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The micropolitics of collegial interactions of teachers within collaborative cultures

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The micropolitics of collegial interactions of teachers within collaborative cultures the impacts of influence
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Hahn, Kevin E
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xv, 220 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Teaching teams ( lcsh )
School environment ( lcsh )
Office politics ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Attitudes ( lcsh )
Office politics ( fast )
School environment ( fast )
Teachers -- Attitudes ( fast )
Teaching teams ( fast )
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theses ( marcgt )
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 212-220).
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School of Education and Human Development
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by Kevin E. Hahn.

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Full Text
THE MICROPOLOTCS OF COLLEGIAL INTERACTIONS OF TEACHERS
WITHIN COLLABORATIVE CULTURES: THE IMPACTS OF INFLUENCE
by
Kevin E. Hahn
B.A. Kutztown State College 1980
M.A. University of Northern Colorado 1984
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver/Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2006


2006 by Kevin E. Hahn
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Kevin E. Hahn
has been approved
by
Connie L. Fulmer
Rodney Muth
Alan Davis
Monte Moses


Hahn, Kevin E. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Micropolitics of Collegial Interactions of Teachers within Collaborative
Cultures: The Impacts of Influence
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Connie L. Fulmer
ABSTRACT
Todays teachers face an unprecedented challenge of increasing the academic
achievement for all of our nations children. One response to this challenge has been
to increase the frequency and intensity of teacher collaboration as a means to improve
instruction and to increase student achievement. Through the lens of micropolitical
theory, this dissertation examines the one-on-one, collegial interactions of teachers
within highly collaborative school cultures.
Purposeful sampling was used to select six highly collaborative elementary
schools in a suburban school district. Teachers within these schools completed an
open-ended questionnaire and reported on collegial interactions that they experienced.
The analysis of data consistent with qualitative, inductive research revealed the nature
of the collegial interactions, the influence strategies employed within them, and the
impact on teachers instructional knowledge, instructional behaviors, and affect.


Findings suggest the majority of collegial interactions are transactional in
nature, requiring little interdependence in regard to teacher learning and
implementation of instruction. The associative micropolitical consequences of these
interactions are aligned with norms of non-interference, self-reliance, individualism,
and protection of autonomy. Dissociative micropolitical consequences of collegial
interactions occurred as a result of the violation of these norms. By focusing on
understanding the nature, influence, and micropolitical consequences of collegial
instructional interactions, this dissertation sheds more light on the complexities
associated with instructional improvement within schools.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed
Connie L. Fulmer


DEDICATION PAGE
Dedicated to Penny, Tayler, and Ashley, whose unwavering love, support, and
understanding made this dissertation possible. I love each of you to the depths of my
being.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
I want to thank and acknowledge the following people for their contributions to this
dissertation, for their guidance throughout my doctoral program, and for the
inspiration they have provided me within my career.
First, I want to thank Dr. Connie Fulmer for her outstanding dissertation guidance and
support. Connies consultative advice paved the way for rigorous thought and inquiry.
Her guidance throughout the dissertation made the difference in its completion. I am
eternally grateful for her contributions to my doctoral work and dissertation.
Second, I want to thank Dr. Rod Muth for his commitment to quality and high
standards within doctoral work. Throughout my doctoral program, Rod always
modeled what it meant to be meticulous in academic work. His attention to detail
challenged me to hold the bar high.
Third, I want to thank Dr. Alan Davis for rekindling my interest in research. Alans
passion for research and thirst for knowledge inspires and motivates me to read
widely within the field of education. Thank you, Alan for teaching me to be a critical
consumer of research.
Fourth, I want to thank Dr. Monte Moses for consistently modeling highly-effective
leadership. Monte has always been an incredible role model for me. I have been
blessed to have had the opportunity to learn many leadership lessons from him. I look
forward to continually learning from Monte throughout my career.
Fifth, I want to thank Sue Stein for her impeccable attention to detail in editing and
revising this dissertation. Sues grace under pressure approach is greatly appreciated,
as well as the friendship we further developed as a result of this work. This
dissertation would not be complete without her assistance.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures ........................................................xiii
Tables .........................................................xiv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...................................................1
Research Question...........................................3
Background..................................................3
Teacher Collaboration.....................................4
Micropolitics.............................................7
Conceptual and Analytic Frameworks.........................10
Methodology................................................18
Significance...............................................20
Limitations of the Study...................................21
Structure of the Dissertation..............................22
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................23
Teacher Isolation..........................................25
Impact of Teacher Isolation on Teaching..................26
Norms and Behaviors Associated with Teacher Isolation....29
Teacher Collaboration......................................32
Definitions of Collaboration.............................33
Micro- and Macro-Analysis................................38
vm


Activities and Norms of Teacher Collaboration..............39
Cultures of Teacher Collaboration..........................46
Schools as Professional Learning Communities...............53
Teacher Collaboration and Individualism....................56
Micropolitics within Education...............................58
Definitions of Micropolitics...............................61
Micropolitics of Teacher Collaboration.....................62
Principal-to-Teacher Micropolitical Interactions...........66
Teacher-to-Teacher Micropolitical Interactions.............70
Conceptual and Analytic Frameworks...........................73
Summary......................................................79
3. METHODOLOGY......................................................85
Restatement of Problem and Research Questions................85
Methodological Overview......................................87
Research Design..............................................88
Selection of Schools, Participants, and Logistics............89
Unit of Analysis.............................................99
Research Instruments........................................101
School Selection Instrument...............................101
Inventory of Ways That Teachers Interact about
Instructional Issues......................................102
IX


School Entry and Introduction to Study
105
Data Collection.............................................105
Data Analysis...............................................106
Initial Coding............................................106
Follow-up Interviews......................................107
Descriptive Coding........................................107
Trustworthiness...........................................110
Summary.....................................................114
4. DESCRIPTION OF FINDINGS.........................................116
Teacher and Colleague.......................................116
The Micropolitics of Influence Strategies...................116
Aid and Assistance Influence Strategies.....................117
Associative Micropolitics of Aid and Assistance
Influence Strategies......................................119
Impact on Teachers Cognition.............................123
Impact of Teachers Behavior..............................126
Impact on Teachers Affect................................129
Summary...................................................130
Dissociative Micropolitics of Aid and Assistance
Influence Strategies......................................131
Impact on Teachers Cognition, Behavior, and Affect.......131
Summary...................................................132
x


Joint Work Influence Strategies.............................133
Associative Micropolitics of Aid and Assistance Influence
Strategies................................................137
Impact on Teachers Cognition.............................149
Impact of Teachers Behavior..............................155
Impact on Teachers Affect................................159
Summary...................................................162
Dissociative Micropolitics of Joint Work
Influence Strategies......................................163
Impact on Teachers Cognition, Behavior, and Affect.......163
Summary...................................................168
Sharing Influence Strategies................................168
Associative Micropolitics of Sharing Influence Strategies..169
Impact on Teachers Cognition.............................173
Impact of Teachers Behavior..............................177
Impact on Teachers Affect................................178
Summary...................................................181
Dissociative Micropolitics of Sharing Influence Strategies.182
Impact on Teachers Cognition, Behavior, and Affect.......182
Summary...................................................185
Chapter Summary.............................................185
xi


5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
190
Major Findings.............................................191
Influence Strategies.......................................191
Associative Micropolitics of the Influence Strategies......194
Impact on Teachers Cognition............................196
Impact on Teachers Instructional Behaviors..............197
Impact on Teachers Affect...............................198
Dissociative Micropolitics of the Influence Strategies.....199
Impact on Teachers Cognition............................200
Impact on Teachers Instructional Behaviors..............201
Impact on Teachers Affect...............................201
Conclusions and Recommendations............................202
Recommendations for Practice.............................205
Recommendations for Future Research......................209
BIBLIOGRAPHY...........................................................212
xii


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1 A Provisional Continuum of Collegial Relations.......................13
2 The Interplay and Connections of the Conceptual Frameworks...........17
3 Micropolitics of Collegial Interactions of Teachers within
Collaborative Cultures.............................................19
4 A Provisional Continuum of Collegial Relations.......................76
5 Analytic Framework Used to Analyze the Areas of Impact of
Micropolitical Collegial Interactions..............................113
xiii


LIST OF TABLES
Tables
1 A culture of collaboration in schools drawn from Hargreaves.....11
2 Criteria for identifying highly collaborative elementary schools.........92
3 Size, poverty, and stability rates of schools studied..............93
4 Ethnic distribution of schools studied...................................93
5 Number of teachers introduced to study, consented to participate,
and average years of experience of participants.........................95
6 Participants teaching experience.........................................96
7 Teachers years in schools studied.......................................96
8 Grade levels/areas.......................................................98
9 Inventory of ways that teachers interact about
instructional issues (IWTIII)...........................................103
10 Micropolitical predetermined codes......................................Ill
11 Micropolitical code categories..........................................112
12 Number of critical encounters coded.....................................118
13 Aid and assistance code matrix..........................................118
14 Number of critical encounters coded.....................................135
15 Joint work coding matrix................................................136
16 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Individual orientations................................................138
xiv


17 Coding types of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Individual orientation...................................................139
18 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Shared orientations......................................................146
19 Coding types of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Shared orientations......................................................147
20 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Inequitable and conflictive actions orientation..........................167
21 Number of critical encounters coded.....................................169
22 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Individual decisions making orientation..................................172
23 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Shared goals and values..................................................172
24 Number of critical encounters coded by micropolitics:
Decreased cohesion orientation...........................................183
xv


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Within the last two decades, considerable attention has been directed toward
the effectiveness of public schools. Politicians and critics of public education have
said our schools are failing our nation (National Commission on Excellence in
Education, 1983). Since A Nation At Risk, lawmakers have demanded higher
standards of achievement for our nations children (Ravitch, 1995). A Nation at Risk
made many claims about the failures of American education, provided evidence for
those failures, and explained how this would inevitably damage the nation(Berliner
& Biddle, 1995, p. 3). Whether or not one agrees with the evidence, one of the
consequences of A Nation at Risk is a movement toward establishing higher standards
for all children.
More recently, the No Child Left Behind Act (Department of Education, 2001)
stands on the shoulders of A Nation At Risk. The No Child Left Behind Act demands
that schools are held accountable for results, whereby every child meets rigorous
academic standards. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools are held
accountable for closing the achievement gap and making sure that all students,
including those who are disadvantaged, achieve high levels of academic proficiency.
Never before have educators felt more pressure to increase the achievement of each
and every child within their schools.
1


One response to the demands of improved student achievement is the need
for increased and effective collaboration among teachers, administration, and faculty
in schools (Achinstein, 2002; Friend & Cook, 2007; Sergiovanni, 1994; Telford,
1996). Effective-schools research highlights the benefits of collaboration and
collegiality among teachers and administrators in an attempt to distinguish successful
schools from unsuccessful schools (Lezotte, 2005; Purkey & Smith, 1983). Teacher
collaboration in the areas of curriculum and instruction is seen as crucial in the
improvement of teaching and student learning. Thus, teacher collaboration in
curriculum and instruction is deemed necessary to increase achievement for all
students (Friend & Cook, 2007; Smith & Scott, 1990).
From an organizational perspective, not much is known about teacher-to-
teacher collaboration other than from structural and cultural dimensions (Bolman &
Deal, 1991; Hargreaves, 1990, 1991, 1994). Very few researchers have studied
teacher collaboration from a micropolitical perspective (Achinstein, 2002;
Hargreaves, 1994; Lima, 2001). This limited view of teacher collaboration allows a
variety of suspicions and questions to arise as to the purported benefits of teacher
collaboration in improving instruction and student learning.
The purpose of this study then, is to examine teacher-to-teacher interactions
from a micropolitical perspective. Micropolitics refers to the use of formal or
informal power to influence individuals and groups to achieve their goals (Blase,
2


1991). The term influence is the act or power of producing an effect without apparent
exertion of force or direct exercise of command.
This study identifies the ways or means by which teachers influence one
another in the area of instruction. Ways or means refers to a course of action, a
manner or method of accomplishing an end. The effects of these ways and means will
also be identified and discussed. The emphasis of this study is the contextual nature
of teacher-to-teacher interactions. In other words, the study will focus on the ways,
means, or manner in which teachers interact when they influence each other in the
area of instruction. The content and outcomes of teacher-to-teacher collaboration are
beyond the scope of this study.
Research Question
The following question guides this study: In what ways and to what ends do
teachers influence their colleagues instruction within collaborative schools?
Background
Two major fields of research serve as background to this study. First is the
area of teacher collaboration. Teacher collaboration is viewed as a necessary
ingredient for effective schools (Lezotte, 2005; Smith & Scott, 1990). However, the
structure and culture of schools contain barriers to promoting high levels of teacher
collaboration. The second field of research, micropolitics, provides insights into how
teachers navigate the increased pressures to collaborate with one another as well as
maintain some level of professional autonomy.
3


