Protocol-structured Discussions to Improve Teaching and Interdisciplinary Learning: A School's Journey to School Reform

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Virginia Tech


School divisions and principals are tasked with meeting state standards and federal annual measurable objectives (AMOs), as well as with closing the achievement gaps that exist in schools. To accomplish this mission, organizational learning, specifically the use of protocol-structured discussions, has become a fundamental component of school reform processes. Protocols to examine professional practice, engage in data-driven decision-making (DDDM), and look at student work have gained more notoriety as school reform strategies in K-12 education.

The purpose of this single-case embedded common qualitative case study was to examine and describe how Uprising Elementary School (UES), in the mid-Atlantic part of the United States, made changes during the school reform process that benefited students from 2012 to 2015. Qualitative data were collected through interviews, focus groups, observations, document reviews, and reflexive notes. I used NVivo 11 Pro to store the data transcripts by creating specific nodes and the constant comparative analysis method to determine themes in the data collected. During triangulation, the multiple sources of data of data kept the qualitative data reliable and accurate. The six findings included: (a) organization of the staff into organizational learning structures created a uniform system of continuous improvement, (b) leadership was a key element influencing the overall success of UES, (c) protocols can be organized into a professional learning model to promote organizational learning, (d) the professional learning model had a profound impact on organizational learning and teacher leadership, (e) the implementation of protocols had a positive effect on school culture, and (f) the strategic implementation of protocol-structured discussions as a school reform strategy transformed learning.



Collaborative Learning Teams, Organizational Learning, Protocols, School Reform