UBC Theses and Dissertations
Inhabiting extended physical spaces : intersections of spatiality, teacher collegiality and power Roch, Douglas Oliver
This study examined experiences of teachers working in extended physical spaces (those added to an existing school building such as built additions or modular classrooms) in the case of a growing British Columbia elementary school in which there was a perceived lack of physical space. Specifically, I looked at the intersections of spatiality, teacher constructions of collegiality, and power relations with regards to working in extended spaces, and how these concepts affected teacher work lives and professional interactions. In this study, spatiality refers to human constructions of space and place that occur through our social interactions with others within the physical environment, and collegiality is defined as teachers’ involvement with peers on a variety of levels. Through use of a critical symbolic interactionist lens and a conceptualization of power from a feminist empowerment (power-with) model, I sought to understand how these teachers interpreted symbols representing organizational values and norms within the broad school culture, the meanings they derived from the extended physical spaces, and how socio-spatial relations were produced. Data obtained through observation, document analysis, and interviews suggested teachers derive meaning from extended physical spaces based upon how their workspace allows them to carry out their work role. These spaces were symbolized as being separate from the original building. Generally, teachers believed inhabiting extended physical spaces had the potential to contribute to a lessening quality and quantity of interactions with other teachers, and to make resources less accessible. Teachers constructed six broad categories of collegial interactions which were largely based upon their ability to interact with colleagues through space and took the form of socio-spatial enactments that were reflections of negotiated organizational culture. Findings indicated teachers inhabiting extended physical spaces had the potential to feel tension as they attempted to enact the organizational values that characterized the school while simultaneously experiencing a new spatiality. However, through strategies of empowerment and a distributed-leadership model, teachers and administrators were able to mitigate much of the potential disadvantage that could occur through inhabiting extended spaces, thereby producing new, inclusive spatialities and opportunities for socio-spatial dialogue and community growth.
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