The principal's role in building teacher leadership capacity in high-performing elementary schools

The principal's role in building teacher leadership capacity in high-performing elementary schools

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The principal's role in building teacher leadership capacity in high-performing elementary schools a qualitative case study
Jones, Rahim Jamal
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[Tampa, Fla.]
University of South Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Shared governance
Professional learning communities
Action research
Teacher retention
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership -- Doctoral -- USF ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to explore how public elementary school principals develop teacher leadership capacity within their schools, as well as the effect of this effort on a school's performance. After examining a variety of sources, such as journal articles and web-based search engines, the researcher determined that there was scant information explaining the process principals undergo to create teacher leadership roles in an effort to develop a high-performing school. To accomplish the goals of this study, salient reports in the field of teacher leadership were reviewed. The insights afforded from these reports guided the researcher in developing a field-based investigation focusing on school leaders and teachers employed in three high-performing elementary schools in central Florida.The researcher explored features of teacher leadership that were evident in high-performing schools and sought to discover the characteristics principals seek in selecting new teachers. Also investigated were the teacher leadership opportunities created by the principals and the ways in which these roles helped to sustain the elementary schools' high performance. Furthermore, recent school-based decisions made by the school leaders were studied. Throughout the data, school administrators provided opportunities for teacher leadership within their schools, primarily by forming school-based committees. The results showed that principals solicited opinions from teachers, especially when it came to curriculum and instructional concerns. In addition, when sharing best practices or participating in staff-development opportunities with colleagues, teachers felt satisfied with their work environments.School leaders and teachers understood the roles they played in the overall success of their schools. Based on the results of this qualitative study, principals can build leadership capacity at schools by first establishing a culture of trust, honesty, and professionalism between themselves and the teachers. Next, school leaders provide and support opportunities for leadership by aligning teacher strengths and roles. The researcher recommends that future research in teacher leadership examine whether the principal's impact on teacher leadership has an affect on retention at the school level.
Dissertation (Ed.D.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Document formatted into pages; contains 138 pages.
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Includes vita.
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by Rahim Jamal Jones.

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The principal's role in building teacher leadership capacity in high-performing elementary schools :
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h [electronic resource] /
by Rahim Jamal Jones.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to explore how public elementary school principals develop teacher leadership capacity within their schools, as well as the effect of this effort on a school's performance. After examining a variety of sources, such as journal articles and web-based search engines, the researcher determined that there was scant information explaining the process principals undergo to create teacher leadership roles in an effort to develop a high-performing school. To accomplish the goals of this study, salient reports in the field of teacher leadership were reviewed. The insights afforded from these reports guided the researcher in developing a field-based investigation focusing on school leaders and teachers employed in three high-performing elementary schools in central Florida.The researcher explored features of teacher leadership that were evident in high-performing schools and sought to discover the characteristics principals seek in selecting new teachers. Also investigated were the teacher leadership opportunities created by the principals and the ways in which these roles helped to sustain the elementary schools' high performance. Furthermore, recent school-based decisions made by the school leaders were studied. Throughout the data, school administrators provided opportunities for teacher leadership within their schools, primarily by forming school-based committees. The results showed that principals solicited opinions from teachers, especially when it came to curriculum and instructional concerns. In addition, when sharing best practices or participating in staff-development opportunities with colleagues, teachers felt satisfied with their work environments.School leaders and teachers understood the roles they played in the overall success of their schools. Based on the results of this qualitative study, principals can build leadership capacity at schools by first establishing a culture of trust, honesty, and professionalism between themselves and the teachers. Next, school leaders provide and support opportunities for leadership by aligning teacher strengths and roles. The researcher recommends that future research in teacher leadership examine whether the principal's impact on teacher leadership has an affect on retention at the school level.
Dissertation (Ed.D.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 138 pages.
Includes vita.
Advisor: Carol A. Mullen, Ph.D.
Shared governance.
Professional learning communities.
Action research.
Teacher retention.
0 690
Dissertations, Academic
x Educational Leadership
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.


The Principals Role in Building Teacher Leadership Capacity in High-Performing Elementary Schools: A Qualitative Case Study by Rahim Jamal Jones A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Ca rol A. Mullen, Ph.D. Roger N. Brindley, Ph.D. Patricia L. Daniel, Ph.D. Steven Permuth, Ed.D. Date of Approval: July 10, 2007 Keywords: shared governance, professiona l learning communities action research, teacher retention, accountability Copyright 2007, Rahim Jamal Jones


Dedication I wish to dedicate this dissertation to two significant people in my life: my mother, who taught me that education is the ke y to life and to always believe in myself, and Dr. Richard O Sullivan, who inspired me to become a principal and encouraged me to pursue my doctorate. Their guidance and su pport from heaven have been invaluable during the writing of this dissertation.


Acknowledgments I would like acknowledge severa l individuals. On a personal note, I want to thank Tim, my family, and friends for their enc ouragement and support throughout this journey. I would also like to thank the members of my dissertat ion committee for their ongoing assistance and belief in me throughout this experience: Drs. Carol Mullen, Roger Brindley, Patricia Daniel, and Steven Perm uth. Next, I would like to thank Dr. Mullens Writers in Training (WITS) doctoral cohort in educational leadership that provided support over the years by reading my manus cript drafts and performing inter-rater reliability on my data sets. In addition, I wish to thank the school leaders and teachers that took part in this study and the Florida school district for its support. The principals, administrative teams, and teachers were helpful, insightful, and supportive of this research study. In closing, I wish to express my sincerest appreciati on to Dr. Mullen, my major professor, for her continuous guidance and motivation over the long haul of a 7year period. Her positive outlook and her dedication to her students at the University of South Florida have been life changing.


Table of Contents List of Tables................................................................................................................. ...iv Abstract....................................................................................................................... .......v Chapter One.......................................................................................................................1 Introduction............................................................................................................2 Background on Teacher Leadership......................................................................2 Accountability........................................................................................................5 Purpose and Rationale of the Research..................................................................7 Research Questions................................................................................................9 Rationale of the Researcher...................................................................................9 Significance of this Research................................................................................11 Limitations of the Study........................................................................................11 Definitions of Si gnificant Terminology................................................................12 Chapter Two......................................................................................................................14 Review of the Literature.......................................................................................14 Organization of Literature Review.......................................................................14 Changing Views of School Leadership.................................................................14 Changing the Perception of School Leadership....................................................16 Principals and Teachers as Leaders......................................................................17 Shared Governance...............................................................................................18 Advocates and Critics of Shared Governance......................................................19 Discussion of Teacher Leadership........................................................................22 The Principals Role.............................................................................................23 Teacher Leadership Roles and Opportunities.......................................................26 Professional Learning Communities.....................................................................28 Teachers as Action Researchers............................................................................32 Developing Teachers as Leaders..........................................................................33 Benefits and Costs of Teacher Leadership............................................................35 Summary of Literature Review.............................................................................38 Reflections on the Literature.................................................................................39 Chapter Three....................................................................................................................40 Qualitative Methodology and Research Design...................................................40 Case Study Research Design................................................................................40 Study Participants.................................................................................................42 Background on Research Sites .............................................................................44 i


Data Collection Techniques..................................................................................45 Surveys of Administrators and Teachers..................................................47 Interviews with Administrators and Teachers..........................................48 Focus Groups............................................................................................49 Data Collection, Management, and Analysis........................................................50 Data Collection and Management.........................................................................50 Data Analysis........................................................................................................53 Pilot Study.............................................................................................................53 Background on Pilot Study Site............................................................................54 Methodology for Case Study................................................................................54 Trustworthiness and Authentication.....................................................................55 User Generalizability............................................................................................57 Summary...............................................................................................................57 Chapter Four.....................................................................................................................59 Results...................................................................................................................59 Summary of Methodology....................................................................................60 Case Study Research Design................................................................................60 Study Participants.................................................................................................60 Data-Collection Procedures..................................................................................61 Data-Analysis Procedures.....................................................................................62 Resulting Data.......................................................................................................65 Survey Questions for Administrative Team Members.............................65 Survey Questions for Teachers.................................................................68 Questions for the Administrative Team Member Interview.....................72 Questions for the Teacher Interview.........................................................77 Discussion Prompts for Focus Groups: Administrative Team Members.80 Discussion Prompts for Focus Groups: Teachers.....................................82 Summary...............................................................................................................84 Chapter Five......................................................................................................................87 Conclusions and Recommendations.....................................................................87 Introduction...........................................................................................................87 Conclusion............................................................................................................88 The Principals Role.................................................................................89 School-Based Leadership Opportunities...................................................90 Professional Learning Communities.........................................................91 Implications for Future Research..........................................................................93 Examining the Principals Role................................................................94 Teacher and Principal Retention...............................................................95 Implications for Practitioners................................................................................96 Implications for Scholars......................................................................................98 Summary...............................................................................................................99 Researchers Final Thoughts................................................................................100 References........................................................................................................................103 ii


Appendices.......................................................................................................................122 Appendix A: Survey Questions fo r Administrative Team Members...................123 Appendix B: Survey Questions for Teachers.......................................................126 Appendix C: Questions for the Administrative Team Member Interview..........129 Appendix D: Questions for the Teacher Interview..............................................130 Appendix E: Discussion Prompts for Focus Groups: Administrative Team Members..............................................................................................................131 Appendix F: Discussion Prompt s for Focus Groups: Teachers...........................132 Appendix G: Transcript of Teach er Interview 2 from School B.........................133 Appendix H: Transcript of Teach er Focus Group 3 from School D....................135 About the Author...................................................................................................End Page iii


List of Tables Table 1 Variables Used in Selecting El ementary Schools as Research Sites..............45 Table 2 Meta-Matrix of Research Questions and Sources...........................................63 iv


The Principals Role in Building Teacher Leadership Capacity in High-Performing Elementary Schools: A Qualitative Case Study Rahim Jamal Jones ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to explore how public elementary school principals develop teacher leadership capac ity within their schools, as well as the effect of this effort on a schools performance. After examin ing a variety of sources, such as journal articles and web-based search engines, the researcher determined that there was scant information explaining the process principals undergo to create teacher leadership roles in an effort to develop a high-performing school. To accomplish the goals of this study, salient reports in the field of teacher leadership were reviewed. The insights afforded from these reports guided the researcher in developing a field-based investigati on focusing on school leaders and teachers employed in three high-performing elemen tary schools in central Florida. The researcher explored features of teach er leadership that were evident in highperforming schools and sought to discover the char acteristics principals seek in selecting new teachers. Also investigated were the t eacher leadership opportunities created by the principals and the ways in which these role s helped to sustain the elementary schools v


high performance. Furthermore, recent school-based decisions made by the school leaders were studied. Throughout the data, school administra tors provided opportunities for teacher leadership within their schools, primarily by forming school-based committees. The results showed that principals solicited opi nions from teachers, especially when it came to curriculum and instructional concerns. In addition, when shari ng best practices or participating in staff-development opportunitie s with colleagues, teachers felt satisfied with their work environments. School lead ers and teachers understood the roles they played in the overall success of their schools. Based on the results of this qualitative study, principals can build leadership capacity at schools by first establishing a cultu re of trust, honest y, and professionalism between themselves and the teachers. Ne xt, school leaders provide and support opportunities for leadership by aligning teacher strengths and roles. The researcher recommends that future research in teacher leadership examine whether the principals impact on teacher leadership has an affect on retention at the school level. vi


Chapter One Introduction School reform reports written during th e past three decades offered various interpretations of how to improve schools. Barth (1999) conducted an exhaustive analysis of more than 250 major school reform studies and discovered that the most prevalent recommendation to improve our nations schools was that teachers should take on and share more of the leadership of thei r schools (Hicks, 2006; Holloway, 2000). School leaders must learn how to build leadership ca pacity for all involved in education in order to effectively restructure our schools (Ackerman & Mackenzie, 2006; Barkley, Bottoms, Clark, & Feagin, 2004; Berry, Johnson, & Montgomery, 2005; Lambert, 2005). Teachers as leaders and their roles within schools have become the focus of much research on how to improve schools (B oyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Elmore, 2003; Gabriel, 2005; Jerald, 20 03; Nielsen, 2001; Peel & Wa lker, 1994; Zmuda, Kuklis, & Kline, 2004). The Carnegie Forum on Edu cation and the Economy (1986) presented a major school reform report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, which supported the idea of using classroom teachers as change agents, citing them as the center of educational reform efforts and studen t learning and achievement Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Mullen, Stover, & Corley, 2001) In addition, this report emphasized the importance of creating new roles for teach ers that acknowledge the centrality of classroom teaching and extend teachers decision-making power to school-wide leadership activities (Barkley, et al., 2004; Reeves, 2004; Troen & Boles, 1993). 1


Furthermore, the report made recomme ndations for school leaders to create a new profession of well-educated teachers and identi fied some key responsibilities for teachers to provide leadership in restructuring the nations schools (Hicks, 2006; Jerald, 2003). Examples of these responsibilities include d teachers acting as curriculum developers, research coordinators, mentors, lead teach ers, and school improvement teams (Ackerman & Mackenzie, 2006; Berry, Johnson, & M ontgomery, 2005; Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Clandinin & Connelly, 1992; Elmore, 2003; Gabriel, 2005; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Mullen, et al ., 2001; Nielsen, 2001; Troen & Boles, 1993). Gayle Moller, executive director of the South Florida Cent er for Educational Lead ership, proposed that more teacher leaders are essential in meeti ng the enhanced expectations of teachers and students (Moller as cited in Richardson, 1997). She also cautioned that, without teacher support, any reforms would be short lived (Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Lambert, 2005; Moller as cited in Richardson, 1997). If schools ar e going to improve, administrators and teachers must focus their efforts on student achievement learning, and accountability (Reeves, 2006). Background on Teacher Leadership No major social institution has been more subject to pressure for change than the public school system (Sarason, 1996). Educational reform initiatives have been conceived throughout history; they are pr oposed when reformers believe that society is facing a crisis that necessitates a legitimate change in school policies or practices (Simpson & Jackson, 1997). Danitz (2000) stated that po liticians and governmen t officials, many of whom have a limited background and/or experi ence in education, have created some of these initiatives, and before they make cri tical decisions and create new policies in 2


education, they should consult those who know student learning and achievement best: practicing, experien ced educators. One educational reform initiative was A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). The National Commission on Excellence in Education suggested that schools were eroding and needed to improve academic achievement It declared that our society and its educational institutions seemed to have lost sight of the basic pur poses of schooling and the high expectations and disciplined effort s needed to attain them. Tyack and Cuban (1997) suggested, For the first time in the hi story of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not e qual, will not even approach, those of their parents (p. 7). The concerns presented in A Nation at Risk resulted in greater challenges and better opportunities for all people involved in educati on, but it was especially so for those who directly managed teaching and learning in classrooms around the nation (Marzano, Walters, & McNulty, 2005; Mu llen, et al., 2001; Nielsen, 2001). Some teacher leadership roles have been characterized as representative, meaning a selected individual represents an entire gr ade level or department in order to share important information or insight from th eir group with the administration. These teachers leadership roles have included team leaders, department chairs, and curriculum developers, but they have had little or no impact on the school as a whole (Livingston, 1992). Recently and increasingly, teachers have begun taking on new leadership roles, including developing operati onal policies and procedures, selecting materials and instructional practices, allocat ing school resources, determining student standards and 3


