Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Review of literature
 Summary and conclusions
 Appendix A: Supplementary school...
 Appendix B: Data collection...
 Appendix C: Tools used in data...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Teacher perspectives and practices in two organizationally different middle schools /
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099483/00001
 Material Information
Title: Teacher perspectives and practices in two organizationally different middle schools /
Physical Description: vii, 251 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Doda, Nancy
Publication Date: 1984
Copyright Date: 1984
Subject: High school teachers -- Attitudes   ( lcsh )
High school teaching   ( lcsh )
Middle schools   ( lcsh )
Curriculum and Instruction thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Curriculum and Instruction -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 241-250.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Nancy McIntyre Doda.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099483
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000479249
oclc - 11802524
notis - ACP5973


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page 1
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        Page 8
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        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Review of literature
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
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        Page 154
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    Summary and conclusions
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
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        Page 161
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    Appendix A: Supplementary school data
        Page 189
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    Appendix B: Data collection items
        Page 218
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    Appendix C: Tools used in data analysis
        Page 237
        Page 238
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
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Full Text


^'sEY NtlrtiV!?E [fi0

THIE Ak 'L7RlTY ',. D,
c i'EE Dr rirThiA% *-.l lO PIrY


The author is sincerely grateful for the assistance and support of

a number of people in the production of this work. She wishes to thank

Dr. P.S. George for the knowledge he shared and for the guidance he

provided during all phases of this research. The research expertise

and assistance of Dr. D.D. Ross were invaluable throughout the research.

Moreover, her careful readings of the chapters produced many significant

changes which enhanced the quality of the work.

The author acknowledges with appreciation the helpful assistance,

support, and encouragement of Dr. A.F. Burns, Dr. S.B. Damico, and

Dr. G. Lawrence, who each made important suggestions and provided

helpful resources during the work. Likewise the author is grateful

to Dr. P. Ashton and Dr. R.B. Webb, who willingly shared resources,

skills, and support, and who involved the author in a funded research

project, NIE Contract Number 400-79-0075, which made possible the

acquisition of research skills, facilitated school entries, and insured

the extensive and accurate documentation of voluminous data from field

observations and interviews. In addition, the author wishes to

acknowledge the project typist, Zulal Balpinar, whose expertise and

objective proofreaoings were critical to the success of this study.

The author is deeply grateful to her parents who have given

their unending love and encouragement throughout her entire education,

and who have modelled enterprising dedication to hard work and the

pursuit of knowledge. Special acknowledgements are also given to her

sisters Lea and Laura for their encouragement and love, and to Martha

Aveni for her marvelous sense of humor and for her inspiring, intel-

lectual curiosity, and to Peggy Runchey for her ideas on right thinking

and for her nurturing friendship. The special joy, wonder, and

inspiration the author has experienced through her son, Jonathan, are

acknowledged with love and a deep respect for the wisdom of children.

Finally, the author wishes to share her most profound gratitude with

her husband, David, for his constant faith, personal clarity and

strength, energy, perspective, and abiding love.





I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . .

Background and Context of the Study . . .
Research Questions..... . . . .
Procedures . . . . . . . .
Definition of Terms . . . .
Limitations . . . . . . . . .
Overview of Chapters . . . . . . .


Introduction . . . . . . . . .
The School Context and Teacher Outcomes . .
The Middle School Context: Theory and Research.
Chapter Summary . . . . . .

III METHODOLOGY . . . . . . . . .

Research Apprcach . . . .
Research Sites and Subjects . . . . .
Research Methods . . . . . .
Data Collection . . . . . .
Data Analysis. . . . . .
Validity Measures . . . . .
Limitations........ . . . . .
Summary. . .... . . . . . ....

IV FINDINGS... . . . . . . .

Overview . . . . . .
Teaching at Hidden rc k . . . . . .
Teaching at Long Meadow . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .





. 8
S 9
. 11
. 13



. 42
* 56

. 58

. 64
. 75
. 83


. 85

V SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS. . . . . . . . .. 156

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . 156
Summary of Teachers' Perspectives and Practices at
Hidden Brook Middle School . . . . . . . 157
Summary of Teachers' Perspectives and Practices at
Long Meadow Middle School. . . . . . . . 159
Salient Dimensions of Contrast . . . . . . . 161
Conclusions and Implications . . ... ........ 172


A SUPPLEMENTARY SCHOOL DATA. . . . . . . . . 189

B DATA COLLECTION ITEMS. . . . . . . . . ... 218

C TOOLS USED IN DATA ANALYSIS . . . . . .. . 237

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . ... . . . 241

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .... ... . 251

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Nancy McIntyre Doda

August 1984

Chairperson: Dr. P.S. George
Co-Chairperson: Dr. D.D. Ross
Major Department: Curriculum and Instruction

The purpose of this study was to understand teacher perspectives

and practices, in relation to school context, in two organizationally

different middle schools. Two middle schools that were notably dif-

ferent in organization, curriculum, and administration, but similar in

community context, student body size and composition, and district-level

requirements, were selected as sites for the investigation of four

teachers' perspectives and practices. Using ethnographic fieldwork

methods, two teachers from each school were observed and interviewed

during the 1980-1981 school year as they conducted their daily lives as

teachers. Additional interviews were conducted with each school's

assistant principal and principal, as well as an additional teacher

informant. Artifacts were also collected.

These data were systematically analyzed in order to discover what

characterized the teachers' perspectives and practices at each school.

The findings revealed that the teachers at the two schools were markedly

different and that a number of these differences were associated with

differences in the organization, curriculum, and administration of tne

two schools. School A's teachers defined themselves primarily as

curriculum-disseminators. Classroom instruction was information-centered

and teacher-directed. The teachers subscribed to a vision of determined

student improvability, acknowledging innate intelligence or social status

as variables beyond a teacher's responsibility. They approached student

behavior with skepticism, believing that students required a highly

structured program and an authority role relationship with their teachers.

Teaching was seen as an individual enterprise with limited autonomy.

At School B, the teachers defined themselves with a dual-sided

role, responsible for both student socialization and academic learning.

Classroom instruction reflected the student's role in learning with

curriculum adaptation as common practice. The teachers subscribed to

a vision of universal student improvability and were confident about

their own effectiveness. They also viewed themselves as part of a

collective effort. Classroom autonomy was assumed.

These contrasting findings were associated with school differences

in teacher roles and responsibilities in relation to students, history,

administration, principal values, student grouping pattern, and organi-

zation of teachers in relation to other teachers. These context

variables warrant further study if an understanding of teacher per-

spectives and practices is to be achieved.



Background and Context of the Study

The purpose of this study has been to investigate teachers' per-

spectives and practices in two middle schools that differ in their

organization and curriculum. The rationale for this investigation was

generated from two major areas of research. From the broadest perspec-

tive, this study accompanies an increasingly active line of research

which has addressed the relationship between teachers' attitudes and

behaviors and the character of the work setting. This line of research

has emerged out of a recognition that classrooms and their inhabitants

are not isolated from and unaffected by the larger world of the school

(Barr & Dreeben, 1981).

In the last two decades, research on teacher effectiveness has shown

that certain teacher attitudes and behaviors elicit more student learn-

ing than others (Brophy & Evertson, 1974; Sood & Grouws, 1977; McDonald

& Elias, 1976; Soar & Soar, 1979; Stallings & Kaskowitz, 1974; Tikunoff,

Berliner, & Rist, 1975). While this research has yielded a dependable

body of knowledge on the characteristics associated with effective

teaching, insights from reform efforts designed to disseminate the

research and from more recent research on effective schools have sug-

gested that these characteristics are only monastly portable from one

school setting to another (Rutter, Maughn, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith,

1979). Teacher attitudes and behaviors appear to be influenced not

only by teacher psychological traits such as personality (Kyriacou &

Sutcliffe, 1977), personality type (Lawrence & DeNovellis, 1974), self-

concept (Combs & Soper, 1969), belief systems (Harvey, Prather, White,

& Hoffmeister, 1968; Koenigs, Fieldler,& deCharms, 1975; Murphy & Brown,

1970), and age, sex, and marital status (Lortie, 1975), but by a com-

plex array of variables within the school. Variations in such variables

as the composition of the student population, the history of the school

(Metz, 1978), the principal (Ellett& Walberg, 1979), the nature of

student peer relations (Cohen, 1979), teacher colleague relations

(Lortie, 1975), and the school climate or ethos (Rutter et al., 1979)

have been associated with variations in teacher attitudes and behaviors.

The research studies which have implied a relationship between the

character of a school and the character of the attitudes and behaviors

of the teachers who work there are in no way conclusive. In fact, it

has only been in the last two decades that researchers have endeavored

to identify the classroom contextual variables which affect teachers

and their teaching (Doyle & Ponder, 1975). After conducting a large-

scale study of secondary schools in inner-city London, Rutter and his

colleagues (1979) did conclude that it was far easier to be a good

teacher in some schools than it was in others. They hypothesized that

teaching was as much a function of the school as a work place as it

was a function of teacher personality. In an analysis of the research

on effective schools, Purkey and Smith (1983) likewise hypothesized

that teachers and students in effective schools might actually be

channeled in the direction of successful teaching and learning by the

structures, processes, and climates of values and norms at work in

those schools. Their implication was that somehow teachers were

socialized while on the job by variables at work in the larger world

of the school.

To what extent teachers are socialized while on the job remains

unclear (Lortie, 1975; Metz, 1978). While some studies have illuminated

global differences among groups of teachers working in schools varying

in organization and curriculum (e.g., Ashton, Doda, McAuliffe, Olejnik,

& Webb, 1981; Abramowitz, 1977; Cohen, Bredo, & Duckworth, 1976;

Charters, 1978; Hilsum & Cane, 1971; Metz, 1978), research has yet to

delineate how variations in schools differentially affect teachers'

attitudes and behaviors. This is a needed area of research. Conse-

quently, this study was designed to investigate teachers' perspectives

and practices in two middle level schools that differed in organization

and curriculum. A major goal of the research was to generate beginning

understandings and valid hypotheses about the relationships between a

middle school's organization, operation and curriculum, and the forma-

tion and maintenance of the perspectives and practices of the teachers

who work there.

The middle school, the target level of schooling for the study,

has provided the second dimension of context and rationale. Before the

turn of the century, the predominant school organization in the United

States consisted of the elementary school, with grades 1-8, and the

high school, with grades 9-12. In the early 1900s, the National Educa-

tion Association instituted a restructuring which resulted in the

creation of the junior high school which had grades 7-9 (Toepfer, 1982).

During the next two decades, as the number of junior high schools began

to climb, educators began to question the assumptions behind the junior

high school plan. Increasing knowledge on the nature of early

adolescent development and a growing dissatisfaction with the existing

junior high schools, compounded by declining enrollments and desegre-

gation, moved concerned educators to generate a new and appropriate

school model. By the middle of the 1960s, an alternative school

model, called the middle school, had emerged (Eichorn, 1966). Accord-

ing to the original conceptualization, the middle school was to be a

grade level reorganization, a school with grades 6-8 rather than 7-9.

This conceptualization was based on data which suggested that the onset

of puberty occurred at an age more closely associated with grade six,

rather than seven, thus supporting a 6-8, rather than a 7-9, school

plan (Eichorn, 1973). The concept was quickly expanded, however, as

knowledge of a broader range of the developmental characteristics of

early adolescence became available.

In addition to advocating a school plan with grades 6-8, theorists

thus elaborated the middle school concept to include less emphasis on

competitive sports, a focus on self-directed learning, and diversity

in teacher certification (Alexander & George, 1981). Perhaps

most significant were the recommendations for a major departure from

the traditional organization and curriculum of the junior high school.

An interdisciplinary teacher organization was proposed to replace

the department structure of the junior high school. This was considered

to be a more appropriate plan for students in grades 6-8 because it was

believed to facilitate articulation from the self-contained elementary

school classroom to the diversified, subject area teaching character-

istic of the high school (Alexander, Williams, Compton, Hines, Prescott,

& Kealy, 1965). More recently, theorists have also suggested that the

interdisciplinary teacher organization encourages teachers to focus on

the whole child and provides a community of interpersonal structure

that is helpful to the young adolescent student (Alexander & George,


Theorists have also argued that the junior high school plan as

practiced does not adequately address the personal development needs

of early adolescents. As a result, they have recommended that the

middle school have a curriculum component which addresses affective

development (Alexander et al., 1965). Theorists have supported their

recommendations with research documenting early adolescence as a time

during which an individual negotiates a number of critical and difficult

emotional, social, and identity-directing developmental issues (Hill,

1973; Kohen-Raz, 1971; Tanner, 1962) suggesting that some assistance

and guidance ought to be provided for students in the middle school.

In addition to the interdisciplinary teacher organization and the

affective education fccus, theorists have recommended that students in

the middle school should be flexibly grouped to accommodate the variety

and diversity characteristic of the age group. This recommendation was

based on research which revealed an increased diversity in the develop-

ment of youngsters approaching puberty (Eichorn, 1973; Tanner, 1962).

Alternatives to the traditional chronological age grouping such as

multiage or developmental age grouping have been suggested, along with

teacher-controlled, flexible, block schedules which make possible the

continuous grouping and regrouping of students as needed (Alexander &

George, 1981). The middle school has also been theoretically distinguished

from the junior high school program by an increased emphasis on student-

based exploratory learning experiences. This curriculum facet has been

recommended based on an understanding of the cognitive changes which

can occur during this time of life (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958; Kohen-Raz,


Since the early 1960s, junior high schools nationwide have been

adopting the programs and practices advocated by middle school pro-

ponents. In 1965, there were approximately 500 middle schools in the

United States. In a 1970 survey, over 2,000 middle schools were identi-

fied nationally. Today, the number approaches 5,000 (George & Lawrence,

1982). As junior high schools continue to reorganize their programs

and practices according to the middle school concept, it becomes in-

creasingly important to understand what life is like in those schools

for students and teachers.

Research on the middle school model is still in its infancy. Many

of the studies which have compared the middle school to the junior high

have based their comparisons on the grade levels served by the schools

and not by differences in curriculum and instruction (Toepfer & Marani,

1980). In addition, most studies have focused primarily on the quanti-

tative effects of individual curriculur components (e.g., the inter-

disciplinary teacher organization), with student achievement as the

most frequently measured outcome. Only a few researchers have attempted

to study the effects of some cluster of advocated middle school

features, and only a very small number of those studies investigated

relationships between the middle school as an organizational and cur-

ricular alternative, and teacher outcomes (e.g., Ashton, Doda, McAuliffe,

Olejnik, & Webb, 1981; Bryan & Erikson, 1970; Draud, 1977;

Gordon, 1977; Metz, 1978; Pook, 1981). The existing research is

scattered in focus and inconclusive. In particular, it has not provided

a descriptive data base from which valid hypotheses can be generated.

This study then fills an important need by providing descriptive, ethno-

graphic data on teachers' perspectives and practices in two organiza-

tionally different middle schools in an effort to understand relation-

ships between middle school organization, operation and curriculum, and

the perspectives and practices of the teachers who work there.

In summary, this research qualifies as an important and needed

study for several reasons. In design, it is empowered with the capacity

to provide descriptive data on teachers' lives and to yield data on

teaching from the perspectives of the participants. This is a par-

ticularly important contribution since traditional quantitative research

on teaching has often failed to yield the rich description needed to

explain discovered results or to provide insights into the reasons why

teachers engage in the behaviors they do.

