The efficacy of the shared design of building, program, and curriculum on teacher collaboration in a wall-less school environment for indigenous students in a 21st century setting

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Kaai, Elsa Marjorie Puanan
thesis / dissertation description
A macro-reflection focused on the efficacy of the shared design of the learning spaces, program, and curriculum and the impact that has upon teacher collaboration in a middle school for indigenous Hawaiian students. The methodology included teacher questionnaires, focus groups of teachers, teacher leaders, and high functioning collaborative teams, and instructional rounds. The contextual framework was focused on research on communities of practice, and illustrated the collaboration of teachers in a Hawaiian cultural and 21st century context and how collaboration can be the impetus for educational and social change both now and into the future. The research process and findings informed our work in an innovative wall-less learning environment designed by our teachers, and supported the continuation of the building of a dynamic school culture including a shared vision and the triangulation of Hawaiian culture and language, 21st century learning, and middle school promising practice as professional habit in our middle school. The purpose of this research project was to confirm that the wall-less design we created together has caused collaboration amongst the teachers and has met our learner needs. Additionally, the research led to recommendations for building this kind of learning environment for our campus and other schools beyond Kamehameha. The major findings of this research were: 1) if teachers are deliberately involved with building design charettes, they are more likely to have their ideas heard and incorporated; 2) in a wall-less teaching and learning environment, flexibility of space, planning, grouping, and instructional delivery are essential and valuable to teams; 3) that collaborative teams had high levels of trust, and had the hard copy guiding documents of their teams in place for all teachers on their team; 4) that integrating high functioning teams with other teams builds the level of collaboration for all teams; 5) that the instructional rounds revealed that the assimilation of Hawaiian culture and language was not as far-reaching as presumed; and 6) that there was a strong presence of collaboration and teacher leadership in the building, and that the instructional rounds methodology can enhance the sharing of best practices amongst the teams.