assessments, and assigning students to cla sses (Livingston, 1992; Nielsen, 2001). Other leadership roles have invol ved organizing schedules, pl anning and conducting staff development, mentoring other professionals, establishing student discipline and grading practices, and selecting and evaluating staff (Barth, 1999; Gabriel, 2005; Gehrke, 1991; Smylie, 1997). These emerging leadership roles have offered teachers opportunities to develop their leadership skill s by allowing them to make decisions that improve the organization as a whole (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Marzano, Walters, & McNulty, 2005; Mullen, et al., 2001; Zmuda, et al., 2004). By using teacher leaders as agents of organizational change, the reform of the pub lic school system will stand a better chance of building momentum and improving educat ion (Barkley, et al ., 2004; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001, Reeves, 2006). The National Association of Elementary School Principals (as cited in Ferrandino, 2002) published an article, What Principals Should Know and Be Able To Do and Strategies for Achieving Them, that listed six standards for principals: 1. Lead schools in a way that places student and adult learning at the center. 2. Set high expectations for the perf ormance of all students and adults. 3. Demand content and instruction that en sure student achievement of agreedupon academic standards. 4. Create a culture of continuous learning for adults tied to student learning and other school goals. 5. Use multiple sources of data as dia gnostic tools to assess, identify, and apply instructional improvement. 6. Actively engage the community to crea te shared responsib ility for student 4


and school success. The first standard calls on principals to put student and adult learning at the center of their leadership and to se rve as the lead learnerthis is also known as instructional leadership (DuFour, 2002; Ferrandino, 2002). The concept of instructional leaders began to emerge out of research gathered fr om effective schools (Weber, 1989). Research consistently showed principals who were di rectly responsible for improving instruction, learning, and accountability (Blas & Blas, 2000; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996; Lezotte, 1997; Pollock, 2007; Reeves, 2004, 2006; Sergiovanni, 2000). Howard (2003), a former middle school principal and a ssistant high school principal, defined the duties of an instructional leader : (a) provide opportunities for teacher s to use the best instructional practices for their students, (b) engage in the curriculum, (c) know the curriculum, (d) know instructional strategies, and (e) move beyond the mana gement of the building to become engaged in the academic life of the school. Accountability The pressures of accountability in education come from a variety of sources. The general public, state governments and federal go vernments have always had an interest in accountability in public education. An overwhelm ing percentage of adults, often 90% or higher (Public Agenda, 2000), support accounta bility, recognizing the appropriateness of holding public educators responsible for teachi ng essential material instead of permitting them to use public classrooms as forums fo r their personal agendas (Hess, 2003; Johnson, 2003; Public Agenda, 2000). For many educators in Florida, the word accountability evokes mixed feelings and thoughts. In 1998, Governor Jeb Bush unveiled the Florida Comprehensive 5


Assessment Test (FCAT) in an effort to improve the teaching and learning of higher educational standards for public and char ter schools (Florida Department of Education, 2004). Every year in March, st udents in Grades 3 through 10 across the state of Florida take various assessments to measure their compre hension in reading, writing, mathematics, and science. The stak es are high if students fail to perform according to a set of criteria; students who score a Level 1 (lowest level, failure) face mandatory retention and high school students are unable to graduate with a standard diploma. According to Florida statutes, if schools fail, the principal is the only person held accountable (Online Sunshine, 2007). Although the federal government mandates schools to be accountable for what students are and are not achievi ng, state and individual school districts are charged with maintaining and improving achievement. On January 8, 2002, President George Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), one of the most comprehensive acts pertaining to education. With the enactment of NCLB, the federal government made performance-based education accountability of public schools a federal mandate. NCLB was designed to emphasize four principles: stronger accoun tability for results, more freedom for states and communities, support fo r research-based educational methods, and more choices for parents (Elmore, 2003). NCLB has had a profound effect on sc hools (Cawelti, 2006). Although there is a national shortage of individuals entering the teaching profession, teachers who are deemed highly qualified or fully certifie d (those who have co mpleted all of the certification requirements in or der to receive a professional teaching certificate in the state of Florida) were required in all classrooms by the 2005 school year. Under the 6


new law, standardized testing for reading, mathematics, writing, and science must be administered every year in Grades 3 th rough 8. Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports have been created for all K schools at the e nd of each school year to determine if state academic standards are being met. Based on the results of the AYP, parents have the option of transferring their children to a school that is making adequate progress if their current school is failing. With all of th e demands being placed on schools because of NCLB, school administrators, teachers, a nd parents must work even more closely together to ensure that no child is left behind. With the increasing demands of accountability from parents, the federal government, and the public, school principals can no longer be the sole instructional leaders in the school (Bolman & Deal, 2002; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Lambert, 2003). In order to meet daily challenges, pr incipals must create a school culture and student-centered accountability system that s upports new roles and responsibilities for their teachers that were previously reserv ed solely for themselves (Conley & Muncey, 1999; Elmore, 2003; Jerald, 2003; Re eves, 2004; Zmuda, et al., 2004). Purpose and Rationale of the Research Research in the field of teacher leader ship has primarily focused on two premises that help bring an understanding of the role s and importance of teacher leaders within schools: 1. Teachers need to provide leadership in various roles in order to restructure schools (Ackerman & Mackenzie, 2006; Ba rkley, et al., 2004; Berry, Johnson, & Montgomery, 2005; Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Clandinin & Connelly, 1992; Gabriel, 2005; Lambert, 2005; Mullen, et al., 2001; Nielsen, 2001; Smylie, 1997; Troen 7


& Boles, 1993; Zmunda, et al., 2004). 2. The principal is critical in implemen ting a shared decision-making process and empowering teachers with an increasing role in leadership (Blas & Blas, 2000; Marzano, Walters, & McNulty, 2005; Mulle n & Sullivan, 2002; Reeves, 2006; Richardson, 1997; Smylie, 1997; Weiss, 1993; Zmuda, et al., 2004). After reviewing journal articles, books, e ducational websites (such as the National Association for Elementary and Secondary Scho ol Principals); contacting the associate executive director of the National Associa tion for Elementary School Principals; and conducting queries on such web-based search engines as Google and Yahoo, inadequate attention appears to have been given to the principals interactive role in enhancing teachers as leaders as a means of crea ting a high-performing school. Research has examined the following aspects: (a) principals comments attributing all of their accomplishments to teacher leadership and shared governance (Glatthorn, 1993), (b) principals building cultures that support teacher leadership (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001), and (c) steps taken by principals to facilitate teacher leadership (Lambert, 2003; Rallis & Goldring, 2000). However, the research tends to omit further explanation of the process the principals went through to create these leadership roles and develop a highperforming school. Although the res earch indicated that enhanci ng teacher leadership is a complicated process, the researcher believes that the role of the principal needs to be examined more closely. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of teacher leadership in three elementary schools and its effect on each sc hools performance. This research will provide information about the principals role in building teacher-leadership capacity in 8


order to create a high-performing school. Schools with similar characteristics, such as racial demographics, free and reduced lunch ra tes, and school grades were examined. The goals of this study are to identi fy the processes by which the principal participants started to create and develop teacher leaders with in their schools and obs erving the principals selection of teachers for va rious leadership roles. Research Questions Understanding how principals create a nd sustain high-performing schools is of great interest to educators. This primary i nquiry question was asked: What features of teacher leadership are evident in high-per forming schools? This question served as a prompt for the following secondary inquiry questions: 1. What are the behaviors of elementary school principals in building leadership capacity in high-performing schools? 2. What are the perceptions of elementary school teachers relate d to principals in building leadership capacity in high-performing schools? Rationale of the Researcher Factors in my background, such as being a public elementary school principal for 2 years, former classroom teacher for 5 years and assistant principal for 3 years, all in various schools in Florida, a ssisted in the development and completion of this study. As a teacher, I wanted to have a voice by sharing ideas and suggestions with administration and to feel like a contributing member to sc hool improvement as a w hole. This was often difficult because the administration exhibited an authoritarian leadership style. My frustration led to my becoming a school administrator with the belief that I could effectively lead a school organization with a different leadership style. 9


During my 1st week as an assistant prin cipal in 2002, I learned from the principal that my primary function within the school was to help move the school from a grade of C to an A or B. I knew that this was going to be a long and difficult process because it would involve change, not just from the admini stration but also from the teachers. I also knew this was going to require a collaborativ e effort on everyones part within the school. I found myself facing several key challenges: 1. How was I going to help bring about this change? 2. How was I going to identif y the teachers that could be seen as leaders? 3. How could I empower my teachers to ta ke on roles and responsibilities outside the classroom? My goal as an administrator is to cr eate a school climate and culture where teachers and administrators work collaborativ ely to meet the needs of both teachers and students. It is my hope to cr eate an atmosphere where teac hers are part of a community and can share their ideas with other colleagues and administrators to better the school as a whole. My objective is to crea te opportunities that invite te achers to take on various leadership roles so that they become involved in the decisions that affect all aspects of the school. Barth (1999) summarized my belief about teacher leadership: Teachers become more active learners in an environment wher e they are leaders. When teachers lead, principals extend their own capacity; stude nts live in a democratic community of learners, and schools benefit from better de cision-making (p. 17). My experiences as a classroom teacher feeling unimportant in decision making, as well as my desire as a school administrator to develop a capacity-bui lding leadership style, makes me an ideal 10


individual to conduct this study. Significance of this Research This study is significant in that the literatu re base in the area it addresses is sparse. Although teacher leadership is ad equately addressed in the liter ature, the principals role in creating and interacting with teachers is seldom examined. This research provided principals with conditions for building teacher leadership capacities within their schools. Examples of these conditions highlight the pr ocesses the principal undertakes in order to initiate and create leadership roles for teac hers who wish to be more involved. It draws attention to what leadership roles are effective and ineffec tive within the schools studied and more generally based on the literature. Since all schools are different, some of the conditions offered may not be relevant to every site. It is assumed that readers of this study who are principals or on leadership te ams will therefore have to determine which leadership roles would be st apply to their school. Limitations of the Study There are thousands of elementary sc hools in Florida and throughout the United States. However, the in-depth portion of th is case study used a small sample population of three elementary schools in central Florida. As such, the results cannot be generalized. Stake (1995) noted that case studies seem a poor basis for generalization; however, patterns and themes of the prin cipals role in crea ting teacher leaders were identified and relative to the actual sc hool sites and the literature. Further limitations in this study include the following: 1. By acknowledging that the researcher has personal biases, a conscious effort was made not to let any bias affect the outcomes of my research. In an effort to minimize 11


bias, the researcher used multiple sources of data, also known as triangulation, to corroborate the research. The researcher lim ited the results to the schools selected. 2. Some teachers may have felt inclined to share informati on or participate because they believed or assumed that the re searcher would share this information with their principal or assistant principal. The rese archer attempted, in written or verbal form, to inform the participating teachers that all information given in the surveys, focus groups, and interviews is anonymous. In additi on, all identifying information was masked with fictitious names for schools and individuals. 3. In an effort to limit the num ber of variables in this study only public elementary schools with the following statistics were selected: 2005 school accountability grade of A, comparable racial demographic makeup of the school, and similar percentage of students on free or reduced lunch. One limitation, my role as an assistant pr incipal, principal, and researcher, could be classified as a strength. Being a former classroom teacher and assistant principal and currently a principal conducting this research in the district in which I am employed, I acquired a firsthand understanding of school dist rict politics, distri ct expectations and requirements for teachers and administrators, district growth, and demographics. This background knowledge assisted me in this research. Definitions of Significant Terminology For the purpose of clarifying language used in this study, a list of definitions is provided: Teacher leadership Leadership that enables practic ing teachers to reform their work and provide a means for altering the hi erarchical nature of schools (Katzenmeyer & 12


Moller, 2001; Lambert, 1998; Smylie, 1997; Troen & Boles, 1993) Shared governance. School administrators, teach ers, parents, and students deciding, sharing, and reflecting as a team (Glickman, 1998; Schlechty, 2001; Sergiovanni, 1999; Smylie, Brownlee-Conyers, & Crowson, 1991, 1992; Weiss, 1993) Transformational leadership Leadership that focuses on individual concerns, stresses human nature, and aligns individua l and organizational goals (Bass & Avolio, 2001; Karlenzig, 1997; Sergiovanni, 1999. Zmunda, Kuklis, & Kline, 2004) 13


Chapter Two Review of the Literature Organization of Literature Review This literature review examined the res earch in the area of teachers as leaders. The first section discussed the changing view s of leadership and followed by a section on shared governance. The following section review ed current teacher leadership roles and opportunities in schools, and the chapter conclu des with a descripti on of how local and national institutions created e ducational programs and works hops based on the principles of, as well as benefits and costs of, teachers as leaders. It is important to note that Smylie (1997), a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has also completed a comprehensive literature revi ew of teacher leadership, wh ich was highlighted in this review. Changing Views of School Leadership Leadership suggests many possible meanings. Evans (1996) claimed, Despite thousands of empirical studies yielding hundreds of definitions of leadership, there is still no consensus about it (p. 116). Furthermore, Hodgkinson (1991) proclaimed that there are more than a hundred definitions of leadership. For some individuals, the word brings to mind a specific person or group who hold pos itions of power or authority (Karlenzig, 1997). Others describe personal characteristics, such as charisma or personal magnetism, or accomplishments they have come to associate with leaders (Maxwell, 1999; Mitchell & Tucker, 1992). 14


Leadership has been viewed in several different ways thr oughout history. For example, Taylors (1996) scientific manageme nt (or hierarchical) system was evident in our educational system. Principals were se en as building managers supervising school operations and teachers as workers, similar to a business (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Lunenberg & Ornstein, 2003). Lunenberg and Orns tein (2003) stated that the main focus was the needs of the organization, not the needs of the individua l. Additionally, the assumption of school leadership was that if th e principal directed the work of teachers, held high expectations, and aligned the curriculum, teachers would then work cooperatively and the school would be effective (Patterson, 2001). Another example of leadership is Elton Mayos Human Relations Theory (as cited in Lunenberg & Ornstein, 2003), which stated that people are motivated by social and psychological needs, as well as economic incentives. Mayos research found that production of work improved due to such human social factors as morale and self-esteem. Today, leadership has emerged as a set of functions rather than as a formal role (Lieberman, 1997)it is viewed as an influence process that occurs naturally within a social system and is shared among its members (Yukl, 2001). In the early 1980s, principals were be ginning to be seen as instructional leaders (Smith & Andrews, 1989). The functi ons of an instructional leader included defining the school mission, promoting a pos itive learning environment, observing and giving feedback to teachers, managing curriculum and instruction, and assessing the instructional program (DuFour, 2002; Mullen = Hutinger, in press; Lashway, 2002; Schmoker, 2007; Smith & Andrews, 1989; Weber, 1989). 15


