reflexivity, specifically in relation to his dual role as the researcher and a member of the school’s staff, is also included in the data and is used to examine some of the ethical and methodological dilemmas that emerged at various stages of this undertaking. Analysis of this data was purposefully conducted to examine how perceptions of authority and accountability are organizationally situated within a school community in ways that both support and resist efforts to promote positive student behaviour through proactive and reactive approaches. This research explores some of the organizational dynamics related to introducing and sustaining a new initiative in a school community, including communication patterns commonly employed by staff and administration when tensions emerge as a result of efforts to affect change in professional practice. The study identifies divisive and unifying features of various behaviour approaches employed by a school to encourage social responsibility, and how these underscore the importance of staff and student empowerment in establishing a safe and caring learning community. The implications of this research for educational leadership and professional development with respect to promoting positive behaviour in schools are discussed. Areas for further investigation are highlighted.

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