Research on teaching has also demonstrated that teachers are

affected by the characteristics of the school as a workplace. Thus,

the improvement of teaching depends upon the identification of those

variables and relationships between variables that affect the formation,

maintenance, alteration, and implementation of teacher perspectives

and practices. This study marks an important contribution in this

regard as well.

Finally, this research provides a needed descriptive data base for

the study of middle school teaching. Hundreds of school districts

nationwide are adopting the middle school model with little research

knowledge of the implications for teacher attitudes and behaviors. More-

over, as middle school training and certification programs are generated,

it becomes increasingly important to have research-based knowledge

regarding the special nature of the demands and difficulties charac-

teristic of teaching within a middle school structure.

Research Questions

The purpose of the research was to investigate and analyze teachers'

educational perspectives and practices in two middle schools that dif-

fered in organization, curriculum, and operation in order to address

the following research questions:

1. What characterized teachers' educational perspectives and

practices at each middle school?

2. Did teachers in the two school settings differ? What were the

salient dimensions of contrast?

3. What factors seemed to be influential in the development or

maintenance of the teachers' perspectives and practices?

Through an analysis of the data collected to address these ques-

tions, hypotheses were generated regarding the relationships between

middle school organization, operation and curriculum, and teachers'

educational perspectives and practices.


This study has sought to understand what characterized teachers'

perspectives and practices in two organizationally different middle

schools. It was originally motivated by an interest in understanding

how teachers' perspectives and related practices were affected by school

organization and curriculum. Phrased differently, the study was based

on a need to know if teachers' perspectives and practices differed in

two different middle schools, and if so, how and why they differed.

Ethnographic field work was the primary research method used in

this study. It was selected because the goals for this research re-

quired a method which probed the research questions in an exploratory

and heuristic fashion, emphasizing the participants' perspectives.

Moreover, an ethnographic approach was selected because it was a method

capable of yielding explanations and hypotheses about teachers' per-

spectives and practices in the two settings through an identification

of cultural themes characterizing teachers' lives at the two schools.

The specific research procedures used were observation and inter-

viewing, supplemented by photography and artifact collection. The data

were collected in two schools that differed in organization and curricu-

lum. The first school, Hidden Brook, was a middle school with many of

the features associated with a traditional junior high school model.1 At

Hidden Brook, the teachers were organized in subject area departments.

The students were arranged in chronological age groups so that students

were separated by age and number of years in school and changed

teachers, curriculum, and location in the building with each passing

The two schools were assigned pseudonames to preserve anonymity. Hidden
Brook and Long Meadow are the names to be used throughout the study.


year. A student's curriculum was predominantly academic, with only one

class period for either physical education or an elective, out of a

total of six daily class periods.

The second school, Long Meadow, was a middle school with many of

the features associated with the middle school model (Alexander &

George, 1981). The students and teachers were organized in inter-

disciplinary learning communities. The students in these learning

communities or teams were multiage grouped so that students in the

three grades received instruction together, with instruction based on

ability as opposed to grade level. Beginning sixth graders spent three

years as members of an interdisciplinary team. Students had a multi-

faceted curriculum the majority of which was provided for by the team,

including one daily class for personal development and affective educa-

tion, four academic class periods, and two elective classes alternating

every other day, with a single, extended block of time for physical


Beginning in August 1980, and ending in June 1981, data were

collected on two teachers' perspectives and practices in each school

setting. Additional interviews were conducted with the assistant

principal and principal at each school. Observations included classroom

teaching, special school events, teacher meetings, and teacher gather-

ings in the lounge and hall areas.

The data collection was guided by the initial research questions

and focused by questions which emerged through data analysis conducted

while in the fieldwork stages. Additional analysis followed to illumi-

nate salient features of teachers' perspectives and practices at the

two middle schools.

Definition of Terms

1. Middle School

The term middle school is used to denote a school that is "pro-

viding a program planned for a range of older children, pre-

adolescents and early adolescents that builds upon the elementary

school program for earlier childhood and in turn is built upon by

the high school's program for adolescence" (Alexander et al.,

1965, p. 5).

2. Interdisciplinary Teacher Organization

This term refers to a plan for the organization of teachers in

which teachers from different subject areas are organized in groups

of approximately four with a range from two to seven with an

assigned common area of the school plant, a common schedule, and

the responsibility for a common group of students.

3. Department Teacher Organization

This term refers to a plan for the organization of teachers in

which teachers from the same subject area are organized as a unit.

This unit works as a committee in curriculum planning for a sub-

ject area or discipline.

4. Advisor-Advisee

The Advisor-Advisee is a middle school program designed to address

the personal development needs of early adolescents, in practice,

it is an arrangement in which small groups of students meet with

an assigned advisor, on a regular basis, for affective education

and academic advisement.

5. Homeroom

This term refers to a school structure used for the management of

school attendance and information dissemination. Any given home-

room is generally a class of about 30 students who meet for about

five minutes at the start of every school day. This class is con-

ducted by an assigned homeroom teacher who checks attendance and

disseminates school news.

6. Multiage Grouping

This refers to a student grouping pattern in which students of

various ages are grouped together for instruction. In a school

with multiage student grouping, students in the sixth, seventh, and

eighth grades would participate in instruction together in any

given class. Teachers would then have two thirds of their former

students each consecutive year.

7. Chronological Age Grouping

This refers to a grouping plan in which students are grouped by

age or number of years in school. In a school with chronological

age grouping, students in the sixth year of school, for example,

would follow the same basic schedule for an entire school year, at

which point by virtue of completing the sixth grade, they would

move to the seventh grade. Classes would consist of same age

youngsters. Teachers would teach a different group of students

with each passing year.

8. Teacher Perspectives

For the purposes of this study, teacher perspective will refer to

a teacher's ideas, values, and beliefs related to the work of

teaching, the process of learning, and student and teacher roles

and relationships.

9. Teacher Practices

The term practices refers to the educational methods, instructional

means, and instructional technology a teacher uses when working with

students during the school day. This would include the teacher's

classroom arrangement and decor, teaching methods and materials,

means of managing student behavior, and special activities such as

field trips or celebrations planned for students.


This study is bound by several limitations. While an understanding

of teachers' perspectives and practices required the collection of class-

room observational data, it was also dependent upon an investigation of

the school as the context in which teachers worked. As a result, this

investigation had a divided focus even though the unit of analysis was

the teacher and not the school. Working as a single researcher, neither

focus received as much attention as might be desirable.

Research has indicated that age, marital status, and years of

experience play important roles in teacher perspectives and practices

(Lipka & Goulet, 1979; Lortie, 1975). As such, it would have been de-

sirable to include these variables in the criteria for teacher selection,

thus controlling for those differences and their effects. With the

original criteria, compounded by the requirement of participation for

a full school year, the pool for the sample selection was too limited


to apply the additional constraints of age, marital status, and years

of experience. Generalizations and conclusions must be interpreted

with respect to these additional variables.

A final limitation was imposed by the researcher who had a previous

relationship with the teachers at one of the schools, Long Meadow, but

no previous relationship with the teachers at Hidden Brook. While

validity measures were instituted to insure equal data collection, the

rapport at Long Meadow seemed to yield more detailed interview accounts.

Interpretive comparisons acknowledge this difference and restriction.

Overview of Chapters

The details of this research are discussed in Chapters II through V.

In Chapter II, related literature is reviewed setting the context for

the study. Chapter III includes details on the methodology and research

procedures used in conducting the research, including information on

data collection and analysis, site and teacher selection, entry pro-

cedures, research questions, validity measures, and details on limita-

tions. The fourth chapter is divided into two major sections by school

and contains the findings of the investigation. The final chapter,

Chapter V, concludes the study with a summary of the two sections in

Chapter IV, a discussion of the findings with comparison and contrast,

and hypotheses and suggestions for further research in the field.




This study has investigated teachers' professional perspectives

and practices in two organizationally different middle schools. Since

a major goal of the research has been to illuminate and explain rela-

tionships between two varying middle school structures and teachers'

pedagogical perspectives and practices, the focus and need for the study

are supported by an examination of two major areas of research. In the

first section of the chapter, studies which have examined teacher out-

comes in relation to varying school contextual features will be reviewed

and discussed. These studies focus on school structure, school size,

size of the work group, and contrasting plans for teacher organization

in relation to various teacher attitudes and behaviors. In the re-

maining portion of the chapter, studies will be reviewed which focus

specifically on the middle school context with its particular plan for

teacher organization and curriculum, in relation to various teacher

attitudes and behaviors.

The School Context and Teacher Outcomes


Schools differ on grounds other than their authority pat-
terns. They come in different sizes and with different

divisions of labor; their clienteles vary by socio-
economic level and by ethnic and religious background,
and by rural or urban settings. Some schools are rela-
tively well established with traditions of academic
excellence or athletic prowess. How do such contexts
influence teachers and vice versa? (Lortie, 1973,
p. 484)

The question Lortie raised has received considerable attention in

the past two decades. From an earlier and continuing line of research

investigating the school and classroom structure on student outcomes

(e.g., Barker & Gump, 1964; Bossert, 1979; Cusik, 1973; Damico, Bell-

Nathaniel, & Green, 1981; Doyle, 1977; Smith & Geoffrey, 1968), re-

searchers have moved to undertake the arduous task of generating know-

ledge about the relationships between school structure, organization,

climate, and teacher outcomes. Most of this research is grounded in

varying sociological and ecological theories which attempt to explain

environment-behavior relations. Early thinkers such as Dewey (1916;

1966), Waller (1932), and Parsons (1959), who observed schools and

classrooms as social systems, paved the way fcr research on teaching as

a function of the school context. Similarly, sociologists like Becker

(1964), Wheeler (1966), and Bidwell (1972), who viewed schools as

social organizations, offered theoretical contentions supporting rela-

tionships between school structure and teacher outcomes. Becker (1964)

argued that members of organizations acquire their perspectives as they

adjust to the situational demands within the organization. Wheeler

(1956) contended that members acquire perspectives, the psychological

outcomes of socialization, from the recurrent conditions in which they

interact. Moreover, he believed that social relationships and social

norms evolve from tne structural characteristics of institutions. As

a third example, Bidweli (1972) suggested that the social organization

of an institution structures opportunities, activities, and relation-

ships which shape the norms learned by members of the institution.

Some of the more recent research is supported by ecological theory.

Ecologists have approached the school-teacher relationship, treating

teaching and learning as continually interactive processes rather than

as cause and effect processes. They view the school as a system with

the classroom as an embedded subsystem, subject to influences from the

larger system of the school (Bronfenbrenner, 1976; Goodlad, 1975; Ogbu,

1981). The resulting studies reflect a concern for illuminating the

reciprocal relations among variables, the indirect environmental effects,

and the participants' perspectives from inside the setting.


Flizak (1967) conducted a study of teachers' role orientations in

relation to school setting. He selected 33 elementary schools which he

typed according to characteristics of organizations. The model types

were Authoritarian, Rationalistic, Humanistic, and mixed models. These

model types were differentiated according to institutional structure

(i.e., who does what), process (i.e., how it gets done), and end-product

(i.e., who gets what, when, and how). Of the 33 schools, 15 were desig-

nated Authoritarian-Rationalistic which Flizak described as a school

concerned with efficiency in their means-end production, a highly

developed power structure, and a faith in leader superiority. The

remaining 18 schools Flizak classified as Rationalistic-Humanistic.

These schools were less concerned about efficient goal attainment and

power relations among members and more concerned about the realization

of members' individual goals.

To determine the teachers' role orientations in these schools,

Flizak administered the Evaluation Modality test which assesses teacher

political, economic, social, religious, and aesthetic values, and the

Teacher Practices Questionnaire which assesses teacher priorities in

classroom practices. The Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory which

assesses a scope of teacher attitudes was administered as well. A

sample of 726 elementary school teachers was selected for the study,

with 213 males and 513 females in the sample.

Ten dependent variables from the three tests were examined in terms

of the two types of schools under study. The analysis of the data

indicated that on all ten measures two school types discriminated be-

tween teachers. Teachers at the Authoritarian-Rationalistic schools

had significantly higher scores on the roles of advice and information

giver, disciplinarian, referrer,and motivator. On the other hand, the

teachers at the Rationalistic-Humanistic schools attained higher scores

on the counselor-teacher role and held more positive attitudes towards

their work.

Flizak concluded that school structure partially accounted for the

differences observed. When the goals of the school focused on the ef-

ficiency of means-end production and were achieved through a highly

developed power structure, teachers would be more inclined to view them-

selves as information-givers and disciplinarians. On the other hand,

when the school's goals emphasized addressing the needs of its members,

teachers likewise assumed that role, the counselor-teacher role, in rela-

tion to their students. He suggested, however, that observed dif-

ferences could have been related to the fact that school administrators

selected teachers with similar philosophies and styles of teaching. In

addition, he added that teachers who were similar may have been drawn

to certain types of schools, thus accounting for the observed differ-

ences in another way.

An interest in the structural characteristic of school size and

its affects on student behavior emerged in response to James Conant's

(1959) report recommending school consolidation and larger student popu-

lations. Barker and Gump (1964) published Big School, Small School in

which a series of studies challenged Conant's assumption of large school

superiority. Extending Barker and Gump's conclusions into hypotheses

regarding school size and teacher outcomes, Hilsum and Cane (1971) in-

vestigated the relationships between school population size, administra-

tive area of control, school neighborhood, and teacher outcomes.

Hilsum and Cane found that the teachers who worked in smaller schools

spent less time during breaks and lunch on activities related to

organizing facets of their teaching day. In addition, they found

teachers in small schools spent more time on supervision, perhaps be-

cause there were fewer teachers to share supervising duties. Small

school teachers were also found to spend less time on personal and

social matters and more time on work matters in conversation. They

found small school teachers spent more time on work over weekends and

holidays than their larger school counterparts.

They also found that teacher characteristics such as years of

teaching experience, sex, number of dependents, or assigned extra school

duties appeared to have little influence on actual classroom instruc-

tion. Moreover, neither class size nor the ability range of the class

appeared to affect the patterns of teaching adopted. They concluded

that school size may influence certain elements of variation in the

teacher's day, which in turn may influence a teacher's attitudes

towards work.

Like Hilsum and Cane, Abramowitz (1977) hypothesized that school

size would affect teacher interdependence and classroom practices by

setting the limits on teacher communication, control, role specializa-

tion, and coordination. She contended that these size-related factors

could directly structure the quality of interpersonal relationships

within a school. Abramowitz wanted to also know, however, whether school

size or the task structure of teacher teams was the more important vari-

able in predicting teacher task interdependence.

Abramowitz collected survey data from 105 teachers in the second,

fourth, and fifth grades. The surveys included questions about the

teachers' grouping practices, their use of aides, the amount of time

they spent teaching different subjects, and the curriculum materials they

used. The survey data were collected in 19 elementary schools repre-

senting two different school patterns for the grouping of teachers and

students. Ten of the schools were labeled voucher schools or schools

where teachers were organized in teacher teams with common students,

tasks, and responsibilities. The remaining 9 schools were non-voucher

schools without the teacher team plan for teacher collaboration. The

voucher schools had almost twice the number of teachers as the non-

voucher schools.

Abramowitz found that the teachers who worked in the larger voucher

schools with the smaller work units of the teams were more likely to

plan lessons and conduct instruction together and also were more likely

to engage in more complex teaching strategies. She concluded that

teacher task interdependence was more a function of task structure

(i.e., the team organization) than of school size. She noted, however,

that school size was an important factor where it was coupled with an

environment of required and frequent teacher interdependence.

