Teacher: Professionalism in Saskatchewan's Community Schools
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of community schools on teachers' sense of professionalism. The central question was, ''what factors best explain teachers' sense of professionalism while working in community schools?" Community schools in Saskatchewan focus on health and behavioral outcomes as well as improving academic achievement for Aboriginal, Metis and at risk children. In community schools, considerable numbers of students are considered at-risk for academic failure because of behavioural disorders, difficulty getting to school on time, poor attendance and living with families who frequently move. Thus, community schools have a "community" orientation, including after school programs for students, evening programs for parents and the inclusion of medical, dental and social service personnel. Community schools employ a full-time community coordinator and typically have as many para-professional people on staff as there are certified teachers. Community schools are very busy places and teachers working in them frequently face additional demands that go well beyond the expectations of teachers working in non-community schools. The researcher's hypothesis was that teachers working in community schools, over time, faced the likelihood of having their sense of professionalism eroded. Theoretically, this thesis utilized scholarship drawn from (a) building organizational capacity in professional learning communities; (b) building personal capacity in communities of practice; and (c) developing interpersonal capacity through knowledge management practices. Ultimately 124 teachers, working in ten. rural community schools and two urban ones completed the survey and, of these, twelve were also interviewed. Methodologically, this research relied on statistical analysis to understand teacher professionalism. Factor analysis, generated three factors which were labeled School Climate, Teachers' Work Environment and Knowledge-based Environment. In promoting organizational capacity, school leadership emerged as the principle factor. Results of the survey questions in the first factor-School Climate-indicated that teachers working in community schools needed a principal and school leadership that made them feel supported, rewarded and valued. Furthermore, teachers working in community schools who had opportunities to network in professional association with each other and share information were three times as likely to rate their school as a professional workplace. The survey items comprising the second factor-Teachers' Work Environment-were related to personal capacity. It became apparent that when teachers had their teaching skills and talents recognized by school administrators, they rated their school highly as an enjoyable workplace and felt better able to commit themselves to their professional occupation. Personal capacity was enhanced when teachers felt effective, valued and had opportunities to become continuous learners through personal and intellectual growth. The third factor-Knowledge-based Environment-was related to building interpersonal capacity. The opportunity to locate, exchange and connect with like minded people, in an environment with adequate resources, led teachers to feel positively about their career and their opportunities to "invest" in professional growth. Stepwise regression determined four predictor variables which best accounted for the criterion or dependent variable-teacherproJessionalism. These four predictor variables were labelled valued, effective, commitment and newways. In essence, teachers in this study who felt their knowledge base was valued, their teaching strategies were effective and who were able to experiment with innovative ways of teaching perceived a stronger sense of self-commitment to the teaching profession. The degree to which teachers experienced these items varied considerably from school to school. A school's leadership appeared to be the principle influence in whether or not the school was able to work towards becoming a school-based learning community.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)