Teacher Collaboration
The topic of collaboration has become an emphasis in the areas of research
and practices associated within business, industry, and education (Pounder, 1998a).
Organizations espouse the benefits of collaboration for their employees and for their
bottom lines. Leadership literature and workshops focus on the shift from autocratic
forms of leadership to facilitative, participative, and collaborative styles. In our post-
modern era, organizations and their leaders are calling for greater involvement,
teamwork, and collaboration on the part of their employees (Achinstein, 2002; Friend
& Cook, 2007; Lima, 2001; Kanter, 1997; Sergiovanni 1994).
The move toward collaboration within schools, however, is fraught with
complexity as it interacts with the culture and structure of schooling (Evans-Stout,
1998; Lortie, 1975; Sarason, 1990). Teaching within our schools has a long-standing
history and culture that inhibits collaboration between and among teachers. The
physical separation of teachers into individual classrooms offers little opportunity or
demand for teacher collaboration. The cellular structure of schools has contributed
greatly to the isolation and separation that teachers feel in curriculum and instruction
(Lortie, 1975, p. 14).
In addition, collaboration, or collegiality as it is sometimes called, is an
amorphous construct (Little, 1990, p. 509). In large measure, this is due to how
collaboration has been defined and described normatively and behaviorally (Cuttino,
1987). Lortie (1975), for example, detailed some of the norms present within schools
4


via his Five Towns study. The norms of collegiality as articulated by Lortie were
voluntary and permissive rather than firm rules of conduct. Other norms found by
Lortie were that fellow teachers were expected to assist other teachers when they
asked for help and that teachers were expected to pull their own weight when it came
to school-wide duties and obligations. The norm of egalitarianism was also found to
be strong in schools in that no ones point of view dominates the school, which in
turn also reinforces teacher privacy (Lortie, 1975). These norms emphasize sharing
and equality which foster mutual communication without requiring conformity
(Lortie, 1975, p. 195).
The cellular structure of schools has also reinforced norms of privacy and
autonomy in teaching by allowing teachers to develop instructional strategies based
upon their individual preferences rather than on a common technical language or
commonly held pedagogical principles (Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989). Thus,
according to Lortie (1975, p. 71), curricula and instruction delivered to students
reflect teacher separation and isolation, or individualism and conservatism. The
implication is that instruction tends to be unreflective, favoring traditional and
conservative conceptions of teaching.
Others have also commented on the norms of privacy, autonomy, and
individualism of teachers within classrooms (Little, 1990; Pounder, 1998b;
Rosenholtz, 1989). Lortie (1975) and others have also commented on how these
5


norms contribute to conservatism in teaching practice (Bishop, 1977; Evans-Stout,
1998). These norms influence the behavior of teachers within schools.
Little (1990) discusses collaboration in regard to activities, describing the
collaborative actions of teachers in regard to curriculum and instruction as
storytelling and scanning, aid and assistance, sharing, and joint work. Each of these
activities differs in regard to the levels of independence and interdependence required
of teachers. Most of the collaborative activities found in schools are shallow in
nature, protecting teachers instructional privacy and requiring little interdependence
with colleagues (Cousins, Ross, & Maynes, 1994; Little, 1990; Rosenholtz, 1989;
Zahorik, 1987). The structure and norms within schools impede collaborative
activities on the part of teachers in matters of curriculum and instruction.
In spite of some of the organizational factors that work against collaboration,
many schools have developed collaborative work cultures (DuFour, 2005; Fullan,
1991; Hargreaves, 1994; Little, 1990; Telford, 1996). Smith and Scott (1990)
identified elements of the collaborative school with the intention of using these as
guideposts for instructional improvement, increased student learning, and overall
school improvement (p. 2). The climate and structure of collaborative schools
encourages teachers to work together, as well as with the principal toward school
improvement and professional growth and development.
Louis, Kruse, and Bryk (1995) characterize schools as professional
communities with the promise of enhancing the learning of students. Professional
6


school communities share five characteristics: shared values, reflective dialogue,
deprivatization of practice, focus on student learning, and collaboration (p. 28).
Inherent in a professional school community is a general high level of teacher
dialogue, exchange, and collaborative learning in the areas of curriculum, instruction,
and assessment.
The collaborative school and professional community literature describes
many of the necessary structural and cultural conditions for high levels of teacher
collaboration and learning to occur. Louis et al. (1995) briefly describes some of the
human and social dimensions, which also support the development of a professional
school community. However, questions about the political dimensions of
collaborative school environments have not been studied (Achinstein, 2002;
Hargreaves, 1991; Scribner, Hager, & Wame, 2002).
Micropolitics
Since the mid-1980s, a movement within education has focused on
collaborative work environments and activities to improve both teacher and student
learning (Achinstein, 2002; Friend & Cook, 2007; Hawley & Valli, 1999; Kruse,
2001). This reform movement seeks to develop collaborative learning communities as
a means to countering teacher isolation, clarifying the goals and purposes of
schooling, and addressing the gap between established goals for students and their
current achievement levels (Achinstein, 2002; Barth, 1990; DuFour & Eaker, 1998;
Hawley & Valli, 1999; Kruse, 2001).
7


Barth (1986) makes the point that good schools are places where students,
teachers, and principal alike learn as a result of their interactions within the school.
Nothing within a school has more effect on students skill development, self-
confidence, or classroom behavior than the personal and professional growth of their
teachers (p. 479). While the effects of teacher collaboration and collaborative
professional development on student achievement are unclear, some argue that both
students and teachers benefit when teachers collaborate and learn together (Barth,
1990; Cousins et al. 1994; Evans-Stout, 1998; Little, 1990; Rosenholtz, 1989).
Most of the research on teacher collaboration focuses upon the structural and
cultural conditions of the school (Cousins et al. 1994; Hargreaves, 1991; Lortie,
1975). Much of the early literature on teacher collaboration emphasizes the necessity
to provide the structures that create opportunities for teachers to meet, dialogue, and
learn from one another. Moreover, the norms and values associated with a
collaborative school culture are viewed as foundational to teacher collaboration,
school improvement, and teacher development (Friend & Cook, 2007; Hargreaves,
1991; Rosenholtz, 1989; Smith & Scott, 1990).
Hargreaves (1991) provides a different insight into teacher collegiality and
collaboration through the lens of micropolitics (p. 49), a theoretical perspective of
school organization, which emphasizes power, competition, and cooperation (Blase,
1991). Micropolitics is about power and how people use it to influence others and to
8


protect themselves. It is about conflict and how people compete with each other to get
what they want. It is about cooperation (Blase, p. 1).
When micropolitical perspectives are applied, they lead to questions about
who guides and controls teacher collaboration and collegiality (Hargreaves, 1991, p.
49). This question and others like it are at the heart of the micropolitical perspective
on teacher collaboration within schools. The micropolitical perspective can contribute
unique insights about the collaborative activities of teachers in the name of school
improvement (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1991; Hargreaves, 1991; Scribner, Hager, &
Warne, 2002).
Micropolitics is a part of schools in which collaboration and collegiality is
emphasized and expected (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1991; Bolman & Deal, 1991;
Hargreaves, 1991; Lavie, 2006). The micropolitical perspective, which is a less
prominent perspective from which to study teacher collaboration and collegiality,
provides unique insights and contributes to the body of literature on the collaborative
activities among teachers in elementary schools (Blase, 1991; Hargreaves, 1991;
Lavie, 2006; Scribner, Hager, & Warne, 2002).
In studying teacher collaboration from the micropolitical perspective, it is
important to understand the ways in which teachers positively and negatively
influence their colleagues in matters related to instruction. These strategies need to be
understood from both cooperative and conflictive viewpoints as well as their
perceived effects on teachers (Blase, 1991). The lens of micropolitics will assist in
9


more fully understanding the complexities of teacher collaboration, which is seen as a
necessary component to most school improvement and reform efforts.
Conceptual and Analytic Frameworks
Hargreaves (1992, 1994) description of collaborative cultures serves as one
of the conceptual frameworks and provides the context for the identification of highly
collaborative schools for this study (see Table 1). Within collaborative school
cultures, teachers have a working relationship with each other that tends to be
spontaneous, voluntary, development oriented, pervasive across space and time, and
unpredictable. In collaborative cultures, teachers may develop their own initiatives or
projects around which to collaborate. The initiatives or projects can also be externally
mandated and result in teachers having a strong commitment. The collaborative
working relationships between teachers arise from the teachers themselves, and are
sustained by the teaching community of the school.
While scheduled meetings and planning sessions may be a part of a
collaborative culture, these do not dominate the arrangements for teachers working
together. Informal meetings and interactions are the norm of collaborative cultures.
These informal meetings and interactions are not mandated and regulated by the
administration of the school. In collaborative cultures, teachers have broad
discretionary powers over the product and processes associated with their
collaborative efforts. Therefore, the outcomes are often unpredictable or uncertain.
10


Table 1
A Culture of Collaboration in Schools Drawn from Hargreaves________________________
Teachers are more united than divided.
Teachers routinely help and support each other.
Trust and openness characterize the relationships between teachers.
Teachers collaborate on a wide variety of topics beyond those activities and topics
that are formally organized by the principal.
Teachers lives are characterized as accepting of one another with an intermixture of
personal and professional lives.
Teachers overtly praise, recognize, and show gratitude toward one another.
Teachers naturally share resources and discuss instructional ideas in an ongoing
fashion.
The school has broad agreement on educational values, but teachers also tolerate
disagreement, and to some extent encourage it within those boundaries.
Within the school, the individual and the group are inherently and simultaneously
valued.
Teachers are interdependent in learning from each other.
Teachers identify common concerns and work jointly on solving problems.
11


This form of collaboration is least often found across schools due to the
pressures and constraints of time and externally mandated reforms (Hargreaves,
1992). Moreover, this form and culture of collaboration often exists along side more
bounded forms of collaboration as described in chapter two (Hargreaves, 1992, 1994).
Schools for the most part are best described as having a combination and a variety of
forms of collaboration. Rarely does one form of collaboration or collegiality permeate
an entire school or accurately describe the relationships between and among all
teachers (Hargreaves, 1991, 1992, 1994).
Hargreaves culture of collaboration is the benchmark sought in the schools
studied. The schools studied have developed this culture over time and/or have a large
majority of teachers who collaborate in this fashion. Within collaborative cultures,
both the individual and the group is honored and valued. Thus, it is this form of
collaboration that is sought in order to view its micropolitical dimensions.
The second conceptual framework utilized in this study is the continuum of
collegial interactions of teachers as described by Little (1990). These discreet forms
of interaction vary in the degree to which they require the teachers to be obligated to
one another in their work and deprivatize their instructional practices. The
interactions are placed on a continuum to describe the characteristics of each as
related to the level of mutual independence or interdependence among teachers (see
Figure 1).
12


Figure 1. A provisional continuum of collegial relations (Little, 1990)
The four forms of teacher interactions described by Little (1990) include
storytelling and scanning for ideas, aid and assistance, sharing, and joint work. A
detailed description of each type of interaction is reviewed in chapter two. For the
purpose of the conceptual and analytic framework, the importance of these forms of
interactions is their conditions or characteristics. Each form or type of interaction
moves across a continuum from complete independence to interdependence. Each
form of teacher-to-teacher interaction changes in regard to the frequency and
intensity of teachers interactions, the prospects for conflict, and probability of mutual
influence (p. 512).
Additionally, as each form or type of interaction moves across the continuum,
the level of autonomy of teachers shifts from an emphasis on the individual to a focus
13


on the collective judgment and preferences of both teachers. With each shift on the
continuum, the inherited traditions of noninterference and equal status are brought
more into tension with the prospect of teacher-to-teacher initiative on matters of
curriculum and instruction (Little, 1990, p.512). Therefore, each form of teacher-to-
teacher interaction or collaboration has varying degrees or levels of autonomy
associated with it. This degree of autonomy will have an impact on the consequences
or outcomes of teacher collaborative interactions, their influence on the teacher, and
their impact on instruction.
Within highly-collaborative schools, teachers interactions can serve the
individual and/or the broader organizational or school goals (Hargreaves, 1992, 1994;
Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Little, 1990, 1999; Nias, 1995; Pounder, 1998b). Thus,
elements of individualism, collaboration, and collegiality exist within the relations
and interactions between teachers in the most collaborative school. In schools that are
considered to be highly collaborative, teachers navigate a balance for themselves in
relation to collaborating with their colleagues and in protecting their individualism
and autonomy, particularly as it relates to pedagogy (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996;
Hargreaves, 1990, 1994; Nias, Southworth, & Yeomans, 1989; Pounder, 1998b). This
dynamic creates a rich scenario from which to begin to understand the third
conceptual/analytic framework for this study; the micropolitics of teacher-to-teacher
collaboration in the area of instruction (Achinstein, 2002; Lavie, 2006; Little, 1999;
Nias, 1995).
14