Changing the Perception of School Leadership School leadership has generally been define d in terms of power and authority; it is often viewed as resting in the hands of cer tain individuals who are driven because of personality characteristics (including qualitie s such as charisma or personal magnetism) and organized as a top-down structure (Karlenzig, 1997; Terry, 1995). Some traditional hierarchical or management m odels of organizations have relied heavily on the premise that the world is divided between leaders (pri ncipals) and followers (teachers). Generally, teachers have had little or no voice in such workplace issues as curriculum material, the types of tests used to evaluate instruction, the scheduling of classes, and th e allocation of instructional resources (Reitzug, 1991). Blas (1990) examined polit ics in the educational se tting and found that their constituents did not revere a majority of sc hool administrators as respected, caring, or popular people. Instead, they were seen as manipulators using re source distribution, administrative assignments, appointments, and advancement opportunities as rewards. Blas found that a majority of administrators also used control tact ics associated with materials, resources, work factors within a nd outside the classroom and opportunities to gain teacher input. Some school administra tors had created ps eudo-opportunities for teacher participation, leadership, and decision making (such as creating a budget committee but already knowing how the money was going to be spent). Blas discovered that, frequently, some principals employed the subordinate statute, emphasizing the authority differences; some principals claimed, Im the boss; you are here to do a certain job (p. 740). The teachers surveyed in Blass study indicated that the tactics employed by 16


their principal substantially affected their morale. Furthermore, teacher involvement in school-wide activities significan tly decreased. Teachers low self-esteem was attributed to the fact that the principal made them f eel as if their thoughts and opinions were not valid or important. As a result, teachers felt anger, depression, and anxiety, which hindered their input and leadership. Principals and Teachers as Leaders According to Bolman and Deal (2002), school leaders need to understand that there are two basic realities about school leadership. First, leadership is a three-way relationship among leaders, constituents, and concepts Although individu al leaders can make a difference, constituents are very powerful forces that often favor the norm. Second, leadership is not a top-down influence for those in high positions. It is a process of reciprocal influence centered on questions of purpose, values, and strategies. School principals can no longe r be expected to deal with the challenges of education alone. Teacher input is needed in all aspects of the schools operation if reforms are going to be long lived (Car negie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001). Today, the shift in leadership acknowledges that the effective principal works cooperatively w ith teachers and students to enhance teacher and student learning (Bolman & Deal, 2002; Lambert, 2003; Schmoker, 2007). One concept that has emerged from educational reform is transformational leadership. Transformational leadership re fers to a process of change in which participants define or redefine their vi sion and goals, question accepted practices, and seek alternatives to the status quo (Bass & Avolio, 2001; Karlenzig, 1997; Sergiovanni, 1999). Transformational leader ship may contribute to a rethinking of 17


how schools are understood and structured. Scho ols are expected to reflect the values, beliefs, and expectations of their commun ity and model how teacher organizations will change to carry out their overall mandate (Bass & Avolio, 2001; Sergiovanni, 1999). Such expectations encour age teachers to define their roles and responsibilities, develop specific policies, and implem ent these policies through programs and services (Karlenzig, 1997; Lieberman, 1997). Leadership is not a quality that automati cally comes with an office or person; rather, it is derived from the context a nd ideas of individuals who influence one another. Equally so, principals and teacher s may at times be leaders and, at other times, followers. Blas and Blas (2000) stat ed, Leadership is an act bound in space and time. It is an act that enables others a nd allows them, in turn, to become enablers (p. 14). Shared Governance Although many ideas have been shared in the name of educational reform, the center of educational reform is the issu e of school governance. In fact, a central component of school improvement is shar ed governance (Glickman, 1998; Holloway, 2000; Schlechty, 2001; Sergiovanni, 1999; Smylie, 1997; Weiss, 1993). Shared governance (also known as participative de cision making, shared decision making, and school-based management) is decision making at the local school level by a leadership team made up of administrato rs and teachers (and sometimes parents and other interested stakeholders) whose goal is to improve inst ruction and school climate (Apodaca-Tucker, Slate, & Brinson, 2001; Schmoker, 2007). Th e two most common rationales behind shared governance are as follows: 18


1. Persons closest to students are best equipped to make decisions about the improvement of instructional programs (M ullen, Stover, & Corley, 2001; Terry, 1995). 2. Ownership in a decision enhances the qua lity of that decision and the likelihood of a successful outcome (Apodaca-Tucker, et al., 2001; Fullan, 2001; Mullen, et al., 2001). Teachers should be considered part of the solution to educational problems, not the source (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Nielsen, 2001). They know how to best meet the needs of their students. After all, teachers are the ones most closely working with the students. The role of the principal has come to be seen as critical in implementing the shared decision-making process and providing teachers with an increasingly important role in building leadership (Blas & Blas 2000; Mullen & Sullivan, 2002; Weiss, 1993). By providing leadership roles for teachers principals can share this knowledge to improve teacher and student learning and the school community. Principals must use this firsthand knowledge from teachers when maki ng decisions that affect their school as a whole. All parties must be involved in school-based decision making if the schools are going to succeed (Blair, 2002; Livingston, Slate, & Gibbs, 1999; Short, Short, & Brinson, 1998). Advocates and Critics of Shared Governance As one might guess, viewpoints of advo cates and critics of shared governance differ greatly. Advocates claim that shared governance will yield bette r policies for all of those involved and unleash teacher creativity with fresh ideas and innovative proposals. Other benefits of shared governance include enabling teachers to identify problems that 19


interfere with teaching, treating teachers as professionals, and helping teachers become committed and accountable for their decisions (Darling-Hammond, 1987; Futrell, 1988; Lieberman, Saxl, & Miles, 1988; Sergiovanni, 1999; Smylie, 1997). Several researchers have ma de criticisms of shared governance. Conway and Calz (1996), for example, warned that shared decision-making was founded on an industrial model that showed the benefits of involving factory workers in changing their work roles. The researchers had reservations about applying an industrial model to education because factory workers and teachers are different. Fu rthermore, Conway and Calz stated that the one constant regarding shared decision ma king is increased worker satisfaction, and satisfaction is not the same as productivity. Others have asserted that shared govern ance merely gives teachers a semblance of power, while real or true authority remains s ecurely anchored in the principals office or the district headquartersthe system is doing something without, in effect, doing much of anything. It is also cont ended that shared governance spreads blame for schools poor performance by placing the heads of teachers and administrators on the same chopping block and undermines teachers unions by gi ving teachers increased control over their work life (Duke, Showers, & Imber, 1980; Parker, 1991; Welsh, 1987). Weiss (1993) conducted a study compari ng 12 schools described as being with and without shared governance. Overall, the evidence did not support either hypothesis as to whether shared governance is effective or ineffective; however, there were two main differences. First, schools with shared govern ance were involved in the decision-making processthey devoted energy to getting the process organized and running. Even after 3 or 4 years of shared governance, a train of sub-decisions often had to be made about 20


functions, procedures, and a llocation of responsibilities. Second, schools without shared governance brought up such issues of discipline as tardiness, absence, dress code, or discipline. These issues continued to aris e because teachers were not involved in the decision-making process. Decisi ons about these issues were made by the district and/or administration. Furthermore, schools with and without shared governance were involved in decisions dealing with curriculum issues, st udent issues, and pedagogical issues. Weiss (1993) concluded that shared governance was an innovative change that was initiated by administrators. School administrators have th e resources and time to learn new ideas, the opportunity to communicate widely, and the auth ority to bring proposal s to the attention of the school. They are the ones that can advocate changing the culture of the organization. They are also better suited to implement changes in a continuous and comprehensive manner (Howey, 1988). Some teachers should provide leadership for implementing educational reforms, but empowerment alone is not sufficient. Sh ared governance and implementation of new policies and practices require teachers to ma ke decisions. Attempting to do so without training, role, and structure clarification places a tremendous burden on teachers under the guise of empowerment (Patterson & Marshall, 2001). If shared governance leads to significant improvement s in teaching and learning, change in the decision-making structure is not enough (Odden & Wohlstetter, 1995; Weiss, 1993). Weiss (1993) concluded that t eachers gained a sense of satisfaction and ownership by giving their input on school decisions. This in return committed teachers to follow through by implementing school decision s and perhaps sustaining such decisions 21


over time. They felt more respected and professional. Teachers from schools without shared governance said they wished they had had a stronger voice in what their schools did. Without teacher commitment in any school reform effort, even the best conceptualized reform is destined for failure (Darling-Hammo nd, 1987; Duke, et al., 1980; Futrell, 1988; Lieberman, et al., 1988; Patterson & Marshall, 2001; Weiss, 1993; Welsh, 1987). Discussion of Teacher Leadership Smylies (1997) literature review noted that efforts to develop teacher leadership in the United States began as far back as the early 1900s. Teacher councils (such as the National Education Association) and democratic administration movements were formed in the United States to establish new opport unities for teachers to participate in schooland district-level policy making (Con ley, 1991; Smylie, 1997). Beyond organizing teachers to help solve specific educational problems, the driving force behind these efforts was to democratize schools and (Smylie, Brownlee-Conyers, & Crowson, 1992). In this regard, teacher participation in policy making was an expression of key democratic principles, self-determinism of t eachers, and the enfranchisement of teachers in educational administration (Smylie, 1997). Attempts to develop teacher leader ship faded during the 1960s and 1970s but were renewed in the mid-1980s in response to the regulatory, bureaucratic reforms of the late 1970s and early 1980s (Murphy, 1990). By the mid-1980s, nearly every American state had adopted or was studying some form of teacher leadership program or policy (Smylie, 1997). Opportunities for teacher leader ship came in the form of career ladder and mentor teacher programs, the appointment of master and lead teachers, and policies 22


to decentralize and involve teachers in schooland district-level decision making (Smylie, et al., 1991). In 2003, the Florida Le gislature created th e Better Educated Students and Teachers (BEST) Act, which re quires all school districts to implement a salary career ladder for classroom teachers beginning with the 2004 school year. The career ladder must have four levels: 1. Associate teacherclassroom teachers not professionally certified or lowperforming teachers 2. Professional teacherclassroom teach ers who are professionally certified 3. Lead teacherclassroom teachers w ho are responsible for leading other teachers 4. Mentor teacherclassroom teachers who serve as regular mentors to teachers, and as faculty-based professional development coordinators also provide direct instruction to low-performing students (F lorida Department of Education, 2004). This Act was repealed after one year of implementation. The Principals Role As previously mentioned, the role of the principal has changed over the years. The literature on school leadership ha s had a paradigm shift from using manager to instructional leader to describe the function of the principal (Mullen, 2004, 2005; Pollock, 2007, Reeves, 2006). These changes incl ude the complexity of the principals role itself and greater accountability. With these increasing demands, the question is raised: Are principals becoming instru ctional leaders or still managers? When speaking with seasoned colleagues about the role of the principal, a recurring comment has been made by several of them: The job [principalship] is not like 23


what it used to be when I first became a pr incipal. One veteran principal stated, [Being a principal] used to be fun. You had more freedom and you could truly do what was best for kids. Upon further investigation of this comment, I asked what has changed over the years. Federal laws, such as Individuals w ith Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA), the NCLB, the Meta Decree for Second Language L earners, and the recent ly passed Physical Education Bill are just several of the existi ng mandates that have affected schools today. In addition, school district mandates have been put in place as well that have affected schools, manifested as textbook adoptions, sc hool-based budgeting, sc hool board policies and procedures. Based on the researchers personal knowledge, the reality of the principalship has caused some educators not to take on this job, thus creating a shortage of principals across the stat e of Florida. As a current school-based administrator, I understand the complex demands that princi pals are facing, which can be seen as overwhelming at times because of the manage rial overload. Our daily job consists of juggling multiple tasks at once, such as deali ng with parents, teachers, district employees, students, and school facilities. One of the most pressing demands be ing placed on principals is greater accountability, which has become more eviden t with recent legisl ation for Floridas A+ Plan and the NCLB. Higher standards of proficiency are being raised yearly. According to Florida statutes, if schools fail, the principal is the only person held accountable (Online Sunshine, 2007). In a ddition to standardized testing, daily operations and tasks, such as internal audits and student count surveys, have to be overseen by the principal. It is difficult to balance the management tasks and instructional tasks as a 24


principal. I have had to lear n to adjust my schedule to make it a priority to be an instructional leader and make a conscious decision to let manage rial-type tasks go to the backburner while instead focusing on student achievement, instructional practices, and the coaching of teachers. It is through these practices that I am empowered to help shape the culture of the school and model for teac hers what I believe is important for our students. Research continually suggests that the prin cipals leadership is the key to shaping the schools culture (K atzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Lamber t, 2003; Patterson, 2001). It is vital that principals assist teachers in re making the education prof ession and establishing a culture in which they are seen as fully empowered partners in shaping policy, creating curriculum, managing budgets, improving prac tice, and improving education for children (Fullan, 2001; Troen & Boles, 1993). Byham and Cox (1992) and Fullan (2001) agreed that empowering teachers involves helping them take ownership so that they obtain a personal interest in improving the performan ce of the organization. Empowering teachers as leaders has been seen as a way to re tain good teachers in education, attract new teachers, and reverse a trend toward treati ng them as employees who do specific tasks planned in detail by other people (Erl andson & Bifano, 1987; Macpherson, Aspland, Brooker, & Elliot, 1999). It is also essential that principals cr eate an environment conducive to teacher empowerment and encourage all endeavors toward empowerment (Bolin, 1989; Mullen & Sullivan, 2002; Terry, 1995). Terry (1995) poi nted out that successful schools enabled teacher leaders to apply their creative energy toward constant improvement. In order for school principals to create an environment fo r learning and growth, they must recognize 25


that teachers and staff in the school desire achievement and recognition (Combs, Miser, & Whitaker, 1999). Combs and colleagues (1999) claimed that in a school culture where individuals are rewarded on competition and au tonomy, many teachers do not like to be singled out for their achievements for fear that their colleagues will perceive them as arrogant, sucking up, or better than others. Principals must go beyond merely involving teachers in decision-making processes. Such principals provide a supportive environment that encourages teachers to examine and reflect upon their teaching and on school practice, use sp ecific behaviors to facilitate reflective practice, and make it pos sible for teachers to implement ideas and programs that result from reflective practi ce (Perie & Baker, 1997; Terry, 1995). Within the area of providing a supportive environment, teachers are allowed to teach in the manner they feel is most appropriate; however, they do have to justify their methodologies to their colleagues, share thei r ideas, and create teaming structures for collective responsibility (Black, 2000; Bolin, 1989; Terry, 1995). Establishing a school where learning and change can occur is a strenuous task for school principals. For schools to become better places where people can grow, learn, change, expand, and find joy in discovery, ever yone must be seen as a learner (Bolin, 1989; Combs, et al., 1999). Administrators and teachers must work together to create a culture of learning that is modeled for their students in order for both to succeed. Teacher Leadership Roles and Opportunities Smylie (1997) identified three co mmon teacher leadership roles and opportunities: lead and master teachers, career ladders, and teacher mentoring. Additional research (Hutinger = Mullen, 2007; DuFour, Eaker, & Karhanek, 2004; Schmoker, 2007 ) 26


