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Professional school community: Individual conceptualizations and the creation of productive professional relationships among and between a principal and teachers

Philip Brian O'Reilly, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study was an inquiry into professional school community. PSC is a term that was created to describe a potentially significant paradigm shift for teachers and principals and the relationships they create in their working climate. It is not a simple innovational change brought on by specific actions or interventions, nor is it a formal element of any known common reform package linked to sweeping changes in public education. It is what some would refer to as a transformational practice (Henderson & Hawthorn, 1995, 2000; Henderson & Kesson, 1999) that offers a restructured anatomy in public schooling, specifically proposing an enhancement of interdependent and collaborative relationships between and among school personnel in any given school community. This ethnographic inquiry explored the relationships that formed between a group of teachers and a principal and the individual and group conceptualizations of community that evolved between these participants over time. This study revealed that the conceptualizations of community existing among and between teachers and a principal, and the changes that can occur over time, are both social and collaboratively created. This study offered more coherent understandings about the roles these conceptualizations play in creating a school community cemented on the ideals of collaboration and collective action. This inquiry employed both Westheimer's (1998) features of community and a voice analysis provided by Bailey (1993) as a means or orienting the research analysis contained within this study. It examined carefully the dynamic relationships created among people in a school and the means by which these people began to define, in an interdependent and collaborative manner, in the midst of tension and conflict, a school's mission, it's curriculum focus, and a series of common understandings about the teaching practices that would be employed at the school. Many of Westheimer's features were clearly supported in this research. However, this researcher, as a means of understanding the participants' beliefs regarding how community is created, identified an additional feature. The notion of voice was particularly important to this research, as it was demonstrated how people's voices influence the two principal conceptualizations of community that were ultimately created by the participants in this study.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

O'Reilly, Philip Brian, "Professional school community: Individual conceptualizations and the creation of productive professional relationships among and between a principal and teachers" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056267.