It's all about the kids: school culture, identity, and figured worlds Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Bower, Heather Ann
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • This study examines aspects of school culture by way of teachers' identities. The research utilizes quantitative and qualitative inquiry in an attempt to capture both a static snapshot of the culture and a thicker description of that snapshot by examining one low-performing, urban elementary school's implementation of academic optimism as a type of cultural reform. Utilizing the theory of figured worlds, an analysis of three worlds--the Accountability Culture, the District Culture, and the School Culture as Teacher Identity--forms the basis for exploring teachers' individual and collective identities. Resistance, manifested in various ways, emerges as a mechanism through which teachers manage the three figured worlds. Three exemplar identities, the Believer, the Hopeful, and the Opposer, are utilized to explore the implications of school culture, especially as it relates to teacher identity, on school reform. Despite their different approaches to resisting reform, all three exemplar identities share a common justification for their actions: meeting student needs, a key element in academic optimism. This action defines the teachers' identities and therefore shapes the culture. A key finding of the study describes the integral relationship between school culture and teacher identity; any efforts to reform the school culture must intimately involve teachers. Their values, beliefs, and voices are essential for the fidelity and optimal success of implemented reform. Although prepackaged cultural reform models may be an inviting and convenient way for schools to approach change, they cannot be successful if the proposed aims and philosophy do not align with teachers' collective identities.
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  • In Copyright
  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education (Culture, Curriculum, and Change).
  • Parsons, Eileen
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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