on teacher leadership roles and opportunities has acknowledged professional learning communities and teachers as action researchers. Lead and master teachers. School districts across the nation are recognizing the need to keep talented teachers in clas srooms and schools and allow them to undertake leadership roles within their profession. These lead and master teachers have assumed leadership roles because they have a desire to be change agents for other teachers learning, school improvement, and for their own personal and professional growth (Smylie, 1997; Troen & Boles, 1992). Resear ch has shown that teachers in these positions develop instructional or curricular programs, lead staff development, or assimilate to quasi-admin istrative power positions (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Smylie, 1997; Wasley, 1991). Those who support greater leadership ro les for teachers cite many reasons for doing so. First, principals and central-office ad ministrators no longer have the time or all of the skills needed to be the one and onl y expert of curriculu m and instruction. In addition, instructional expertise has littl e chance of spreading among teachers unless some are put into greater positions of authority. Finally, Tell ( 1999) indicated that teachers are often more responsive to one anot her than to an administrator, and without opportunities to exercise leadersh ip, many of the most skillful and ambitious teachers feel forced to go into administration (see also Archer, 2001; Solomon, 2000). Teacher mentoring Effective school research has linked collaborative activities and collegiality among teachers w ith gains in student learning (Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1999; De signs for Change, 1998; Lein, Johnson, & Ragland, 1997; Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Wal pole, 2000). Collaboration is critical in 27


program or project development because it leads to the identification of problems and successful resolution and promotes the social interaction that enables school leaders to deal with the anxiety that is prevalent during any change process (Koehler & Baxler, 1997). Consequently, programs such as me ntoring are being widely advocated. Mentoring has typically been defined as a relationship between an experienced and a less experienced person in which the mentor provides guidance, advice, support and feedback to the protg (Haney, 1997; Kerka, 1998; Mullen, 2000). Mentoring programs and relationships in schools have usually existed between experienced teachers and beginning teachers, as well as between principals and beginning teachers (Holloway, 2001; McDaniel, 1999; Smylie, 1997). Studies have shown that mentoring in creases the retention rates of teachers (National Association of State Boards of Education, 1998). Furthermore, research conducted after 1 year of mentoring suggests that teachers who had been mentored continued teaching the following year more than teachers without mentors (Ellyn, 2002; Gold, 1999). Another way that mentoring programs have been successful is in regard to teacher collaboration. Teachers indicated th at collaboration through mentoring improved their communication skills, gave them a shar per focus, and enhanced their self-esteem and confidence in their teaching ability (K erka, 1998; McCann & Radford, 1993; Mullen, 2000). Professional Learning Communities One rationale of shared governance is that the persons closest to students are best equipped to make decisions about the im provement of instru ctional programs ( DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Karhanek, 2004; Mullen, et al., 2001; Terry, 1995). Teachers need an 28


opportunity to share their best practices and ideas with ot hers in order to promote educational reform. Teachers learn from outside knowledge, as well as each other, looking at student work, helping shape a ssessment tools, and examining their own practice (Cochran-Smith & Lytle 1993; DuFour, et al., 2004). As an organizational arrangement, the prof essional learning community is seen as a powerful staff development approach a nd a potent strategy for school change and improvement (DuFour, et al., 2004; Roberts & Pr uitt, 2003). It is used in a variety of situations, such as extendi ng classroom practice to the community; bringing community personnel into the school to enhance the curr iculum and learning tasks for students; or simultaneously engaging student s, teachers, and administrato rs in learning (DuFour, et al., 2004). Astuto, Clark, Read, McGree, a nd Fernandez (1993) coined the concepts professional community of learners and communities of continuous inquiry and improvement in which the teachers and administrators continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn to ultimately enhance their effectiveness as professionals for the benefit of the students. There are five components to developing professional learning communities: (a) supportive and shared leadershi p, (b) collective creativity, (c) shared values and vision, (d) supportive conditions, and (e) shared personal practice (DuFour, et al., 2004; Mullen, et al., 2001; Roberts & Pruitt, 2003). Louis and Kruse (1995) identified the supportive leadership of principals as one of the nece ssary human resources for restructuring staff into school-based professional communities. Th e authors referred to the principals as post-heroic leaders who did not view themselves as the architects of school effectiveness. Boyd (1992) similarly identified characteristics of princi pals that undertake school 29


restructuring as a willingness to share authority, the capacity to facilitate tasks to the staff efficiently, and the ability to participate wit hout dominating. The learning community is demonstrated by people from multiple constituencies at all levels collaboratively and continua lly working together (Louis & Kruse, 1995; Roberts & Pruitt, 2003). Such collaborative work is grounded in reflective dialogue in which staff members conduct conversations about students, teaching, and learning, as well as identifying related issues and problem s. Louis and Kruse (1995) maintained that a core characteristic of the vision is an everlasting focus on student learning in which each students potential achievement is carefully considered. These shared values and vision lead to binding norms of behavior that the teaching staff supports. Several factors determine when, where, a nd how the staff regularly come together as a unit to do the learning, decision maki ng, problem solving, and creative work that characterize a professional learning community. In order for these communities to function productively, the physical or struct ural conditions and the human qualities and capacities of the people involved must be optimal (Boyd, 1992). Examples of the physical and structural conditions include the availability of resources, schedules, and structures that reduce isolat ion; policies that encourage greater autonomy, collaboration and communication; and provisions for staff development. Human qualities and capacities include positive teacher attitudes toward schooling, students, and change; norms of continuous critical inquiry and improvement; positive and caring collegial relationships among teachers and studentte acheradministrator relationships; and a sense of community in the school. This type of school environment values and supports hard work and accepts challenging tasks, ri sk taking, and growth promotion (Midgley & 30


Wood, 1993). In extensive studies conducted by Hord (1997), the following positive results of professional learning communities for staff and students have been observed: 1. Reduction in the isolation of teachers 2. Increased commitment to the mission and goals of the school and increased vigor in working to strengthen the mission 3. Shared responsibility for the total development of students and collective responsibility for students success 4. Powerful learning that defines good t eaching and classroom practice and that creates new knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learners 5. Increased meaning and understanding of th e content that teachers teach and the roles they play in helping all students achieve expectations 6. Higher likelihood that teach ers will be well informed, professionally renewed, and inspired to teach 7. More satisfaction, higher morale, and lower rates of absenteeism 8. Significant advances in adapting teach ing to the students, often accomplished more quickly than in traditional schools 9. Commitment to making signi ficant and lasting changes For students, the results from Hords (1997) studies on professional learning communities highlighted the following results: 1. Smaller achievement gaps between students from different backgrounds 2. Decreased dropout rate and fewer classes skipped 3. Lower rates of absenteeism 31


4. Increased learning that is distributed more equitably in the smaller high schools 5. Greater academic gains in mathematics, science, history, and reading than in traditional schools Teachers as Action Researchers Teachers are being called upon to provide leadership in order for schools to improve. They are also being recognized as re searchers because they are the people best able to identify problems pertinent to teach ing (Mullen, et al., 2001). Action research is a form of disciplined and colla borative inquiry and research that has re-emerged as a popular way of involving practitioners. Teacher s and supervisors systematically reflect on their work and make changes in their pr actice (Borgia & Schuler 1996; Garner, 1996; Glanz, 1999; Richardson, 1997). Action research entails looking at ones own practices, such as instruction on a specific academic s ubject and allows teach ers to create time and space to reflect on their work. It might involve examining a particular situation involving the development of children, such as behavior social interactions, learning difficulties, family involvement, learning environments, actio ns, policies, or events. After collecting this data, teachers then reflect and seek support and feedback from colleagues (Borgia & Schuler, 1996; Glanz, 1999; Patterson & Marshall, 2001). With all of the daily demands placed on teachers, they rarely have time to stop and reflect on the work they have accomplished. There is an appeal for teacher leadership in the action research literature. Interest in action research is growing pa rtly because practitioners find they can be in leadership positions as they plan, conduct, and evaluate research on their own, rather than relying on library research or double-blind experiments (Borgia & Schuler, 1996; Glanz, 1999). 32


Many researchers now acknowledge teachers expe rtise and wisdom as they live out their experiences to change what they perceive to be in need of change (Borgia & Schuler, 1996; Mullen & Lick, 1999). Central to the notion of teacher research as teacher leadership is the issue of influence. Action research can influence cl assroom teachers practices. Garner (1996) proposed a cyclical paradigm: To learn is to ch ange; to change is to create; and to create is to learn (p. 2). Borgia and Schuler (1996) revealed some of the benefits of action research: 1. Teachers are viewed as equal partners w ith their collaborators in deciding what works best in their situation, thus reducing the possibility for unequal power relationships that might otherwise develop among univers ity researchers, cu rriculum developers, administrators, and teachers. 2. Teachers develop a deeper understandi ng of children, the student-learning process, and their role in th e educational lives of children. 3. Teachers arrive at instruct ional solutions cooperatively. 4. Teachers are often more committed in implementing new concepts when they have been involved in the design. Developing Teachers as Leaders Current programs for teacher education reform clearly recognize new directions for teacher leaders, researchers, learners, collaborators, and team members (Nielsen, 2001). While they have developed slowly, many districts, school boards, colleges, and universities have created educational program s based on the principles of teachers as leaders. 33


Broward County, Florida, has designed a program to provide leadership and managerial skills beneficial to teachers who do not aspire to enter into administration but want to grow in their roles as leaders. The program consists of four staff development sessions: time management, facilitative change, performance problems, and techniques of an effective leader (Broward County Public Schools, 2003). The University of Hawaii (2001) offers an interdisciplinary ma sters of education (IMED) with an emphasis on teacher leaders. The objective of IMED is to contribute to the professional and personal growth of edu cators who are working in the public school system to promote their potential as teacher leaders. The four components to this program are: 1. Fostering an increased level of knowledge and pr omoting specific types of teaching, consultation, and advocacy skills 2. Creating effective organizational cha nges in ones classroom, school, or community 3. Stimulating effective change among individuals and within various human systems 4. Helping teachers develop a vision of sp ecific changes that they would like to implement in their classroom, school, or community Vanderbilt University (2001) designed a 3.5-week Teachers as Leaders Initiative summer program. It is an intensive study a nd reflection on the chal lenges of teaching, teacher leadership, and school reform. The program is based on the premise of these professional learning practices: 1. Afford opportunities to develop habits of shared and individual inquiry and 34


reflection. 2. Place classroom practice in the larger c ontext of education and the educational careers of children. 3. Provide access to an array of human and material resources for learning. 4. Provide participants with leadership sk ills and structures to support the learning of others beyond the co ntext of the program. 5. Be centered on meaningful problems or challenges. The University of NebraskaLincoln T eachers College (2003) offers a masters degree in education focused on developing teachers as leaders. Courses are designed to promote the growth, development, and learni ng process through educa tional inquiry. This is accomplished in a variety of contexts, such as educational research and action research. Benefits and Costs of Teacher Leadership Benefits Lieberman and colleagues (1988) conducted a study focusing on what teachers did when they assumed leadership pos itions designed to assist other teachers. They found that the work of the lead teachers was varied and larg ely specific to the individual context of the school. In order to be effective with their colleagues, lead teachers found it necessary to learn a variety of leadership skills, such as building trust and developing rapport, diagnosing organizatio nal conditions, dealing with processes, managing work, and building skills and conf idence in others (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Wilson, 1993). The authors concluded that restructuring school communities to incorporate leadership positions for te achers requires teacher leaders to place nonjudgmental value on providing as sistance, model collegiality as a mode of work, enhance teachers self-esteem, use different approaches for assistance, make provisions 35


for continuous learning and support for teachers at the school site, a nd encourage others to provide leadership to their peers. Intellectual and personal gr owth and decreased isolati on are some of the personal benefits to those involved. Teachers admitted th at their knowledge and skills in teaching increased dramatically as a result of their involvement in leadership positions. Teacher leaders also reported a significant decrease in isolation as a resu lt of opportunities to work with others outside the classroom (Lord & Miller, 2000; Troen & Boles, 1992). Troen and Boles (1993), Lieberman (1997), and Karlenzig (1997) explained that various conditions are necessary to support a nd sustain teachers in leadership positions. First, it is important that teacher leadership ro les be part of an overall vision and set of values that accepts and expects teachers to participate in leadership. Second, teacher leadership roles need to have structure to br ing legitimacy to the new role and facilitate the understanding that knowledgeable and well-respected teachers can provide. Third, teacher leaders need to have time to experi ment, reflect, develop, deal, create, and build collegial relationships with other teachers parents, and community. Finally, teacher leaders need to develop such necessary skills and abilities as taking initiative, persevering in the face of obstacles, analyzing and making program adjustments/improvements, using alternative strategies, and exercising patience. Costs. While leadership roles can provide important benefits, they have also proven to be highly problematic. It has b een extremely difficult to institutionalize leadership roles for teachers for several r easons. First, many teachers are reluctant to think of themselves as leaders (Fullan, 1993; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001). They view with some discomfort the idea of assuming quasi-administrative or expanded teaching 36


functions. Second, there is an expectation of top-down mandates with little input from practitioners. Third, when teacher leaders em erge and begin to affect policy and the larger domains of the school, they may encount er resistancenot just from the principal, but also from other teachers. Lastly, it is un likely that teacher leaders will emerge from the ranks in places where teachers are powerle ss to affect school-wide policy (Lord & Miller, 2000; Troen & Boles, 1993). Studies have shown that lead teachers also encounter a number of barriers as they learn about their new roles and relationshi ps. In a study conducted by Wasley (1989), problems and confusion often resulted when teacher leadership roles were not well defined. Teacher leaders who are given the oppor tunity to develop and define their own roles and receive more support experience grea ter success. Wasley also suggested that time constraints on teacher leaders significantly limited their ability to succeed in the dual roles of teacher and leader. Some teachers ar e often forced to make sacrifices that compromise their ability to be effective in both roles. Furthermore, this research also asserted that a lack of support and encouragement from school administrators and teaching colleagues often poses the biggest obst acles for teacher leaders. Teacher leaders repeatedly experienced the egalitarian nature of teaching and had to work hard to gain acceptance and respect (Hart, 1995). They are te achers, one of rank and file, yet they are also leaders, which somehow sets them ap art from other teachers (Johnson, 1990, Little, 1988; Lord & Miller, 2000). In a study conducted by Wilson (1993), seve ral teacher leaders shared their ideas about the importance of teacher leaders and how change occurred in schools: 1. The label of leader sets a person apart from peers and diminishes his or her 37


ability to bring change. 2. Leadership is a role played by one person in a group. The role seduces the leader into believing that he or she is the mouthpiece of the group. Given a strong group of competent people, a lead er may not be necessary. 3. As a group, teachers should exercise more control over the initiation and implementation of change. 4. Participatory decision making is critical Any teacher who wishes to participate in a particular decision should be encouraged to do so. Summary of Literature Review This literature review sugge sts that there is a paradigm shift in leadership. School administrators have realized that they alone cannot solve all of the educational issues facing schools today. Leadership has to come from the trenches in order to improve our schools (Mullen, 2002a)teachers need to be change agents empowered by school administrators to improve the educati onal system (Byham & Cox, 1992; Fullan; 1993, 2001; Gabriel, 2005; Troen & Boles, 1993). Teachers voices have long been overl ooked in helping to reform education (Mullen, 2002a, 2002b). Teachers can and should be activists for educatio n; they need to work with those that are interested in educ ation as well as with those individuals in positions of power to inform them of th e importance of a strong teaching profession (Sachs, 2003). Teachers need to be reminded to treat teaching as a profession. Everything from displaying their diplomas, certificates, and awards to having personalized business cards must be done to project that im age (Whaley, 1994). As school leaders and educators look to reform their schools, unde rstanding how to interact and empower 38


teachers as leaders may help solve some of the problems facing education today. Reflections on the Literature Some administrators have begun to appl y the recommendations from the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession (1986) in an effort to create leadership roles and opportunities for teachers (Barkley, et al., 2004; Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1996; Nielsen, 2001; Troen & Boles, 1993). Teachers ha ve to take the initiative to accept these leadership roles and opportunities, and princi pals must provide support for their teacher leaders. Before principals can create teacher leadership roles within their schools, they must understand how to inter act with their teachers a nd the significance of their relationships with them. Shared governance is needed to improve sc hool effectiveness and increase student learning (Glickman, 1998; Schlechty, 2001; Sergiovanni, 1999; Smylie, 1997; Weiss, 1993). Without teacher input and support, any ed ucational reform strategy is destined for failure (Darling-Hammond, 1987; Duke, et al., 1980; Futrell, 1988; Lieberman, et al., 1988; Weiss, 1993; Welsh, 1987 ) With the support and i nput of qualified teachers, coupled with teachers being cultivated as le aders, there is a far better chance for the development of successful strategies that will ultimately lead to reform in education. 39