Other studies investigating school organization and teacher out-

comes were prompted by various developments in education. The open

space school and the related instructional patterns of the school within

the school and team teaching have received a considerable amount of re-

search attention. The Stanford Center for Research and Development in

Teaching has studied the effects of open space schools upon teachers'

activities, teachers' relationships to each other and to principals, and

teachers' professional orientations. Affiliated with Stanford, Meyer,

Cohen, Brunetti, Molnar and Lueders-Salmon (1972) designed a study to

address a number of research questions on open space and teaching.

Questions researched included: Does open space with a team teacher

organization increase the amount of work-related interaction teachers

have with colleagues, does open space increase the overall amount of

influence of the teachers in school affairs, does open space increase

the amount of explicit evaluations of teachers which goes on in the

school, does open space increase the level of teacher job satisfaction,

are open space schools likely to support the professional ambitions of

teachers, and do open space schools usually support teacher interests

in curriculum and in formal academic learning and discourage broad

identification with or interest in the child as a person (Meyer et al.,

1972)? The data were collected with teachers working in either open

space schools where the teachers were organized into teams to plan and

implement programs in open space or in traditional, self-contained

settings where teachers worked individually within the confines of the


self-contained classroom space. A sample of 110 teachers from nine open

space elementary schools and 120 teachers from eight traditional ele-

mentary schools, all with predominantly middle class, suburban popula-

tions, were compared on the variables of teacher sense of influence,

job satisfaction, and attitudes towards colleague evaluation.

Meyer and his colleagues discovered that the open space teachers

engaged in more teacher-teacher informal and work-related interaction

than the teachers working in the self-contained setting. In addition,

they found that open space teachers reported more informal evaluation of

other teachers than the self-contained teachers. The open space teachers

also had an increased sense of autonomy and perceived themselves to be

more efficacious in relation to specific task performance and within the

total school. Finally, the open space teachers were more satisfied with

their work than their self-contained counterparts.

Meyer et al. (1972) concluded that the organizational structure of

the self-contained classroom emphasizes isolation and independent work

which in turn have adverse effects upon meaningful task related inter-

action among teachers. In addition, they suggested that the self-contained

structure limited the teacher's sphere of influence and rewards to the

small universe of the single classroom, thus reducing teacher autonomy

and efficacy in larger school affairs.

The Stanford researchers expanded their research efforts to include

a study of the relationships between teacher visibility in open space

and the amount and types of evaluation of teachers that occurs. It was

hypothesized that greater visibility would lead teachers in open space

to view evaluation by their colleagues as more soundly based and of more

significance than would teachers in self-contained schools (Marram, 1972).

A questionnaire was administered to a total sample of 244 teachers in

15 schools. Four of the schools were open spaced with teams of teachers.

Six of the schools had self-contained classrooms without teams. The

remaining five schools had self-contained classrooms with teacher teams.

Of the total sample, 56 teachers worked in the teamed, open space schools,

106 worked in the nonteamed self-contained classrooms, and the remaining

82 teachers worked in the schools with the mixed design.

The results of the study revealed major differences between teachers

in the conventional schools and those in the open space, teamed schools

in the teachers' reactions to colleague evaluations. The finding sup-

ported their contention that teacher visibility and the perceived sound-

ness and importance of evaluations are positively associated (Marram,

1972). Informal evaluation by colleagues happened almost twice as fre-

quently in open space, teamed schools as it did in the conventional

schools. Teachers in self-contained classrooms rejected the importance

of their colleagues' evaluations, preferring those of students and

principals, whereas the significance of principal evaluation for teachers

in open space, teamed schools followed that of colleagues and students,

in third place. Marram speculated that a norm for colleague evaluation

of work was therefore being established in the open space, teamed


Separating the effects of teaming from open space, Cohen, Bredo, and

Duckworth (1976) conducted an investigation of teacher job satisfaction

in both open space and self-contained buildings where teachers were

organized into instructional teams. Their efforts focused on an iden-

tification of the conditions under which intensified relationships among

teachers, and between the teachers and principal, were associated with

teacher job satisfaction.

The data were collected from a sample of teachers in 46 teams in

16 elementary schools. They found generally high levels of job satis-

faction in both settings. Specifically, they found that frequency of

teacher discussion and frequency of sharing materials correlated posi-

tively with teacher satisfaction. Second, they found that teachers'

perceptions of the helpfulness of fellow teacher evaluations related to

satisfaction with the school. Third, teachers who reported more frequent

principal observations and evaluation, as well as principal support on

a wide variety of tasks, were more satisfied. Finally, they found that

the school's policy on discipline related to teacher satisfaction.

Cohen et al. (1976) also examined variations in the nature of the

job satisfaction predictors of teamed and nonteamed teachers. They

found that more discussion with other teachers predicted satisfaction

for nonteamed teachers, but that sharing materials, frequency of teacher

evaluations, and perceived helpfulness of teacher evaluations were more

important predictors for teamed teachers. In addition, they discovered

that the relationships between teaming and job satisfaction were more

positive in schools with a high socioeconomic status. Thus, they con-

cluded that the composition of the student population was an intervening

variable affecting job satisfaction.

Cohen et al. (1976) also researched variations in the complexity

of the classroom technology of teachers in teams. Using the teams that

varied in levels of task interdependence (i.e., frequency of joint

teaching), they found where teachers exhibited the highest degree of

task interdependence the teachers also demonstrated the use of more


complex classroom grouping patterns and a wider variety of teaching

patterns. Moreover, these teachers gave students more autonomy and

placed less importance on the sequencing of classroom events. In addi-

tion, they were more likely than their counterparts to consult with other

specialists in the school.

Pellegrin (1969a) also found higher job satisfaction for teachers

in schools with teams. Pellegrin collected questionnaire and interview

data on teachers in six schools. Three of the schools were schools with

interdisciplinary teams with team leaders. The other three schools did

not have teams. After comparing the results for teachers in schools

with and without teams, Pellegrin maintained that the concentration of

decision-making authority in teamed schools was in the team units,

whereas the concentration of decision-making authority in nonteamed

schools was with the principal. He concluded that teacher participation

in decision-making was thus the critical variable in the job satisfaction

of teamed teachers.

In a second report (Pellegrin, 1969b), he found that teachers in

teamed schools did not see themselves as depending heavily on the prin-

cipal in their work. In those same schools, the principal reported

that his job success depended upon a number of people, indicating a

decentralized authority, whereas the control school principals limited

their dependence to a few. Pellegrin also found contrasts in the

teachers' perceived expectations. In the teamed school, teachers be-

lieved experimenting with new teaching techniques and giving individual

attention to students would be the principal's primary expectations for

teachers. On the other hand, teachers in the nonteamed schools saw

insuring that students learn the basic skills as the principal's

expectation. Regarding differences in job satisfaction, Pellegrin found

that the teachers in the teamed schools were more satisfied than teachers

in the schools without teams, with the following: progress towards

goals, personal relationships with administrators, opportunity to accept

responsibility for one's work or the work of others, seeing positive re-

sults from one's efforts, relationships with fellow teachers, satisfac-

tion in light of career aspirations, and availability of materials.

Verdral (1971) investigated the educational viewpoints and teaching

patterns of junior high school teachers in departments and teams. A

total sample of 39 language arts and social studies teachers and 1,969

students from nine junior high schools in the Chicago area participated

in the study. Twenty teachers and 862 students worked in junior high

schools organized with teaching teams and a block time schedule. In

that setting, teachers shared common groups of students and the responsi-

bility for scheduling their instructional time. The remaining group of

19 teachers and 1,107 students were in junior high schools with a

separate subject or department organization. The teachers responded

to Ryans Educational Viewpoints measure which indicated the degree to

which teachers were subject-centered. The students responded to the

Minnesota Attitude Inventory which assessed their perceptions of their

teachers' instructional styles.

Verdral found that separate subject teachers (i.e., those working

as members of a subject area department) espoused a more subject-centered

view of teaching than the blocked cr teamed teachers, whose view was

more child-centered. In addition, Verdral found that students in the

different settings perceived their teachers differently. The students

of separate subject area teachers perceived their teachers as using more

direct and less indirect teaching methods. On the other hand, students

of teamed teachers perceived their teachers as using more indirect and

less direct teaching patterns. Verdral's results might suggest that

teachers develop orientations in relation to what they have in common

with other teachers.

Olszewski and Doyle (1976) researched the relationships between

team organization, colleague interdependency, and actual teaching per-

formance. They hypothesized that teachers in teamed, open space settings

would exhibit a greater number of shared teaching practices and a wider

range of practices than their nonteamed counterparts. Their sample was

comprised of 16 teachers. Eight of the teachers worked in a nonteamed

setting where four teachers had responsibility for about 120 students in

open space. The data were collected with Amidon-Hunter's Interaction

Analysis Categories.

The results favored the teamed teachers on the shared teaching be-

haviors but no significant difference was found in the range of teaching

behaviors used by the teachers in the two settings. The authors con-

cluded that while their study supported a relationship between work

arrangements and professional behavior, caution was in order since the

teamed teachers' teaching styles may have existed prior to their employ-

ment in the teamed schools.

Interested in the influence of school social structure and school

leadership on teachers, Mendenhall (1977) studied the relationships of

four structural features cf school organization and leadership behavior

to job satisfaction in teamed schools. Drawing from social systems

theory, Mendenhail delineated the following four structural features:

formalization, centralization, complexity, and stratification.

Formalization referred to the range of variations allowed on job per-

formance within the school. Centralization denoted the degree to which

decision-making is concentrated in the school. Each school was analyzed

for structural complexity which was determined by the school's number of

occupational specialists, the level of educational training among the

staff, and the degree of staff involvement in professional activities.

Finally, the degree to which teachers felt other staff members had

greater status was assessed to indicate stratification. She designed

the study in order to compare the degrees of influence of these struc-

tural features and leader behavior. The data were collected from 41

principals, 41 team leaders in 41 teamed or multiunit schools in 13

states. These schools had teams with team leaders who served as teacher

representatives in a teacher-administrator decision-making group.

Mendenhall found that the principal's leadership behavior and the

team leader's behavior accounted for 36% of the teacher job satisfaction

variance. Regarding the measured structural variables, Mendenhall found

that the greater range of variations allowed within job performance

(i.e., formalization) and the extent to which teachers felt other

teachers had greater status (i.e., stratification) were the structural

variables which accounted for 52% of the variance in the teacher job

satisfaction. She concluded that there was a significant relationship

between school social structure and teacher job satisfaction. The prin-

cipal's role in determining the nature of those structural variables and

the extent to which the team structure promotes formalization or strati-

fication warrants further study.

Charters (1978) combined the interests of the Stanford researchers

with those of Mendenhall in his study of teachers in teamed or nonteamed

schools. Unlike the earlier Stanford work, Charters examined the in-

fluence of the principal and the team teacher collegial group on teacher

autonomy. In addition, Charters ignored school architectural differ-

ences and focused on the presence or absence of teacher instructional

teams. He administered questionnaires to 430 teachers in 27 schools

varying in size and socioeconomic status. Fourteen of the schools were

organized in teams and 13 were without teams.

His comparison showed that teamed teachers had a greater volume of

classroom-related communication and attributed a greater amount of in-

fluence to collegial groups than the nonteamed teachers. While the

levels of job satisfaction were the same for both sets of teachers,

Charters found lower values on the autonomy index for his teamed teachers.

Charters' results on autonomy were puzzling since teaming would be

expected to increase teacher autonomy (Pellegrin, 1969b). Charters con-

cluded, however, that while higher levels of teacher group influence

over school affairs increased teacher autonomy, the principal's influence

over classroom affairs reduced teacher autonomy. Moreover, Charters

concluded that the principal's influence was greater than teacher group

influence in determining the teacher autonomy in the school. Finally,

he concluded that teacher sentiments in all schools would depend upon

the school's particular mix of collegial group operations and adminis-

trator behavior, with the behavior of the principal being the more impor-

tant factor in the mixture. For instance, where open space schools with

teams had strong collegial group influences reported by teachers and

little principal interference in the classroom, high levels of autonomy

and satisfaction could be expected to follow.

An earlier study conducted by Molnar (1971) helped to explain

Charters' puzzling findings on the teamed teachers' sense of autonomy.

Molnar studied 17 teacher teams in six schools. She observed each of

the teams in six planning meetings and recorded the frequency of teacher-

initiated, task-related communication. The teachers also completed a

questionnaire about their perceptions of their own influence and

autonomy. Molnar found that the interaction in team meetings was re-

lated to the teachers' perceptions of their influence and autonomy.

Specifically, Molnar found that teams varied in their internal status

structures and that these variations were related to differences in

teacher sense of autonomy and influence. Where membership participation

was balanced or members participated equally in team decision-making,

Molnar found that teachers felt more influential and more autonomous

within their teams. Moreover, she found where teachers felt their teams

had decision-making authority within the school, they also felt more

autonomous. Molnar's major contribution is her finding that the team

organization does not always indicate heightened levels of perceived

teacher influence and autonomy, because of internal differences in team


Murnane and Phillips (1977) were also interested in relationships

between school organization and teacher job satisfaction. They studied

seven dimensions of teacher job satisfaction for teachers in self-

contained classrooms or departmentalized subject areas. Using a ques-

tionnaire, data were collected on teachers' attitudes towards the prin-

cipal, the curriculum, materials and procedures, colleagues, community

attitudes towards education, daily teaching, and compensation. The

sample was comprised of 650 teachers in seven schools in a midwest



Murnane and Phillips found that the self-contained teachers were

more satisfied than teachers in departments, with their principals, the

school curriculum, their materials and procedures, and the community

attitudes; teachers in schools where there were six hundred and fifty

students or more, however, were least satisfied with colleague relations

regardless of whether the teachers were organized in departments or self-

contained classrooms. Moreover, the teachers in the departmentalized

schools with the larger percentage of low achieving students were more

satisfied with colleague relations than their elementary, self-contained

counterparts. Murnane and Phillips concluded that there are complex

combinations of variables in the school which influence teacher job satis-

faction. For example, in schools where there was higher than average

student achievement, teachers reported higher satisfaction for compen-

sation but less satisfaction with the curriculum than those in schools

with lower than average achievement. The study's major weakness, how-

ever, was that it did not illuminate what produced the departmentalized

teachers' satisfaction with the curriculum, their materials, or their

principals. Why, for example, the departmentalized teachers with a

larger percentage of low-achieving students were more satisfied with

their colleague relations than their elementary, self-contained counter-

parts remains unclear. Perhaps answers lie within the internal workings

of the schools.

The majority of studies discussed thus far have focused on the

quantitative measurement of selected variables. These studies were not

equipped, however, to illuminate the actual processes which occur in

schools that may shape teacher attitudes and behavior. One general

conclusion from the quantitative work is that the complexity of


interacting school variables that affect teacher attitudes and behaviors

requires a model of research capable of delineating direct as well as

indirect relationships and qualitative explanations for relationships

between school context and teacher attitudes and behaviors. There are

only a very few qualitative studies which have sought to understand the

relationships between school context and teaching.

Cusik (1973) conducted one well-known qualitative study of a sub-

urban high school. While the study primarily addressed student rather

than teacher outcomes, it did yield some insights on indirect relation-

ships between school organization and teacher outcomes. Specifically,

Cusik conducted an ethnographic study of a large suburban high school

and discovered a number of unintended consequences for students and

teachers. In a school characterized by a staff chosen for their profes-

sional qualifications, a large student body, and no discernible sense of

community, Cusik found that the students' most active and alive moments

occurred in their own small-group interactions and not in instructional

interactions with their teachers. Cusik discovered that this phenomenon

was, at least in part, a product of the structural features of the high

school studied. According to Cusik, the school's hierarchy of decision-

making authority, with students at the bottom, the downward communication

flow from administrators to teachers to students, the subdivision of

teachers by subject matter, and the multitude of rules and regulations

governing student behavior all contributed to a series of unintended con-

sequences. Cusik observed that this combination of structural features

limited student-teacher interaction, reduced student involvement in

school-sponsored activities, created a daily experience marked by the

shifting of groups and relations, and a resistance on the part of students

to comply with school demands.

