Title page for ETD etd-090499-125154

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Ward, Randall A.
Author's Email Address raward@vt.edu
URN etd-090499-125154
Title THE BRAID OF TEACHING: Exploring the weave of elementary school contexts in an Appalachian school district
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nespor, Jan K. Committee Chair
Garrison, James W. Committee Member
Lalik, Rosary V. Committee Member
Moore, Sandra Committee Member
Niles, Jerome A. Committee Member
  • elementary
  • education
  • Appalachian
  • contexts
Date of Defense 1999-08-20
Availability unrestricted



This dissertation examines how elementary school teachers in a small rural district set between two state universities talked about the contextual elements that interacted with their teaching roles. The school district served a predominantly European American population, socio-economic ranging from middle-class to working class and some families living in poverty.

Fieldnotes collected during a year of teaching third grade in a small rural school, artifacts in the form of paper material collected in schools (e.g. memos, newsletters, handouts, etc.) as well as news articles, and interviews with twenty six participants, provided the data for this study. The interviews, mostly with elementary school teachers, were the focus of the research.

Findings make problematic the way most research conducted on elementary schools makes sense of school environments. Teachers described how processes within and external to their school environments entwined in a constantly changing manner. This inquiry raises questions about the impact of innovative programs, technology, the commodification of teachers’ time and space and the hierarchical distribution of power in schools on teachers’ work. It also reveals a lack of fit between the organization of schools and how they function. Finally, it shows problems with inquiry done by researchers positioned between public schools and research settings.

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