Chapter Three Qualitative Methodology and Research Design A case study was used to describe pro cesses by which principals have enhanced teacher leadership roles within their schools and the leadership roles teachers undertake (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996; Patton, 2002). The primary inquiry question framed for this study is: What features of teacher leadership are evident in high-performing schools? The secondary inquiry questions are as follows: 1. What are the behaviors of elementary school principals in building leadership capacity in high-performing schools? 2. What are the perceptions of elementary school teachers relate d to principals in building leadership capacity in high-performing schools? Case Study Research Design A multi-site case study was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the teacher leadership phenomenon within the selected schools. The case study method is chosen when the researcher wishes to study a specifi c case in-depth (Krueger, 2000; Merriam, 1998). Merriam (1998) described a case study as an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single instance, phenomenon, or social unit. Furthermore, Stake (1995) depicted a case study as entering a scene with actors with a sincere interest in learning how they function in their ordinary pursuits and milieus and with a willingness to put aside presumptions while we learn. A convenient sample (Patton, 2002) of seven public elementary schools in a 40


southeastern district in the state of Florid a was surveyed. One of the schools served as a pilot study. Based on the data from the surveys, three schools were se lected in which to conduct interviews and focus groups in order to gather further insights into the teacher leadership phenomenon. In an effort to limit th e number of variables, schools with similar characteristics were studied: (a) a 2005 school grade of A by the Florida Department of Education, (b) comparable racial demographi cs, and (c) similar free and reduced lunch statistics. The researcher used school demographic information provided by the pupil assignment office in the relevant school dist rict and the 2005 school accountability grades to select the schools. The 2004 school de mographic information includes racial composition of the schools by percentage, number of students enrolled, and percentage of students on free and reduced lunch. The rese archer obtained the 2005 school grades online as determined by the Florida Departme nt of Education to select schools in a southeastern district in Flor ida that received a grade of A. In addition, this study did not include the schools in which the researcher had been employed. This deliberate omission assured that an effort was made to minimize bias. The researcher believed that sampling these information-rich settings gave further in sight into the various leadership roles that teachers are taking outside of the classroom. With the intention of identifying various th emes and patterns of teacher leadership within these schools, several different methods were used to gather data, a process known as triangulation. Triangulation is defined as the use of multiple da ta-collection methods, data sources, analysis, or theories as corrobor ative evidence for the validity of qualitative research findings (Gall, et al., 1996). This process helped the researcher gain in-depth 41


understanding of teacher leadership by providing different perspectives on the same conditions. Using triangulation to explai n the phenomenon of teacher leadership strengthened the validity of this study and monitored biases potentially influencing the case study findings. The researcher had the opport unity to examine, verify, and reinforce the information collected from one data source to another. Three different sources were used in this case study to gather data: surveys, focus groups, and interviews. The rationale for this strategy was that the use of multiple datacollection techniques woul d contribute to the trustworthin ess of the data (Glesne, 1999; Merriam, 1998). Each data collection techniqu e identified something different to aid in a better understanding of teacher leader ship in the schools examined. Study Participants University guidelines were followed pertai ning to the use of hu man subjects in the case study as specified by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The researcher obtained a certificate of completion for the Human Participants Protection Education for Research Teams online course in 2003 and has since revi ewed the information on the website in an effort to keep updated. An application for th e IRB Review of Res earch Involving the Use of Human Subjects was completed and no da ta collection began until approval was received from the University of South Fl orida Research and Compliance Office. The researcher contacted the Office of Testing a nd Measurement for the school district to receive approval to conduct the research. As the data were collected, they were kept confidential th roughout the study. All data protected anonymity by using fictitious names of schools and individuals. I secured all data in my home office, a locked, privat e facility. Data from the surveys was displayed 42


in the dissertation. Once this process was completed, all surveys were destroyed. The tape recordings gathered from the interviews and focus groups were transcribed, and then destroyed. Although multiple collection techniques were used in this study, not all of the data materialized in the analys is section of this research. Sa lient responses were quoted in the study to explain or elaborate themes and patterns of teacher leadership. Although several schools in this school di strict met the criteria for study, the researcher selected seven schools to survey a nd informally asked the principals if they would be willing to participate. Patton (2002) refers to this process as convenient sampling. The researcher contacted these par ticular schools because of the professional relationship that he had developed with them. This relationship proved helpful in undertaking and completing this study. Particip ating principals were supportive of the study and cooperated with scheduling mee tings, interviews, and focus groups. The principals were contacted again, and an appointment was scheduled to discuss the study and meet with the faculty. Participation was voluntary. Their principal informed the teachers of this study during a staff meeting at which the researcher was present to answer any questions and di stribute the survey. Then teachers and administrative team members were asked to co mplete a survey, and I asked for volunteers to participate in the two focu s groups and two to six interviews at each school. Interested volunteers were asked to write their names and e-mail addre sses on a piece of paper after they had submitted their survey to me. Focu s groups and interviews were conducted at three schools based on the surveys that provid e rich, full descriptions of the teacher leadership phenomenon (Patton, 2002). Volunt eers chose to participate in the focus groups as well as the interviews. 43


The case study participants consisted of principals, assistant principals, administrative deans, other members of the schools administrative team (as defined by each principal), and teachers. This case study re lied on a total of 165 surveys, as well as 6 focus groups and 24 interviews from administ rative team members and teachers at the 3 schools selected. The time commitment for par ticipants varied depending upon their level of involvement. Surveys took no more than 15 minutes to complete for administrative team members and teachers. Two focus-gr oup sessions totaled a bout 2 hours, each session approximately 1 hour. Individual inte rviews took no more than 30 minutes. The potential benefits to participants may not be immediate; however, it is a contribution that may benefit school administra tors and teachers in identifying ways to enhance teacher leadership within their sc hools. Administrators would understand the importance of interacting with teachers to develop their leadership skills or have the message reinforced. Teachers would learn th e importance of all stakeholders working together to resolve issues at their own school s or provide school l eaders with options on how to improve their school with regard to teacher leadership. Background on Research Sites Table 1 indicates the variables that were used in selecting the research sites for this study. Each site is an urban school co mprised of pre-kindergarten through Grade 5 and serves a different popul ation of students with ex ceptional education needs. Enrollment ranges from 600 to 1,100 students. All of the research site s were located in subdivisions with average to lower aver age income homes. The zoning boundaries designed by the school district created a diverse cultural community within these schools. The mobility rates range from 15% to 25%. 44


Table 1 Variables Used in Selecting Elem entary Schools as Research Sites School grade School % Minority rate % Free/reduced lunch 2005 2006 A 63 33 A A B 54 27 A A C 64 32 A A D 60 38 A A E 52 40 A B F 62 45 A A G (pilot study) 58 36 A A Data Collection Techniques As previously mentioned, this study included three different data-collection techniques: Step 1 Fifty surveys were distributed to a nd collected from administrative team members and teachers at one school that serv ed as the pilot study (see Appendices A and B). Step 2 Three hundred surveys were distribut ed to the remaining 6 schools (50 surveys per school). Three schools were select ed for interviews and focus groups based on the data gathered from the surveys. Ca ndidates for the interviews and focus groups included classroom teachers, principals, assist ant principals, deans, resource teachers, guidance counselors, and behavior specialis ts. Schools were contac ted to schedule the focus groups and interviews. The distributi on of surveys and conducting of interviews and focus groups spanned a 3-month timeline from March 2006 through June 2006. Step 3 Interviews and then focus groups w ith teachers and administrative team members were conducted at the schools. Twenty-four intervie ws were completed for this study interviews with the administrative team members and 12 interviews with 45


teachers at each school (see Appendices C and D). Twelve focus group sessions were completed for this study (two sessions w ith the administrative team members and two with the teachers at each sc hool) (see Appendices E and F). In order to survey the schools that becam e the research sites for further study, the researcher had to overcome several obstacles After the dissertation proposal defense and the actual start of the study, School Bs principal retired, and a new principal was appointed. As previously mentioned in chapter 3, the researcher discussed this project in advance with all seven principals of the selected schools and had informally asked if they were willing to participate. The new prin cipal was contacted and an appointment was scheduled to discuss this study and her part icipation in it. She declined. During School Cs faculty meeting, surveys were distribute d to the administrative team members and teachers. Administrative team members were asked to complete the study in the conference room, while teachers remained in the media center. School Cs principal stayed in the conference room. The researcher felt that her presence potentially hindered the participants from responding openly and providing rich, full answers to the survey questions; therefore, School C was not selected for continued study. School Es principal, administrative team members, and teachers co mpleted the surveys; however, because of auditing issues the principal de clined further participation. Persisting to complete this study, the researcher scheduled another meeting with the three remaining principals to explain the study, discu ss the current challenges, and ensure buy-in. Principals from Schools A, B, and D understood my concerns and assured me that they would be willing to do wh atever it took to assi st. The researcher was 46


thus able to complete the surveys, interv iews, and focus groups with the principal, administrative team members, and teachers at the remaining three elementary schools. The researcher was disappointed that School E was unable to continue participation due to auditing issues because the preliminary data analysis had suggested that two of the administrative team member s supported teacher lead ership within their school. To this effect, one had stated, I created teacher committees based on the seven principles of leadership. All concerns ar e handled through these committees. Another school leader added, Our teachers solve mo st of our problems, except for the tough ones the principal makes. Based on these comments, this school would have added insight to this study. Surveys of Administrators and Teachers Surveys can be used to collect data about characteristics, experiences, and opinions in relation to participants (Gall, et al., 1996). Two multi-item surveys (one for school principals and administrative team me mbers and one for teach ers) were given to the seven schools to gain insight into the te acher leadership phenomena at each school (see Appendices A and B). During their facult y meetings, the researcher explained the research study and the informed consent forms. It was strongly emphasized that participation in this study was voluntary and that there would be no repercussions if an individual choose not to part icipate. Since all teachers were invited to the faculty meetings at each school, this provided a cros s-selection of the faculty. Surveys were then distributed to and completed by the teachers and administrative teams. The surveys were distributed at one sc hool that served as a pilot study. The researcher asked the principals, administrativ e team members, and teachers to complete 47


the survey and suggest how to improve the su rveys for others. The re searcher used these comments and suggestions on the surveys before distributing them to the remaining six schools. Each participant answered the same semi -structured questions in the surveys. After each item, space was provided to allow part icipants to offer specific examples. The entire faculty (administrativ e team members and teachers) at each of the seven schools were invited to complete the survey. Part of the survey for principals and administrative team members was based on the article The Role of Leadership in Sustaining School Reform: Voices from the Field (U.S. Department of Education, 1996). This national publication identified five dimensions of leadership for effective school reform: partnership and voice, vision and values, knowledge and daring leadership, savvy and persistence, and personal qualities. Administra tive team members were asked to identify and list the names of committees at the school. The responses to these questions were correlated to the five dimensions of leadership for effective school reform. Interviews with Administrators and Teachers In order to understand the teacher lead ership phenomenon within their schools, it is necessary to gain the perspectives of the stakeholders by conducting one-on-one interviews (Glesne, 1999; Merriam, 1998; Patton, 2002). Seidman (1998) offered, At the root of in-depth interviewing is an intere st in understanding th e experience of other people and the meaning they make of that experience (p. 3). Although there are numerous types of interviews, the standard open-ended interview was used in this study. Interviews were conducted with the administ rative teams and teachers at these schools before the focus groups because there was the potential that comments made during the 48


focus groups would influence individual res ponses. Before the interviews began, the researcher stated to the teacher participants that none of the information shared during the session would be shared with their principa ls or administrative team members. This statement was needed in order to establish tr ust with the volunteers and authenticate the data collected. Twenty-four interviews were completed fr om the three schools that were asked to participate in the focus groups. The researcher separately interviewed four members of the administrative team and four teachers at each school. The first four teachers who responded to my request for participants were selected for interviewing. Each interviewee was asked the same semi-structured questi ons (see Appendices C and D). Discussion prompts were used to facilitate dialogue a nd gain insight into the principals role in building leadership capacity at each school. Focus Groups Focus groups are carefully planned groups to obtain perceptions on a defined area of interest in a permissive, non-threaten ing environment (Krueger, 2000). They have several advantages, such as significantly increasing sample size in a short amount of time, enhancing data quality, and tending to be enjoyable to participants (Kruger & Casey, 2000; Patton, 2002). The purpose of th e focus groups was to conduct member checks (Creswell, 1998; Glesne, 1999; Merr iam, 1995, 1998; Stake, 1995), or corroborate the data from the surveys and interviews. Th e rationale for performing member checks is to ensure that the researcher represented th e administrative team members and teachers ideas accurately. Focus group participants we re given a list of the surv ey and interview responses. 49


Each had the opportunity to validate the statements, correct any misconceptions, and check for accuracy (Stake, 1995). Particip ants were asked a series of open-ended questions (see Appendices E and F). Discussion prompts were us ed to facilitate dialogue, gain insight into the various teacher leadersh ip roles at the schools, and keep the group on target. As Patton (2002) explained, The power of focus groups resides in their being focused (p. 388). To increase confidence in pa tterns that emerge from the data, more than one focus-group meeting will occur at each school (Patton, 2002). Again, the researcher reiterated to the teacher particip ants that comments made during the focus group sessions would not be shar ed with their principal. Data Collection, Management, and Analysis One of the aspects of qualitative research is the researchers ability to collect, manage, and analyze data at the same time. Due to the multiple data-collection techniques used in this study, it was necessary to have a clear and structured plan for data management analysis. As Merriam (1998) contended, A qualitative design is emergent. The resear cher usually does not know ahead of time every person who might be interviewed, all the questions that might be asked, or where to look next unless data are analyzed as they are being collected. (p. 155) Although this proposal contained a clear a nd structured plan to collect, manage, and analyze the data collected, the resear cher made some important adjustments throughout the study to increase the dependabilit y, trustworthiness, and authenticity of the data collected. The processes next desc ribed were used to collect, manage, and analyze the data. Data Collection and Management Data collection should focus on emergent themes or constructs (Miles & 50


