The Elephant in the Schoolhouse: The Role of Propinquity in School Staff Interactions about Teaching

James P Spillane*, Matthew Shirrell, Tracy M. Sweet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the physical arrangement of workspaces can both constrain and enable interactions among organizational members, sociological research in education has not extensively examined the role of physical proximity in determining work-related social ties among school staff. Using social network analysis, this article explores the relationship between physical proximity and instructional advice seeking among school staff in all 14 elementary schools in one U.S. school district over four years. Results show that school staff whose workspaces are located closer to one another, and whose paths likely cross more frequently in their day-to-day work within the school building, are more likely to talk with one another about their work. Findings argue for more careful consideration when assigning school staff to workspaces, as the physical proximity of school staff appears to play a significant role in who talks to whom about instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-171
Number of pages23
JournalSociology of Education
Volume90
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Keywords

  • advice
  • networks
  • proximity
  • space
  • teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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