Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




early adolescence, teacher advisory groups, executive functioning skills, relationships, school transition


This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) explores the needs of early adolescents transitioning into a high school context. As they enter their new school (referred to as PJSHS) for their Grade 8 year, students exhibit challenging behaviours, lack engagement in class work, and have difficulty meeting teacher expectations. Through a theoretical construct related to attachment theory and stage–environment fit theory, two significant student needs are identified: first, for relationships with teachers and peers, and second, for classroom environments and pedagogy to be a right-fit for students’ developmental executive functioning capacities. Teachers at PJSHS are predominantly subject specialists who lack the knowledge, understanding, and skills to meet young adolescents’ needs for relationships and right-fit. Through an exploration of transformational, distributed, and instructional leadership approaches and analysis of the school organization, this OIP explores possible solutions that ethically address students’ needs by shifting the long-standing school culture where senior high school structures and practices are applied to students of all ages. The proposed solution discusses the establishment of teacher advisory groups as means to meet the relationship and right-fit needs of Grade 8 transition students. The solution also holds promise of shifting the prevailing high school culture to one that is more equitable and ethical for all students. Appreciative inquiry is the model for change implementation and aligns with the social-constructivist construct and mission of empowerment evident at PJSHS. Through the collaborative work of teachers, the culture at PJSHS can shift through co-construction of the desired future state to meet students’ needs.

Keywords: adolescents, relationships, executive functioning skills, transformational leadership, appreciative inquiry, social-constructivist