Term of Award

Summer 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Stephen Jenkins

Committee Member 2

Linda Arthur

Abstract

Teacher leadership is an integral part of school improvement and an essential component of distributed leadership. The purpose of the study was to understand teacher leadership in a rural school district by analyzing teachers' behaviors mapped to the dimensions of Snell and Swanson's framework of teacher leadership: empowerment; expertise; reflection; and collaboration. The study sought to discover if there was a difference in teachers' participation in teacher leadership in the three school levels of elementary, middle and high school. The study also examined demographic characteristics such as years of experience, educational degrees, and training in teacher preparation programs and their relationship to teacher leadership. Finally, the study examined the concept of courage as a component of teacher leadership. This study focused on a rural school district in Southeast Georgia. The researcher used a quantitative design for the descriptive study of teacher leadership. The researcher-developed instrument was the Teacher Leadership Participation Survey (TLPS) that utilized specific tasks and activities that directly related to the four dimensions of teacher leadership. The survey also included demographic questions that pertained to years of experience in education, highest degree obtained, and training in teacher leadership in teacher preparation programs. 2 The researcher found that teachers in small rural school districts are participating in teacher leadership, but elementary and middle school teachers were more likely to participate in teacher leadership and on a more consistent basis than high school teachers. The study also concluded that training in teacher leadership in teacher preparation programs had a significant impact on participation in teacher leadership. Finally, the component of courage was examined and found to be very consistent with the four dimensions of teacher leadership in relation to frequency of participation. Recommendations for further research included differences between elementary, middle, and high school, importance of teacher preparation programs and continuing education programs, and the importance of courage in the construct of teacher leadership. The concept of teacher leadership is relatively new and continues to evolve, but examination of the practices of teacher leadership may provide vast insight into successful initiatives within the school improvement process.

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