Narrative Inquiry: Leading the Implementation of a Self-Organized School-Wide Trauma Informed Approach

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Melim, Deni
trauma informed education , developmental trauma , school-wide trauma informed approach , rehabilitation , implementation , adaptive leadership
Developmental trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) before the age of 18 has cumulative effects on health and development across a lifespan. ACEs can have a negative impact on a child’s success in school with a likelihood of impairments and negative health and developmental consequences. Given that schools are places where children and youth spend a significant amount of time, it is important to explore the ways in which trauma informed supports can be offered to children and families. This dissertation explores the leadership style most aligned with the implementation processes of a self-organized school-wide trauma informed approach (SWTIA). Principals and vice-principals (P/VPs) are key figures in leading professional teams in change efforts yet their role in the implementation of a self-organized SWTIA has not been studied. My dissertation presents the first Canadian research that identifies, explores, and describes how five P/VPs led the implementation of a self-organized SWTIA. I used narrative inquiry as both methodology and method. I conducted semi-structured interviews and invited arts-based responses to communicate further meaning of experiences. Findings suggested that adaptive leadership behaviours align with implementation of a self- organized SWTIA to support change to practice at individual and organization levels. Furthermore, findings indicated a need for an implementation framework to address internal and external barriers and facilitators to implementation and to guide the complex process of individual and organizational change. The practice-oriented implications of this dissertation pertain to education leaders’ understanding and use of an implementation framework and adaptive leadership practices when implementing a self-organized SWTIA. Implications for research include exploring adaptive leadership within other self-organized SWTIA, the use of additional change mechanisms such as storytelling as a leadership tool during implementation, and the use of implementation frameworks that are applicable in ways that support the health and well-being of children and youth who have experienced developmental trauma and are at risk for impairment.
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