As a result, teachers conducted their classes with a primary focus

on maintaining order rather than on teaching students. Teachers often

ignored student affective concerns and perceptive comments because they

were consumed with managing student behavior. Cusik's major contribution

was his conclusion that both student and teacher behavior were affected

by the organizational features of the school in ways not necessarily con-

sistent with the school's goals and intentions.

Lortie (1975) conducted a major sociological study of teaching.

From intensive interviews with 2,316 teachers in five towns in the Boston

metropolitan area, national and local surveys, historical reviews, and

data from other observational studies, Lortie generated important findings

on the nature of the teaching occupation. Some of those findings are

applicable for this review.

As a general conclusion, Lortie noted that the teaching occupation

was characterized by the lack of a common technical culture, the mutual

isolation of its members, and individualistic orientations. Lortie dis-

covered extreme diversity in teachers' reasons for entering the teaching

field, with the perpetuation of this diversity in the nature of teachers'

perspectives and attitudes once in the field.

In addition, Lortie found that teachers' sentiments about teaching

varied according to life stages and experiences. Age, sex, and marital

status seemed to affect teachers' attitudes towards work. Women over

forty were, for example, more involved (e.g., stayed to work after hours,

took on extra duties) than those under forty, and single women were slightly

more involved and satisfied than married women. Men were slightly more

involved than women teachers but reported the lowest levels of satisfac-

tion. Unlike women, men under forty put in longer hours but older men

gave teaching a higher ranking in a listing of their life priorities.

These findings are significant since they suggest that teachers' per-

spectives and practices may be influenced by variables outside the con-

text of the school.

Regarding teachers' aspirations, Lortie found that about half of

the Five Towns teachers emphasized moral outcomes they hoped would result

from their work. Most teachers focused on teaching citizenship and saw

the achievement of student compliance to classroom norms as an important

means to that end. There was some indication that this orientation was

more frequent when the teachers taught students from lower-status homes,

suggesting that their experiences in working with those students elicited

the desire to focus on socialization.

Lortie also examined what he called craft pride and discovered that

over half of the elementary teachers in the five towns organized their dis-

cussion of craft pride around a success with one student. Though success

with one student was the major source of pride, teachers' described their

ideals in terms of reaching all of their students. Lortie concluded

that this discrepancy between stated ideals and pride in considerably

less is the product of the prevailing psychological uncertainty charac-

teristic of teaching. Teachers are not sure they can make all of their

students learn, and while they hope for widespread or universal effec-

tiveness, they receive too little reinforcement to yield assurance.

Lortie also observed that the typical work arrangements in most

schools exacerbated the problem by isolating teachers, thus limiting the

potential for collegial assistance and support. Almost half of the five

towns teachers reported having no contact with other teachers in the

course of their work. Isolation from peers deprives teachers of the

opportunity to see others at work and to develop a shared technical

culture. In addition, Lortie concluded that the absence of profession-

ally sanctioned goals and scientifically verified techniques leaves every

teacher free to make his or her own classroom decisions and ultimately

to calculate his or her own professional competence. As a result,

teachers are vulnerable to self-doubt which in turn has implications

for teachers' sense of efficacy and classroom effectiveness.

Lortie's findings suggest that the school context may be a very

viable tool for altering the status and character of teaching. With

teachers' attitudes and sentiments largely shaped by the individual ex-

periences and psychic rewards of the classroom, it is plausible that

alterations in the organization of teachers and students in the school

could alter these experiences and the related sentiments of teachers.

In particular, Lortie suggested that a plan for teacher collaboration

might reduce teacher uncertainty and promote the growth of a common

technical culture.

Metz (1978) conducted one of the few comprehensive case studies which

investigated qualitative as well as quantitative dimensions of teaching.

Her study examined the social structures and processes that shaped be-

havior in two different desegregated junior high schools. Metz explored

the conditions affecting order in the corridors and the schools at large.

She described the collective perspectives and strategies for both educa-

tion and order developed by the adults at the two schools, the processes

which gave rise to differences in the two staffs' approaches, and the

consequences of these choices for the life of the student body and

school as a whole.

Metz collected her data through observation in the field, extensive

interviewing, and artifact collection. She followed each of four children

and fifteen teachers through whole school days. Teacher observations were

followed by interviews. She also interviewed 20 children in the eighth

grade distributed by sex, ability level in school, and disciplinary

record. In addition, she interviewed counselors, deans, vice princi-

pals, and principals. From the opening of the school year through January

15 of the year, she made a systematic census of one child's disciplinary

referrals at each school. She conducted participant observation in

assemblies, faculty meetings, and some committee meetings as well as in

the corridors, the teachers' lounges, the cafeterias, and other public

places in the schools.

Metz discovered that while teachers' educational views differed

within a single school, each school developed a faculty culture with

distinguishing and coherent patterns. She found that the teachers' ideas

about their goals and the grounds justifying their relationship of author-

ity with students were associated with their diverse ideas about the ap-

propriate roles for teachers and students. These role perceptions were

associated with several school social structures and processes. She con-

cluded that teachers adjust to varying school conditions such as the

characteristics of the student body, the history of the school, the

school leaders, and the particular conflicts of order and control unique

to the school. For example, where the school had a history of serving a

predominantly black and working, lower class clientele, the teachers

were mostly what Metz called proto-authority. These were teachers who

did not expect children to share their educational values. Rather, they

hoped to teach them that industriousness and obedience are the line of

least resistance. In effect, they saw themselves as sergeants, not care-

takers of developing children. Perhaps this posture of distance was re-

lated to their difficulty in working with culturally different students

who were often less successful in fulfilling traditional academic require-


Some studies have attempted to investigate unique combinations of

school contextual features under the label of school climate or ethos.

While there are a significant number of climate studies, very few have

looked specifically at the relationships between school climate and

teacher attitudes and behavior. The majority of the climate studies

have focused on student outcomes, particularly academic performance.

Though not a major climate study, Anglin (1979) did attempt to study

the relationship between school climate and teacher roles. Anglin re-

ferred to school climate in terms of school organization and social sys-

tems variables including the student grouping plan, the achievement

standards, the stated role for teachers, the ways and means of school

policy formulation, and the curriculum materials used. Based on dif-

ferences in these variables, Anglin categorized his sampled schools as

four types: traditional,open, academy, and systems. In addition, Anglin

believed differences in these variables ultimately reflected differences

in the school's assumptions about and level of understanding of the

nature of student variability and the nature of the instructional pro-


Anglin labeled his sample schools according to these differences,

generating four school types which he named traditional, academy, open,

and systems. A traditional school acknowledged efficiency in the in-

structional program as more important than responding to student vari-

ability. In contrast, an open school understood and recognized student

variability more effectively than it understood and recognized the

instructional process. At the extreme ends of what could be considered

a continuum, Anglin typed the academy and systems schools. An academy

school was identified as a school that viewed students as uniform and

instruction as a product. The systems school, on the other hand, was

responsive to student variability and the instructional process.

Anglin observed that teacher instructional roles varied with the

type of school organization. Specifically, the way teachers grouped

students for instruction, their perceptions and beliefs about academic

achievement, and the types of teaching materials they used all varied

with the variations in their school organization and social system


Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, and Smith (1979) conducted a

large-scale study in 12 secondary schools in south London. Using staff

and student questionnaires and extensive observation with a sample of

3,485 students, ages 10-14, and their teachers, Rutter et al. (1979)

looked at the relationships between student background, school organiza-

tion, school processes and school composition, and student behavior,

student attendance, student achievement, and student delinquency. Dif-

ferences in the student outcomes seemed more related to school processes

than to the specific organizational variables. They found for example

that teacher involvement in school decision-making, teacher cooperation,

staff socializing, the decoration and care of the school, high levels of

rewards for students, and staff consensus were related to higher student

achievement. They also found where the school had shared activities

for students and staff, pupils seemed encouraged to accept school norms.

If students did comply with teacher demands, teachers might experience

less difficulty in managing classroom behavior. Their resulting attitudes

and behaviors might be expected to differ from those working in a school

where students resisted school norms (see Cusik, 1973). Though they did

not identify specific climate variables that affect teachers, extrapola-

ting from such indirect effects, they concluded that

It was very much easier to be a good teacher in some
schools than it was in others. The overall ethos of the
school seemed to provide support and a context which
facilitated good teaching. Teaching performance is a
function of the school environment as well as of per-
sonal qualities. (Rutter et al., 1979, p. 171)

One specific teacher outcome, teacher morale, has been associated

with school climate. Ellett, Payne, Masters, and Pool (1977) reported

that teacher attitude toward work correlated with school climate as per-

ceived by elementary school students. They also reported a significant

relationship between teacher morale and both attendance and achievement

for elementary and secondary students. These conclusions were drawn from

a sample of 1,300 teachers and 3,350 elementary students from 35 schools

and 3,613 secondary students from 10 schools, who each responded to one

of three climate measures. Likewise, using several climate measures and

a principal performance questionnaire with a sample of 1,200 teachers and

45 principals from 35 elementary and 10 secondary schools in Georgia,

Ellett and Walberg (1979) found that direct principal involvement and

interest in instruction not only improved student achievement but ele-

vated teacher morale.



While the reported studies are in some ways diffuse in focus, they

yield a fairly consistent picture of at least some of the critical vari-

ables in schools which seem to affect teacher attitudes and behaviors.

Certainly among the most repeatedly sited are the size and structure of

the work group, the division of labor and authority within the school,

and the character of the school leader.

The team organization which provides teachers with a small collegial

group, common responsibilities, and the potential for autonomy and in-

fluence in larger school affairs was one organizational feature associated

with increased teacher task-related communication (Charters, 1978; Meyer

et al., 1971), increased teacher interdependence or joint teaching and

planning (Abramowitz, 1977; Cohen et al., 1976; Olszewski & Doyle, 1976),

teachers' positive perceptions of other teachers' opinions (Cohen et al.,

1976; Charters, 1978; Marram, 1972), increased job satisfaction (Cohen

et al., 1976; Pellegrin,.1969a, 1969b), and more child-centered and com-

plex instructional orientations and practices (Verdral, 1971; Cohen et

al., 1976). The team structure may have yielded these findings because

it reduces the size of the work group facilitating collaboration, alters

the division of labor within the school elevating teacher authority, and

refocuses teachers' roles and responsibilities in relation to self and

others, such that teachers have common responsibilities in relation to

a group of students rather than a subject area. Moreover, when teachers

have the opportunity to increase their knowledge of students through

team members' sharing of perceptions, it is possible student variability

and student needs become more apparent. This awareness may account


for the increase in instructional complexity or in attempts to meet varied

learning needs.

Findings from the other studies suggest, however, that the production

of teachers who joint teach, value colleague perceptions, are satisfied

with their work, are more child-centered than subject-centered, and who

utilize complex classroom technology requires more than the implementation

of school teams. Levels of teacher autonomy and satisfaction, for in-

stance, varied in different teams. It appears that student body composi-

tion (Cohen et al., 1976), school size (Hilsum & Cane, 1971) and principal

behavior (Cohen et al., 1976; Flizak, 1967; Mendenhall, 1977; Metz, 1978)

all serve as intervening variables in teacher satisfaction,with smaller

size, a higher percentage of high ability students, and a supportive and

involved principal who serves as an instructional leader, as the positive


Internal school processes and norms may be just as potent in shaping

teacher attitudes and behavior as an organizational feature such as the

team. The existing qualitative work illustrates the complexity of the

relationships involved. Schools may influence teachers by the norms they

sanction, their climates, the values they espouse, their histories, and

their administrator's beliefs and practices (Cusik, 1973; Ellett et al.,

1977; Metz, 1978; Rutter et al., 1979).

In light of the research reviewed here, it is clear that the search

for an encompassing, explanatory model of relationships between school

context and teaching should continue. This research study represents an

attempt to further illuminate significant variables and relationships

and to provide explanations for the quantitative findings which remain



The Middle School Context: Theory and Research


This study has investigated teachers' perspectives and practices in

two contrasting school plans. While both schools are named middle

school, differences in the two schools' organization of teachers, the

grouping of students, the components of the daily schedule, and the nature

of the curriculum sharply separate the two school plans. According to

theory in the field of early adolescent education, only one of the

schools, Long Meadow Middle School, has incorporated school features

associated with the middle school label. The second school, Hidden

Brook, appears, according to theory and tradition, to have those features

commonly affiliated with the title of junior high school (Alexander &

George, 1981). In a sense then, this study compares teachers' perspec-

tives and practices in a junior high school and a middle school. As a

result, it is essential to review the background, theory, and research

in the area of junior high/middle school education to reveal what is

currently known about the relationship of either school plan to teacher

attitudes and behaviors.

Before the turn of the century, tne predominant school organization

in the United States consisted of the elementary school, grades 1-8, and

the high school, grades 9-12. In 1888, Charles Eliot, then president of

Harvard University, initiated a national movement seeking to lower the

age for college entrance. The National Education Association endorsed

the movement and helped initiate a new organization of grades 1-6 in the

elementary school with grades 7-12 in the high school.

By 1917, experiments were underway with various divisions of the

7-12 plan, resulting in the establishment of over 270 separate schools

housing students in grades 7-9. These schools were appropriately called

junior high schools. Though it was not until the 1920s that this new

organization called the junior high school assumed pedagogical as well

as logistical purposes, it was this early transformation of the secondary

grades that created the impetus for further change.

The junior high school lacked clear definition. Although early

writers (Bunker, 1909; Fullerton, 1910) alluded to the special needs of

learners in grades 7-9, virtually nothing in the curriculum or organiza-

tion of the early junior high school differed substantially from the

senior high program. Later theoretical developments included the core

curriculum concept which involved the correlation of subject areas under

the supervision of a single teacher. In addition, flexible scheduling

emerged as an idea to accommodate the core curriculum. Exploratory

learning and the concept of a teacher-advisory plan were advocated in

the literature. All of these features were much less apparent in prac-

tice, however, as the majority of junior high schools still continued to

model themselves after the senior high school plan. The junior high

school remained primarily a grade level reorganization (Toepfer, 1982).

As numbers of junior high schools increased, attitudes and assump-

tions about the purposes and effectiveness of this school plan began to

change. Housed in separate schools, early adolescent youngsters began

to stir the interests of concerned educators who wondered if these junior

high schools were suitable for the students they served. New knowledge

on early adolescent development became available to educators who began

to identify the junior high school plan as a developmentally inappropriate

school (Cooper & Peterson, 1949; Segal, 1951; Shipp, 1951). Though

questions were raised about the effectiveness of the junior high school,

few research studies addressed those questions. In effect, the junior

high school was an unresearched school plan (Toepfer, 1982).

Questions continued though, as new knowledge of early adolescent

development and a growing dissatisfaction with the junior high school

compounded by declining enrollments and desegregation provided the con-

cerned educators with sufficient impetus to search for a more appropriate

school alternative. By the middle of the 1960s, an alternative called

the middle school had emerged (Eichorn, 1966). Initially, the knowledge

that the onset of puberty occurred at an age more closely associated with

grades five or six, rather than seven, led to a limited conceptualization

of the middle school as a grade reorganization, a school with grades 6-8

rather than 7-9 (Eichorn, 1973). The concept was quickly expanded, how-

ever, as efforts were made to align middle school curriculum and instruc-

tion to a broader knowledge of early adolescent physical, intellectual,

social, and emotional developmental features (Toepfer, 1982).