Blases (1991) broad definition of micropolitics, along with his findings
pertaining to the political interactions among teachers (Blaze, 1987), serve as the
basis of the third conceptual framework for this study. This definition reinforces the
notion that individuals within schools, including highly collaborative ones, act in
politically significant ways. Political significance refers to the consequence or effect
that actions have on others. Blase (1991) writes:
Micropolitics refers to the use of formal and informal power by
individuals and groups to achieve their goals in organizations. In large
part, political actions result from perceived differences between
individuals and groups, coupled with the motivation to use power to
influence and/or protect. Although such actions are consciously
motivated, any action, consciously or unconsciously motivated, may
have political significance in a given situation. Both cooperative and
conflictive actions and processes are part of the realm of micropolitics.
Moreover, macro- and micropolitical factors frequently interact, (p.
11)
This broad definition of micropolitics, applied within the context of teacher
collaboration, includes teachers use of legitimate and formal forms of power or
informal forms of power (Blase, 1991). Teacher-to-teacher political actions originates
from the perceived similarities and differences between and among colleagues (Blase,
1987, 1991). The perceived similarities and differences in relation to teachers goals,
needs, values, beliefs, ideologies, and decisions are the realm of micropolitics (Blase,
1991). These pursuits and attributes of teachers can reflect individual and/or shared
interests, preferences, or purposes. Additionally, the political actions of teachers in
15


regard to the above pursuits and attributes can be motivated by teachers desires to
influence others or to protect themselves from colleagues.
Political actions can be consciously or unconsciously motivated. According to
Blase (1991), consciously motivated actions may be intended, calculated, strategic,
or purposive, while unconsciously motivated actions may refer to routine action,
nondecision making, negligence, nonaction, habitual actions resulting from
socialization, and actions that prevent others from exercising influence (p.l 1-12).
Political significance refers to the impact that actions have on others. Lastly, the
consequence or effect of the teacher interactions can be cooperative and conflictive in
nature.
Blase (1987) found teachers political interactions to be strategic in order to
influence their colleagues as well as to protect themselves. The teachers used
influence strategies in proactive ways in order to persuade, support, and facilitate
other teachers (p. 298). Teachers used this strategy in hopes that their colleagues
would reciprocate with similar actions. In contrast, protectionist strategies were
reactive in nature, and helped teachers avoid and/or ameliorate the impact of the
threatening behavior of colleagues (p. 297). Additionally, teachers interactions were
interpreted to be positive or negative in nature, as well as having associative or
dissociative consequences for the climate and culture of the school (p. 298). The
terms associative and dissociative refer specifically to the consequences of
16


intrafaculty politics and the impact of such politics on the sociocultural context of the
school (p. 298).
The interplay and connections of the conceptual frameworks for the study are
presented in Figure 2. Hargreaves (1992, 1994) conception of collaborative school
cultures serves as the context from which to study the micropolitics of collegial
interactions. Within collaborative cultures, teachers interact with one another
regarding their instruction. These teacher-to-teacher interactions are categorized
within the four forms of collegial interaction articulated by Little (1990).
COLLABORATIVE SCHOOL
Figure 2. The interplay and connections of the conceptual frameworks.
Based on Blases (1991) definition, these four forms of collegial interactions
may have political significance. From a micropolitical perspective, each form of
collegial interaction is coupled with a motivation to influence or to protect oneself
from the influence of a colleague. Teachers perceive these collegial interactions and
17


the influence strategies associated with them as either positive or negative.
Additionally, these interactions and accompanying influence strategies have
associative or dissociative consequences on the relationship between teachers and on
the collaborative culture of the school.
A robust integration of the conceptual frameworks is illustrated in Figure 3.
Figure 3 illustrates the micropolitics of collegial interactions of teachers within
collaborative school cultures. The figure illustrates that each form of interaction has
associative consequences on the relationship between teachers as well as a positive
impact on their knowledge, behavior and feelings. Dissociative consequences also
exist as part of collegial interactions, which have a negative impact on the
relationship between teachers and impact on teachers instructional knowledge,
behavior, and affect.
Methodology
The research methods and procedures utilized for the study are similar to
those used by Blase and Roberts (1994) and Blase and Blase (1998). These studies
identified the ways and means that principals influence teachers as well as the
consequences associated with the employment of influence strategies. In these
studies, the researchers utilized open-ended questionnaires to obtain the subjective
perceptions of teachers (Blase & Roberts, 1994, p. 69). This research study is
designed to build upon these studies by changing the unit of analysis. Instead of
principal-to-teacher interactions, this study focuses on teacher-to-teacher interactions.
18


Associative Aid & Assistance
Figure 3. Micropolitics of collegial interactions of teachers within collaborative cultures.


Purposeful sampling was used to select six highly collaborative elementary
schools in a suburban school district. Open-ended survey method and semi-structured
follow-up interviews were used to collect data from the teachers participating in this
research. Participants' responses to the questionnaire were electronically collected and
transferred into text document files and attribute files within QSR NUD*IST 6.
I read through all of the responses twice. After this, I began to note the totality
of the responses collected and my initial thoughts and insights (Bogdan & Biklen,
2003). I initially coded data according to my preliminary codes (see Table 10). Upon
this initial analysis of data, an opportunity was offered to some of the subjects to
participate in voluntary follow-up interviews.
New coding categories emerged from data through the reiterative processes of
coding and analysis. Data were grouped into the major teacher-to-teacher
interactions/influence strategies, as well as perceived impacts on teachers (Blase &
Roberts, 1994). Through the building of matrices within QSR NUD*IST 6, data was
divided and clustered so that patterns, themes, and similarities and differences
became clearer (Bazeley & Richards, 2000; Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Significance
This study is significant for three reasons. First, teacher collaboration in
relation to instruction is analyzed from a micropolitical perspective. This perspective
is underutilized in the study of teacher collaboration (Achinstein, 2002; Hargreaves,
1991; Lima, 2001; Scribner, Hager, & Wame, 2002). Second, the study contributes to
the literature on teacher collaboration and broadens the conceptions associated with it,
20


primarily to include dimensions of influence. Third, the study contributes new
insights for central office and school level administrators, teacher leaders, and staff
developers into effective teacher-to-teacher collaborative activities. These
collaboration signposts will assist school leaders in supporting, facilitating, and
nurturing effective collaborative activities, interactions, and initiatives within schools
and school systems for the improvement of instruction and student achievement.
Limitations of the Study
Three elements limit this study. First, the study is exploratory in that it does
not build upon previous micropolitical research in the area of teacher collaboration in
matters of instruction. Second, some methodological limitations must be noted. Due
to time and resource constraints, an open-ended questionnaire was used primarily for
the purpose of data collection. The use of written accounts and data produced by the
subjects themselves via open-ended questionnaires is often seen as a weakness in
research (Krathwohl, 1993). Open-ended questionnaires do not lend themselves to in-
depth data collection and analysis as compared to interviews and observations (Gall,
Borg, & Gall, 1996; Krathwohl, 1993). Thus, a measurement trade-off exists for
breadth versus depth (Krathwohl, 1993, p. 222).
A third limitation is the use of perceptual data in regard to the identification of
the schools and subjects for the study. Central office administrators identified the
elementary schools via purposive sampling. The selection of the schools studied is
predicated on the interpretations of these administrators and the degree they know the
collaborative inter-workings of teachers within the schools in which they supervise.
21


Regardless of the limitations, few studies have explained the topic of the
micropolitics of teacher collaboration (Achinstein, 2002; Hargreaves, 1991). The
micropolitics of teacher-to-teacher interactions, the strategies that teachers use to
influence one another as well as their impacts, have not been examined. Thus, this
study serves as a foundation for the study of micropolitics among teachers when they
collaborate in matters of instruction.
Structure of the Dissertation
Chapter one introduces the dissertation problem and methods. Chapter two
provides a review of the literature related to the problem and to the theoretical
perspectives. Chapter three describes the methodology of the study, including all
instruments and methods of data analysis. Chapter four describes the data and
findings. Chapter five summarizes the findings by answering the questions posed in
the dissertation and assesses the implications of the study for practice and future
research.
22


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Since the late 1980s, teacher collaboration has been identified as an important
strategy to enhance teacher and student learning and as a means to school
improvement and reform (Achinstein, 2002; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Gitlin, 1999;
Lavie, 2006). Teacher collaboration as a strategy, however, has been in a war with the
long-standing culture of teaching riddled with individualism, privatism, and
autonomy (Schmoker, 2005a). Seemingly, there are schools where collaborative
activities and norms prevail in the areas of curriculum and instruction, and yet in
others teacher individualism, privacy, and autonomy are reinforced (Fullan, 1991;
Little, 1990). The structural and cultural perspectives, traditionally used to study
teacher collaboration, have been inadequate in understanding the dynamics of this
struggle (Achinstein, 2002; Bolman & Deal, 1991; Hargreaves, 1991). New insights
into the dynamics behind teacher collaboration and the culture of individualism are
possible through the use of micropolitics (Achinstein, 2002; Blase & Blase, 2002;
Hargreaves, 1991).
In this chapter, the private, isolated, autonomous nature of the culture of
schools is presented. The structure of schools, which influences this culture, is also
reviewed. A review of the impacts of the isolated structure and culture of schools on
teachers behaviors and interactions is also presented. Additionally this chapter
23


addresses how the teaching process is impacted by the culture of privatism and
isolation. While the prevalent nature of school cultures is private and autonomous,
some schools have been able to overcome some of the barriers to teacher
collaboration (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Hargreaves, 1992, 1994). A variety of
definitions are presented within the chapter, highlighting the amorphous and
ideologically sanguine nature of the term (Little, 1990, p. 509). Despite the diffuse
nature of the term, there has been much research on the norms, behaviors, and
activities associated with collaboration. A review of this literature is presented along
with seminal studies related to cultures of collaboration found in some schools. This
research is closely related to the literature of schools as learning communities.
Therefore a brief review of this literature is presented.
Interestingly enough, even within the most collaborative school cultures,
teacher individualism, privatism, and autonomy exists (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996).
Thus, the cultures of collaboration and the norms of privatism, isolation, and
autonomy coexist within collaborative schools. The coexistence of collaboration and
norms of individualism, privatism, and autonomy guides the behaviors and
interactions of teachers within schools (Hargreaves, 1992, 1994). Most of the studies
on the interplay of teacher collaboration and autonomy are analyzed from cultural and
structural perspectives. My study emphasizes a different lens from which to view
teacher interactions, the lens of micropolitics.
24


Very few studies examine the context of school-level micropolitics (Blase,
1991). Seminal research studies that emphasize school-level micropolitics are
presented within this chapter, noting their contributions to the field. Blases
micropolitical research is reviewed in this chapter as it relates to a working definition
of micropolitics and in viewing it from the perspective of teachers.
Within the micropolitics of teacher collaboration literature two primary
perspectives are presented within this review of research. First, micropolitics of
teacher collaboration is primarily viewed from the notion of who leads or guides the
collaborative activities and interactions. Second, micropolitics of teacher
collaboration is presented from the perspective of how conflicts are dealt with when
teachers interact on a frequent basis (Achinstein, 2002; Hargreaves, 1991). This
literature then leads us to review teacher-to-teacher micropolitical interactions. Three
studies from Blase (1987), Blase and Blase (1998), and Blase and Roberts (1994) are
reviewed because they directly relate to my research on the micropolitics of teacher
collaboration.
Teacher Isolation
As the modem school has been developed, the long history and culture of
teacher isolation and separation has remained (Cuban, 1986; Lortie, 1975). Bidwell
(1965) was one of the first researchers to recognize the isolation of teachers. The
teacher works alone within the classroom, relatively hidden from colleagues and
25


superiors, so that he has a broad discretionary jurisdiction within the boundaries of
the classroom (Bidwell, p. 976).
The history and culture of teacher isolation arises primarily from the physical
features and characteristics of schools (Bishop, 1977; Lortie, 1975). From the one
room schoolhouse to the large elementary, middle, or high schools of today, the
cellular structure of schools, with one teacher responsible for the learning of a
group of students, has and still remains the norm in teaching (Lortie, 1975, p. 14).
The cellular structure of schools contributes to the isolation and separation of teachers
(Lortie, 1975; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996).
Impact of Teacher Isolation on Teaching
The cellular structure of schools has influenced the culture of teaching
(Feiman-Nemser & Floden 1986; Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989). The cellular
structure of schools contributes immensely to the isolation teachers feel as they
develop their craft (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Lortie (1975), in his sociological
study of teaching, demonstrates the influence of the self-contained classroom on the
socialization of new and beginning teachers. A beginning teacher spends most of his
or her initial teaching experiences out of view of others. The beginning teacher
discerns problems, considers alternative solutions, makes a selection, and after
acting, assesses the outcomes (Lortie, p. 72). Thus, the beginning teacher develops
their craft on their own through a process of trial and error.
26


The isolated pattern of developing pedagogical knowledge continues
throughout a teachers career (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz,
1989). As a result, the act of teaching becomes individualistic and idiosyncratic as
teachers mediate the challenges they face alone in their classrooms (Fullan &
Hargreaves, 1996; Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989). The teacher, individually and
idiosyncratically, comes to conclusions and resolutions in regard to their instructional
problems and dilemmas. This culture of isolation and individualism contributes to
teaching becoming a private matter (Feiman-Nemser & Floden 1986; Fullan &
Hargreaves, 1996; Lortie, 1975).
Teacher isolation and instructional privatism contributes to the lack of a
technical language in teaching (Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989). Lortie (1975)
highlights how beginning teachers cannot rely on a solid body of pedagogical
knowledge as they enter the profession. Rather, each teacher must laboriously
construct ways of perceiving and interpreting what is significant within their
classroom and within instruction (Lortie, p. 73).
Teachers give precedence to practical knowledge over a scientifically based
professional or technical language (Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986). Practical
knowledge is important to teachers as they mediate specific instructional problems
within the context of their students and classrooms. Regardless of the nature of
teachers knowledge, teachers deliver, experiment, and assess instructional practices
in isolated and private settings within schools (Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986).
27


