Theses Doctoral

The Role of Collegial Interactions in the Experiences of First-Year Teachers: A Spatial Perspective

Smagler, Jessica Beth

The first year of teaching has profound implications for career length, job satisfaction, and teacher effectiveness. Establishing relationships with multiple colleagues has been found to help new teachers improve their practice and create a sense of identity within their schools and within the profession. Lack of physical proximity among teachers, however, has been shown to inhibit the formation of these professional relationships. Despite these findings, research involving a close examination of how socio-physical arrangement of space can foster or hinder a sense of professional community is sparse, particularly with relation to new teachers. Hence, the purpose of this study was to better understand how first-year teachers’ interactions with their colleagues influenced the novices’ establishment within their school communities, their conceptions of teaching, their sense of place and identities as teachers, and the learning that occurs over the course of the first year.

Using interviews and observations as primary sources of data, and supplementingthese with several other sources such as video tours, interaction logs, and relational maps, this study examined the interactions of three first-year teachers (in the same middle school) with their colleagues, while paying specific attention to the role of the spatial structures of the school in shaping these interactions. Ultimately, this study found that the arrangements of school structures, including space, time, and task, as well as the interrelatedness of these structures, influenced the frequency and nature of the novices’ interactions with their colleagues, thus playing a crucial role in their learning, identities, and conceptions of teaching as a collaborative versus independent endeavor. This dissertation concludes with implications for practice and research aimed at arranging these structures so as to make the first years of teaching more constructive and more satisfying for novice educators.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Roosevelt, Dirck
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 1, 2021