In the last two decades, a significant body of theory has been

generated in which the middle school concept is defined and clarified.

While controversy still exists regarding the nature of appropriate cur-

ricular and instructional programs, the National Middle School Associa-

tion's recent statement (1982) on the characteristics of the middle

school suggests a growing consensus. It states, "The middle school

stands for clear educational concepts which evolve from a melting of the

nature of the age group, the nature of learning, and the expectations

of society. There should be then, certain conditions, factors, and

programmatic characteristics that are identifiable and that would be

present in a true middle school" (p. 10).

Initiating a list of essential middle school elements, the National

Middle School Association's committee suggested the following features:

"a staff knowledgeable about early adolescent development, a focus on

cognitive and affective objectives, varied organizational alternatives

to departmentalized instruction, varied instructional technology, an

exploratory curriculum, a plan for teacher-student guidance, and coopera-

tive teacher planning" (pp. 10-11). In a similar effort to delineate

distinct middle school features, Alexander and George (1981) offered

twelve features of the exemolary middle school. In summary, they

recommended a "developmental, teacher-student guidance program, an

interdisciplinary teacher organization, flexible patterns for student

grouping and scheduling to acknowledge developmental diversity and

facilitate continuous progress, and varied instructional technology"

(pp. 18-19).


While the theory has achieved an emerging clarity, middle school

research is still in its infant years. Studies which have examined the

impact of the major features advocated by the theorists are limited

(Toepfer & Marani, 1980). In addition, most studies have focused primarily

on the quantitative effects of the individual components, with student
achievement as the most frequently measured outcome. Only a few re-

searchers have attempted to study the effects of some cluster of the

advocated middle school features, and only a very small number of those

studies investigated relationships between the middle school as an

organizational alternative and teacher outcomes. Moreover, the existing

studies of middle school teacher attitudes and perceptions are diverse

and scattered in focus and thus do not yield a conclusive picture.

Bryan and Erikson (1970) studied the middle school as an organiza-

tional innovation. They contended that, "the middle school concept

represents a real effort to provide a new kind of school organization.

The implementation of such a program . should modify the interpersonal

and structural relationships within and between teachers, students and

parents" (p. 24). As a result, in their comparison study of middle

school and junior high school teacher perceptions and opinions, they

differentiated the two school types by instructional organization. The

junior high school had a departmentalized teacher organization, whereas

the middle school had an interdisciplinary teacher organization.

Bryan and Erikson examined teachers' attitudes about and perceptions

of their relationships with other teachers, administrators, and students,

perceptions of their role in school decision-making, attitudes towards

work, perceptions of students, and perceptions of fellow teacher com-

petency. From their questionnaire data they found few significant dif-

ferences in the two groups of teachers. Teachers in the middle school

plan were, however, more favorable towards teaching students in the

middle years, and did describe their students in ways different from the

junior high school teachers. They noted that the middle school teachers,

more often than the junior high school teachers, applied these descrip-

tive statements to students: will be prepared for next year, will

probably go to college, were prepared for my classwork, like to go to

school, and have parents that are critical of school. On the other hand,

the junior high school teachers were more inclined to apply the follow-

ing statements to students: discipline is a problem, lacking in IQ


capacity, probably will drop out of high school, and dislike school.

In essence they found that the middle school teachers were more con-

vinced of their students' success in present and future schooling. On _I

dimensions of teacher satisfaction, they discovered a slight but not

significant difference in favor of the middle school teachers.

Gordon (1977) used the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory to

measure teacher attitudes towards students in the elementary, middle,

and high school. Unlike Bryan and Erikson (1970), Gordon did not define

middle school in terms of curricular or structural features. The three

school plans were distinguished by the grade levels served. Gordon's

sample was a randomly selected population of 75 graduates of the Uni-

versity of Cincinnati teacher education program who were employed as

teachers in the metropolitan Cincinnati area. The subjects responded

to the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory.

Unlike Bryan and Erikson, Gordon found that middle grade teachers

had more negative feelings regarding their students' ability to assume

responsibility in classroom learning. In addition, he found that the

middle grade teachers believed that student interests were often at cdds

with their goals or interests. Gordon concluded that since the majority

of middle school teachers were trained for high school teaching, these

attitudes may be a product of a discrepancy between secondary teacher

training experiences and the actual experience of teaching younger, not

older, adolescents. Since Gordon limited his definition of middle school

to a school with grades 6-8 and not to a school with organizational

features recommended in the literature (e.g., the interdisciplinary

team organization, the teacher-student guidance plan, or an exploratory

curriculum), and supported in research, it is possible all of the

sampled schools were departmentalized schools with few middle school

curricular programs. As a result, the teachers' attitudes towards stu-

dents may have evolved because they were working in a high school-like

setting which was not appropriate for, nor appealing to, middle school

students, who thus resisted school norms and teacher goals.

Draud (1977) compared teacher attitudes toward school or teacher

morale in junior high and middle schools. Using the Purdue Teacher

Opinionaire, Draud collected data on teacher rapport with the principal,

teacher satisfaction with teaching, teacher rapport with other teachers,

teacher salary, teacher workload, curriculum, facilities and services,

teacher status, community support for education, and community pressures.

The junior high and middle schools were located in metropolitan Hamilton

County, Ohio. For this study middle schools were those schools with a

grade level organization that excluded grade nine but included grade

six, with an instructional staff with 30% elementary certified and with

an instructional time schedule designed for flexible scheduling.

Draud found that the middle school teachers yielded higher scores

than the junior high teachers on attitudes towards teacher salaries,

teacher status, and community support. The junior high school teachers

had higher scores on attitudes towards curriculum issues and rapport with

other teachers. While Draud did glean some significant differences, the

results do not illuminate relationships between the differences in spe-

cific teacher attitudes and the differences in the two school plans

since Draud differentiated the two school plans by the grade levels

served and not by major organizational and curricular features.

Since middle schools vary in the degree of implementation of recom-

mended practices, Pock (1981) prepared a study of the relationship

between teacher job satisfaction and the level of middle school imple-

mentation. Using a sample of 252 teachers in 60 Colorado schools labeled

middle schools, Pook collected teacher attitude data with the Purdue

Teacher Opinionaire and evaluated the level of middle school practices

with the Middle School Practices Index (MSPI).

Pook found a significant positive relationship between teacher

satisfaction with curriculum and a higher degree of middle school prac-

tices implementation. Likewise, a positive correlation was found between

the school score on the MSPI and satisfaction with community support. A

higher score on the MSPI, however, also yielded a negative correlation

on teacher satisfaction with teacher load. Moreover, Pook found that

teachers who preferred teaching at the middle school level were more

satisfied than middle school teachers who preferred teaching at other

levels. Finally, middle school teachers working in moderately sized

schools with 315-508 students were more satisfied than those working in

larger schools with 550-1,039 students, regardless of the degree of


Ashton, Doda, McAuliffe, Olejnik, and Webb (1981) designed a study

to compare the attitudes of middle school and junior high school teachers

toward their job and school climate in four areas: overall job satisfac-

tion, expectations of students and perceptions of student academic im-

provement, perceptions of intergroup conflict, and colleague relation-

ships. Twenty-nine teachers from a school with an interdisciplinary team

organization, an exploratory curriculum, and multiage student grouping

were compared to twenty teachers from a junior high school with a depart-

mentalized structure, traditional curriculum, and chronological age

grouping. The two schools with populations of approximately 1,000

in grades six through eight were located in a small, southeastern

university town.

The teachers were asked to report on the stress and satisfaction

they felt toward teaching. They completed the Brookover, Gigliotti,

Henderson, and Schneider (1973) measures of teacher present evaluations

and expectations for high school completion and teacher-student commit-

ment to improve, as well as a measure of student intergroup conflict

(Cohen, 1979), and a measure of colleague relationships (Ellett, Payne,

Masters, & Pool, 1977). In addition, the teachers responded to a pro-

jective measure designed to explore their role perceptions.

The authors found that the middle school teachers considered teach-

ing to be more important to them than did the junior high school teachers.

The middle school teachers also reported that they were more satisfied

with teaching and were more likely to choose teaching as a career, if

they had a chance to do it again. A selection bias of factors aside

from school structure may account for these positive results, but

Ashton et al. (1981) suggest they warrant further study.

Ashton et al. (1981) also found clear differences in teachers'

role perceptions in the two schools. The middle school teachers

were more concerned with their students' affective development than

were the junior high teachers. The authors suggested that these dif-

ferences in role perception may account for the differences in job

satisfaction levels. They also conjectured that the middle school

structure may facilitate teaching rewards and satisfactions which

focus on the total development of the child which in turn yield

greater teacher satisfaction. In addition, they speculated that

the multiage grouping pattern in the middle school may have elevated

teachers' sense of efficacy since teachers were involved in student

growth over a three-year period and were thus able to see more marked


The middle school teachers reported more difficulties with colleague

relations than did the teachers at the junior high. Ashton et al. (1981)

believed these results were not surprising since conflict among staff

may be indicative of a creative and committed group of professionals.

Moreover, team interaction can vary from team to team (Molnar, 1971),

producing varying degrees of satisfaction or conflict. In spite of the

controversial results on colleague relations, the authors concluded that

the middle school with the team organization and affective orientation

may have potential for improving teacher job satisfaction and sense of


Though not a study of teacher outcomes, the work of Damico, Bell-

Nathaniel, and Green (1981) may shed some light on the job satisfaction

findings from the Ashton et al. (1981) study. Damico et al. (1981)

examined the effect of school organizational structure on interracial

friendships among middle school students. Data on perceptions of same

and opposite race friends were collected as part of a larger study of

interracial climates in five desegregated middle schools in a southeastern

community. A sample of 1,526 middle school students, in grades 6, 7, and

8 with 889 white and 437 black students, participated in the study. The

students evaluated a white friend and a black friend on a modified

semantic differential scale, and reported the number of their other-race


Two of the sampled scchols were middle schools with many of the

organizational and curricular features experts outline as appropriate

for early adolescents (Alexander & George, 1981). Among those features

were an interdisciplinary team organization, multigraded student group-

ing, and a teacher-student affective education program. In practice,

the authors noted that these program features seemed to increase the

heterogeneity of classroom populations, reduce the focus on homogeneous

grade-level expectations, and increase the time students spent with the

same teachers. The other three schools were more traditionally organized:

Students were segregated by grade levels, classes in reading, math and

language arts were grouped by ability, and a strong emphasis was placed

on academic achievement.

Damico et al. (1981) found that white students reported having sig-

nificantly more black friends in the team organized than in the tradi-

tionally organized schools. The difference in the number of white friends

reported by black students was not significantly affected by school

organization, but the trend favored the team organized schools. In

addition, white student attitudes towards blacks were affected by the

number of black friends they reported having. The authors concluded

that conditions under which friendships were likely to arise were more

frequently present in the team organized schools than in the traditionally

organized schools. Since positive peer relations in desegregated schools

could enhance school climate (Cohen, 1979), and since teachers are in

turn affected by climate variables, it is possible to conjecture that

working in a middle school with a team organization might be more satis-

fying than working in a traditionally organized school structure.

In 1981, Joan Lipsitz conducted a qualitative research project of

four effective middle schools. She produced four case studies of middle

schools that satisfied criteria for effectiveness derived from two areas


of theory and research. Lipsitz first utilized the school effective-

ness literature (Edmonds & Fredericksen, 1979; Goodlad 1975;

Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979), for a list of school

criteria including a high mean level of student achievement on standard-

ized tests, pleasant and comfortable school conditions for students, an

academic emphasis set by the staff, and consensus among staff members

about curricular expectations, school norms, and discipline. From a

collection of theoretical literature on middle grades education, the

Center for Early Adolescence's Middle Grade Assessment Program identi-

fied seven categories of needs that should be addressed in successful

middle schools:

competence and achievement, self-exploration and defini-
tion, social interaction with peers and adults, physical
activity, meaningful participation in school and community,
routine, limits and structure, and diversity. (1981, p. 17)

Using these categories coupled with the effectiveness research list,

Lipsitz selected four schools that met the following criteria:

1. met the threshold criteria for safety, comportment and

2. responded appropriately to the developmental diversity
of students;

3. pursued competence in learning;

4. won community acceptance;

5. function well in response to or despite public
policy issues. (p. 18)

Impressionistic case studies were conducted during seven days of

observation in each of four schools in an attempt to capture the per-

sonalities, histories, goals, work processes, organizational structures,

and environmental contexts of the schools. Lipsitz's findings reflect

some insights into the organization-teacher relationship and as such

are important for this review. She discovered that all four schools

had achieved an unusual clarity about the purposes of middle level

schooling. More specifically, the staffs resisted departmentalization

and other programs associated with the high school, and insisted that

their schools were more elementary in tone than secondary. Lipsitz's

findings suggest that part of this staff clarity was the result of school

principals who had driving visions about the nature of middle level

schooling. In addition, they were schools with principals who acknow-

ledged themselves as instructional leaders and who worked to secure the

autonomy of their schools with regard to programs and practices. More-

over, while the principals marked the direction of their schools, Lip-

sitz noted that they managed to create their own sustenance within their

staffs by sharing leadership as well as vision, and by either selecting

staff or bringing staff from their former schools, with common goals.

Lipsitz also observed what she referred to as a "striking level of

caring" (1981, p. 289). Students acknowledged being known and liked in

these schools and teachers and other staff spent hours and hours in and

outside of school on behalf of the personal as well as academic welfare

of their students. More important, Lipsitz discovered that this level

of caring was facilitated by the structure of the schools. The schools

were organized in ways that established continuity in adult-child rela-

tionships and provided opportunities for students and adults to interact

in mutually meaningful ways. Specifically, these schools managed to

insure that the size of the group to which students belonged was small

enough to insure familiarity and personalization. In schools as large

as 1,050, students belonged to teams of approximately 150, and often

remained with that group, with the same teachers, over a period of years.

Though Lipsitz only implied the relationship to teachers, it is quite

possible that teaching in a school structured in small, knowable com-

munities helps teachers focus on the total development of the child with

the level of caring Lipsitz observed.

Lipsitz also observed that these schools had high levels of teacher

companionship. Common planning and lunch periods, team meetings, and

team teaching seemed to encourage continuous task-related teacher inter-

action. In addition, Lipsitz found teacher expectations of student

success to be positive and optimistic. Teachers were not discouraged

by student family background characteristics or innate capabilities.

Perhaps the comradery provided by the team structure enabled the teachers

to not only feel more effective but to be more effective with colleague


In the four middle schools, teachers' perspectives and practices

were consistent with a school ethos of interpersonal involvement, a

focus on the special needs of young teens, a focus on the total develop-

ment of the child,and school principals who had plans which consistently

reflected those priorities. While Lipsitz's work was heuristic and not

predictive, her findings suggest that the principal and the school's

organization may contribute to staff attitudes, expectations, and

priorities. In this respect, her work marks an important contribution

to an understanding of middle school organization and teacher world



Though none of the research conducted thus far demonstrates conclu-

sively that teachers' attitudes and behaviors are actually shaped by the

school context, a relationship clearly exists. Now under the middle

school framework, the teacher team structure was again associated with

changes in teacher perspectives and attitudes including more optimistic

expectations of students (Bryan & Erickson, 1970), satisfaction with

curriculum and an improved sense of efficacy (Ashton et al., 1981;

Pook, 1981), and increased teacher task-related interaction (Lipsitz,


Aside from the team structure, no other theoretically recommended

middle school practices were deemed significant in relation to middle

school teachers' perspectives and practices. It appears, however, from

Lipsitz's work and the work of Damico et al. (1981), that there is a

range of variables which interact to yield teacher outcomes. The multi-

age grouping of students in the Damico et al. (1981) study, for example,

may have contributed to the positive cross-race friendships that de-

veloped, thus reducing intragroup conflict and elevating teacher

satisfaction (Ashton et al., 1981).

