Making Sense: A Case Study of Teacher Sensemaking About Chicago Public Schools' Instructional Development Systems
By: Kathleen Therese Hayes
Published: 5/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/06/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Historical Dissertations, 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive
Tags: Curricular reform, institutional theory, Instructional reform, Policy Implementation, Teacher sensemaking

Description/Abstract: The last two decades of accountability reforms have required many teachers to change their practice to meet new external demands and definitions of quality and success. Yet the mere presence of a reform that requires teachers to change their practice does not guarantee that teachers will enact more ambitious instruction, nor do designers of these reforms often consider that the teacher is the "final policy broker." Only the most recent literature on implementation of curricular and instructional reforms delves into the role of the teacher in reform implementation. This qualitative case study extends this work by examining a key process that influences reform failure or success -- teacher sensemaking about reforms -- and the relationship between their sensemaking and reform implementation. Specifically, this case study analyzed the sensemaking of eight English teachers in Chicago's public high schools as they encountered a district-wide curricular and instructional reform, the influence of that sensemaking on the teachers' implementation of the reform, and how that sensemaking compared with the reform designers' goals.
This study helps meet the need for more locally focused examinations of teacher sensemaking processes about curricular and instructional reforms, thereby adding to the growing body of research about the sensemaking of teachers as they encounter these reforms. Additionally, this study raises questions about conflicting notions between policymakers and teachers and among teachers about the role of public school educators; how those often-disparate notions shape school and district contexts and influence teacher practice; and ultimately, how the intersection of those contexts and ideas about the role of teachers ultimately influences reform implementation at the teacher level.