In her study of seventy-eight elementary schools in Tennessee, Rosenholtz
(1989) found that teachers spend most of their time teaching their assigned group of
students, rarely seeing other teachers teaching. She coined the term learning
impoverished schools to describe environments where teachers operate in isolation
from one another in their daily work (p. 106). Learning impoverished schools
contribute to teachers feelings of uncertainty in regard to their instruction (p. 106).
In learning-impoverished schools, Rosenholtz found that teachers were unaware and
uncertain of the consequences of their instruction on student achievement. She also
found that within isolated school settings teachers experienced greater freedom and
latitude in establishing and pursuing their own educational goals for students.
Another outcome of teacher isolation is the conservative nature of instruction
(Cuban, 1986; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Lortie, 1975). The lack of a common
technical language in teaching contributes to the conservative nature of instruction
(Lortie, 1975). As teachers work out their instructional and management problems by
themselves, they often consciously or unconsciously refer back to their own
experiences as students, thus reinforcing conservative notions of teaching (Lortie,
1975). Isolation limits a teacher in accessing new information, learning about
alternative instructional techniques, and in finding effective solutions to some of their
instructional problems (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996).
Privacy, isolation, and individualism permeate the conditions of teaching
within our schools. The culture of privacy, isolation and individualism coalesce and
28


lead to safe and non-risk taking forms of teaching that do little to assist student
achievement (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996, p. 39). The culture of teaching contributes
to institutionalize conservatism (p. 40). The culturally embedded, isolated nature of
schools does much to not only thwart the collaborative relations among teachers, but
in improving instruction for our nations children (Schmoker, 2006).
Today, as in the past, the structure of schools and the culture of teaching
allows for teachers to have, or make little time for, opportunities to talk with one
another or observe one another in regard to their work (Feiman-Nemser & Floden,
1986; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Little, 1990). As a result teachers individually
develop practices consistent with their personality and experiences (Feiman-Nemser
& Floden, 1986). Each teacher must develop his or her practical knowledge that only
comes in time and with personal teaching experience.
Norms and Behaviors Associated with Teacher Isolation
Isolated school settings develop norms of self-reliance and norms of non-
interference in teaching (Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986; Rosenholtz, 1989). These
norms reinforce the isolation and individualism associated with teaching. To protect
their self-esteems, teachers in isolated settings do not ask for, nor expect, any help
from their colleagues. They do not impose help onto others and/or buffer themselves
from the assistance of their colleagues. These norms then not only reinforce teacher
isolation and individualism, but also serve to filter the instructional practices teachers
29


have available to them (Cuban, 1986; Elmore, 2000; Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986;
Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989).
In most schools, classrooms are considered inviolate (Feiman-Nemser &
Floden, 1986, p. 517). Teachers do not intrude upon the physical and instructional
space of another teacher unless they are directly asked to do so (Feiman-Nemser &
Floden, 1986; Rosenholtz, 1989). Contributing greatly to this norm are the physical
characteristics of schools, which conveys the message that teachers ought to cope
with their own problems reinforcing norms of individualism (Feiman-Nemser &
Floden, 1986). Thus, a teacher working out their instructional and management
problems alone has become the natural and accepted way of doing things in our
schools.
In isolated, learning-impoverished schools, Rosenholtz (1989) found only
about one fourth of the teachers in the schools studied exchanged instructional
materials and ideas. Teachers within learning-impoverished schools did not engage in
instructional problem solving and planning with colleagues. Most of the collaborative
activities within these schools centered on sharing experiences and stories, usually in
a negative or denigrating context. Most of the experiences shared by teachers in
learning-impoverished schools related to discipline, conditions of the school,
students problems and family backgrounds, and non-instructional matters such as
clerical and custodial matters, such as recess supervision, lunch duty and the like. In
addition, teachers social conversations prevailed as they devalued work-related
30


conversations. Thus, in learning-impoverished schools, Rosenholtz found shared
goals and a shared technical language to be absent. Within these schools, norms of
self-reliance prevail, leaving teachers uncertain about their instructional practices and
unaware of the benefits of a technical culture on student achievement.
In learning-impoverished schools, Rosenholtz (1989) learned that teachers
avoid situations that require them to offer or request assistance in their classrooms
depending upon the perceived consequences of that aid (p. 42). If a consequence of
asking for help is an embarrassment to the teacher, or if it stigmatizes them
professionally or threatens their self-esteem, they will avoid disclosing their needs. In
addition, they will utilize a variety of strategies to maintain a sense of control
(Rosenholtz, 1989). To the extent that teachers lack technical knowledge and control
to help students learn, they are also less apt to ask for assistance (Rosenholtz, 1989).
Teacher uncertainty tends to undermine a teachers willingness to ask for, as well as
offer assistance to others who might be having difficulty in their classroom. In most
school settings, these interpretations of teachers have embedded themselves within
the culture of schooling (Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986; Rosenholtz, 1989).
Teacher isolation, and the resultant individualism and privatism associated
with it, has become a primary component of the culture found within teaching and
within schools. The resultant norms and consequences for instruction contributes to
the feelings associated with professional autonomy of teachers (Feiman-Nemser &
Floden, 1986; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Lortie, 1975). Teacher isolation supports a
31


large amount of freedom and latitude in teachers running their classrooms based upon
their personal judgments, opinions, and practical knowledge (Schmoker, 2006). Thus,
teacher isolation contributes to the creation of a culture that reinforces teacher
autonomy (Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996).
Teacher Collaboration
Teacher collaboration is a response to teacher isolation. Within efforts to
improve teaching practice, greater collegiality and collaboration is one of the premier
improvement strategies since the middle of the 1980s (Achinstein, 2002; Barth, 1990;
Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Lima, 2001; Louis, Kruse, & Bryk, 1995; Sergiovanni,
1994). More recently, the teaching practices of teachers are being scrutinized as a
result of demands for higher levels of achievement of all students. Politicians call for
greater teacher accountability and mandate extensive assessment of student
achievement (Dee & Henkin, 2001, p. 5). Teachers in resource-strained schools are
called upon to address the ills and neglect of our society through their work with
Americas children. They are to do this while simultaneously preparing all of our
nations students to perform academically at high levels for our evolving global
economy.
In todays context, teacher collegiality and collaboration are part and parcel of
sustained school improvement and increased student achievement (Hawley & Valli,
1999; Louis, Kruse, & Bryk, 1995; Scribner, Cockrell, Cockrell, & Valentine, 1999;
Lavie, 2006). Teacher collaboration is seen as a way to create synergy within a
32


school. This synergy creates a workplace environment that enables groups of
individuals to accomplish together what they could not by themselves (Dee &
Henkin, 2001, p. 7). Within the context of instruction, teacher collaboration is seen as
a means for individual teachers to develop new ideas and practices that they would
not have thought of alone. As Friend states, In this day and age there is simply too
much for any one educator to know in order to effectively meet the needs of all his or
her students (as cited in Brownell & Walther-Thomas, 2002, p. 224). Creative
problem solving and instructional innovation are viewed as positive outcomes for
teachers when they collaborate in matters related to instruction in order to meet the
needs of their students (Brownell & Walther-Thomas, 2002; Fullan & Hargreaves,
1996; Louis, Kruse, & Bryk, 1995; Rosenholtz, 1989).
Definitions of Collaboration
While most researchers describe the norms, activities, and characteristics
associated with teacher collaboration, very few have tried to define it (Friend &
Cook, 2007; Westheimer, 1999). Most of the studies and discourse related to teacher
collaboration, as well as the organizational structures and cultures that support them,
has lacked clarity, rigor, and common understanding (Fielding, 1999). Only a few
researchers have attempted to define the term, failing to capture the complexity of the
phenomenon. In essence, the term remains conceptually amorphous and
ideologically sanguine (Little, 1990, p. 509).
33


Rosenholtz (1989) was one of the early researchers to attempt to define
teacher collaboration. In her view, teacher collaboration is defined as the act of
teachers requests for and offers of collegial advice and assistance (p. 41). Similar
to her fellow researchers, she then distinguishes and illustrates teacher collaboration
in terms of a variety of collaborative activities and norms.
Collaboration also has been described as a way of working where two or
more people combine their resources to achieve specific goals over a period of time
(Hall & Wallace, 1993, p. 103). From this point of view, collaboration is joint work
for joint purposes (p. 103). Within this definition, collaboration occurs when teachers
have face-to-face contact pooling their resources of time, materials, talents, expertise
and potentially their budgets for the accomplishment of individual, group, and
organizational tasks (Hall & Wallace, 1993).
Similar to Fieldings conception of collegiality, Friend and Cook (2003)
distinguish collaboration as an interpersonal style in which one approaches
interactions with others. Interpersonal collaboration is a style for direct interaction
between at least two coequal parties voluntarily engaged in shared decision making as
they work toward a common goal (p. 5). How the activity is being conducted
between the actors is the primary emphasis of this definition.
Characteristics of this interpersonal style include the interaction to be
voluntary, with parity describing the relationship between the people interacting.
Each persons contribution to the activity or topic is equally valued and each person
34


has equal decision-making power. The teachers interacting also share minimally one
goal or many goals as a reason for the collaborative activity and relationship. These
relationships are characterized as sharing in the decision-making, responsibility,
resources, and accountability for outcomes.
Most researchers use the terms teacher collaboration and teacher collegiality
interchangeably (Fielding, 1999). However, only a few researchers distinguish these
two terms. Garman (1982) defines collegiality as a frame of mind or as an internal
state that one brings to the interactions with others. This is contrasted with the
collaboration that addresses the nature of the interactions between people.
Fielding (1999) distinguishes the two terms, describing teacher collaboration
as interactions among and between teachers which is transactional in nature, focusing
on the accomplishment of short-term tasks and activities. In this sense, collaboration
remains a form of individualism because it is, or could be, rooted in self-interest (p.
6). In effect, collaboration can be viewed as the collective interactions and dynamics
of teacher individualism coming into contact with one another for the
accomplishment of tasks and activities to which the participants may or may not have
a common commitment.
According to Fielding (1999), the interactions associated with collaboration
are guided by teachers self-interest and autonomy, as well as managerial control.
From this perspective, collaboration does not necessarily guarantee that teachers act
in accordance to some overarching set of values or shared meanings. The driving
35


force behind collaboration is the accomplishment of the task at hand, and the gains
made for individuals, for the group, or for organization in the completion of the task.
The teachers may not have shared understandings, values and commitments at work
within their collaborative interactions as well as toward the end goal. Thus, even in
the most collaborative schools, teacher isolation and individualism continues to be
promoted (Fielding, 1999; Hargreaves, 1991).
In contrast, collegial interactions and relations are guided by collegial
principles (Fielding, 1999, p. 4) such as communal values, obligations to colleagues,
professional attitudes, and ideals associated with democracy. Collegiality is
communal in nature, with teachers having mutually positive attitudes between them.
The emphasis in this definition is on the interactions and relationships addressing a
set of obligations that one has to his or her colleagues, as well as being understood as
a professional virtue. A requisite for collegiality in this sense is reciprocal respect
based on a shared acknowledgement of professional expertise and a commitment to a
set of professional set of values(p 14).
From this perspective, the support and interactions between and among
teachers, administrators, and staff members are guided by the goals, values, and
practices within the profession. Thus, collegiality transcends the idiosyncratic nature
of particular schools. Rather a collegial school draws its strength from a growing
knowledge base and the virtues of teaching as a public practice that extend far beyond
the boundaries of particular schools in particular settings (p. 14).
36


Little (1999) criticizes Fielding's (1999) definitions and conceptions of
collegiality and collaboration. Little (1999) believes that Fielding (1999) seeks to
transform teaching and schools into a utopian work culture embedded with
democratic idealism versus from the perspective of schools and teacher collaboration
as they truly exist in schools. In Fieldings view collaboration serves individual
interests and desires and collegiality embodies shared values, democratic community,
and actions aligned with the collective or group. In Littles (1999) view, Fielding
(1999) negates the tensions arising from the interplay of the individual and the
collective, from autonomy and solidarity (p. 37).
While Fielding (1999) creates distinctions in terms, others criticize his work
from the standpoint of negating the role of the individual in collaboration and
collegiality, as well as creating an utopian view of collegiality devoid of conflicts as
individuals mediate the balance between autonomy and the collective (Hargreaves,
1999; Little, 1999). Moreover, Fielding negates how members of these schools or
communities work out agreements, issues, questions, and ways of being through
many kinds of discourse and practices that unfold among people living and working
in close proximity (Little, 1999, p. 39)
As one can see, the definitions associated with teacher collaboration are
complex and diffuse. Researchers provide multifaceted definitions of teacher in terms
of a cultural analysis of the interrelationship between and among teachers. Others
describe teacher collaboration as a series of activities between and among teachers in
37


an effort to improve teaching and learning, and in order to accomplish organizational
tasks. Others discuss the teacher collaboration in relation to the forms, characteristics,
and purposes of collaboration within school settings. Let us take a look at some of
these descriptions of teacher collaboration. However, before we turn our attention to
this topic, we need to distinguish the level of analysis of teacher collaboration that
will help bound the term for this dissertation.
Micro- and Macro-Analysis of Teacher Collaboration
Within the literature, the term collaboration is also fraught with complexity as
researchers define the term from both micro- and macro-analytic perspectives (Slater,
1996). Peter M. Blau (as cited in Calhoun, Meyer, & Scott, 1990) is the one attributed
to articulating micro and macro-analysis of social phenomenon. These two
contrasting perspectives on collaboration give rise to different definitions and
conceptions of collaboration.
Microanalysis is an individualistic and interpersonal representation of
individual or subgroup behavior that is determined by social factors and interpersonal
relations (Slater, 1996, p. 61). Blau, a proponent and scholar of exchange theory in
sociology, emphasizes the microanalysis of social relationships. The basic unit of
analysis employed in this approach is the face-to-face interactions of individuals
(Timasheff & Theodorson, 1976). For the purpose of this dissertation, a micro-
analytic perspective will be used in defining and studying teacher collaboration.
38


Macroanalyses of collaboration begins to move away from interpersonal, face-
to-face interaction. Macroanalysis of collaboration involves the study of larger
populations such as entire schools, universities, and organizations. This level of
analysis can also include large communities or societies as the unit (Timasheff &
Theodorson, 1976). The macroanalysis of collaboration emphasizes the more abstract,
sociological level of analysis of collaboration. An example of this form of
collaboration exists within the extensive literature on organizational collaboration
such as public schools and university collaborations.
From a macroanalytic perspective, collaboration is seen as an exchange of
power, or at least a reforming of the way power and influence are negotiated and
used (Slater, 1996). The macroanalytic interpretation of collaboration is often
political in nature. For the purpose of this dissertation, a review of organizational
collaboration will not be reviewed, but will focus rather on the collaboration of
teachers from a microanalytic perspective. Moreover, a micropolitical lens will be
applied to the microanalysis interpretation of teacher collaboration.
Activities and Norms of Teacher Collaboration
The activities and norms associated with teacher collaboration are viewed as a
school-level organizational culture phenomenon (Lavie, 2006). The focus of cultural
discourses on teacher collaboration relate to the beliefs, norms, and values that
school members construct and internalize to guide their personal and professional
39


relationships (p. 777). The following seminal studies provide important insights into
the cultural dimensions of teacher collaboration.
In one of the earliest studies on teacher collaboration, Little (1982) conducted
an ethnographic study of six schools, four of which were successful and two which
were unsuccessful in supporting teacher learning in the workplace (p. 325). Little
found that
in successful schools more than in unsuccessful ones teachers valued
and participated in norms of collegiality and continuous improvement
(experimentation); they pursued a greater range of professional
interactions with fellow teachers and administrators, including talk
about instruction, structured observation, and shared planning or
preparation. They did so with greater frequency, with a greater number
and diversity of persons and locations, and with a more concrete and
precise shared language, (p. 325)
Little identified the activities associated with teachers collaborative
interactions in their continuous improvement efforts. In schools labeled as successful,
teachers experimented with their instruction, participated in continuous professional
development, and frequently discussed instructional practices with their colleagues.
As a result of frequent dialogues with colleagues, a shared language developed in
regard to instruction and instructional strategies. In analyzing the dialogues and work
of teachers, Little (1982) found that the utility of collegial work and the rigor of
experimentation with teaching is a direct function of the concreteness, precision, and
coherence of the shared language (p. 331). Shared language supports teachers in
working with the complexities of teaching and the students they serve.
40