Chapter Summary

It appears from both areas of research that teachers' perspectives

and practices are related to a variety of school contextual features

such as the organization of teachers and students, teacher roles and

responsibilities, school goals and norms, the size, composition, atti-

tudes, and behavior of the student body, and the character of the school

principal. There are some beginning emerging findings which suggest

that teacher collaboration in relation to a common group of students,

smaller instructional groups, positive peer social interaction, and the


active instructional leadership of the principal work synergistically

to yield or support teacher sense of efficacy, teacher confidence in

student improvability, teacher job satisfaction, teacher instructional

flexibility, and thus teacher effectiveness in terms of student achieve-

ment. The middle school model, representing a number of these school

features, is currently being adopted in school districts nationwide.

This study was generated in an effort to build on what we know about

these relationships between school features and teaching, and

to provide needed knowledge about the middle school context and teachers'

perspectives and practices.



Research Approach

In the search for a research based science of teaching, many re-

searchers have acknowledged the need for qualitative data to complement

and illuminate the voluminous quantitative data now available. For

example, Doyle and Ponder (1975) called for qualitative information on

the ecological or contextual factors in schools that influence teacher

behaviors in classrooms. Likewise, Tikunoff and Ward (1980) suggested

the need for qualitative descriptions which could reveal the complex and

multidimensional character of teacher behavior in classrooms and schools.

Moreover, Wilson (1977) followed by Medley (1978) pointed out that a

major weakness of the traditional quantitative research on teaching was

its failure to discover the perspectives of the subjects. Elaborating,

Fenstermacher (1978) pointed out that if a significant goal of research

is to improve teacher behaviors then an understanding of why teachers

engage in the behaviors they do must be addressed in research. Al-

together, there has clearly been a call from researchers for qualitative

descriptions of teaching and qualitative investigations of school con-

textual factors as they affect teaching.

This study sought to understand what characterized teachers' idea-

ticnal systems or perspectives and practices in two organizationally dif-

ferent middle schools. Because of its broad exploratory emphasis on

the subjective world of teaching, it required an approach which allowed

the researcher to uncover and describe the complex meaning systems the

teachers used to understand themselves and others and to make sense out

of the world in which they worked. A methodology capable of describing

culture, or cultural attributes of teaching, was needed. Ethnography,

the hallmark of cultural anthropology, is such an approach (Wolcott,

1975). It has traditionally been the social scientist's tool for under-

standing culture, but has in the past several decades been applied to

the study of public school worlds and their inhabitants (Cassell, 1978).

There are several approaches to ethnographic research, each of which

is based on particular epistemological assumptions. An emic approach,

like the one applied here, is based on the assumptions that an under-

standing of culture can best be achieved through a study of the actor's

definitions of the social scene, and that peoples' meanings, perspectives,

and beliefs or ideational systems offer explanations for their behavior

(Harr6 & Secord, 1972; Pelto & Pelto, 1970). Working to build a

knowledge of culture from the participants' point of view, rather than

from the researcher's preconceived notions of significant variables to

explore, this approach is fundamentally inductive. Thus, using an emic

approach is

an attempt to discover and describe the pattern of that
particular culture in reference to the way in which the
various elements in that culture are related to each
other . rather than an attempt to describe them in
reference to a generalized classification derived in
advance of the study of that culture. (Pike, 1954,
p. 3)

Since ethnography is the work of describing culture, a definition

of culture is a central methodological issue. In this study, a defini-

tion of culture was derived from the theory of symbolic interacticnism

(Blumer, 1969). Culture is referred to as a cognitive map, mental

guide or

set of principles for creating dramas, for writing scripts,
and of course, for recruiting players and audiences ..
Culture is not simply a cognitive map that people acquire
and then learn to read. People are not just map-readers;
they are map-makers. Culture does not provide a cognitive
map, but rather a set of principles for mao-making and
navigation. (Frake, 1977, pp. 6-7)

Moreover, according to the symbolic interaction theory, culture is

knowledge acquired by persons as members of an interacting group, with

meanings created from and modified by their interactions and recurrent

daily activities within the group (Spradley, 1980).

In this study, teachers' ideational systems or professional world

views have been treated as dimensions of a culture of teaching acquired

within culturally distinct school worlds. By applying this notion to

teachers' perspectives, and employing an ethnographic approach, the

researcher was able to understand characteristic patterns of beliefs

and practices in each school, to identify potential explanations for

prevailing perspectives, and to generate valid hypotheses for future

research on teaching. The reported findings are ethnographic descrip-

tions of the cultural themes characterizing the teachers' professional

perspectives and practices at each of the two middle schools.

Research Sites and Subjects

The impetus for this study grew out of an interest in understanding

how teachers' ideational systems were affected by school organization and

curriculum. In particular, the study was based on a need to know if

teachers' perspectives and practices differed in two organizationally different


middle schools, and if so, how and why they differed. Consequently,

two middle schools with distinct organizational patterns were selected

as sites for the research. School A, to be referred to as Hidden Brook,

and School B, to be referred to as Long Meadow, were primarily different

in teacher organization, student grouping, and special curriculum com-

ponents. At Hidden Brook, the teachers were organized in subject area

departments. Each subject area had a representative unit of teachers

called a department that was staffed by teachers from the sixth, seventh,

and eighth grades. Under the leadership of an appointed chairperson,

department members met on a monthly basis for subject area curriculum

decision-making. Teachers from the same departments shared curriculum

plans, equipment, and media materials. Department chairpersons reported

department decisions and plans to the administrators in periodic steer-

ing committee meetings.

The students at Hidden Brook were generally arranged in chronological

groups, so that students were separated by age and the number of years

at school, and changed teachers, curriculum, and location in the build-

ing with each passing year. More specifically, a student's day consisted

of six academic area classes (e.g. science, math, etc.) with one class

period for physical education or an elective. The electives were as-

signed by grade level and a student was enrolled in two electives each

school year.

At Long Meadow, teachers were assigned to interdisciplinary teach-

ing teams. The school had six nearly equal size teaching teams, each

comprised of a teaching staff of four academic teachers and three

specialists. Team teachers shared a common group of students, a similar

daily schedule, common planning time, common planning and teaching areas,

the responsibilities of parent conferencing, student diagnosis and

evaluation, and decision-making regarding the planning and management

of team activities. Teams met weekly under the leadership of a teacher

team leader, who also served as a team representative on a school

decision-making council that met bi-monthly with the administrators.

Each team had approximately one hundred and sixty sixth, seventh,

and eighth grade students who were multiage grouped. Sixth, seventh,

and eighth graders were enrolled in the same classes, rather than

separated as distinct learning groups. As a result, students were

assigned to a team and remained with the same team of teachers for their

three years at Long Meadow. Students were enrolled in four subject area

classes with two classes scheduled for student-elected exploratory

classes alternated daily with two consecutive periods of physical edu-

cation. These elected mini-courses were rotated three times a year.

The students at Long Meadow were also enrolled in a twenty-five

minute daily class called Advisor-Advisee. This twenty-five minute

period was designed for teacher-student guidance and affective education.

The program's goals emphasized the affective development of students,

including objectives in the areas of self-awareness, communication

skills, self-concept, and moral development. Teachers were assigned the

responsibility of providing assistance and guidance to a group of about

twenty-five sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The role of advisor in-

cluded tasks such as orienting students to school procedures, providing

students with school news, maintaining cumulative records, arranging

parent conferences, advising students on elective course selections,

and planning and teaching daily activities designed to promote affective

growth and development (see Appendix A ). Every student and teacher

participated in the program that started the school day.

This brief sketch is meant to highlight the organizational features

distinguishing the two middle schools. More detailed information on

the specifics of these features, as well as additional information on

the schools' structures, can be found in Appendix A.

In order to highlight these organizational differences, the selected

schools were as similar as possible in other areas. Both schools served

approximately nine hundred and fifty students in grades six through

eight, from the same county in North Central Florida. Moreover, the

student populations were roughly similar in demographic character. Of

Hidden Brook's nine hundred and fifteen students, there were 57% white,

43% black, and 0% other. According to the socioeconomic predictions

provided by the State Department of Education's annual report, 55% of

the students qualified for a free or reduced lunch plan. Similarly,

Long Meadow's nine hundred and sixty students were 58% white, 39% black,

and 3% other. Approximately 54% qualified for a free or reduced lunch

plan. These similarities made the two selected schools desirable sites.

Gaining entry for ethnographic fieldwork was a determining con-

sideration in site selection. At Hidden Brook and Long Meadow the

principals were equally receptive and felt this qualitative study would

be interesting and useful. There was no entry problem at either school.

In exchange for participation in the study, the schools were promised a

consolidated report of major findings.

The actual access strategies employed included first a personal

contact with each of the school principals describing the nature of the

research, and requesting permission to spend a school year observing

and interviewing in the school. Following that, a request form was filed

with the county school board for approval. Once the county's permission

was granted, the entry issue was resolved.

Two teachers from each school were selected as the focus of the

study. These four teachers were selected according to the following


1. Two or more years of teaching in the school.

2. Previous teaching experience in another school.

3. Willingness to participate in year-long ethnographic study.

4. Identified by school principal and assistant principal as

"good" classroom managers.

5. In School A, belonged to the same department.

6. In School B, belonged to the same team.

These criteria were established in order to reduce teacher differences

that might not be related to school organization and highlight charac-

teristics that might.

Teachers were assigned pseudonames in order to protect their iden-

tities and preserve anonymity. At Hidden Brook, Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs.

Reed were selected. Both were social studies teachers who had each

been at Hidden Brook for over ten years. At Long Meadow, Ms. Lane and

Mr. Waters were selected. Both were members of the same team and had

been at the school for over two years. Ms. Lane had the team leadership

responsibility and had been at the school since it opened in 1974.

Research Methods

Ethnographic fieldwork was the primary research method used in

this study. It is a method designed to discover the cultural knowledge

people are using to organize their behavior and interpret their ex-

perience. As a result, the ethnographer's work is much like that of an

explorer trying to map a wilderness area, seeking to describe what exists.

Appropriately, in doing ethnographic fieldwork, both research

questions and answers are discovered in the social scene being studied.

The research process is cyclical wherein the major tasks of data col-

lection and analysis are simultaneously and interdependently recurring

research processes (see Figure 1). Each of these general steps in-

volves specific procedures used in data collection and analysis.

Data Collection

The primary methods of data collection were observation and inter-

viewing, supplemented by photography and artifact collection. Since the

study's focus was to understand teachers' perspectives, one of the major

sources of data was teachers' verbal descriptions of their intents and

perceptions regarding their teaching and the factors affecting it.

Teachers' perceptions alone, however, were inadequate for specifying

how and why their perspectives developed and were maintained. A variety

of studies have indicated that teachers' self-reports about their be-

havior and their actual behavior are not always related (Evertson &

Brophy, 1974). Thus, the interview data were supported with observa-

tions of teacher behavior.

The specific teaching context has often been cited as an important

determinant of teaching behavior (Brophy & Evertson, 1974; Evertson,

Anderson, & Brophy, 1978; Good & Grouws, 1977; McDonald & Elias, 1976)

and of teachers' perceptions and attitudes (Abramowitz, 1977; Anglin,

1979; Cohen et al., 1975; Flizak, 1967; Little, 1982). Consequently,

teacher observations were not limited to classrooms. The four teachers

were observed in all aspects of their teaching work at school. This included

Figure 1. Major steps in the ethnographic research process.

a variety of places and events in each of the two schools. Observations

were conducted of formal and informal meetings, interactions with staff,

parent conferences, student conferences, school assemblies and events,

field trips, faculty events, and lunch meetings. In addition, teachers

were observed in classrooms, corridors, lounges, offices, and meeting

areas where the above events occurred.

Over a nine-month period, the researcher conducted observations

and interviews in the two middle schools focusing on the task of dis-

covering two teachers' perspectives and practices in each setting.

Observations and interviews moved from general to specific, addressing

over time,increasingly focused questions.

The researcher utilized what might be referred to as a passive

participant observer role which involved participation as a teacher-

helper in each of the four teachers' classrooms. This enabled the re-

searcher to experience a part of the teacher's job first-hand while

continuing with observations. Participation served to reduce researcher

obtrusiveness as the role of helper became more apparent than the role

of researcher (Bruyn, 1976). The researcher participated in the

following ways:

1. Served as a classroom aide (e.g. helping students, distributing

materials, grading papers).

2. Prepared classroom materials (e.g. bulletins, worksheets,


3. Substitute taught (e.g. some degree of substitute teaching was

done in each of the four teachers' classrooms, ranging from a

whole day for Mrs.Reed to a single class for Ms. Lane).

While conducting observations, the researcher kept a written record

of all observed phenomena. The field notes included verbal descriptions,

drawings, maps, and quotations from actual discourse. The recording

of field notes was guided by certain principles recommended in the

literature to insure accuracy and validity in fieldwork:

1. Cultural meanings can be distorted during the process of making

an ethnographic record. To avoid this, the researcher should

identify language differences as observed in the field. For

example, in each case where discourse is recorded, the speaker

should be identified. In addition, the ethnographer should

avoid describing phenomenon in his/her terms as opposed to the

participants' terms.

2. There is a tendency to rephrase discourse data when recording

fieldnotes. To avoid this, discourse should be recorded verba-

tim. Even if the entire record can not be recorded, para-

phrasings should not be substituted (Spradley, 1980).

3. Finally, when describing observations, concrete language should

be used. This is essential to collecting sufficient raw data

needed for future generalizations (Smith & Pohland, 1976).

All notes recorded while in the field represented a condensed

account of what was actually observed. Consequently, it was necessary

following each day in the field to expand the condensed account, filling

in details and observations not recorded (Spradley, 1980). Maintaining

the same principles for field note recording, the researcher taped ex-

panded accounts. These taped notes were then transcribed and typed

onto 5" x 8" note cards for analysis purposes (see Appendix B for

sample entry).


In addition to field notes, the researcher recorded questions,

problems, concerns, and changes in schedules for observations and inter-

views in the same notebook. Since the ethnographer is the major re-

search instrument, a section of the notebook was reserved for recording

researcher biases, feelings, and attitudes potentially influential in

the research. This process of introspection is essential to effective

fieldwork as it helps the researcher continually separate personal from

professional judgments (Wax & Wax, 1980).

Informal and structured interviews were conducted with the four

teachers, the school principals and assistant principals, and two addi-

tional staff members in each school setting. All interviews were taped

to insure an exact record of responses and questions. Informal inter-

views were guided by several principles designed to insure that the

interviewed individual would feel comfortable enough to honestly report

the needed information, and would focus on the interview purposes:

1. Interviews began with friendly conversation about aspects of

school life, followed by a clear goal for the interview.

2. Beginning questions were general and descriptive to give the

individual a sense that questions would be answerable.

3. interviews did not confront the individual with direct questions

about motive. As a rule, "why" was avoided in references to

personal behaviors or practices in question. This could pro-

duce defensive rather than factual responses (Spradley, 1979).