Huberman, 1994; Patton, 2002). Data from 165 surveys, 6 focus groups, and 24 interviews were clustered and coded for specifi c words or phrases separately and together to illustrate themes or patterns in the re search. A meta-matrix displaying some of the primary themes discovered in this study can be found on page 63. The response rate for this study was extremely high%. The research er attributed this successful outcome to two factors: (1) selecti ng schools in which the research er already had a professional relationship with the schools administrator and (2) the resear chers ability to connect in an honest and positive manner with the study participants. To ensure efficient storage and retrieva l of the data, each school and collection method had a specific code. The codes developed were: 1. A through C were used to represent each school (A represents one school, B another, and C another). 2. Surveys were represented by S. 3. Focus groups were represented by FG. 4. Interviews were represented by I. Two codes appeared on all items related to each data collection method to represent each school and each group. For ex ample, a file from a specific school was marked A/S. A represented School A, and S, a survey. All letters and codes were chosen for their simplicity in order to ensure anonym ity and provide an orga nizational system to properly collect and manage the data. The teacher surveys were turned in to th e researcher following the faculty meeting in the media center. Administrative team su rveys were completed and collected in the principals office. To analyze the data, each que stion and each individual answer to that 51


question were listed at the top of the table. Data were clustered and coded for specific words and phrases to illustrate themes or patterns. Matrices and/or concept maps were used to further reduce and an alyze the written re sponses from the surveys (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The researcher recorded all focus groups sessions and indi vidual interviews on audiotape and transcribed verb atim. This practice ensured that everything said was preserved for analysis (Merriam, 1998; Patt on, 2002). An example of a transcript from one teacher interview and one focus group session with teachers is included (see Appendices F and G). In addition, strategic and focused notes were taken during the interview to assist in the analysis of this da ta. This allowed the researcher to reflect and elaborate on the interview. Pa tton insisted, It is a time of quality control to guarantee that the data obtained will be useful, reliable, and authentic (p. 384). After each transcription was completed, the researcher read each one and coded the data. This process of rereading each transcription was repeated several times. Marshall and Rossman (1999) claimed, Reading, reading, and reading once more through the data forces the researcher to become familiar with those data in intimate ways (p. 153). While each transcript was being read, the resear cher coded for specific words to illustrate themes and patterns, and make notes and s horthand codes in the margins. Samples of these specific words are located in a meta-matrix display (see p. 9). In addition, the res earcher selected an independent code checker to review the data from the surveys, interviews, and fo cus groups. He analyzed the coding, patterns, and themes that emerge and provide reco mmendations. The code checker was a recent Ph.D. graduate who understood the procedures and techniques em ployed in qualitative 52


research. Data Analysis Data analysis is the process of bringing or der, structure, and interpretation to the mass of collected data (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). Marshall and Rossman stated that, in qualitative studies, data co llection and analysis usually go hand in hand to build a coherent interpretation of the data (s ee also Miles & Huberman, 1994; Patton, 2002). Surveys were collected and analyzed simulta neously with the interviews and focus group processes. According to Marshall and Rossman (1999) most qualitative researchers generate categories and establish themes and patterns to assist in interpreting the data. In this study, the researcher immersed himself in the de tails and specifics of the data to discover important patterns and themes, a process called inductive analysis to describe the phenomenon being studied (Patton, 2002). Furtherm ore, the researcher kept a journal to document the qualitative process and assist in terpreting the data. It included experiential notes (relating to a researchers own life/expe riences), contextual notes (initial notes on research site), and methodological note s (process of qualitative study/problems encountered) (Merriam, 1998; Miles & Huberman, 1994). Miles and Huberman (1994) found that a journal contribut ed to the reliability, valid ity, and integrity of the researchers inquiry. Pilot Study A pilot study was conducted to test th e instruments, gather feedback on the instruments from the participan ts, and detect any errors be fore conducting the official study. By conducting a pilot study, the researcher ensured the validity and viability of the 53


instruments (Merriam, 1998; Patton, 2002). In addition, the pilot study allowed me to experience analyzing and interp reting the data. Based on the cr iteria proposed in this study, a public elementary school was select ed. The school in the pilot study was comparable to the ones selected for the in-depth study. The pilot study focused on the role of teacher leadership and its effect on the schools performance. The participants involved in this pilot study consisted of 10 educators working at this elementary school site. Four were memb ers of the administra tive team (principal, assistant principal, curriculum resource t eacher, and guidance counselor); the remaining six were classroom teachers with various grade-level assignments. These 10 educators completed a survey and participated in interviews and focus groups. Background on Pilot Study Site The elementary school used in this pilot is located in a large urban community in Florida with middle to lower average income homes. It is common for more than one family to live in a home or for a single parent or family to immigrat e to the area and live with relatives. The mobility rate of students in 2005 was 13%. The pilot study site had an enrollme nt of 950 prekindergarten through fifthgrade students. The racial demographics were 42% White, 45% Hispanic, 6% Black, and 7% other. Thirty-six percent of the students are on free or reduced lunches. The principal that opened the school retired in December 2004, and a new principal was appointed. Eighty percent of the instructional staff had less than 5 years of teaching experience. Methodology for Case Study For this pilot study, data were collect ed from the surveys, focus groups, and interviews. The instruments were analyzed usin g the same protocol to ensure consistency. 54


The surveys, focus groups, and interviews addressed major themes, such as the principals perception of gathering teacher input and the various teacher leadership opportunities that have been created. The surv eys, focus-group ques tions, and interview questions were given to the participants, as well as doctoral students and scholarly professors from the University of South Flor ida to evaluate the wo rding, key phrases, and grammar. Both groups gave suggestions on how to improve the surveys, interview questions, and focus group discussion prompts and all data collection instruments were revised. Suggestions ranged from creating open-ended questions and simplifying word and/or phrases used in the questions. These modified instruments were used for the official study. Trustworthiness and Authentication As this study followed a qualitative pa radigm, concerns over such issues as validity and reliability were addressed according to the appropriate qualitative terminology. This was important to menti on because many qualitative researchers continue to use quantitative terminology (Denzin, 1988; Merriam, 1998, 2002). Social construction and constructivist perspectives have generated new language and concepts to distinguish quality in qualit ative research (Glesne, 1999; Patton, 2002). Lincoln and Guba (1986) suggested different criteria from those inherited from traditional social science, such as dependability as an analog to reliability, credibility as an analog to internal validity, and transferability as an analog to external validity. To make certain the dependability an d credibility of the data collection instruments were evaluating what the research er contended, each instrument had already been authenticated by the Writers in Traini ng, a dissertation study gr oup of teachers and 55


administrators working in the schools that Dr Carol Mullen, my major professor, leads. Importantly, all survey items, as well as the interview and focus group questions and prompts, were grounded in the literature on te acher leadership (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; U.S. Department of Education, 1996). Creswell (1998), Glesne (1999), Merr iam (1995, 1998), and Stake (1995) all provided strategies for enhancing dependabil ity, credibility, and trustworthiness. The following strategies were utilized in th is study to establish trustworthiness and authentication: 1. Triangulation of datausing multiple data sources such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups to confirm findings. 2. Member checkstaking data back to the people from whom they were derived and asking them if the results were plausible. Data gathered from the surveys were given to the participants during the interviews, and data gathered from the interviews were also given to the focus group participants. 3. Peer/colleague examin ationasking colleagues to comment on the findings (also known as an auditor). The Writers in Training, a dissertation study group of teachers and administrators currently work ing in the schools, and a recent doctoral graduate from the University of South Florid a served as colleague examiners during this study. 4. Participatory modes of researchinvolvi ng participants in all stages of the study. Voluntary participants were involved in all stages of da ta collection, from collecting surveys to pa rticipating in focus groups and interviews. 5. Researchers biasesstatement of re searchers experiences, assumptions, and 56


biases at the outset of the study (these experience s and biases were as stated in chapter 1). User Generalizability User generalizability is defined as the readers ability to determine whether the researchers results can apply to his or her own situation (Me rriam, 1998). Individuals who read this study have the opportunity to de termine whether its results can be applied to their own situation (Merriam, 2002). The researchers intent was not to generalize the findings of this study to all pr incipals and teachers but to provide valuable and relevant information that may be useful to othe r school practitioners and researchers. The researcher used a variety of techniques in order to help the reader relate to the results. One technique that was used was to provide detailed descriptions of teacher leadership and its implementation at each school. This helped to enhance the probability of connections formed by the reader. Another technique was examining multiple schools, a common strategy for enhancing user generalizability (Merriam, 1998). Summary This study examined how principals init iated and created teac her leaders within their schools. This investigation is potentiall y highly valuable to school-based educators because the current literature infrequently examines the importance of principals interacting with teachers to enhance teach er leadership. Although researchers such as Rallis and Goldring (2000) and Lambert ( 2003) listed steps taken by principals to facilitate teacher leadership, there is little e xplanation of the process the principals went through to initiate teacher leadership roles. This qualitative study set out to provide principals with a set of conditions for effective interaction with teachers in order to create teacher leadership roles that are 57


meaningful and productive to the school as a whole. As previously mentioned, some of the conditions offered may not be relevant to every school site because all schools are different. It is assumed that readers of this study who are principals or leadership teams will therefore determine which leadersh ip roles best apply to their schools. 58


Chapter Four Results The purpose of this chapter is to report results from my exploration of the primary research question: What features of teacher leadership are evident in high-performing schools? Questioning the principa ls role in building leadersh ip capacity, the researcher investigated three elementary schools to describe the effe cts of this phenomenon on each schools performance. The goals of this study we re to identify the processes by which the principal participants created and developed teacher leaders within their schools and how teachers were selected for various leadersh ip roles, assuming these processes were occurring. School-based administrators, administrative team members, and teachers completed surveys and responded to questi ons conducted during interviews and focus groups. Principals were asked to list the numbe r of leadership opport unities within their schools. In addition, administra tive team members provided examples of situations when teacher input was needed. In addition, the researcher examined the principals behaviors and teachers perceptions of three elementary principals in a school district in central Florida. Although user generalizability is limited in this study multiple data sources were collected at several sites, the analysis of which revealed crucial insights. Based on the literature review conducted and the discove ries made, the researcher concludes in chapter 5 with a 59


set of conditions for initiating and creating teacher leadership roles that may assist principals and teachers in working together in the total operation of their schools. Summary of Methodology A brief description of the studys methodol ogical structure is included within this chapter, but it is described more complete ly in chapter 3. The following methodological information is outlined: case study research design, study participan ts, data-collection procedures, and data-a nalysis procedures. Case Study Research Design Seven public schools in a southeastern distri ct in Florida were surveyed to gain an in-depth understanding of teacher leadership. Pr ior to surveying all of the schools, one of them served as a pilot for the original study. Da ta collected from this research site were used to test the surveys, gather feedback on the instruments, and detect errors before conducting the official study with the six rema ining schools. Schools were selected based on similar demographic information, such as a school accountability grade of A, racial composition of students, student enrollment, and percentage of students on free and reduced lunch. Based on the data analyzed from the surveys obtained from the six schools, three were selected for conduc ting interviews and focus groups with administrative team members and teachers. Scho ols A, D, and F were selected for this study. Chapter 3 explained how the three schools were selected for participation. Study Participants This studys research population consiste d of principals, assistant principals, resource teachers, deans, behavior specia lists, reading coaches, compliance teachers, guidance counselors, staffing specialist, and teachers. A sample was selected from among 60


this population. The researcher discovered th ree administrative team playersassistant principals, curriculum resource teachers, a nd compliance teachersthat were regularly employed at the three elementary schools. Fo r consistency purposes, these individuals were asked to participate in the interviews and focus groups. The principal and the three members of the administrative team at each school agreed. In all, 165 surveys, 24 interviews, and 6 focus-group sessions with school leaders and teachers were completed between March and June 2006. Prior to and during this study, the expected research procedures were upheld. The researcher followed guidelines, upon approval, from the University of South Floridas Institutional Review Board (IRB), and perm ission was obtained in January 2006 from the districts Office of Assessment, Accountab ility, and Research. The researcher then contacted each of the seven elementary school principals selected for this study within the school district, inviting their participation for the second time. Data Collection Procedures After creating the studys instruments, conducting the pilot study, and obtaining approval from the universitys research comp liance office and the district, I telephoned the six principals to set a time to be at their next faculty meeting. All meetings were scheduled after thirdthrough fifth-grade students complete d the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). At the faculty mee tings, the researcher e xplained the research study and the informed consent forms. Surveys were then distributed to and completed by the teachers and administrative teams. Teachers were invited to participate in the focus groups and interviews, and dates were scheduled for these activities at all three elementary school sites. 61


The semi-structured interviews (see Appendices C and D) with the administrative team members and teachers were designed to last up to 45 minutes but actually took 25 to 30 minutes. Focus groups with th e two sets of participants lasted about 45 minutes. Prior to all interviews and focus groups, the resear cher asked administrative team members and teachers for permission to audiotape 24 interv iews and 6 focus-group sessions for later transcription and analysis. All pa rticipants gave their verbal c onsent. Overall, the surveys, interviews, and focus groups enabled me to develop a more complete understanding of the principals role in building leadersh ip capacity at various elementary schools. Data Analysis Procedures The focus of my data analysis was to identify common ideas, themes, and/or patterns that emerged from the response s (Merriam, 1998; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Patton, 2002; Stake, 1995). The researcher utiliz ed the results to describe the processes by which principals enhanced teacher leadersh ip roles within their schools (see chapter 5), therefore responding to the primary and secondary research questions. The following steps outline the data analysis procedures used: Step 1: Immediately following each session, the researcher transcribed the interview and focus group data. Step 2: The researcher conducted member ch ecks (Creswell, 1998; Glesne, 1999; Merriam, 1998; Stake, 1995) by sending the transcripts from the interviews and focus groups to the participants. They were instruct ed to send the transcripts back to me if changes were needed. The researcher was able to gather all of the interview transcripts from the 24 participants. All participants had indicated in writing on the transcripts that no changes were needed to the transcripts. 62