In successful, collaborative schools, teachers are frequently observed and
provided with feedback in regard to their teaching. This feedback reinforces a shared
language for instruction within the school. In these schools, teachers plan, research,
evaluate, and prepare teaching materials together. The teachers also teach one
another. All of these activities contribute to teachers developing a deep
understanding of instructional practices and to raising the standards of teachers and
students work (Little, 1982). These collaborative activities contribute to teacher
certainty in regard to instruction, as well as create a desire among teachers to create a
technical culture within the school, which according to Rosenholtz (1989) is one of
the most powerful predictors of teacher collaboration.
In learning-enriched schools, there is a high number and percentage of
teachers who exchange instructional materials and ideas, as well as plan and solve
instructional problems with colleagues (Rosenholtz, 1989, p. 80). The teachers in
learning-enriched schools view collaboration in matters of instruction as a natural
professional activity within their schools. In learning-enriched settings, teachers work
together to improve their own and their colleagues instruction, as part of a
commitment to shared goals and collective teaching performance. In other words,
teacher collaboration around technical, instructional ideas and problems is part of the
culture of learning-enriched schools.
In a later study, Little (1990) distinguishes four forms of teacher collaboration
and analyzes their impact on the culture of privacy in teaching. She identifies
41


storytelling and scanning, aid and assistance, and sharing as the majority of activities
of teachers within collaborative schools. In an effort to obtain specific ideas,
solutions, or reassurances, teachers exchange stories and ideas throughout their day
(p. 513). These exchanges remain distant from the classroom, as teachers gain
knowledge, preserve their autonomy, and continue their individual pursuit of
instructional competence (Little, 1990).
Another conception of collaboration identified by Little (1990) is mutual aid
or helping (p. 515). This form of collaboration comes with a caveat whereby the
norms of non-interference are reinforced. In matters related to aiding or helping,
teachers are careful to not step over their professional boundaries when offering
advice and/or by interfering in unwarranted ways in another teachers classroom. In
contrast to Rosenholtz (1989) learning-impoverished schools, Little (1990) found
that teachers were willing to help one another, but only if they were asked to do so.
Asking questions about teaching or requesting help has consequences in regard to the
teachers professional status and perceived competence. Therefore, teachers may not
be inclined to help and aid one another unless it is managed in a way which protects
teachers self-esteem and professional standing (Little, 1990; Rosenholtz, 1989).
The third form of teacher collaboration described by Little (1990) is the act of
sharing materials, methods, ideas, and opinions. This form of collaboration begins to
deprivatize teaching by exposing ones thoughts and practices to others, making their
teaching more public. However, even within the most collaborative schools, sharing
42


does not necessarily influence or impact teachers instruction (Little, 1990). In less
collaborative school cultures, this form of collaboration is often viewed as being
competitive and negative.
The collaborative activities of storytelling and scanning, aid and assistance,
and sharing are the most common forms of teacher collaboration found in schools
(Cousins et al. 1994; Little, 1990). Each of these activities has teachers interacting
with one another in an effort to gain information and to enhance their teaching
practice. However, each these forms of teacher collaboration does little to pierce the
teaching culture of individualism and conservatism (Cousins et al. 1994; Little, 1990).
Joint work was found to be the most robust form of teacher collaboration
(Little, 1990, p. 519). Joint work refers to teachers sharing responsibility and being
interdependent in regard to teaching, holding common definitions of autonomy, and
supporting each others initiatives in regard to experimenting with instructional
practices. Joint work as one form of collaboration requires collective action on the
part of teachers. Joint work can include teachers deciding to pursue a single course
of action in concert or, alternatively, to decide on a set of basic priorities that in turn
guide the independent choices of individual teachers (Little, 1990, p. 519).
Classroom teaching which has a common emphasis and goal in relation to student
achievement is at the heart of joint work (Little, 1990). While joint work may be the
strongest form of teacher collaboration, it is found the least in schools (Cousins et al.
1994; Little, 1990).
43


In a study of fifty-two teachers in six elementary schools, Zahorik (1987)
sought to describe collegiality in relation to classroom instruction. He found that
teachers spent about forty minutes a day interacting with colleagues, but found that
the interactions were weak in requiring teacher interdependence. Typically, teacher
collaboration took the form of exchanging information with colleagues at the same
grade level in relation to topics such as instructional materials, student discipline,
learning activities, and individualization of instruction for students. Like others,
Zahorik (1987) found these forms of collaboration as reinforcing teaching as a
private, idiosyncratic, and personal matter.
Cousins et al. (1994) were interested in ascertaining the effects of
collaborative work from teachers perspectives, in regard to school priorities,
instructional experimentation and innovation, and curriculum policy. These
researchers were interested in understanding the benefits of collaboration both for
individual teachers, and for the school in general.
Building upon Littles (1990) work, Cousins et al. (1994) developed a new
framework for describing the joint work of teachers. Their model held depth of
collaboration as its defining characteristic (p. 449). At the shallow end of the
collaboration continuum is the exchange of information among teachers. Teachers
exchanging information is seen as a shallow form of collaboration because there is
no attempt to reach a consensus on what constitutes best practice (p. 449). Within
the collaborative schools studied, Cousins et al. found that the exchange of
44


information occurs in a variety of locations within the school and in both formal and
informal settings.
At a slightly deeper level on the depth of collaboration continuum is joint
planning and participation (p. 451). Joint planning and preparation activities include
the exchange of information. However, agreements between teachers are not made in
this form of collaboration. Typically in joint planning and preparation, it is left up to
the individual teacher to decide how and what instructional components, principles,
and practices will be implemented. Examples of joint planning and preparation
include unit and lesson design meetings, meetings whereby teachers reach consensus
on course objectives, and where they produce instructional materials together. The
forum in which this work occurs in schools typically includes grade level meetings,
staff meetings, and school advisory council meetings Concurrent implementation
(p. 449), the next layer on the depth of collaboration continuum, has teachers reaching
agreements regarding the instructional and curricular actions to be implemented.
Cousins et al. (1994) found that this form of collaboration involved a division of
labor, whereby teachers share instructional and curricular tasks. In addition, this form
of collaboration involves communication and feedback via teachers monitoring the
implementation. However, in the case of both of these examples, teachers typically
continue to implement the instructional innovations independently.
The deepest level of collaboration reported by teachers in the schools studied
was joint implementation (p. 453). Some examples of this form of collaboration are
45


team teaching and teachers observing one another teach. Similar to Littles (1990)
findings, Cousins et al.(1994) found this form of collaboration to be the rarest and
occurred within relatively small groups of teachers in the schools studied. In the
highly collaborative schools studied, these researchers found joint implementation to
not be a widely shared activity or practice among teachers.
Information exchange and joint planning were the most widespread
collaborative activities found among teachers (Cousins et al. 1994). The deeper levels
of collaboration were much less apparent in these collaborative schools. This finding
resonates with Littles (1990) research, that while collaboration and collaborative
activities is seen as a way to break the isolation, privatism, and idiosyncratic nature of
teaching, it rarely does. Only the deepest levels of collaboration allow this to occur,
which again, are the rarest forms found, even within schools regarded as being highly
collaborative. Cousins et al. (1994) also found that much of the work reported by the
teachers in these schools could be characterized as being individual and private in
their orientation to pedagogy. Thus, these researchers found that respect for
individuality and tolerance for individualism are salient features of collaborative
cultures (p. 451).
Cultures of Teacher Collaboration
The school cultures of five elementary schools in England and Wales were
studied by Nias et al. (1989). These researchers found that the collaborative culture of
schools was influenced by the interactions and relationships among the people within
46


the schools. They found that the interaction of staff members in schools is a by-
product of the physical structure of the schools, its organizational features and
history, its staff members values, beliefs, assumptions, and personal histories. Nias et
al. (1989) alludes to the political aspects of collaborative cultures in schools when
they state, these factors affected interaction both by controlling individual
opportunity and inclination to interact and by determining whose influence
predominated (p. 39). In these schools, shared norms and meanings were negotiated
by the teachers and eventually become part of the culture of the schools.
Within the schools studied, Nias et al. (1989) discovered that within
collaborative cultures, groups of staff members were not always homogeneous or
totally cohesive (p. 47). Individual teachers brought their own personal differences
to the schools such as religion, social class, and gender. In addition, they often played
different roles, bringing different interests to school, which the researchers discuss in
terms of sub-cultures. Moreover, the researchers found that not all of the teachers
held the same beliefs, which predominated the collaborative school culture. Nias et al.
write:
The extent to which individuals participated in the dominant culture of
their schools was subject to a constant process of negotiation.
Individual interests had always to be reconciled with membership not
just of the institution but also of the staff group. Indeed, one
characteristic of the culture of collaboration was that it facilitated the
reconciliation of individual and group aims, since differences were
tolerated or resolved rather than being submerged, (p. 47)
47


The culture of collaboration described by the Nias et al. (1989) study focuses
on adult relationships rather than on pedagogy. From these researchers viewpoint,
the culture of collaboration has an indirect effect on educational practice. In the
schools studied, the collaborative relationships among the adults in the school
indirectly helped create a broad consensus about teaching methods as staff
members openly discussed pedagogy (p. 48). As discussions about instructional
practices took place, the culture of the schools allowed for, and even encouraged,
individual differences as well as the nurturance of the collective group. The
discussions between teachers in these schools included diverse opinions and practices
to emerge. However, Nias et al. (1989) note that over time a convergence of
viewpoints began to emerge. Through collaborative discussions and through judicious
hiring processes the views of teachers were brought in line with the thinking of the
headmasters and the majority of teachers within the school.
Nias et al. (1989) believe that collaboration in the form of team teaching is
found less in schools with collaborative cultures. In schools characterized as
collaborative, staffs openly discuss pedagogical matters, and will periodically teach
together on a voluntary basis. Sub-groups of teachers who team-teach may do more to
impede school-wide acceptance of particular practices and inhibit the open
discussion that may eventually lead to the creation of a whole school perspective (p.
53). The work of Nias et al. (1989) points toward the collaborative dynamics within
schools that can be studied from both community and micropolitical perspectives.
48


Collaborative cultures are also described by Hargreaves (1999) as work
cultures where teachers work together, not only for rationally, goal-centered purposes
but for moral support, shared celebration, and places where people can express and
embed their very selves and identities (p. 48). Hargreaves (1991) distinguishes three
forms of collaborative cultures. Collaborative cultures constitute working
relationships between teachers which are characterized as being spontaneous,
voluntary, development oriented, pervasive across time and space, and unpredictable
(pp. 53-54).
These cultures emerge from the spontaneous and voluntary actions of the
teachers themselves. The teachers find value in working and learning together as they
find their interactions to be enjoyable and productive. The administration of these
cultures supports and helps facilitate these interactions by rearranging schedules or
covering classes for teachers, but the interactions and collaborative activities come
from the teachers themselves.
In collaborative cultures, the teachers may develop their own initiatives or
projects around which to collaborate. The substance of collaboration can also be
externally mandated initiatives to which the teachers have a strong commitment. In
collaborative cultures, teachers collaborative work is not limited to times scheduled
for this purpose. While scheduled meetings and planning sessions may be a part of
the collaborative culture, it does not dominate the arrangements for working together.
49


Informal meetings and interactions are the norm of collaborative cultures, which are
not mandated and regulated by the administration of the school.
Teachers have broad discretionary powers over the product and processes
associated with their collaborative efforts, thus, the outcomes are often unpredictable
or uncertain. This form and culture of collaboration can be perplexing for school
administrators, who have responsibilities associated with rational, implementation-
oriented goals, and responsibilities (Hargreaves, 1991). For administrators then, the
development of a collaborative culture may be less of a concern from a human
interaction standpoint than one of administrative control.
In response to Hargreaves cultures of collaboration, Nias (1995) comments
that in regard to her previous research on the collaborative cultures of primary
schools, teachers interactions were spontaneous, voluntary, pervasive across time
and space, and unpredictable. However she notes that the interactions were not
always development-oriented.
Hargreaves (1994) describes the element development-oriented as teachers
working together to develop initiatives on their own or to work on externally
mandated initiatives to which they have a commitment (p.192). In his view, teachers
within collaborative cultures establish the tasks and purposes of working with each
other versus it being externally mandated. When they do respond to external
mandates they do so selectively, drawing on their professional confidence and
discretionary judgment as a community (p. 192).
50


