Key Questions

1. How is school improvement related to the ways in which staff interact with each other, and their relationships with families and the broader school community?


Teaching and learning are social enterprises which are embedded within school and community contexts. Despite this, school reform efforts often narrowly focus on instruction, curriculum, and pedagogy, on the assumption that strength in these areas will lead to school improvement, not recognizing that teachers’ ability to deliver strong instruction is dependent to a great extent on the school context in which they work, as well as the resources and challenges of the families they serve and the larger community. Drawing on research from Chicago, this chapter examines the role of community context, teacher collaboration, and family involvement in school improvement, as well as the critical role inclusive school leadership plays in building teachers’ capacity. 

"How the Organization of Schools and Local Communities Shape Educational Improvement" is chapter 7 of Teaching in Context: The Social Side of Education Reform, edited by Esther Quintero.  The full book is available from Harvard Education Press.

About the Book

Teaching in Context provides new evidence from a range of leading scholars showing that teachers become more effective when they work in organizations that support them in comprehensive and coordinated ways. The studies featured in the book suggest an alternative approach to enhancing teacher quality: creating conditions and school structures that facilitate the transmission and sharing of knowledge among teachers, allowing teachers to work together effectively, and capitalizing on what we know about how educators learn and improve.

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