Background/Context: Conducted in the fourth-largest urban center in the United States, this research depicts how different reform initiatives were introduced to one middle school context over the decade from 1999 to 2009.
Purposes/Objectives/Research Question/Focus of Study: The study focuses on teachers’ experiences of three reform endeavors and how tensions in teacher knowledge and community developed as a consequence of each. The study’s overall purpose is to contribute the often-overlooked teacher perspective to the curriculum, teaching, and school reform literatures.
Setting: The setting for the research is a middle school located in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States. The campus’s social narrative history parallels the city’s development. The school currently serves some of America’s richest and poorest youth.
Population/Participants/Subjects: Nineteen educators, including several main teacher participants as well as some supporting teacher and administrator participants, contributed anonymously to the narrative account.
Research Design: Narrative inquiry is the research method used to excavate a story serial that emerged during the longitudinal research study. Four interpretive devices—broadening, burrowing, storying and restorying, and fictionalization—aided in the comparison and contrast of three eruptions in teacher community that occurred as a result of the different reform emphases. Presented in story serial form, these eruptions suggest a rhythm to school reform. The article ends with a discussion of the value of narrative inquiry in studying phenomena at the interstices of teacher knowledge, teacher community, school milieu, and organized school reform. Connections between fine- and coarse-grained inquiries are made, and the notion of stories traveling from one school site to another is also probed. Finally, the idea of a perennial educational problem being made public and visible through an innovative research approach is taken up, along with some suggestions concerning how school reform could more productively be lived.