Title page for ETD etd-110599-154931

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hill, Lynn Thomas
URN etd-110599-154931
Title TeacherWork: A Journey to Recast the Reggio Emilia Approach for a Middle School Within the Context of Power, Politics, and Personalities
Degree PhD
Department Human Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Fu, Victoria R. Committee Chair
Bickley, Steve Committee Member
Marshall-Baker, Anna Committee Member
Niles, Jerome A. Committee Member
Stremmel, Andrew J. Committee Member
  • Politics
  • School Reform
  • Middle School
  • Personalities
  • Power
  • Bottom-up School Reform
  • Reggio Emilia
Date of Defense 1999-10-13
Availability unrestricted
TeacherWork: An Attempt to Recast the Reggio Emilia Approach

TeacherWork: A Journey to Recast the Reggio Emilia Approach

for a Middle School within the Context of Power, Politics, and Personalities


Lynn Thomas Hill


Victoria R. Fu, Chairperson

College of Human Resources and Education



The purpose of this study was to focus on a teacher-led school reform

initiative. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach for Early Childhood Education and committed to constructivist teaching and learning, a group of Middle School teachers embarked on a journey to plan a new way of thinking and being in a Middle School. This ethnographic study utilized observations, interviews, participant action research, and a variety of field texts to capture the story of these remarkable teachers.

This case study chronicles the life and work of thirteen teachers, three administrators and two university faculty members as they struggled to make sense of the planning process that was necessary to launch a reform effort. Particular attention was focused on the power, politics, and personalities that both harmonized and conflicted with the work of these reformers.

Analysis revealed a passionate desire on the part of the reformers to change the face of schooling and education for children and for themselves. Conflicting forces in opposition to their best efforts included the lack of adequate time to devote to such a cause, institutional and cultural rituals in the school, and a changing political climate in the town in which the reform was initiated.

Despite the barriers, this group has been able to achieve a solid sense of community and has been able to stand together as an articulate, knowledgeable, savvy group of educators on behalf of improved education for children. Strengthening their power base through collaboration with the administrators at their school has escalated their effort to the implementation stage. Sharing vision and responsibility, their dream is coming true. Based on lessons learned in the journey with the teachers a model for exploration of process of innovation in context is proposed.

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