Collective Commitments within Cycles of Iterative Improvement

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Davin Carr-Chellman


Champion Academy teachers in this mixed methods action research case study illuminate the conditions which support or hinder the process of making collective commitments with cycles for iterative improvement. The results of the study demonstrate how closely connected process is to outcome in the work of school improvement. Since the work of school revitalization hinges on change at the classroom level, it is paramount that teachers find the processes utilized favorable in order to increase the likelihood that they will want to engage and follow through. Cycles for iterative improvement are embedded in an intricate school ecosystem spanning multiple domains, from goal setting to instructional leadership, and therefore fidelity to enacting collective commitments rests on many factors. To understand the health of the professional learning community where teachers interface with cycles for iterative improvement, the Professional Learning Community Assessment-Revised was employed. Semi-structured interviews were then utilized to gain a more complete picture of the community prior to asking interview questions about cycles for iterative improvement and the process of making collective commitments. Teachers shared that working toward a shared goal, collegial, supportive relationships, and incremental capacity building are essential to the success of cycles for iterative improvement. Teachers unanimously reported that they are more likely to change practice, using new knowledge and skills in their classrooms, when their voice is included and valued in the process. According to Champion Academy teachers, choice and bounded autonomy is fundamental to the process but insufficient. During interviews, teachers repeatedly encouraged leaders to consider how to make cycles for iterative improvement more participatory in the future.The result of this study is an action plan which purposefully integrates teacher voice at the outset of the improvement process and embeds opportunities for teacher involvement throughout each stage of cycles for iterative improvement. This research provides an opportunity to close the knowing-doing gap, where evidence-based practices are known but underutilized, in classrooms in schools across the country. The research suggests that cycles for iterative improvement, when coupled with the expertise of local educators in a learning community, have the potential to serve as a vehicle for transforming classroom practice.


school improvement, cycles for iterative improvement, collective commitments, reciprocal accountability, bounded autonomy, professional learning community, teacher voice

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