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Negotiating interdesciplinary teaming in a middle-level school context

by Mecca, Cecelia L.

Abstract (Summary)
Interdisciplinary teaming refers to a team of teachers from various disciplines teaching the same core group of students. While a body of research exists to support teaming, especially in a middle-level context, teams themselves are rarely afforded the time to reflect on their practice and inclusion on a team. One of the components of teaming includes interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction which implies an integration of subjects affording students the opportunity to make connections in their learning. As a team teacher for six years, I decided to explore my own team of six teachers in order to gain a better understanding of how one team functions. I divided the subjects of the study into two groups: Team A refers to the team I studied for the first two years, and Team B refers to teachers, three of whom are new, in the last six months of the study. The questions I attempt to answer after nearly three years of research including conducting interviews, observing and taking fieldnotes and collecting artifacts are: 1. How do team teachers understand interdisciplinary teaming in a middle level context? 2. What are the patterns or characteristics of an interdisciplinary team? 3. How do teams define success and negotiate the culture of teaming? 4. How can a team be more effective? An ethnographic case study, my research understands teams as cultures which were intentionally created as micro-societies within schools. With unique traditions, procedures and vocabulary, teams can only be measured against themselves with teaming research used as a guideline only. iv Team effectiveness should be considered by unique, shared goals teams set for themselves. Three clusters of categories essential to effective teams emerged from the research I conducted with my team of five to six teachers, Team 8 Orange. These include team management, team personnel and team objectives which together contribute to team effectiveness. The four aspects of team management are team leadership, time, and administrative support. The second cluster, team personnel includes the following qualities: commitment to teaming, personality, communication skills and trustworthiness. The third and final cluster, team objectives, consists of three aspects: shared goals, interdisciplinary curriculum, and focus on students. (See Table 1) After a description of Team 8 Orange as it relates to each component of effective teaming taken from the fieldwork, I conclude Team A, the team I worked with for the first half of my study, could have been more effective while Team B, my current team, must remain committed to improvement in order to avoid the fate of Team A. Finally, the study concludes with an analysis of the components as they relate to Team A and B as well as a look at the future of teaming. v
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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