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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Antonio Serna

First Committee Member

Alan Jones

Second Committee Member

Thomas Nelson


To maintain a sense of identity and self-confidence, humans rely on cognitive structures that allow individuals to identify similarities between prior experiences and new ones brought about by change. Educators are subjected to work environments that are in a state of constant change brought about by continuous series of new educational policies that teachers are tasked to implement within their classrooms. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine how five elementary school teachers experienced and responded to educational policy changes that influenced their instructional practices. This study also investigated the role and influence school sub-cultures had on elementary school teacher's experiences of and responses to educational policy change, and the role school sub-cultures played in teacher-initiated change during periods of policy change. Data were collected through focus groups, interviews, and journal response by teacher-participants. This study was framed by two concepts: communities of practice , by which individuals, who share common concerns or passions, interact with others routinely to learn from one another in a way that improves his or her particular practice, and organizational culture which views organizations as structures that consist of multiple smaller groups or cultures. Following the phenomenological data analysis process described by Creswell and Patten, the primary themes that emerged from the experiences of the five teachers in this study were: 1) Perceived student academic needs , 2) The influence of the principal , 3) Curriculum changes and professional communities , 4) Professional development , 5) Grade level team influences , 6) Teacher identity , and 7) Teacher emotion . Findings of this study provide a deeper understanding of: teacher decision-making as they try to understand and integrate new policies into their instructional practices, the importance of how school principals lead and support teachers during periods of policy change, the inconsistency of professional support provided by their school district, and how changes in professional networks brought about by policy changes create conflict between teachers identities and altered educational environments. The findings of this study provide researchers insights for future research how teacher identities and communities of practice influence teacher responses to educational policy changes.





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