Morale during mandatory curriculum change



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Abstract This study examined teacher morale during mandatory curriculum change. The study was a response to the districts perceptions about implementation of a recent curricular innovation known as CSCOPE. The implementation began in the year 2011 with teachers being asked to peruse the CSCOPE website and use what would be beneficial to their lesson plans. In 2012 all core subject area teachers (math, science, English, and social studies) were mandated to use CSCOPE as their official curriculum. The district also implemented a new online lesson planning tool to facilitate data acquisition faster, giving them more availability to the data. During the same time frame the district, as an additional requirement, implemented mandated professional learning community meetings for all subject area teams. A case study design was used to research the perceptions of the teachers who were forced to use the CSCOPE curriculum and eduphoria! SchoolObjects™ the district mandated data collection system. Two public high schools were targeted for collection of data in this case study The participants were chosen from a pool of teachers given to the researcher by the high school administrators. Their participation was solicited by email invitations. Data gathered for the study were teacher interviews, document analysis, and observations during shared conference/cohort team meetings. Findings from the data found three major themes followed by subthemes. The three themes are: perceptions the participants had about communication, teacher perceptions regarding professional development during implementation and teacher perceptions about school milieu. The subthemes for communication were a) mandatory curriculum change, b) teacher buy-in and c) collegiality; the subtheme for professional development was creation of professional learning communities. Finally, the third theme concerning milieu was followed by three subthemes a) administrative mandates, b) school administrative turn-over and c) administrative indecision.. Participants felt communication was indeed a problem and that quite often they were confused by what they were supposed to be doing. They felt they did not have adequate time to prepare for changes implemented in 2011. Another concern was related to staff morale and buy-in, the teachers felt disrespected by the administration’s decisions to buy curriculum software and implement mandatory professional development without consulting them. These decisions made the participants feel that their expertise had not been utilized, as the district sought expertise outside the district. Professional development and the lack of training was also a concern for the teachers. They felt they had not been trained properly to deliver the curriculum nor had they been given sufficient training to manage the new eduphoria! SchoolObjects™ implemented. The findings indicate the participants questioned the administration’s decision making or lack thereof. Participants did not perceive the lack of decision making as a campus leadership problem, due to the high turnover rate in principals and vice-principals at the school level, but rather the problem was attributed to decisions from the district’s assistant superintendent and the superintendent. The professional learning communities along with combined conference period meetings became the single, most positive aspect of mandatory protocol change. These gatherings became a safe haven for the participants to discuss, deliberate, and negotiate the intricacies of the various issues brought about in the mandatory protocol change.



Morale, Professional learning communities, Communication, Curriculum change