4. To avoid the acquiescence response set, where subjects tend to

endorse the positive first, questions with positive and negative

options were avoided (Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest,


A systematic plan for data collection was used, drawing from James

Spradley's Developmental Research Sequence model (Spradley, 1979; 1980).

Spradley recommends collecting data in phases to be accompanied by the

appropriate analysis steps. The preliminary phase of data collection

involved the collection of broad descriptive data about the setting and

individuals to be studied. Grand tour observations and interviews were

used during this phase to scope and survey the research setting. Spradley

uses this term to emphasize the collection of data on the major features

of the social scene (e.g., events, objects, places, actors, etc.).

In the second phase, the data collection was more specific, address-

ing particular features within the analyzed grand tour data. This phase

involves making focused observations and interviews. Data were collected

on certain categories or domains which emerged as significant in the

analysis. For the identified domains, Spradley advises the researcher

to address structural questions. For example, for the domain, "ways to

reprimand students," data should be collected in order to answer the

question, "what are all the ways teachers reprimand students?" This

procedure was applied to each of the domains deemed significant for

further investigation.

Once the key domains have been expanded, Spradley recommends narrow-

ing the scope of investigation by focusing the observations and inter-

views more specifically. Data across domains were examined for compari-

son and contrast and categories were consolidated or divided. In con-

junction with this final phase of data collection, the researcher began

the search for what Spradley calls "cultural themes." A cultural theme

is defined as "any principle recurrent in a number of domains, tacit or

explicit, and serving as a relationship among subsystems of cultural

meaning" (Spradley, 1980, p. 141). Cultural themes are essentially

assertions of a high degree of generality. The work of discovering

cultural themes involves immersion in the cultural setting, followed by

a period of immersion in the data.

Utilizing Spradley's model, the data were collected in three phases.

The first phase consisted of twenty-four days in the field, six days per

teacher, during the months of August, September, and October. During

this time, the researcher conducted nonparticipant observations for the

purpose of answering broad descriptive questions. Sample descriptive

questions included what is the physical setting in which the teachers'

work, with whom do teachers interact, what is the nature of these inter-

actions, what are teachers' daily tasks? To answer these questions,

each teacher was observed for six full days. Each of the twenty-four

day-long observations involved shadowing the teacher from the time he/she

arrived at school until the time of departure. Thus, observations were

conducted in the office, teachers' lounge, halls, meeting areas, and

teachers' classrooms.

Following each day of observation, the observed teacher was inter-

viewed. The interviews conducted with each of the four teachers during

this first phase focused on grand tour questions or questions about the

descriptive observations. The teachers were asked to describe a typical

day in detail, recounting what they did from arrival to departure. In

addition, teachers were asked to describe specific aspects of a typical

school day. Sample questions included could you describe how you plan

your lessons, could you describe how you evaluate student work, could

you describe a typical parent conference, can you explain the arrange-

ment of your room? Moreover, questions about the history of the school,

its organization and their teaching schedules were included. In

addition, background data on the two schools were collected. Documents

were secured from each school, including a statement of school philosophy,

a copy of the school's map, and the daily school schedule (see

Appendix A).

The second phase of data collection took place during November,

December, January, and February with sixteen days of fieldwork, four

days per teacher. During this second phase, observations became more

focused, attending to specific domains acknowledged in the analysis.

Examples of questions included what are ways teachers differentiate

students, what are teachers' instructional priorities, what teaching

strategies do teachers use? Observations were extended during this

second phase to include teacher meetings, faculty meetings, and teacher

contacts in lounges. In these sites, observations focused on teacher

participation, topics discussed, how and what decisions were made,

teacher tasks and responsibilities, and teacher-teacher interactions.

Sample questions included what tasks do teachers do with other teachers,

what decisions do teachers make alone and with other teachers, how do

the teachers participate in meetings?

In addition, interviews were conducted during the second phase

with the four teachers and with one informant staff member from each

school. Information on teachers' perceptions of themselves as teachers,

their beliefs about teaching and learning, and their goals and related

practices were the major issues addressed in The teacher interviews.

Informal interviews were conducted with each of the four teachers fol-

lowing observations, with the questions addressing observations and the

above issues. A structured interview was developed at this time to

insure that sufficient data were collected on these important issues

(see Appendix B for interview questions).

The researcher talked with a number of staff members before select-

ing the informant in each school. Certain criteria for the selec-

tion were applied. All of the informants were currently involved in

the school and had a significant history (i.e., more than five years)

of involvement. The informants had to demonstrate a knowledge of the

school and staff and an articulateness in describing both. Informants

who did not attempt to analyze the school from an outsider's perspective

were selected over those that did. In addition, the informants selected

had the time to devote to interviews.

With the informants, the questions were a combination of grand

tour questions and questions about being a teacher at the respective

schools. The informant interviews served three purposes: to learn how

the school operated from a different perspective; to search for counter

evidence to emerging hypotheses, checking the perceptions of the four

teachers against the informants' views; and, last, to gain helpful leads

regarding new questions yet unexplored and to collect data from school

participants less directly involved in and thus less self-conscious of

the research endeavor. Sample informant questions were could you de-

scribe a typical teacher's day, what is expected of a teacher here,

where would a teacher find support or assistance at school, what problem

plagues teachers the most?

The third and final phase was the most intense, taking place during

the months of March, April, May, and June. Data were collected for

seventeen days, evenly distributed between the two schools and among

the four teachers. During this phase, observations were primarily con-

ducted in the four teachers' classrooms, but included as well schoolwide

events, meetings and out-of-class activities in which teachers were

involved. Observations continued to focus on teacher-student, teacher-

teacher, and principal-teacher interactions, and classroom instruction.

Specific questions addressed included what kinds of activities do

teachers and students do together, what responsibilities do teachers

have at the close of the school year, what do teachers do with other

teachers, how does the principal interact with teachers, what do teachers

and administrators do together? Interviews following observations ad-

dressed daily practices, school events, and teacher beliefs. At this

point, it was necessary to know if teachers had felt successful during

the school year and in what ways, what rewards they had received from

their year's work, and what they would have liked to change and why?

To gain additional information about school leadership and organi-

zation, structured interviews were conducted with the principals and

assistant principals. The principal interviews addressed beliefs about

teaching and learning, goals for the school, criteria for hiring teachers

and defining effectiveness, perceptions of school history, perceptions

of students, expectations of teachers, and the decision-making system.

The assistant principal interviews focused more on curriculum and school

organization. Questions addressed goals for the school, the physical

organization of time, space and persons, the school philosophy, the

curriculum and rationale, beliefs about students and learning and the

decision-making structures at school. Each of the administrator inter-

views was a minimum of one hour with two hours being the average amount

of time (see Appendix B for interview questions).

During all three phases, additional data were collected through

artifacts, photographs, and incidental observations and interviews.

Specifically, copies of actual student lessons and sample handouts were

collected, and photographs of the halls, walls, and four teachers'

classroom areas were taken. Over the year's time, the researcher became

a familiar face and made contacts with school members not specified in

the schedule for data collection. These were recorded as field notes,

serving to enrich the data base of the study. Examples included secre-

taries, individual students, interested teachers, and the school deans.

One final item was used in the data collection. Since teachers'

role perceptions emerged as a major domain for understanding teachers'

perspectives and practices, two open-ended questionnaires were used

(Fox, Schmuck, Egmond, Ritvo, & Jung, 1973). These instruments focused

on the teachers' perceptions of what they did as teachers.

Data Analysis

Like data collection, data analysis was an ongoing research pro-

cess which involved several procedures. The ultimate goal of the analy-

sis was to produce ethnographic accounts of the four teachers' perspec-

tives and practices in the two middle schools. Two major analysis

functions were the search for guiding and illuminating questions to

direct the data collection and the search for cultural themes which

offered connecting explanations for the teachers' perspectives and


The methods used in the analysis applied suggestions from several

sources (Cassell, 1978; Glaser & Straus, 1967; LeBar, 1970; Spradley,

1980). Similar to the data collection, the analysis proceeded in phases.

Concurrently with the first phase of data collection, the analysis

focused on defining relevant domains or categories which emerged through

continuous readings of the field notes. Referred to by Spradley (1980)

as domain analysis, this phase involved identifying organizing features

of the teachers' perspectives and practices (see Appendix C for a sample

list of domains).

During the early stages of domain identification, field notes were

studied and domains listed as they emerged. As recommended by Spradley

(1980), semantic relationships were applied to data in selecting domains.

Referred to also by Spradley (1980), the first relationship, called

strict inclusion, involved the search for data which could complete the

X is a kind of Y semantic skeleton. The second most useful semantic

relationship used in domain analysis was a search for data which could

complete the X is a way to do Y semantic skeleton. These two relation-

ships were the most useful though others were used (see Appendix C for

a complete list). To facilitate the process of domain identification a

recording sheet was used (see Figure 2). An actual example can be

found in Appendix C.

As domains were listed, a file card system was created for the

recording, sorting, and retrieval of ethnographic data. Since all of

the data were originally recorded on 5" x 8" note cards organized by

school and teacher and arranged by date, each field note entry could be

referenced with the teachers' code initial, date of observation, and

page number, and recorded on a separate domain file card. For each

discovered domain, a file card was created. A domain card like "Kinds

of Tasks Teachers Do With Other Teachers" had twenty-five field note

card citations for future reference (see Figure 3).

All eighty-five domain cards had citations as seen in Figure 3.

This meant that for all discovered domains of meaning, field note


I. Semantic Relationship

2. Form

3. Example

Included Terms Relacionshios (Kinds of) Cover Te-j

Structural Question:


Figure 2. A domain recording sheet used for domain identification
in analysis.



J 2/4,2 B 5/22,17 Q 3/31,9,10 L 5/7,20/28

J 4/1,11 P 5/21,13 L 3/31,4-18 L 5/7,29

B 4/9,8 D 10/28,2 S 8/25,1 Q 5/22,29,30

B 4/10,1 L 1/19,2 Q 5/27,37,38,

J 4/15,9 G 6/1,3 Q 4/6,14 G 6/2,1

J 5/5,1 J 6/3,3 L 4/16,6

G 5/11,1

J 5/21,20,21 G 4/29,6 G 6/4,1,3

Figure 3. A domain file card, used to record, sort and retrieve
fieldnote data references.


excerpts were read and recorded. The code, Red (3), was recorded on

the field note card where the excerpt was located.

In the second phase of analysis, domains were clustered and con-

solidated into a more manageable number of larger categories. Teacher

role perceptions, teacher colleague relations, teacher-student relations,

and classroom instruction were the final list of consolidated categories.

This clustering process involved continual rereadings of field notes

referenced on domain cards to safely limit the categories. During this

phase, consistency and contrast were studied among the domains within

categories from each school's data.

Once the categories were selected, the search for relationships

between aspects of the teachers' perspectives and practices and the

search for connecting themes began. This was the final analysis phase.

Several procedures were used here. First, the final week of the school

year was devoted to immersion in the two school worlds. Through immer-

sion, assumptions about possible themes were tested. Second, several

domains were examined in detail from both school sites in order to

clarify themes with contrast. For example, "Topics Teachers Discuss

With Other Teachers" was selected for closer examination, and revealed

that teachers at Long Meadow spent time discussing their work and de-

voted much of their conversations to talk about their students and

instructional plans. Hidden Brook's teachers talked very little about

their work and rarely discussed specific instructional plans for specific

students. This led to the discovery of one distinguishing cultural

theme. Finally, domains within categories were examined looking for

ways the various domains related to each other. In the category of

"Classroom Instruction," the domains "Kinds of Students" and "Ways

Teachers Group Learners" revealed a consistent theme about the teachers'

views of students as learners and about their role perceptions as well.

A list of potential themes characterizing teaching at Long Meadow

and Hidden Brook was generated. Subthemes were consolidated and dubious

ones deleted. Using the selected themes, the search for supporting

examples began and consisted of reviewing domain cards, and then field

note citations, for appropriate examples. The examples were typed on

3" x 5" cards and sorted by themes for writing purposes. Just prior to

writing the actual ethnographies, theme papers were drafted to organize

generalizations and data for the final report.

Validity Measures

In ethnographic research, where the researcher is the instrument of

data collection and analysis, special measures are needed to insure

validity. Several important validity issues were addressed in this


Researcher values, beliefs, and assumptions pose a threat to

validity. Measures must be employed to insure that the data collected

and analyzed are not distorted by the researcher's biases (Webb et al.,

1966). In this study, where data were collected in two schools and

four different classrooms, preferences for one setting over another had

to be controlled. A fixed schedule of observations was designed to in-

sure equal attention and time for each teacher, in each school. In

addition, the schedule was designed to account for prime times during

the school day and year. Observations were scheduled for varying days

of the week and during varying times of the school day.

While a schedule insured equality in time, it did not equalize the

breadth, depth, and quality of observations or interviews. In order to

guarantee that sufficient raw data were being collected in all settings

regardless of researcher interest, an outside individual periodically

reviewed the field notes. This was an extremely useful measure as it

alerted the researcher to several areas where additional data were needed

(Webb et al., 1966).

The role of researcher in the field is critically related to the

collection of valid data. How the participants perceive the researcher

can greatly affect the kind of data they are willing to report or reveal

(Webb et al., 1966). Consequently, a supportive, peer relationship was

established with the participating teachers. The researcher guaranteed

anonymity so that the teachers could talk openly about their lives at

school. Moreover, the researcher served as a teacher helper providing

assistance with instruction and discipline. As a former teacher, the

researcher had additional credibility in this role.

Acknowledging the problem of what has been called the reactive

arrangement effect (Campbell & Stanley, 1963), the researcher employed

additional measures to reduce discrepancies between real teacher behavior

and research setting teacher behavior. At the outset of the study, the

participating teachers were told the study sought to understand teaching

in the middle grades. The researcher also conveyed the message that

the research was intended to be descriptive and not evaluative.

One additional means used to reduce the reactive effect was the

length of time in the field. When a researcher appears only periodically,

it is far easier for teachers to alter behavior to suit the perceived

needs of the researcher. The continued presence of the researcher makes

alterations more cumbersome, and thus less likely (Becker, 1952). A

period of ten weeks was spent in the field in order to maximize the

possibility of collecting valid data.

As a final strategy, the search for counter evidence to emerging

hypotheses was continually conducted. As themes emerged, additional

observations or interviews were conducted to retest the suspected con-



An ethnographic study of teaching usually employs one of two ap-

proaches--macrocosmic or microcosmic (Talbert, 1976). Macrocosmic

studies generally focus on the school system as a whole, while micro-

cosmic studies direct their attention to actual events and behaviors in

the classroom. In this investigation of teaching, the level of atten-

tion was divided. An understanding of the perspectives and behaviors

of the teachers was the fundamental data base, but their meaning was

only fully understood through some exploration of each of the two

schools' contextual features. Working as a single researcher, neither

level received as much attention as might be desirable. Furthermore,

with more attention given to the microcosmic level of study, generaliza-

tions regarding the two schools as whole entities were limited.

A year-long ethnographic investigation requires extensive partici-

pation and cooperation on the part of the subjects, particularly when

the number is limited as in this study. This contingency reduced the

pool of teachers who could willingly participate. With the additional

constraints of the original selection criteria, the pool was further


limited. The final four teachers met the criteria and were willing and

eager to cooperate but several characteristics of the four suggest ad-

ditional limitations.