Step 3: The researcher read all the transcri bed material, noting important themes, patterns, and ideas in the margins. Step 4: A sample of the data collected were shared with graduate colleagues and my major professor in a group context for p eer examination (Creswell, 1998; Glesne, 1999; Merriam, 1998; Stake, 1995). The purpose of this practice was to ask professionals and a scholar in the educational field to c onduct inter-rater reliability on selected data sets. Additional themes/patte rns/ideas were worked out th rough dialogue and sharing and were incorporated into the studys findings. Step 5: The emergent themes, patterns, and id eas related to th e studys research questions were communicated and supported through the dissertations results (see chapters 4 and 5). Table 2 Meta-Matrix of Research Questions and Sources Question Data Collection Method Data Analysis Theme Primary Question surveys, interviews Looked for similarities Curriculum (administrators and and differences from (see p. 64) teachers) responses Secondary Question #1 surveys, intervie ws, Looked for descriptive Supportive focus groups words to describe what (see p. 67) principals did Secondary Question #2 surveys, intervie ws, Looked for descriptive Visionary focus groups words to describe what (see p. 81) teachers thought of principals Table 2 presents a snapshot of how the da ta were gathered and analyzed from the pilot study. Beginning on page 64, additional th emes and patterns are highlighted from 63


this study. The pilot study helped the research er to organize the data and begin to see similarities and differences in the responses provided by the school leaders and teachers. The data were placed on a meta-matrix (Miles & Huberman, 1994) to help put the text in content, explain its importan ce, and provide a synopsis. The researcher reviewed the documentation, which then allowed for conten t analysis and patte rn recognition. Patton (2002) used this process to search for repea ting words, phrases, ideas, patterns, or themes to see how many times and in what context a word or phrase was used. In addition, Miles and Huberman (1994) noted the frequency with which an idea or phrase was repeated as a way to illustrate why a pa rticular idea, word, or phras e was selected as a common pattern or theme. For this st udy, the researcher created themes collected by the teachers responses based on whether words or phrases we re repeated at least twice. The emergent ideas, words, phrases, themes, and patterns as they related to th e studys primary and secondary research questions, as well as the data collecti on instruments were communicated through the dissertat ions findings in chapter 4. One strategy the researcher used to esta blish credibility and authentication was to identify his personal biases (Creswell, 1998). By acknowledging these, I made a conscious effort to minimize any prejudice that could affect the outcomes of this research. In order to do this, the researcher debriefed my major professor and graduate peer examiners as to my results. This was an effort for peer examiners to call attention to any questions about or concerns with the fi ndings. This studys results were reviewed twice throughout the course of the dissertation process: after the pilot study was conducted and after the data (v ia the survey, interview, a nd focus group) were collected from the three research sites. 64


Resulting Data The next section outlines the data results generated from surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Within these res ponses, the researcher uncove red common ideas, themes, and/or patterns that answer the studys resear ch questions and accomplish the goals of the research. Survey Questions for Administrative Team Members Administrative team members, such as deans, behavior specialists, reading coaches, guidance counselors, and staffing sp ecialists at all thr ee school sites were prompted for basic demographic informati on, such as the number of years spent in education and in their current pr ofessional roles. Four principa ls, four assistant principals, four curriculum resource teachersteachers who support teacher development through curriculum and instruction, and four compliance teachersteachers who oversee Language Enriched Pupils (LEP) policies and procedurescompleted the surveys at all three sites. At two sites, administrative team members ranged in age from 31 to 40, while they were between 41 and 50 at one of the sites. School leader s had been in the education profession anywhere from 11 to 20 years. The administrative team members had been in their current roles from between 4 to 8 years. Question 1. Please list all the leaders hip opportunities or committees that are available at your school. Also, please give the number of teac hers that belong to each of these. Examples of leadership opportunities and committees were evident at these schools. The committees varied from each site, but all of them coul d be categorized as one of the following: 65


1. School-based. All sites had grade level/ team leaders. School Advisory Councils (SACs) and ParentTeacher Associations (PTA s) functioned at all schools. In Florida, SACs and PTAs are required to operate in sc hools according to district and state policies. 2. Curriculum. Two schools had establishe d a Reading/Literacy Council, and one had a Math Council. All three sites had cr eated vertical team sseveral groups of teachers consisting of one teacher from each grade levelto align the process of how benchmarks are taught on a conti nuum and up-leveled in concepts. 3. Professional development. Since this district had cut site-based funding and centralized all funds, the sc hools all relied upon the expertis e of teacher leaders for professional development. All schools f unded a part-time reading coach, who was required to attend a series of monthly, 1-da y workshops to learn new strategies and training to take back to their schools. Two t eachers, one in a primary grade and another in an intermediate grade at each school, had also been chosen by the principal to serve as math specialists. These teachers followed the same expectations as the reading coaches. Curriculum resource teachers wo rked closely with the readin g coaches to provide schoolbased workshops and follow up with impl ementation of these new strategies. 4. Code of school conduct. All three el ementary schools formed committees to address discipline. Two of the schools list ed having a Discipline Committee, and one school had a Bullying Prevention Committee. One of the schools had a subcommittee of the Discipline Committee: the Character Education Committee. This committee developed monthly themes for teachers to conduct mini-lessons on such topics as honesty, perseverance, and empathy. 66


5. Social. Although the names of the committees varied, each school had established a social committee in charge of or ganizing different events for the faculty and staff, such as Holiday Parties and Team-B uilding Activities. The number of teachers listed as being part of these co mmittees ranged from 2 to 16. Question 2. Describe situations or instances when it is important to have teacher input. One administrative team members response summarized the overall theme that emerged: All situations directly involving the teachers! It is imperative to have teacher input for all important issues at the school. Examples such as interviewing/hiring new teachers, budget, scheduling, parent involvement, curriculum, and how programs and student support personnel work were given. Question 3. Describe situations or inst ances when it is not important to have teacher input. All four principals replied that it is not important to have teacher input in situations that are beyond th eir [principals] control. Ex amples consisted of federal and/or state laws or mandates, emergency-response procedures that are outlined by district policies, and anything mandated fro m above, such as district policies or superintendents. Question 4. Describe situations or in stances when you have implemented or changed a policy or procedure due to suggestions made by a committee or teacher at your school. Each school leader shared an example of a recently changed policy or procedure. One administrativ e team member replied, I asked for input from teachers and the administrative team members about the procedures in place. I did not want to ch ange everything abruptly, but to analyze whether it was working and was effective. Changing check-out material procedures were made and implemented by teachers. 67


Another school leader replied, Traffic flow of cars coming into school to drop off and pick up students. A common theme disc overed in all three schools was that administrative team members had changed their offerings of staff development workshops based on what teachers had suggested. Question 5. What strategies, techniqu es, and/or programs have helped your school to become an A? All participants gave detailed responses to this question. The three schools had implemented school-wide tu toring programs with teachers and/or paraprofessionals to work with students. A common theme that all school leaders felt helped them to achieve A status was using student data to drive classroom instruction. Two schools shared the theme of a supportive, caring environment for teachers and students. Another strategy evident in all th ree schools was faculty-o riented professional development: One of the schools had study groups where teachers shared their learning with one another. Teachers had selected a book called Powerful Teaching by Judy Taccogna and John Jay Boustingl (2003). They met over a series of three weeks and shared successful and unsuccessful examples of how they utili zed the instructional strategies presen ted in the book. Survey Questions for Teachers At all three school sites, teachers we re prompted for basic demographic information, such as the number of years spen t in education and at their current schools, on the surveys they completed. At one site, teachers ranged in age from 20 to 30, while at two of the sites they were between 31 and 40. Teachers had been in the education profession anywhere from 11 to 15 years, and they had been working in at their current schools from between 4 to 6 years. 68


Question 1. Are you a member of any sc hool committees? If yes, please list the name(s) of the committee(s). Out of 165 surveys, only two teachers noted that they did not belong to a school comm ittee. Common committees included a School Advisory Council and PTA. While compiling data from the surveys, the researcher noticed discrepancies in what leadership comm ittees were offered at the schools by administrative team members and teachers. Teac hers provided more examples than their school leaders of the various committees. In order to verify the data results of the question, I e-mailed the three principals a lis t of the responses th at the teachers and administrative team members had provided from their school. When reviewing the lists, all three principals had identical responses: I forgot about that committee. When asked why they had forgotten a particular committ ee, one respondent remarked, Some teachers listed duties, such as Team Leader or Be ginning Teacher Mentor, which they are in charge of as committees. Getting a supplemen t isnt the same as being on a committee. Principal participants distinguished the diffe rence between leadersh ip roles and duties. Leadership roles were seen as volunta ry and non-paid, while duties were not. Question 2. What leadership opportunities have you taken on this past school year? Why or why not? Leadership opportunities were made available to the teachers at all three schools. Principals were using direct and indirect approaches for inviting teachers to be on committees. One teacher explained, During preplanning, our principal has a big list of committees on chart paper th at she needs teachers on. She asks everyone to sign up for one committee, except 1st-year teachers. Another teacher replied, She asked me personally to sit in on the interview committee for the new assistant principal, curriculum resource teacher, and compliance teacher. 69


Question 3. Describe a time when you ha ve served on a committee that presented an issue or concern to your principal. How did the principal handle the issue or concern? Different issues were presente d to the principal in each of the schools. Several concerns were relevant to the curriculum or instruction of the students. A theme highlighted here was that feedback is important to principa ls when it affects the teachers. One teacher explained, Successmaker [FCAT preparation computer software for students] has incredible potential for enhancing success. Unfortunately, the time/stress increases as teachers increase the number of programs students perform since each of those programs must be monitored and managed. Teachers were instructed to use a basic reading and math program for each child. Other programs could be added when needed, and mentors were availabl e to assist teachers in doing so. This prevented Successmaker from overwhelming teachers. Another teacher shared, As a grade level, we approached the pr incipal about a problem we were having during a math meeting. We were asked to align our task analyses to our TERC series [math curriculum used at this sc hool] to Everyday Math [math curriculum adopted by the district]. We had ques tions about the format and agreeing on which program should take precedence over the other. An elementary teacher added, When it comes to making decisions about what we are doing for our students, I want to be involved. I want to understand the principals reason and the direction that we need to move the school. Once I know that and a plan has been set, then I am completely comfortable in what we are going to do. One concern that was consistent acro ss all three schools i nvolved the Faculty Advisory Councils (FACs) ch allenge regarding how to spend the A+ Recognition bonus money. According to Florida statutes, each FAC must create a plan, and faculty and staff must vote on it. Once the plan has been a pproved by the school, the School Advisory Council (SAC) must approve it. If the FAC cannot come up w ith a plan by the middle of November of each school year, the bonus money gets equally split among all faculty 70


members. Non-instructional and classified staff members are ineligible. Teachers indicated that they struggled with creating the plan, but once finalized it was approved by the principal before it was presen ted to the SAC for approval. Question 4. Under what circumstances ar e you given the opportunity to have input into the important decisi ons that affect your school? When teachers were asked this question, one theme emerged: Their principa l had an open-door policy. A participant responded, She has an open-door policy and counts on our opinions in making policy decisions. Another teacher commented, Our principal has an open-door policy, meaning that he is open to suggestions and/ or concerns at any time during the year. Contrasting views were shared by teacher s at one school about giving input into decisions made at the school. Although the prin cipal of this school had perceived herself as encouraging teacher input and having an open door, the teachers shared mixed feelings. Some suggested that their princi pal had an open-door policy, while others did not. Teachers at one school felt their principal did not feel they were capable of giving input into decisions being made at the school. Concerns of tr ust and input were discussed. One teacher shared, We have very little input. SAC is a very benign committee (we receive information and convene). There is a l ack of trust when delivering opinions. There is a fear of backlash if your opi nion does not go with what the principal wants. There are a few that reside in th e inner circle of having opinions valued; the rest need to keep their h eads down and their mouths shut. Another teacher explained, I do not feel that the staff is given ve ry much input into important decisions at this sc hool. At times, it is usually (a lmost always) the same staff members that are asked to give input. 71


Question 5. How does your principal s how that your opinion is valued? Several leadership behaviors were evident in teacher s responses. These included having an opendoor policy, encouraging and supporting ideas, and offering feedback by notes or by email. One teacher disclosed, [My principal] always tells us that we know our students and that we know where their areas of difficulty are. He supports us by encouraging us to bring concerns and ideas to him. He truly respects our opinions by allowing us to feel comfortable with our ideas. Several teachers echoed this response. One observed, [The principal] has an open-door policy and will listen and respond to any concer ns or ideas. He promotes using e-mail to ask questions or offer suggestions. He always responds to e-mail. Teachers discussed their principals approach on how information was shared with the faculty and staff. In addition, teachers understood the complexity of the principals role. One respondent stated, [My principal] always tries to soften the blow on many things. The district has placed so many demands on administrators that as soon as the principal makes a decision with the staff, the demands may have already changed. It must be very frustrating for administrators. Questions for the Administrative Team Member Interview The researcher created seven semi-structu red questions for the participants with the hope that, within and acr oss their responses, themes and ideas would be uncovered among the respondent groups. Data from the three elementary school administrative teams and teachers interviews were analyzed via individual res pondents and schools, and via participant groups. Based on their clea r and concise answers given during their interviews, the researcher sensed that the pr incipals and teachers fe lt it was their duty to make their school the best. Teachers expressed that they understood the mission and 72


vision of their school and school district. Part icipants seemed comfortable answering questions about teacher lead ership and their success with students. The interview protocols for administrative team member s and teachers are provided in appendices C and D. Question 1. In your own words, define the word leader. The definitions given for leader included motivation, organization, and ach ieving goals. One respondent captured a common viewpoint: A leader has a goal or vi sion and is able to motivate and guide others towards that goal or vision. Other leaders added th e phrases, good listener and constant learner to the same response. Another school leader stated, Someone who tries to be fair and conscientious of others. Question 2. In what ways do you use this definition of leader for yourself? When participants answered this que stion, the first theme that emer ged from the data analysis was supporting goals. Several school leaders mentioned, I support the goals of the principal and the school. I do whatever I can to support him and empower the teachers to do the same. Other teachers asserted, I help facilitate the implementation of effective teaching strategies in the classrooms as we ll as curriculum and in this way move the school toward the goal of increased student achievement. The second theme that emerged from the data analysis was leading by example. Many of the administrative team members echoe d the response of this participant: I believe I set a standard and lead by example. People will often follow someone if that leader is willing to join in the effort a nd go through all the step s required to achieve a particular goal. 73


Question 3. What are the characteristics you look for when hiring a new teacher? The following is a list of desired character istics of new teachers described by school principals and administrative team members: 1. Knowledge of curriculum 2. Ability to be a team player 3. Ability to get along with others 4. Energetic (bubbly) personality 5. Same philosophy about how to educate students 6. History of accomplishing goals The first two items were the most frequent responses received. Question 4. In what ways have you provided opportunities for teacher input? School leaders provided opportunities for t eacher input through surveys, informal discussions, curriculum and data meetings, grade-level meetings, faculty meetings, emails, and student-profile meetings. Principals had shared that their teachers were always willing to give their input on issues and con cerns that were presented to them. School leaders had stated that they had solicite d input when it came to decision involving curriculum and instruction. In addition to these methods, some school leaders believed in availability and approachabilit y. One leader echoed the voice of the other administrative team members: I believe the most important thing a school leader can do is to be accessible and approachable with these two characteristicsteachers will be willing to offer their input in both formal and informal settings. Question 5. In what ways have you d eveloped a professional learning community at your school? School leaders believed that coll aboration among the teachers helped 74


them become a professional learning commun ity. Sharing ideas, coaching other faculty members, and jointly working toward the goal of student achievement were typical examples of this collaborati on. One school leader explained, You have to provide opportunities for teache rs to work together. Not just within their teams, but outside of that realm. For example, during vertical teaming meetings, teachers have the opportunity to share ideas about what strategies work best with students from different abil ity levels. Teachers learn best from each other because it brings credibility to what is and is not working in the classroom. The school leaders believed it was just as important to grow professionally as well as the teachers. Principals had discussed how they needed to model this practice by leading and/or participating in school-based staff developmen t. One principal had shared that she presented several workshops on anal yzing student data. Another principal had mentioned that he had presented workshops to the faculty on best reading practices. Question 6. In what ways have you empowered your staff to develop their leadership skills inside and outside the classroom? Leadership opportunities were created in several ways, such as book studies and pr esenting workshops. One administrative team participant replied, We have encouraged teachers to share responsibility for student achievement by ability grouping, which has allowed teachers to become leaders via their expertise within their team. We have also encour aged teachers to become expert leaders for their team in curriculum areas such as Successmaker, and asking them to present staff development workshops. Another school leader stated, Teachers are enco uraged to act as mentors. They have also been offered the opportunity to present in formation at staff and team meetings. Question 7. Describe a time when you felt satisfied with the work environment among the teachers at your school. Can you de scribe a time when you felt dissatisfied? 75