In Nias (1995) view, a school culture may be collaborative but not
necessarily development-oriented. Within a collaborative culture, individual teachers
may be dedicated to their own professional development and improvement without
seeking to cooperate and work with others. Only when most, if not, all, of a staff are
committed to continuous learning and they share the moral values of a collaborative
culture is development likely to take place throughout the school (p. 312). In
addition, Nias (1995) recognizes that collaboration among teachers should be a means
to the achievement of goals and not an end in itself. Thus, she also questions
Hargreaves notion that collaboration can only be accomplished only when it is
derived from the teachers themselves.
The culture of collaboration as described by Hargreaves (1992, 1994) is the
form least found in schools. The pressures and constraints of time, mandated
curricula, and assessments present a challenge to this form of collaboration. A
collaborative culture is typically found within pockets of teachers, but rarely does it
permeate the entire school (Hargreaves, 1992). When found in pockets or small
groups of teachers, the culture of the school can be balkanized in form (p. 223). In
balkanized cultures, teachers associate more closely with certain groups of teachers
rather than with the staff as a whole. These groups often compete with one another,
jockeying for position, and power within the school. What is found in most schools is
a more shallow form of collaboration, which Hargreaves (1992) terms bounded
collaboration (p. 228).
51


Bounded collaboration is restricted in depth, scope, frequency and in the
persistence teachers bring to the collaborative efforts. This form of collaboration
does not reach down to the grounds, the principles, or the ethics of practice, but
which stays with routine advice-giving, trick-trading and material-sharing of a more
immediate, specific, and technical nature (p. 228). Bounded collaboration are
transactional in nature and are thus, temporally shorter as compared to the more
routine interpersonal relationships embedded in the aforementioned form of
collaborative cultures. Additionally, bounded forms of teacher collaboration resonates
with the literature described earlier, where the most commonly found forms of
teacher interactions are weak in relation to impacting instruction. In addition, the
activities that are interpreted to be collaborative in nature are almost always bounded
forms collaboration (Hargreaves, 1992). In essence, bounded collaboration, while
impacting the culture of teacher individualism and privacy mentioned earlier,
currently is not impacting changes in pedagogy that reformers were hoping to see.
A key issue for administrators and schools is how to get teachers to
collaborate more often in order to bring about the possibility of teachers learning and
working together. One way to Hargreaves (1991) is for administrators to create the
structures and normative expectations for collaboration to occur. Hargreaves (1991)
coined the term contrived collegiality (p. 53). Teacher interactions characterized as
being contrived are administratively regulated, compulsory, implementation-
oriented, fixed in time and space, and predictable (pp. 53-54). Teacher interactions,
52


which are contrived, do not evolve from the teacher themselves but are
administratively mandated and regulated. There is little choice for teachers to opt out
of the collaborative activities or efforts. Rather the teachers are required or persuaded
to work together on matters that are externally mandated by the school or district
administrators, school boards, or the state.
Contrived collegiality typically occurs during regularly scheduled times and
occurs less on an informal basis. Since this form of collaboration is administratively
controlled, the processes and products associated with these efforts are more
predictable than the outcomes of a collaborative culture. This form of collaboration is
often the reference point for those espousing collaboration toward the
accomplishment of tasks, whether individual, group or organizational in nature.
Schools as Professional Learning Communities
With an increased emphasis on heightened teacher collaboration as part of the
reform movements of the last two decades, there has been much attention on
transforming schools into professional learning communities (DuFour & Eaker, 1998;
Kruse, Louis, & Bryk, 1994, 1995). Professional learning communities are viewed as
a means to address teacher isolation, improve teaching practices, increase student
achievement, and create a common and unified focus for school improvement
(Achinstein, 2002; Barth, 1990; Lavie, 2006; Liebermann & Miller, 1990; Louis &
Kruse, 1995; Schmoker, 2006; Sergiovanni, 1994). Similar to the topic of teacher
collaboration, the literature on schools as professional learning communities
53


emphasizes the structural and cultural dimensions (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Kruse,
Louis, & Bryk, 1994; Scribner, Hager, & Warne, 2002; Sergiovanni, 1994).
A few of the conditions which support the development of a professional
learning community include time for teachers to talk, physical proximity of teachers,
interdependent teaching roles, communication structures, and teacher empowerment
and autonomy (Kruse, Louis, & Bryk, 1994). In addition, schools as communities
entails the members of the school being unified in their goals and purpose, as well as
being interdependent (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Lavie, 2006; Sergiovanni, 1994). In
professional learning communities norms, values, socialization processes,
collegiality, mutual obligations, and interdependencies permeate the culture of the
school (Sergiovanni, 1994). Louis, Kruse, and Bryk (1995) distinguish schools as
professional communities whereby teachers develop a strong technical language and
knowledge base within a school, which emphasizes collaborative relationships.
Moreover, these researchers describe professional school communities from a cultural
perspective with schools being characterized by shared norms and values, reflective
dialogues among teachers, and the deprivatization of teaching practices.
Although this study is not focused on professional learning communities per
se, the literature provides some insights into the emphasis, nature, and culture of
teacher collaboration. However, much of the professional learning community
literature lacks clarity and rigor in making explicit distinctions between conceptions
54


of collegiality and administratively controlled notions of collaboration (DuFour &
Eaker, 1998; Fielding, 1999; Hargreaves, 1991; Louis, Kruse, & Bryk, 1995).
Other researchers also criticize the literature and studies that seemingly
converge on the notion and nature of teacher collaboration. Westheimer (1999)
studied two middle schools in which the teachers and administrators were explicit
about their commitments to creating professional communities in their schools.
Realizing that the notions and definitions of teacher collaboration and community are
vague, amorphous, and complex, Westheimer (1999) found that the two schools
varied in regard to how community was defined and operationalized.
Each school was compared on five dimensions of professional community as
identified by current theorists (Westheimer, 1999). These five features included
shared beliefs, interaction and participation, interdependence, concern for individual
and minority views, and meaningful relationships. The five features of community
pervaded the culture of the school; however, the manner in which they were
operationalized at each site varied greatly.
One of the middle schools could be characterized as being more protective of
individual teacher independence and autonomy, with more hierarchical forms of
decision making. In this school, teachers supported one anothers individual work and
teaching and genuinely cared for one another. In this school, broad generalized beliefs
allowed for many teaching activities, objectives, and philosophies to coexist. Dissent
was rarely voiced in public forums. The other middle school met the more familiar
55


notions of community. Shared beliefs were strong in regard to the educational
principles and instructional practices utilized within the school. Moreover, high levels
of participation and interdependence between teachers was evident in this school and
was reflected in curriculum design and instructional implementation, committee
work, and school policies. Relationships between teachers and staff members were
very strong, often overlapping between personal and professional lives.
The comparison between the two middle schools is not for the purpose of
creating a professional community continuum with each of the schools on polar
opposite ends (Westheimer, 1999). Rather, Westheimer offers an exploratory
continuum which identifies ideology, structures, and processes which are connected
to a more complex and detailed conceptualization of a professional community (p.
92). One of the implications of this study is that the notions of teacher collaboration
and professional community are presently underconceptualized (Achinstein, 2002;
Westheimer, 1999). One way in which professional learning communities have been
underconceptualized and underexplored is through the lens of micropolitical theory
(Achinstein, 2002; Lima, 2001). Scribner, Hager, & Warne (2002)
Teacher Collaboration and Individualism
Teachers workplace environments are best described as having a combination
and variety of forms of collaboration in their schools. Rarely does one form of
collaboration or collegiality permeate an entire school or accurately describe the
relationships between and among teachers (Hargreaves, 1991, 1992, 1994). Thus,
56


elements of individualism, collaboration, and collegiality exist within the relations
and interactions between teachers in the most collaborative school. In schools that are
considered to be highly collaborative, teachers navigate a balance for themselves in
relation to collaborating with their colleagues and in protecting their individualism
and autonomy (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Hargreaves, 1990, 1994; Nias et al. 1989;
Scribner, Hager, & Wame, 2002). Nias et al. (1989) found that within collaborative
school cultures, both the individual and the group are valued. Thus, both
individualism and collaboration are valued within collaborative school cultures.
Individualism and isolation exists in collaborative schools in order for
teachers to protect their discretion to use the instructional tools and methods
appropriate for the students they know best (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Thus,
collaborative schools contain elements of both collaborative and isolated settings. The
notion of schools supporting collaboration and individualism reinforces the concept
of schools being loosely coupled systems (Weick, 1976, p. 1). Schools have
internal structures and processes which outline and guide the interactions and
behaviors of people, as well as allow for much professional discretion and autonomy.
Since individualism and collaboration exist in the most collaborative schools,
one wonders about the underpinnings, nature, and dynamics of teacher-to-teacher
interactions. This study examines the interactions among teachers from a
micropolitical perspective, which provides a unique lens from which to view the
collaborative work of teachers within schools (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1991;
57


Hargreaves, 1991; Lavie, 2006). Specifically, this study identifies the strategies that
elementary school teachers use to influence their colleagues in matters related to
instruction. The perceived effects of the strategies will also be identified.
Micropolitics within Education
Schools, like most organizations, are extremely complex, unpredictable,
ambiguous, and multi-faceted (Bolman & Deal, 1991; Blase, 1991). Iannaccone
(1975) was one of the earliest researchers to study the micropolitics of schools,
examining group interactions and dynamics. He emphasized the political interplay
between the subsystems of schools, particularly focusing on the interactions
between administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other lay people (p. 43).
Iannaccones (1995) early definition of the micropolitics of education guides his
analysis. The micropolitics of education is
concerned with the interaction and political ideologies of social
systems of teachers, administrators, and pupils within school
buildings. These may be labeled as internal organizational subsystems.
It is also concerned with the issues of the interaction between
professional and lay subsystems. They may be called external systems.
These are the referents of the concept microeducational politics as
used here. (1975, p. 43)
In regard to the discussion of the micropolitics of teacher collaboration,
Iannaccone (1995) discusses teacher autonomy as a political ideology and demand
(p. 45). In his view, autonomy is found in all professions and is related to the
expertise held by the professionals as well as their demand for status. While
Iannaccone (1995) identifies the demand for autonomy as part of the micropolitics of
58


schools, he discusses teacher autonomy as inherent within the nature of professions
and from larger, macro-political conditions in education.
Hoyle (1986) identified strategies used by individuals and groups for the
purpose of furthering their interests and to achieve their political ends. Hoyles
contributions to the field of micropolitics in education include his espousal of
micropolitical analysis to include both formal structures and informal interactions
between groups within an organization (Blase 1991; Hoyle, 1986; Iannaccone, 1975).
The overt formal structures and procedures are part of the micropolitical domain
within organizations. However, this is only one side of the coin. The field of
micropolitics consists of the strategies used by individuals and groups within
organizations in an effort to exert their authority and influence and/or to further their
interests (Hoyle, 1986). According to Hoyle (1986), the essence of micropolitics
within organizations exists within the domain of informal relationships, as well as by
the strategies used by members in order to further their interests. This is reflected in
his Hoyles (1986) elaboration of micropolitics.
Micropolitics is best perceived as a continuum, one end of which it is
virtually indistinguishable from conventional management procedures
but from which it diverges on a number of dimensions interests,
interest sets, power, strategies and legitimacy to the point where it
constitutes almost a separate organizational world of illegitimate, self-
interested manipulation, (p. 126)
The covert, informal, and implicit procedures used by individuals and groups
is micropolitical in nature. To illustrate this point, Hoyle (1986) refers to the
59


dynamics associated with collective bargaining. Hoyle views bargaining as both an
official management activity as well as a micropolitical strategy. Bargaining becomes
micropolitical when it includes interactions between organizational members, which
occur outside the formal processes and structures of bargaining. Activities of this
nature are seen to be implicit rather than explicit and use informal resources and
means in order to influence outcomes. Thus, the informal, non-rational sides of
organizations are characteristic of the micropolitical domain.
Many micropolitical researchers emphasize the conflictive relationships
between groups within schools (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991). Many of these studies
emphasize the interests of different groups, the control of schools primarily from the
perspective of principals or headmasters, and the conflicts between groups in relation
to school policies (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991; Hoyle, 1986). Ball (1987) writes:
I take schools, in common with virtually all other social organizations,
to be arenas of struggle', to be riven with actual or potential conflict
between members; to be poorly coordinated; to be ideologically
diverse. I take it to be essential that if we are to understand the nature
of schools as organizations, we must achieve some understanding of
these conflicts, (p. 19)
Understanding organizational members viewpoints is foundational to
comprehending conflicts and the micropolitics of schools (Blase, 1991; Blase &
Anderson, 1995). The perspective of teachers has often been ignored in the study of
the micropolitics of schools (Achinstein, 2002; Blase 1987, 1988a, 1988b, 1991).
Blase (1987, 1988a, 1988b, 1989) is one of the few researchers to study the political
60


interactions from the viewpoint of teachers. He primarily examined the political
interactions and dynamics between teachers and principals. However, he also
analyzed the political interactions among teachers and between parents and teachers.
Blases contributions to the micropolitical study of schools is foundational to this
study, as it relates to viewing, from the teachers point of view, the influence
strategies teachers use with one another.
Definition of Micropolitics
The definition of micropolitics as offered by Blase (1991) serves as the basis
of the micropolitical theoretical framework for this study. Blase (1991) writes:
Micropolitics refers to the use of formal and informal power by
individuals and groups to achieve their goals in organizations. In large
part, political actions result from perceived differences between
individuals and groups, coupled with the motivation to use power to
influence and/or protect. Although such actions are consciously
motivated, any action, consciously or unconsciously motivated, may
have political significance in a given situation. Both cooperative and
conflictive actions and processes are part of the realm of micropolitics.
Moreover, macro- and micropolitical factors frequently interact, (p.
11)
This definition of micropolitics is important to this study in a variety of ways.
The definition reinforces the use of illegitimate forms of power and informal forms of
influence used by teachers with one another. The use of influence tactics and
strategies between teachers, whether consciously motivated or not, are political in
nature (Blase, 1991). Blase views consciously motivated actions as being intended,
calculated, strategic, or purposive (p.l 1). The unconscious acts of members of an
61


organization include routine action, nondecision making, negligence, nonaction,
habitual actions, resulting from socialization, and action that prevent others from
exercising influence (pp. 11-12). In addition, this definition includes both conflictive
and cooperative processes and structures as political activities.
Micropolitics of Teacher Collaboration
Most of the studies conducted on teacher collaboration have been studied
from the structural and cultural dimensions of organizational analysis (Bolman &
Deal, 1991; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Hargreaves, 1991; Scribner, Hager, &
Wame, 2002). Although the field of micropolitics is beginning to emerge more in the
literature about organizations, there are relatively few published studies on the topic
of school level politics (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1991; Lima, 2001). Most of the
studies conducted on the micropolitics of schools focus upon the power relationships
between teachers and administrators (Blase, 1991). In addition, most of these studies
emphasize the observable, adversarial, and conflictive aspects of school politics
versus processes associated with cooperation (Blase, 1991).
In one of the early studies on teacher collaboration from a micropolitical
perspective, Hargreaves (1991) found that there are different forms of teacher
collaboration in schools, each having different outcomes, consequences, and
purposes. Moreover, the forms of collaboration that are espoused to hold the most
promise for teacher and student learning are the scarcest forms found in schools
(Hargreaves, 1991; Little, 1987, 1990).
62


