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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Working together: a case study of two primary teachers in a peer-centred curriculum implementation program MacDonnell, Carol Raye


This qualitative case study of two primary teachers during their first year of using a new provincial art curriculum was concerned with the effect of a special relationship between the two teachers on their implementation efforts. The relationship was part of an implementation strategy devised by arts consultants in the school board office; one teacher in every school was designated a “Catalyst Teacher” with a loosely defined role of acting as an on-site “cheerleader” (or catalyst) for the implementation activities of colleagues. This use of a non-specialist member of a staff is related to peer-centred improvement and change efforts discussed in recent literature under such terms as “peer coaching,” “cooperative professional development,” and “collaborative consultation.” It has been shown that a collegial approach to change efforts tends to contribute to the successful implementation of change. Through a series of semistructured interviews with the two teachers individually and together, and supplemented by observations of their art teaching and by interviews and informal conversations with Ministry of Education personnel, the local art consultant, and the school principal, a picture was produced of the meanings constructed by the two teachers about the new curriculum, their roles as teachers and colleagues, the place of art in their total programs, and the effect of the Catalyst Teacher Program on their own implementation efforts. At the end of the interview series, the teachers considered their own progress with the help of Hall and associates’ Levels of Use scale (1975). Looking through the lens of a symbolic interactionist approach to studying this working relationship, I was able to focus on the interdependence of all the elements in the cyclical process of data gathering, sorting, coding, reflecting, and analyzing. The qualitative causal network described by Corbett and Rossman (1989) provided a framework within which the case data could be analyzed and compared to Corbett and Rossman’s findings. The progress of the participants in this study showed the positive effect of the implementation strategy in use in their board. These two teachers’ special qualities of collegiality contributed to their early success, suggesting that conditions of teacher empowerment and collegiality need to precede other specific change efforts. Conditions of distancing between grade-level units within the school, that may have contributed to differences in implementation progress, point to a need to reconsider the wide scale of most implementation efforts.

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