Ms. Reed and Ms. Cassidy represent teachers with almost twice as

much experience as either Mr. Waters or Ms. Lane. Moreover, Ms. Reed

and Ms. Cassidy represent an older range in terms of chronological age

than Ms. Lane and Mr. Waters. Ideally, having a younger and older, less

experienced and more experienced teacher pair at each school would have

yielded a more balanced sample. Research has indicated that age and

years of experience may play important roles in teacher perspectives

and practices (Lipka & Goulet, 1979).

Researcher-subject rapport and teacher personality were additional

limitations. It was discovered that the teachers at Long Meadow answered

questions with more detail and elaboration than the teachers at Hidden

Brook. In some cases this meant that more data were collected from the

teachers at Long Meadow. Teacher personalities may have accounted for

some of the discovered differences. Furthermore, the researcher had

previous professional associations with the teachers at Long Meadow,

whereas the research project constituted the first association with the

teachers at Hidden Brook. This too could account for the discovered

difference in the data collected.


in the study of teachers' perspectives and practices, a variety

of methods were applied:

1. Passive participant and nonparticipant observations of teachers.

2. Observations of teachers in school events, meetings, lounges,

classrooms, offices, and corridors.

3. Interviews with teachers.

4. Informant interviews.

5. Administrator interviews.

6. Paper and pencil instrument.

7. The collection of artifacts.

8. The collection of photographic data.

As the major purpose of this studywas heuristic and not predictive,

these methods were believed to be most useful in providing an under-

standing of teachers' perspectives and practices in the two middle

school settings.




Teacher attitudes and behaviors are influenced by a number of

complexly interrelated variables. One clear message from research is

that the organization and administration of a school creates conditions

which can influence teachers and their teaching (Anglin, 1979; Charters,

1978; Cohen, Bredo, & Duckworth, 1976; Metz, 1978; Meyer et al., 1972;

Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979). In addition, re-

search suggests that the effects of a school's organization and adminis-

tration are mediated, paralleled, and even challenged by a range of

other influences such as the nature of the school's history, the

ccmposition of the student population or teacher background training

and experience (Bell, 1979; Brookover, Schweitzer, Schneider, Beady,

Flood, & Wisenbaker, 1978; Charters, 1978; Lortie, 197E; Metz, 1978).

The implication from the existing research is that teachers' perspec-

tives and practices may be influenced by many and varied school

contextual variables.

This research investigated teachers' perspectives and practices

in relation to school context, in two organizationally different middle

schools. Since this study was heuristic and not predictive in nature,

the analysis and interpretation focused on a search for significant

relationships between school contextual features and teacher perspec-

tives and practices. The findings revealed that the teachers working

in the same school were more similar than dissimilar in their beliefs

and practices. Moreover, it was discovered that teacher role identi-

ties, relationships with others at school, pedagogical perspectives,

job attitudes, and classroom practices seemed to be influenced by

interrelated school contextual variables such as school history, the

instructional and physical organization of teachers and students,

administrator priorities, the daily teaching schedule, and the program

of curriculum and instruction.

In this chapter, the results are reported for the teachers at each

of the two schools. Within each school section, tne results are

organized so as to highlight major themes characterizing the perspec-

tives and practices of the teachers at that school. In addition, the

results reported address the study's two initial major questions: What

characterized teachers' perspectives and practices at each middle school,

and what school factors seemed to influence the production and main-

tenance of those prevailing world views? Global comparisons, inter-

pretations, and conclusions regarding middle school organization and

operation, and teacher perspectives and practices will be reported in

the following and final chapter.

Teaching at Hidden Brook


Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs. Reed worked in a middle school whose organi-

zation, administration, and curriculum seemed to elicit and support a

highly structured, subject-centered approach to teaching based on two

assumptions: that teaching was foremost the work of transmitting a body

of knowledge, and that school and classroom order required limited

student freedom and a distant, authority role relationship with students.

As members of subject-area departments, with an administration that

promoted subject-area specialization and academic achievement, and with

a principal-endorsed standardized and textbook-based curriculum, Mrs.

Cassidy and Mrs. Reed approached the work of teaching with a compli-

mentary focus on curriculum content and academic achievement. Moreover,

in a school with a history of difficulty with innovation and student

discipline, and an administration determined to preserve order, Mrs.

Cassidy and Mrs. Reed approached students with an on-guard posture

designed to "keep students on their toes."

This overall posture, however, did not clearly mirror Mrs. Cassidy's

and Mrs. Reed's professional aspirations and beliefs. In fact, instruc-

tional practices may have more nearly reflected the priorities and norms

at work in the larger world of the school. Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs. Reed

seemed to have aspirations which addressed teaching as a moral and

humanistic enterprise. They preferred to identify themselves as

student-centered rather than subject-centered teachers, concerned with

both student socialization and academic achievement. Yet, somehow in

the context of school pressures, administrative expectations and prac-

tices, a turbulent school past, former high school subject-centered

teaching experience and training, and an uncertainty about teaching

middle school students, they seemed to have sublimated those beliefs

and aspirations in exchange for the assurance and order insured by a


standard, predefined, and administrator-sanctioned approach. What

characterized Mrs. Cassidy's and Mrs. Reed's professional perspectives

and practices and how were they related to the character of life at

Hidden Brook?

Curriculum vs. Student: Conflicting Interests

Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs. Reed conducted themselves as teachers in ways

that reflected a commitment to curriculum coverage above other instruc-

tional considerations. Classroom life was highly structured, teacher-

directed, and information-centered. One typical example from the record

of Mrs. Reed's classroom teaching reads:

The students enter the classroom and take their assigned
seats. The bell rings and some students are seated while
others are at the pencil sharpener waiting to or sharpening
their pencils. Mrs. Reed is at the front of the room
standing behind a tall lectern. She is referring to her
attendance book and starts to call the students' names, one
at a time to see if they're present. Then she moves to the
center of the front and says, to a student, "Put your art
project away or Mrs. Reed will take it away and you won't
have it." Another student retorts, "He could bring another
one from home." Mrs. Reed says, "We don't need your one,
two, threes." Moving ahead she says, "Tomorrow we'll be
going to the Teaching Auditorium and we all must follow
the Teaching Auditorium rules or you won't be allowed to
participate." One student asks, "Does this mean we'll be
sent out?" Then, she says, "Yes, that's true." Then, she
says, "Please turn to page 79 and read pages 79-80 and 81
[in the textbooks]. You have ten minutes to read this."
The students open their books and start to read. During
this time, Mrs. Reed is doing some writing at the lectern.
The classroom is quiet. After ten minutes, Mrs. Reed says,
"Everyone should have finished, so take out a sheet of
paper. While you're doing that I'm going to pass back
some graded papers and you should put these in your social
studies notebook." Mrs. Reed continues, "We're going to
go over what you just read and I am going to show you an
outline of the Chang dynasty.' She puts an outline of facts
on the overhead projector and the screen. She reads the

outline aloud, asking a few questions. Then she says,
"I want you to copy this outline." The students start
writing. After about ten minutes, Mrs. Reed says, "Class,
everybody is probably finished copying this now. Take out
another sheet of paper because I'm going to give you some
questions." She takes a tape recorder and starts to play
a tape which is her voice asking questions. The students
have to answer the questions on paper. The questions are
about the Chang dynasty and China. When this is done,
the tape provides the correct answers, so students ex-
change papers with their neighbor and check the work.
Then Mrs. Reed says, "Please call your score out when I
call your name." They do. The bell rings and she says,
"All right, you may go." (Reed 10/28, 1-5)

Mrs. Reed had a business-like style of teaching which focused on

information-dissemination. Her class lessons generally involved the

presentation of information with written exercises for students. The

evaluation of student work was generally a public affair. The emphasis

during instruction seemed to be on the product rather than the process

of learning. Interaction between the subject and students appeared to

be secondary to the major business of disseminating the social studies


Information-dissemination also seemed to be Mrs. Cassidy's primary

goal. Her instruction generally involved the presentation of infcrma-

tion with written, seatwork activities for student practice. The

record reads:

The students enter and take their assigned seats. Mrs.
Cassidy calls roll. "All right, open your books to page
237," Mrs. Cassidy begins. "We're going to talk about art.
I have a book with pictures I am going to show you." She
opens up several books and holds up pictures. She says,
"These represent art from the Renaissance." She shows the
Mona Lisa. One student says, "They showed her without
clothes on one time." Mrs. Cassidy frowns and turns her
back to the student and says, "Thank you for sharing that
with us, Wally." "Now, we'll read from the book, page 237,
Marlene will you start?" Marlene reads. After three stu-
dents have read and Mrs. Cassidy says, "There will be things

I am going to be writing down on the overhead. I want you
to copy them down." One student asks, "Are we going to
have more questions? I hate questions!" The students
start to copy the definitions. Mrs. Cassidy writes on the
overhead projector. She finishes and says "Keep your
papers. We're going to have a quiz tomorrow on what we've
done these past few days." The bell rings and students
leave immediately. No one asks about the quiz. (Cassidy
4/15, 2-5)

It seemed that Mrs. Cassidy had planned to provide a stimulating, open-

ended lesson introduction with her pictures and yet she turned to her

textbook plans almost immediately. Was she discouraged by Wally's

response? When asked about this event, Mrs. Cassidy explained:

I'd like to have more time for those kinds of things, you
know, but we've got just so much to cover and sometimes I
think it just gets the kids off track. (Cassidy 4/5, 20)

Mrs. Cassidy seemed to feel pressured to attend to the required cur-

riculum content above her concern for student motivation.

Again emphasizing content-coverage another class observation

illuminates her commitment to teaching the information specified in the

textbook. The record reads:

Mrs. Cassidy says to the students, "Let's take out our books
[textbooks]." The students all reach underneath their
individual chairdesks and pull out their copy of the social
studies textbook. Mrs. Cassidy continues, "Turn to page
87." Then Mrs. Cassidy takes a seat at her desk and con-
tinues, "Look at the map on page 87. We're going to answer
questions 1-6 together using the map." She reads a ques-
tion, looks up, calls on a student to answer, and continues
until all questions are done. When all of the questions
have been answered, Mrs. Cassidy moves to a stool in the
front of the room and talks for about five minutes on the
nature of cities and civilizations. She asks, "What things
promote the development of cities? Why do cities pop up
in certain places"? One student says, "People are maybe
there or travel together and then start a place." Mrs.
Cassidy says, "Well, not exactly but Brad"? Brad responds,
"It's the weather." She says, "That's close"! Calling on
another student she says, "Wilma"? Wilma says, "Maybe
because of the rivers and the farming"! Mrs. Cassidy

says, "Right that's it!" Then she says, "I want you to do
the Under the Chapter questions in your books. Use a
separate sheet of paper." The students begin to write.
(Cassidy 10/28, 1-3)

Mrs. Cassidy's lesson seemed to emphasize content coverage and very

specific answers to what appeared to be somewhat open-ended questions.

In this observation, Mrs. Cassidy searched for a specific answer until

she found a student who could supply it. None of the suggested answers

were wrong; however, the answer she approved was the answer provided

verbatim in the textbook chapter reading.

In addition, much of Mrs. Cassidy's teaching time focused on pre-

paring students for testing. In fact, Mrs. Cassidy essentially taught

many of her tests to her students. One example from the record reads:

Then Mrs. Cassidy puts a list of questions on the overhead
screen. She says, "You need at least the questions down
right now. This is what the test is on tomorrow." Some
students begin to copy the list. Mrs. Cassidy sits at her
desk. Some students are still talking. From her desk,
Mrs. Cassidy calls, "Pam, have you gotten them all answered?"
Pam says, "No." Mrs. Cassidy continues, "Then you should be
studying." Pam still talks to her neighbor and Mrs. Cassidy
says, "The test tomorrow Pam, Pam, Pam, will cover every-
thing about Christianity, the Dark Ages and all the rest."
In about fifteen minutes, Mrs. Cassidy gets up from her
seat and moving to the overhead projector, says, "Let's
correct our papers. Okay, number one Alex." Alex says,
"Crusades." I realize now that all of the students are
supposed to have finished their answers to the questions
at this point. They worked on these questions yesterday
as well. Mrs. Cassidy continues to call on students,
"Number three, Rachel." Rachel says, "Baghdad." (Cassidy
12/18, 2-4)

Mrs. Cassidy's end of the year review and final exam clearly illustrated

this test preparation teaching theme. The record reads:

I enter the room and Mrs. Cassidy is writing at her desk.
She says, "I'm writing out questions for our final exam and
the students are reviewing." There is a list of questions
on the screen and I observe that the students are copying

the list. There are one hundred questions. The students
are looking in their textbooks for answers too. I ask to
help and Mrs. Cassidy let me type up the review questions
#25-100 so the ". .. students have something to look at and
take home with them," she explains. I type questions
noticing that for every question, there is a factual, re-
call answer. Examples include: Where do Moslems worship?
(220), What was feudalism? (137), What were the crusades?
(152-153), What is the Koran? (126). The numbers were the
pages in the textbook where the answers could be found. The
questions for review were the same questions on the final
exam, only reordered and stated in the form of a multiple
choice. (Cassidy 5/28, 1)

Mrs. Cassidy explained to me that, "The final exam is just the same

questions in multiple-choice form" (Cassidy 5/28, 3).

Mrs. Reed's instruction reflected much this same thrust. Like

Mrs. Cassidy, she seemed reluctant to attend to student needs in light

of curriculum requirements. On the first day of school she made an

effort to address her students as persons but rushed through that

portion of her lesson in order to address the content lesson for the

day. The record reads:

She places a stick figure drawing on the overnead projector
and flashed a skeletal person on the screen and said, "This
is you on day one. I don't know you yet. I need to call
roll and see who you are." She proceeds to call roll.
Following that, she says "We have certain rules I want you
to copy. These will go in your social studies notebook."
Then, she displays a list of rules on the screen for the
students to copy. The rules list was as follows:

1. I enter quietly.
2. I leave when the teacher dismisses.
3. I listen when someone is speaking.
4. I do not interrupt the teacher or classmate.
5. I remain seated.
6. I sharpen my pencil before class.

When she sees that most of the students have finished, she
proceeds to say, "We're going to be studying maps and

mapping. I want to explain about our homework. It's done
when I call for it and not ten minutes later." Then, she
said, "I want you to complete this inventory about your-
self." She displays the following on the screen:

My name is Those of my family
who live at home are
I like to

I am good at When I select a
TV program, I turn on
One extra thing about myself is

The students copy and complete the inventory from the over-
head. In about ten minutes, Mrs. Reed says, "Pass these to
the front of your row." She collects the papers. Then, she
says, "We'll be studying maps so let's look over here at the
map." She stands near the large map in the room and the
students turn to face her. She asks the students to name
.. the oceans of the world," and many students raise
their hands. She calls on students to answer, and they do.
The students name the oceans she identifies and then the
bell rings. Mrs. Reed says, "All right you may go." The
students leave. (Reed 8/25, 1-4)

Mrs. Reed acknowledged the need to know students as persons, yet she

only allowed a minimal amount of time and provided very narrow specifi-

cations for students to tell about themselves. As she explained later

that day, "There's hardly enough time to teach what I need to teach so

we don't waste much time" (Reed 8/25, 12).

If we were to look strictly at Mrs. Cassidy's and Mrs. Reed's per-

ceptions of the effective teacher, their observed focus on subject

matter content would not surprise us. Both teachers described the

effective teacher according to traditional assumptions about the role

of the teacher as a disseminator of knowledge. Mrs. Cassidy said:

The effective teacher is someone who knows subject matter
or what they're teaching; has a knowledge of their area
or discipline. I think that's the first step. (Cassidy
5/21, 39)

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