Despite this, Hargreaves (1991) was interested in understanding teacher
collaboration from the perspective of control. The central question in regard to
teacher collaboration from a micropolitical perspective is who guides and controls
it (Hargreaves, 1991, p. 49). His study on teacher collaboration raises questions
about the rights of the individual and the protection of individuality in the face of
group pressure (p. 51). This argument is at the heart of preserving teacher
individualism and autonomy.
Through the study of elementary teachers in schools in Ontario, Canada,
Hargreaves (1990, 1991, 1994) coined the term contrived collegiality to refer to
teacher collaboration activities which are regulated and mandated by the
administration of the school. Most of the collaborative activities were found to be
contrived because within this province, school boards mandated how teacher
preparation time was to be used which included forced instructional planning and
consultation with colleagues, as well as mandatory peer coaching. Many of the
collaborative activities also focused on the implementation of a specific instructional
strategy or technique, bound by administratively imposed time lines and predictable
in regard to the outcomes or consequences of the collaboration. These activities are in
stark contrast to more natural forms of collaboration, which are spontaneous,
voluntary, development oriented, pervasive across time and space, and unpredictable
(1991, p. 53). The distinguishing factor between the two forms of collaboration is the
locus of control of the collaborative efforts, teachers themselves or administration.
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Within the study, most teachers identified their planning time as a time not
best suited for planning and collaborating with colleagues. In fact, most of the
teachers regarded the forty-minute block of time as not being conducive to planning
at all. Hargreaves draws from the work of Storr (1988), in identifying how some
teachers prefer to, and are more effective, when they plan in solitude. The
micropolitical perspective thus has implications for teacher collaboration when
individualism and solitude are considered and valued. In matters related to teacher
collaboration, Hargreaves (1991) encourages us all to revisit teacher individualism
with attitudes of understanding, rather than one of sweeping condemnation (p. 52).
This reminder forces us to answer the question of whose needs and interests are being
served under the auspices of teacher collaboration.
Collaborative school settings include both natural and contrived forms of
teacher collaboration (Hargreaves, 1991). One of the primary contributions of
Hargreaves (1991) findings indicates that teachers are more likely to collaborate and
work together in matters of instruction if they have compatible pedagogical beliefs
and similar approaches in their teaching. When teachers do not share similar beliefs
and approaches to teaching, compulsory, administratively controlled teacher
collaboration that is contrived collegiality is unlikely to succeed.
Conflicts among teachers are inevitable with heightened collaboration
(Achinstein, 2002; Uline, Tschannen-Moran, Perez, 2003). Conflict is a natural and
inevitable part of a culture of collaboration as traditional norms of isolation,
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privatism, and individualism are challenged. In a recent study, Achinstein (2002)
analyzed how teachers manage conflict while maintaining a professional learning
community in their schools. This study is unique in that most of the research on
teacher collaboration or on professional-learning communities ignores conflict or
treats it as pathology (Achinstein, 2002; Lima, 2001).
Teachers use political strategies and activities as they navigate and mediate
their differences, identify which ideas and members are accepted as part of their
community, and come to a shared educational ideology in their schools (Achinstein,
2002). The processes members of a professional learning community use to negotiate
conflict can be considered to be conflict stances (p. 442). At one end of the
continuum is an avoidance stance, which buffers members from conflict and
maintains their unified and stable school environment (p. 442). In these environments,
conflict goes underground, is private, and uses informal communication networks. On
the other end of the continuum is an embracing stance, whereby members
recognize and reflect upon their differences of belief and practices and use this as a
means for change within their schools (p. 442). In these environments, conflict is
addressed through more formal and public structures in the schools. While a full
description of all these activities and processes is beyond the scope of this study, the
important implication is that members of school communities manage conflict in a
variety of ways using both formal and informal channels.
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Teachers benefit the most in regard to their professional learning and
development when the collaborative activities with their colleagues are voluntary
(Hargreaves, 1994; Lima, 2001). Moreover, teachers will choose colleagues with
which to collaborate based on philosophical and pedagogical compatibility
(Hargreaves, 1994). In focusing upon the relationships between teachers, Lima (2001)
describes how close friendships between teachers may actually do more to interfere
with collaboration as a means to school change and improvement. Teachers will often
choose collaboration partners based on their feelings of closeness or friendships
with their colleagues (p. 110).
However, collaborative arrangements based on friendships and pedagogical
compatibility will not facilitate the cognitive dissonance needed for teacher growth
and development and school change and improvement (Lima, 2001). Teacher
collaboration and professional learning communities without cognitive dissonance or
conflict will do little to alter the instructional practices of teachers (Lima, 2001).
While Limas analysis of teacher-to-teacher interactions in matters related to
instruction is not micropolitical per se, his study points toward the need to study the
cognitive conflicts and between teachers as part of the teacher collaboration equation.
Principal-to-Teacher Micropolitical Interactions
Blase and Roberts (1994) analyzed the influence strategies principals used to
influence teachers actions and thoughts. More than one thousand two hundred
respondents completed an open-ended questionnaire entitled the Inventory of
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Strategies Used by Principals to Influence Teachers (p. 69). The teachers rated their
principals as open, effective and relatively participatory or closed and ineffective
in their leadership styles (p. 70). Through the comparative analyses of the influence
strategies, affective, cognitive, and behavioral impacts or effects were generated from
the data.
Blase and Roberts (1994) reported the influence strategies used by open and
effective principals. Two broad categories were developed from the analyses of the
influence strategies; a control orientation and empowerment orientation. Each broad
category had positive and negative influence strategies associated with them. A
strategy was coded as control-oriented when teachers reported that school principals
goals and teachers means to achieve goals were decided unilaterally and teachers
believed they were obligated to comply (p. 74). The strategies utilized by principals
to elicit teacher support and compliance to their goals were normative in nature.
These strategies were seen as effective because the goals often mirrored the teachers
values or there was a benefit to the teacher to comply with the principal. The four
positive influence strategies associated with control orientations were rewards,
formal authority, support, communication of expectations (p. 74). The negative
influence strategies associated with a control orientation were contrived request for
advice, coercion, and authoritarianism (p. 75).
Empowerment-oriented strategies were reported by respondents when the
principal and teachers jointly assumed authority for determining goals and the means
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to achieve them, and/or principals empowered teachers individually or collectively to
do so (Blase & Roberts, 1994, p. 74). The primary strategy within this category was
teacher involvement in decision-making. Authentically asking teachers for advice was
also seen as an empowerment strategy. Blase and Roberts found that within
empowerment oriented strategies, principals tended to involve teachers in decision
making activities within more formal structures and continued to influence the goals,
issues, topics, problems, and actions taken in their schools.
Blase and Roberts (1994) also analyzed the effects of these positive influence
strategies on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral domains of teachers work life.
The primary affective effects of these positive influence strategies included increased
work satisfaction, motivation, self-esteem, and heightened feelings of security and
inclusion. The primary cognitive impacts of principals use of positive influence
strategies included increased awareness and reflection. Awareness was frequently
related to teachers increased awareness of students academic and social needs and to
a lesser extent, to teachers awareness of school-wide issues. Teacher compliance was
the only impact derived from the behavioral data. The linkages between principals
positive influence strategies and teachers compliance were explicitly evident in the
data.
Blase and Blase (1998) expanded upon their previous research, again studying
the interplay between principals and teachers in regard to classroom instruction. In
this study, Blase and Blase researched the positive and negative characteristics of
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school principals and their interactions with teachers. They also analyzed these
interactions to more completely understand their influence on teachers instruction.
Again, using an open-ended questionnaire entitled the Inventory of Strategies
Used by Principals to Influence Classroom Teaching, the researchers obtained data
regarding the characteristics and actions of principals and their effects on teachers
thinking and behaviors associated with teaching (Blase & Blase, 1998, p. 169). The
researchers also obtained data regarding the perceived goals of their principals
associated with the characteristics described by teachers, as well as how effective the
teachers believe the characteristics to be in impacting their thinking or actions in
teaching. Data regarding the feelings associated with the general characteristics of the
principals was also gathered.
Data gathered in this study are broader in nature than in Blase and Roberts
(1994) work. In general, the findings of Blase and Blase, (1998) are related to topics
associated with the role of the principal in matters related to teacher supervision, staff
development, and teacher reflection. In addition, findings are shared in relation to
principal behaviors associated with being visible in the school, praising teachers, and
extending teacher autonomy. The book in which the study is reported closes with a
review of effective instructional leadership practices based on the work of Zepeda,
Wood, and OHair (1996) and practical ideas for principals in creating learning
communities within their schools.
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Scribner, Hager, & Wame (2002) also studied principal-to-teacher interactions
within high school professional learning communities. Their findings indicate the
strength and effectiveness of professional learning communities is based on
teachers and principals perceptions of teachers as learners (p. 56). Moreover,
principals who extend professional autonomy and attend to the individual needs of
teachers are effective in impacting professional learning community activities and
teacher learning. This study points to the paradox of instructional leadership within
professional learning communities, where the individual needs and autonomy of
teachers are balanced with broader organizational goals. The tension between
autonomy and collective good lies within the domain of school-based micropolitics
(Scribner, Hager, & Wame, 2002).
Teacher-to-Teacher Micropolitical Interactions
Blase (1987, 1988a, 1988b, 1989, 1991, 1993), Blase and Roberts (1994), and
Blase and Blase (1998) have conducted most of the micropolitical research from the
point of view of teachers. Most of this research continues to emphasize the political
interactions between teachers and administrators, or teachers and parents, and other
external factors influencing teachers work. Relatively few studies have been
conducted on the micropolitics among teachers (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1987,
1991). The studies related to the interactions among teachers often does not
distinguish between more general forms of interpersonal relationships and those
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interactions that can be viewed as political in nature (Blase, 1987; Lima 2001). Blase
(1987) writes that
interpersonal politics captures special sensitivities (e.g. vulnerabilities)
among teachers that emerge from power relationships with others in
the school. Such sensitivities, it seems, provoke an increased concern
with self-monitoring and the adjustment of behavior in anticipation of
others reactions. More specifically interpersonal politics refers to the
strategic use of power for purposes of both protection (e.g. to defend
against threats to ones status) and influence with others. Verbal and
nonverbal behavior is calculated to minimize threats and maximize the
benefits of influence, (pp. 288-289)
Three research studies from Blase (1987), Blase and Roberts (1994), and
Blase and Blase (1998) influenced my study. A three-year, case study of an urban
high school in the southeastern United States was conducted by Blase (1987) in order
to identify the political interactions among teachers and how they changed over the
time of their careers. Teachers were found to use strategies within their interactions
with their colleagues in order to influence their colleagues as well as to protect
themselves. The teachers were observed using influence strategies in proactive ways
in order to persuade, support, and facilitate other teachers (p. 298). Teachers used
this strategy in hopes that their colleagues would reciprocate these actions. In
contrast, protectionist strategies were reactive in nature and helped teachers avoid
and /or ameliorate the impact of the threatening behavior of colleagues (Blase, 1997,
p. 297). Examples of threatening behavior included teachers being the victim of
criticism, gossip, rejection, and sabotage (p. 297). Both positive and negative
71


