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Examining Practices in the Initiation of a Teacher Preparation Networked Improvement Community


The prominence of networked improvement communities as an approach to educational improvement has grown since its conception by Anthony Bryk and colleagues in 2010. Although NICs have shown promise for addressing complex problems of practice in education, I argue that understanding their enactment enables those leading and studying NICs to gain insight into how these networks can be implemented in ways that are effective, equitable, and just. This three-study dissertation examines how a networked improvement community in teacher preparation was initiated, focusing on practices that network members engaged in as part of this process. To study how the process of network initiation was enacted, I employed an inductive, qualitative approach to see what practices teacher educators and improvement facilitators engaged. Data sources for this study were primarily qualitative, and included meeting recordings, meeting artifacts, one-on-one interviews with teacher educators, and memos generated by the facilitators. The first study examines how teacher educators engaged a central tension between centering multilingualism and centering language acquisition as the network decided on the focus of its improvement efforts. I found teacher educators engaged in a set of practices that resulted in a network aim that centered multilingualism and peripheralized language acquisition. The second study examines the practices that improvement facilitators engaged in as they led the network in the process of constructing a shared theory of improvement. This study examined how power and positionality were produced through facilitation practices. I found that facilitators’ engagement in particular practices shaped how teacher educators participated; additionally, facilitators were positioned in particular ways to engage in those kinds of power-producing practices. The third study examines the process through which teacher educators and facilitators engaged in to construct a shared measurement tool designed to guide the network’s improvement activities. Findings included a set of practices both teacher educators and facilitators engaged in that drove the design process. Together, these three studies highlight a range of practices that facilitators and teacher educators engaged in that constituted the work of launching an improvement network. These studies also highlight the importance of attending to how improvement work comes to be enacted, enabling those leading improvement efforts to improve their practices for doing improvement.

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