Sustaining School Improvement

David F. Bower


Complexity theory offers new concepts such as self-organization and emergence that may assist schools to find more holistic ways to sustain reform and improvement. The article summarizes a qualitative phenomenological study that examined the experiences of the staff of one middle school in order to better understand the phenomena of self-organization and its role in sustaining school improvement. Self-organization and renewal sustain reform and improvement indirectly and are also related to emergence. Leadership supports and sustains the dynamics of self-organization, renewal, and improvement in individual and collective ways. This study suggests that processes of self-organization can help schools to sustain reform and improvement by internalizing purpose and focus.

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