political interactions among teachers stemmed from teachers use of both of these
strategies.
Negative political interactions among teachers were associated with a
teachers use of tactics that are viewed as being aggressive and/or manipulative.
Typically, the aim of these tactics was to serve individual and self-centered ends.
Three primary examples of negative interpersonal political actions included
confrontation, passive aggressiveness, and ingratiation (p. 298). These political
actions were perceived by teachers as being aggressive and negatively affecting the
cohesion of the staff and climate of the school. In response to these negative
interactions, teachers often used protectionist strategies. One of the consequences
Blase identifies as a result of negative teacher interactions is staff fragmentation or
dissociative sociocultural patterns within the school (p. 289). These patterns are
characterized as low levels of trust, support, friendliness, and morale, as well as
increased conflict and alienation.
Positive political interactions were associated with the use of diplomatic
strategies and mutually beneficial outcomes (p. 289). Positive interpersonal politics
refers to the interactions among teachers that increase staff cohesion. Individual goals
and ends are still important within positive interactions. However, the teacher puts
forth concerted effort and demonstrates concern in how he or she presents him/herself
to others. This effort and concern manifests itself in behaviors which elicit support
and two-way assistance in hopes of these behaviors being reciprocated by
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colleagues (p. 289). Three themes arose from the diplomatic strategies and actions of
teachers: control of self, friendliness, and support (pp.299-300). The strategies and
actions associated with positive interactions contributed to the development and
establishment of associative sociocultural patterns within the school (p. 289). These
strategies contributed to the development of a collaborative culture, which include
norms of reciprocity, mutual support, and assistance among teachers.
Blases (1987) study is foundational to the study of teacher influence
strategies in matters associated with instruction. He was the first researcher to identify
the political actions and strategies that teachers use with their colleagues. In addition,
the impacts or effects of these actions and strategies were analyzed to understand
their impact on teacher relationships and on the climate of the school.
Conceptual and Analytic Frameworks
Hargreaves (1992, 1994) description of collaborative cultures serves as one
of the conceptual frameworks for this study. Within collaborative school cultures, the
teachers have a working relationship with each other that tends to be spontaneous,
voluntary, development oriented, pervasive across space and time and unpredictable.
Hargreaves (1992, 1994) conception of collaborative cultures provides the context
for the identification of highly collaborative schools and for the teachers to participate
in the study.
In collaborative cultures, the teachers may develop their own initiatives or
projects around which to collaborate. The initiatives or projects can also be externally
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mandated with which the teachers have a strong commitment. The collaborative
working relationships between the teachers arise from the teachers themselves and are
sustained by the teaching community of the school.
In collaborative cultures, teachers collaborative work is voluntary and
spontaneous, not limited or bound to times scheduled for this purpose. The teachers
find joy in working together. The teachers voluntarily interact based on the perceived
value and benefit in doing so. The relationship between the teachers is non-coercive
and non-threatening, allowing teachers to readily learn from one another.
While scheduled meetings and planning sessions may be a part of the
collaborative culture, it does not dominate the arrangements for working together.
Informal meetings and interactions are the norm of collaborative cultures. These
meetings and interactions are not mandated and regulated by the administration of the
school. In collaborative cultures, teachers also have broad discretionary powers over
the product and processes associated with their collaborative efforts. Therefore, the
outcomes are often unpredictable or uncertain.
This form of collaboration is often found the least across a school due to the
pressures and constraints of time and externally mandated reforms (Hargreaves,
1992). Moreover, this form and culture of collaboration often exists along side more
bounded forms of collaboration as described in previous sections of this chapter
(Hargreaves, 1992, 1994). Schools for the most part are best described as having a
combination and variety of forms of collaboration. Rarely does one form of
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collaboration or collegiality permeate an entire school or accurately describe the
relationships between and among teachers (Hargreaves, 1991, 1992, 1994).
Additionally as detailed in this chapter, highly developed forms of teacher
collaboration similar to the ones described by Hargreaves (1992, 1994) and Fielding
(1999) may coexist alongside externally mandated collaboration activities and may or
may not be development-oriented (Little, 1999; Nias, 1995).
Despite all of this, Hargreaves (1992, 1994) culture of collaboration is the
benchmark being sought in the schools studied. The schools studied may have
developed this culture over time or may have a large majority of teachers who
collaborate in this fashion. Since within these cultures, both the individual and the
group is honored and valued, it is this form of collaboration that is sought in order to
view its micropolitical dimensions.
The second conceptual framework utilized in this study is the continuum of
collegial interactions of teachers as described by Little (1990). The continuum of
teacher interactions represents discreet forms of interaction that vary in the degree to
which they require the teachers to be obligated to one another in their work, and
deprivatize their instructional practices. The discreet forms of interaction also placed
on a continuum to describe the characteristics of each related to the level of mutual
independence or interdependence among teachers.
The four forms of teacher interactions described by Little (1990) include,
storytelling and scanning for ideas, aid and assistance, sharing, and joint work. A
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detailed description of each type of interaction is reviewed in previous sections of this
chapter. For the purpose of the conceptual and analytic framework, the importance
interaction moves across a continuum from complete independence to
interdependence (see Figure 4). Each form of teacher-to-teacher interaction changes
in regard to the frequency and intensity of teachers interactions, the prospects for
Figure 4. A provisional continuum of collegial relations (Little, 1990)
Additionally, as each form or type of interaction moves across the continuum,
the level of autonomy of teachers shifts from an emphasis on the individual to a focus
on the collective judgment and preferences of both teachers. With each shift on the
continuum, the inherited traditions of noninterference and equal status are brought
more into tension with the prospect of teacher-to-teacher initiative on matters of
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curriculum and instruction (p.512). Therefore, each form of teacher-to-teacher
interaction or collaboration has varying degrees or levels of autonomy associated with
it. This degree of autonomy will have an impact on the consequences or outcomes of
teacher collaborative interactions, their influence on the teacher, and their impact on
instruction.
Within highly collaborative schools, teachers interactions can serve the
individual and/or the broader organizational or school goals (Hargreaves, 1992, 1994;
Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Little, 1990, 1999; Nias, 1995). Thus, elements of
individualism, collaboration, and collegiality exist within the relations and
interactions between teachers in the most collaborative school. In schools that are
considered to be highly collaborative, teachers navigate a balance for themselves in
relation to collaborating with their colleagues and in protecting their individualism
and autonomy, particularly as it relates to pedagogy (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996;
Hargreaves, 1990, 1994; Nias et al. 1989). This dynamic creates a rich scenario from
which to begin to understand the third conceptual/analytic framework for this study,
the micropolitics of teacher-to-teacher collaboration in the area of instruction
(Achinstein, 2002; Little, 1999; Nias, 1995).
Blases (1991) broad definition of micropolitics, along with his findings
pertaining to the political interactions among teachers (Blaze, 1987), will serve as the
basis of the third conceptual framework for this study. This definition reinforces the
notion that individuals within schools, including highly collaborative ones, act in
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politically significant ways. Political significance refers to the consequence or effect
that actions have on others. Blase (1991) writes
Micropolitics refers to the use of formal and informal power by
individuals and groups to achieve their goals in organizations. In large
part, political actions result from perceived differences between
individuals and groups, coupled with the motivation to use power to
influence and/or protect. Although such actions are consciously
motivated, any action, consciously or unconsciously motivated, may
have political significance in a given situation. Both cooperative and
conflictive actions and processes are part of the realm of micropolitics.
Moreover, macro- and micropolitical factors frequently interact, (p.
11)
This broad definition of micropolitics applied within the context of teacher
collaboration includes teachers use of legitimate and formal forms of power or
informal and illegitimate forms of power (Blase, 1991). Teacher-to-teacher political
actions originate from the perceived similarities and differences between and among
their colleagues (Blase, 1987, 1991). The perceived similarities and differences in
relation to teachers goals, needs, values, beliefs, ideologies, and decisions are the
realm of micropolitics (Blase, 1991). These pursuits and attributes of teachers can
reflect individual and/or shared interests, preferences, or purposes. Additionally, the
political actions of teachers in regard to the above pursuits and attributes can be
motivated by teachers desires to influence others or to protect themselves from
others.
Political actions can be consciously or unconsciously motivated. According to
Blase (1991), consciously motivated actions may be intended, calculated, strategic,
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or purposive, while unconsciously motivated actions may refer to routine action,
nondecision making, negligence, nonaction, habitual actions resulting from
socialization, and actions that prevent others from exercising influence (pp. 11-12).
Political significance refers to the impact that actions have on others. Last, the
consequence or effect of the teacher interactions can be cooperative and conflictive in
nature.
Blase (1987) found teachers political interactions to be strategic in order to
influence their colleagues as well as to protect themselves. The teachers used
influence strategies in proactive ways in order to persuade, support, and facilitate
other teachers (p. 298). Teachers used this strategy in hopes that their colleagues
would reciprocate with similar actions. In contrast, protectionist strategies were
reactive in nature, and helped teachers avoid and /or ameliorate the impact of the
threatening behavior of colleagues (p. 297). Additionally, teachers interactions were
interpreted to be positive or negative in nature, as well as having associative or
dissociative consequences for the climate and culture of the school (p. 298). The
terms associative and dissociative refer specifically to the consequences of
intrafaculty politics and the impact of such politics on the sociocultural context of the
school (p. 298).
Summary
Teacher collaboration has been identified as a strategy to increase student
achievement, to enhance teacher development, and as a means to school improvement
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(Achinstein, 2002; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Scribner et al. 1999). Teacher
collaboration is further seen as a way to pierce the long-standing culture of
individualism, privacy, and autonomy within teaching. As a school improvement
strategy, teacher collaboration is seen as an answer to some of the problems within
the teaching profession, particularly as a means to increasing the professionalism of
teachers and to increasing student achievement (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996).
The cellular structure of schools reinforces teacher isolation (Lortie, 1975). As
evidenced in the socialization of beginning teachers, the teaching profession is
minimally supervised, with teachers left to their own devices to sink or swim in
learning their craft (p. 71). The teacher has to make numerous decisions in order to
meet the range of needs of students within his/her classroom, all out of sight of other
professionals. Teachers fall back on their own personal experiences to inform their
instructional decision making and actions (Lortie, 1975). Thus, the instruction
delivered to students tends to be conservative in nature.
The isolated context of teachers work has contributed to, and reinforced, a
lack of a technical language specific to teaching (Lortie, 1975; Rosenholtz, 1989). As
a result, teachers do not have a preexisting pedagogical knowledge from which to
draw upon and operate within their classrooms. Rather, each teacher must develop
their own knowledge and expertise in isolation from other professionals.
Isolated school settings are characterized as lacking shared educational goals
and a common technical language for teaching (Rosenholtz, 1989). In isolated school
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settings, teachers individually determine the curriculum for students and the
appropriate instructional practices to be used, which contribute to teachers feelings
of instructional uncertainty. Due to the lack of clear goals, teachers feel uncertain
about their instructional effectiveness and, in turn, are less apt to ask for assistance or
provide assistance to other teachers. A norm of self-reliance develops within these
schools, which reinforces teacher isolation and privacy within the classroom.
Despite the structural and cultural barriers to teacher collaboration in schools,
there are schools that have become collaborative in nature (Fullan & Hargreaves,
1996; Little, 1990; Louis & Kruse, 1995). In collaborative schools teachers talk about
teaching in a variety of settings, creating a shared technical language (Little, 1990).
Teachers observe one another and provide each other with feedback about
instructional practices. In addition they teach one another, recognizing the power of
the collective group in learning to teach.
Some of the most common forms of teacher collaboration found in schools
include storytelling and scanning, aid and assistance, and sharing (Little, 1990).
These activities are considered to be weak forms of teacher collaboration, yet are the
most common forms found in schools. Joint work, where teachers work together in a
variety of ways toward common instructional outcomes or student achievement goals,
is the most profound form of teacher collaboration (Little, 1990). According to Little
(1990), this form of teacher collaboration is the strongest, but yet least often found in
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schools. Littles study reinforces what Zahorik (1987) found, that teacher
collaboration often stops at the classroom door (p. 391).
Rosenholtz (1989) describes learning-enriched school settings that are highly
collaborative. In learning-enriched schools, teachers exchange information about
instructional practices, materials and ideas, and participate in problem solving and
planning activities with their colleagues in matters related to instruction. Again,
however, collaboration ends at the point of teachers individually discerning the
application of shared ideas and materials within their own classrooms. This study,
along with the others mentioned, point toward how in the most collaborative schools,
teacher collaboration and teacher individualism and privacy exist side by side.
Despite all the research on teacher collaboration, the term remains
amorphous (Little, 1990, p. 509). Teacher collaboration is defined in terms of the
activities among teachers, the norms that guide teacher behavior and is used to
describe the overall culture of a school. Hargreaves (1999) and Fielding (1999)
distinguish collegial relations among teachers to describe the work of teachers
characterized as being spontaneous and voluntary in nature which are controlled by
the teachers themselves. They distinguish this form of collegial work as compared to
collaborative activities where the activities are more administratively controlled, less
spontaneous, and more transactional and implementation-oriented in nature. This
distinction in what constitutes collaboration is essential in understanding the different
interpersonal and micropolitical dynamics among teachers.
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Most of the research studies on teacher collaboration and isolation are framed
within the structural and cultural contexts. The micropolitical perspective provides
fresh insights into the dynamics behind teacher relations, particularly as it relates to
teacher collaboration (Achinstein, 2002; Blase, 1991; Hargreaves, 1990, 1991). The
micropolitical analysis of teacher collaboration focuses on how individuals and
groups use power and influence to achieve their goals. Understanding teachers
openness and willingness to collaboration, as well as how they protect their
individualism and autonomy, will shed new insights into the study of collaboration
within schools. It also allows us to understand the hegemonic relationship teachers
have with one another within the school setting.
A small number of micropolitical studies within schools have been published
(Blase, 1991). Most of the studies reflect an emphasis on administrator-teacher
political relationships at the school level in regard to curriculum change and to
maintaining power and control (Blase, 1991). For the most part, these studies focus
on the overt political processes within schools, as well as the conflictive and
adversarial aspects of politics. The processes associated with cooperation and
collaboration also needs to be studied and analyzed (Blase, 1991).
Blase (1987, 1991) has conducted micropolitical research mostly from the
viewpoint of teachers, and mostly in relation to teacher-administrator interactions. He
conducted one study identifying the political interactions among teachers (Blase,
1987). Blase (1987) identified the influence and protection strategies teachers use
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with one another. He describes these influence strategies in both positive and negative
terms, highlighting teachers responses to them.
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CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
The research methodology and the procedures followed in carrying out this
study are described in this chapter. Included in this chapter is a restatement of the
problem and research questions. An overview of the methodology, methods, and
research design is reviewed as well as a description of how schools and participants
were selected. Additionally, an outline of the conceptual/analytic framework is
presented. The unit of analysis is explained along with the research instrument and
validation processes. A description of the data collection and coding process is
reviewed, as well as an explanation of the data analysis process. Finally, an overview
of the processes used is presented to ensure trustworthiness of the research and a
summary of the chapter.
Restatement of Problem and Research Questions
This study investigates the ways and to what ends teachers influence their
colleagues instruction within collaborative schools. The study allows us to
understand the nature of these interactions as well as the strategies teachers employ to
influence anothers instruction. The study addresses the impacts of these interactions
and influence strategies as well. Lastly, the study seeks to identify the characteristics
of these interactions and influence strategies that teachers perceive as effective and
ineffective.
85