School staff social dynamics, school-based transitions and school redesign

This blog post is part of the School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: A longitudinal study of educational success and well-being study. To learn more about the larger study, visit our projects

What are the impacts of school redesign on school staff social dynamics?

Construction underway at the redesign school.

From 2011 to 2012, we held focus groups and interviews with students (ages 4 to 13) and school staff (teachers and administrators).

The redesign of a school in a low-socioeconomic neighbourhood in Toronto resulted in students and staff being moved to two other neighbourhood schools (feeder schools) while the school under construction (see timeline). School staff shared their thoughts on the changing social dynamics amongst staff and students during this transitional period.

This timeline indicates the years when children were initially relocated to other schools and then later brought back to the new redesigned school following completion.

Prior to transitioning to the feeder schools, some redesign school staff said that they felt rushed, explaining that they only had a short time to pack materials and move into the new school. Once in the feeder schools, redesign school staff said they found it challenging to adjust to new rules and routines in the feeder schools.

School staff highlighted that they had strong connections with their co-workers prior to moving, and some staff felt a division between the redesign school and the feeder school groups. However, other teachers felt that they had merged with the school staff quite well, and said that it was much easier for the teachers to get along than it was for students.

Many school staff noted that strong leadership was particularly important during this period of transition. School administrators can influence school climate and help model relationship building with new students and families.

School staff also wanted more opportunities for staff members to meet prior to the transitional period to establish a more cohesive teaching team and additional prep time to prepare for the move. Professional development focused on transitions that bring school staff together prior to school redesigns may provide an opportunity for teaching staff to build connections between schools and build educators’ capacity to support students during transitional periods.

Click here to read more about student and school staff perspectives on social dynamics during school redesign.

See also: Patel, S., & Cummins, N. (2019). Student and staff social dynamics and transitions during school redesign. Improving Schools, 22(2), 158-172. doi: 10.1177/1365480219832415

To read more about the School Redesign and Neighbourhood Redevelopment: A longitudinal study of education success and well-being study, click here.

To learn more about social dynamics and transitions during school redesign, read our manuscript here.

Document citation: Patel, S. (2016). School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: Knowledge mobilization summary report. Toronto, ON: School of Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University.