Most statements describing a time when they were satisfied were summed up by this reply: Im pretty happy with the teacher s at this school. They really care about the students and school. One school prin cipal shared a specific example: I was excited with our Study Group Showcase. Teachers were divided into several teams, and they had selected a book to study. They met over six weeks, then the entire school got together and each group presented their information to the rest of the groups. I was extremely proud of how smooth it went and how much the teachers enjoyed it. Two of the schools had undergone leadership changes. Some of the administrative team members at one of the schools shared in stances of when they were dissatisfied with the previous leadership regime: Three years ago when the new principal came, the staff was really unhappy and divided. The entire staff came together fo r a series of school-wide team-building activities. At first, there was resistance, but it was a wonderful experience for all involved. Our school was truly one community of learners. We were not divided by grade level or specialty area. The new principal of this school describe d her experience of her initial arrival: When I first arrived to the school, I ca me mid-year. One of the tasks I was responsible for was hiring new teachers for the next school year. As expected, I had several teachers leaving to go work with the new principal. This created seven vacancies at my current school. Several teachers from my old school inquired about the vacancies I had. Since I knew th ey were great teachers, I offered the jobs to them. I had planned an end-of-the -year ice cream social for the teachers and I had invited the new teachers to come and meet them. It was a bad idea! My new teachers thought I was making a big deal about the teachers I had worked with before. It took a long time for the teachers to get past that. I brought in a consultant to help us work on some trust building and community building with the staff. Another school leader commented, It has been as though a black cloud has b een lifted from this school. Before, teachers were unhappy and unprofessional. It was as though they came to punch in their time cards, do their job, and l eave at the end of each day. We went through a series of community-building workshops to discuss our problems, and then things started to change. Teachers are happier and more professional with 76


their dealings with students, parents, and each other. I am so happy she is here. She has changed our school around. I have learned a great deal from her. Questions for the Teacher Interview Question 1. In your own words, define the word leader. Nine out of the 12 teachers interviewed defined leader in a way consistent with one teachers response: I think of a leader as someone who guides or inspires others through their words, actions, and character. A leader is someone that others look up to and respect. Question 2. Do you consider yourself a leader at this school? Describe your position. All teachers responded yes to this ques tion. I noted a usual phrase in their answers: inside and outside the classroom. One teacher commented, Yes, I feel I am a leader. Not just in my role as team leader that involves keeping my team informed and unified through meetings and social activities, but in my relationships with my peers. Another teacher shared, I am a leader. I model behaviors for my students in the classroom such as respect, listening, empathy, and teamwork. I apply these same behaviors when I am interacting with my colleagues and parents. Question 3. In what ways has your prin cipal provided opport unities for teacher input? Teachers shared a variety of ways principals provided opportunities for input. A theme that emerged from the data were surveys via e-mail or handouts. One leader shared, He uses surveys and has an open-door policy that allows teachers to come in any time with ideas or needs. Another teacher noted, My principal is always sending out e-mails asking for our input on curriculum and instructionwhat affects the children most. During faculty meetings, we are given index cards to addre ss any issues or concerns we have that were not discussed. She follows up with a summary of the questions and answers in an email. 77


Another teacher added, Our prin cipal gives us a survey at th e end of the year. It asks [about] a variety of things, such as scheduling, staff, and academic programs. Question 4. In what ways has your pr incipal developed a professional learning community at your school? One example of developi ng a professional learning community at the schools was the professiona l development of teachers and staff. One teacher explained, She asks the staff for input about what trai ning opportunities they want or need through a survey. She offers workshops as voluntary, respecting teachers time and planning needs. The optional book ta lk was a great learning opportunity. A teacher echoed the same response: During our staff development Wednesdays, we can collaborate with others about instructional strategies. This is done as a staff and as a grade level. Question 5. In what ways has your pr incipal empowered you to develop your leadership skills inside and outside the classroom? Arising from the data analysis, all teachers supported their principal in allowing teachers to take advantage of professional development opportunities. One teacher commented, [The principal] provides funding and prof essional days for teachers to attend trainings off campus. His only requirement is that we present the information to the staff. He offers the opportunity to be a part of a variety of committees. Another teacher expressed giving input through committees: At the beginning of the school year, the pr incipal asks all teac hers to be involved in at least one committee. Committees ra nge from staff development, social committee, media and technology, literacy council, discipline, and parentleadership council. These committees have an active role in th e creation of school policies. Question 6. Have you been involved in a deci sion that has affected the students at your school as a whole? If so, describe. When answering this question, responses 78


centered around two themes: hiring new teacher s and selecting classroom curriculum. An elementary teacher remarked, I was asked to sit in and give feedback regarding the new assistant principal. Being a part of the in terview process was an honor because it was such an important decision for our school. Another teacher testified, When we are hiring new teachers, whethe r classroom or resource, teachers are asked to sit in on the interv iews. We have to find indivi duals that meet our vision and mission of the school. I sat it on the interviews for the new fourth-grade teacher and the curriculum resource t eacher. After each candidate interviewed, committee members gave pros and cons about the candidates. My principal valued my input, as well as the other committee members. She listened to what we were saying, and we went with majority rules. Question 7. Describe a time when you felt satisfied with the work environment among the teachers at your school. Can you desc ribe a time when you felt dissatisfied? A pattern that emerged from the transcribed data were professional collegiality. Teachers felt satisfied with the work environment when they recollected a pos itive experience with a colleague. A respondent remarked, The last time I dropped off the ESE [ex ceptional student education] progress reports, I had delivered them to each of the teachers and took a few minutes to conference about each students strengths and weaknesses. We also compared and contrasted information about the academic and behavior concerns in both of our classrooms. It was great having such pr ofessional and supportive conversations about our students. Having a good working relationship between ESE and general education teachers is very satisfying. Still another teacher expressed the following viewpoint: We were having a staff development on student writing. Each teacher was asked to bring three student samples. During the workshop, we were paired up with other teachers from various grade levels to get an idea of the writing continuum. It was great to see the link between what a kindergarten teacher does in writing helps build the foundation to when I ge t them in third grade. During the workshop, we were talking about the student s and what could we do to help them academically grow. Some of us had the same students in different grades. We talked about different strategies that were successful and unsuccessful. That workshop helped me to remain focused on why I am a teacher. It is about the kids. 79


One teacher shared his dissatisfaction when he served on a committee devoid of good communication between the principal and the committee: I served on a technology committee that was preparing to establish a computer lab. We were at an advance process when the principal decided not to fund the program anymore. We were left in the col d. It felt as though we did all that work for nothing. [The principal] never explained to us fully that sh e ran out of money for the program. Later, we also found out that her boss and th e district did not support the program we were looking into implementing at the school. Only one school shared instances when teachers were unsatisfied. Responses focused on when the new principal had taken over the school. Her predecessor had been selected by the school board to open a new el ementary school, and several teachers left the school to work with this principal, thus creating critic al faculty vacancies. The new principal had hired nine teachers from her prev ious school to fill all of the vacancies and introduced the new hires to the current facu lty in an e-mail message. Administrators shared their thoughts during this period at the school. Teachers shared their opinions about the situation: I felt very hurt that we were not in cluded in making the decision for the new teachers. I do not think it was so much the decision rather in the way it was handled. It appeared as though it was an oh by the way type of mentality. It was just not a good way to start your ad ministrative career at the school. It was a bad time 3 years ago. When the new principal came in, she brought nine of her teachers with her from her old school. She introduced them in an e-mail and told us to come to an after-schoo l reception to meet them. I was thinking, Are you kidding me with this? When I wa s hired here, I did not get a reception for others to come and meet me, nor di d the other teachers that came here the same year as me. It was as if she was putting them on a pedestal. She hired a consultant to get at the bottom of the team-building issue we had at the school. We got through it and things have been much better. Discussion Prompts for Focus Groups : Administrative Team Members The researcher created four semi-structured discussion prompts for the administrative team members and teachers fo cus groups. In addition, participants were 80


given a list of the survey and interview respons es to validate the statements. Participants had a positive rapport with each other and enjoyed being a part of the study. It was easy to see the dominant personalities in the focus groupsthere was always one member who consistently answered each question first and led the discussion. The other participants would nod their head s in agreement and not offer any additional insights. It was inferred from the teachers that some of them might have felt uncomfortable sharing ideas in front of others. The discussion pr ompts are displayed in appendices E and F. Question 1. What opportunities have you crea ted at your school for teachers to develop their leadership inside and outside the classroom? Participants gave examples of leadership roles they had listed before, such as staff development presenters, Successmaker leaders, team leaders, and trainer-of-trainers workshops. Question 2. Are there teachers on your staff that do not take leadership opportunities when presen ted? Why or why not? All school team members unanimously said yes. Two reasons were given by the focus groups: teachers individual personalities and preferen ces. One leader replied, There are several teachers on my staff th at do not take leadership opportunities when presented with the occasion. Some teachers feel insecure about their abilities, some feel uncomfo rtable speaking in front of large groups of people. Others are concerned about the extr a time required to prepare for said opportunities. Question 3. What are the characteristics t hat you look for when selecting teachers for leadership roles and/or opportunities? The focus groups shared several characteristics that they look for in a teacher. One re sponse to summarize the groups feelings was, people that will get the j ob done using good judgment. Another leader added, People 81


skills, organization, knowledge, and dependabi lity. In addition, one administrative team member mentioned an established reputation with the faculty. Question 4. Describe how you have personally contributed to the success of this school. Respondents described their cu rrent role in the school a nd used it to explain how they personally contributed to the success of the school A school leader shared, As a resource teacher, I make sure the teachers have the materials they need in order to teach. I train, coach, and support their growth as teachers. I also make time to be in contact with students by i ndividually working with a group of third graders for after-school tu toring and writing groups. Another school leader shared this viewpoint: I am visible and approachable for teachers, parents, and students. I assist with the day-to-day operations that help the school run efficiently by handling the majority of the discipline referrals. Data folders are monitored. I also keep track of the FCAT scores and student registration upda tes. This lets teachers know the status of their students. Discussion Prompts for Focus Groups: Teachers Question 1. What words would you use to describe your principals leadership style? Give examples to illustrate each word you selected. Many of the participants offered visionary. One participants ex ample illustrated her choice of the word: She is able to see the possibility of a better school for students and teachers even when others could not. She knew what kinds of changes were necessary to make that happen. She is willing to try everything at least once. Several participants described their principal as supportive; one teacher elucidated: I had handled a situation with a parent completely wrong. I knew I messed up. I went to my principal to inform her of what happened and how I dealt with it. I knew the parent was going to call. We had a meeting with the parent and student the next day. My principal defended me to the parent and tried to smooth out the situation. After the parent left the meeti ng, my principal talked to me about the situation and how I could have handled it differently. She could have embarrassed me in front of the parent but she did not. I am glad she handled it the way she did. 82


A common idea was that principals were efficient and got the job done. An elementary teacher explained, [The principal] gets the job done and in a timely manner. I needed a reference form filled out for graduate school and asked him to complete it for me. I told him that I needed it back in 2 weeks. The fo rm was completed and handed back to me by the end of the same day. Another time I asked the custodians to take an extra table out of my classroom. When [the principal] wa s in my classroom for an observation, he noticed the table. He left my classroom and came back in 10 minutes. He brought a hand-dolly and moved the table himself. One teacher responded, [This principal] is so much better than my last one. He always lets us know what he is thinking. We meet to talk about students, data, and the meetings are not a waste of our time. Nothing is a surprise around here. Question 2. What experiences do you perceive have provided you with the knowledge and/or skills to take on leadership roles at your school? The pattern that emerged from this question was staff developm ent. Respondents believed that the various staff-development workshops, such as teaching vocabulary and making classroom accommodations and modifications for student s, helped them develop their knowledge and/or skills. When teachers became confident with newly acquired information, they shared their knowledge and e xperiences with other collea gues. One teachers response mirrored the groups: The various leadersh ip opportunities increased my skills and knowledge about the teaching profession, which ga ve me what I needed in terms of vital information for leadership. Question 3. Describe how you have personally contributed to the success of this school. Similar to the administrative team member s, teachers defined their roles along the lines of how they contributed to the succe ss of the school. Teacher s that taught in the primary grade levels replied in a similar manner: We are giving our students a strong 83


academic and social foundation for success in the upper grades. Intermediate teachers related, We are able to look at classroom data and identi fy students strengths and weaknesses. We continue to challenge our students and help them to be well-rounded citizens. Question 4. Do you think teacher leadership is encouraged at this school? If so, how? All respondents emphasized that teacher le adership was encouraged at the school. One elementary teacher explained, [Teacher leadership] is emphasized, but not overemphasized. There are plenty of opportunities to lead and get involved. Yet those who choose not to lead are still great teachers. They are not made to feel negatively for their lack of leadership involvement. Another teacher stated, My prin cipal is always enc ouraging us to be a part of the school. She says it takes all of us working togeth er to help our students. All principals acknowledged in their interviews that they understood their leadership roles and knew they could not do their job effectively w ithout teacher leader s on their campuses. Summary The purpose of this study was to desc ribe the processes by which principals enhanced teacher leadership roles within th eir schools and the leader ship roles that the teachers undertake. The goals of this study ar e to: (a) identify the processes by which the principal participants started to create and develop teacher leaders within their schools, and (b) observe the principals selection of teachers for various leadership roles. The survey, interview, and focus group questions we re presented in this chapter and explored using the response data collected from the ad ministrative team memb ers and teachers at three elementary schools. Although it was di scovered that there were different perceptions between administrative team me mbers and teachers of what constituted 84


leadership roles within the schools, principa ls nonetheless created numerous leadership opportunities at their sch ools, notably for math specialists, team leaders, reading/literacy council members. Elementary school teachers shared instances of suggested policies and procedures, such as discipline and arrival/ dismissal procedures, that were implemented by their principals. School l eaders used a variety of techniques to seek input from teachers, notably surveys, e-mail, and thr ough open-door interaction. In addition, teachers felt their principals valued their personal opi nions, as expressed by principals taking the time to listen to their concer ns or sending a thank you note. Participants disclosed their thoughts on what strategies and techniques helped their schools become and maintain a school grade of A, such as after-school tutoring programs and specific curriculums. Some of these were illustrated in their responses to other questions. Staff development opportunitie s and selection of new faculty and staff members were key themes. All teachers were encouraged by their principals to suggest ideas to improve their schools, and all principa ls were described as having an open-door policy. All 12 of the administrative team partic ipants provided opportunities for teacher leadership within their schools, primarily by forming or facilitating school-based committees. School leaders solicited opinions fr om teachers, especially when it came to curriculum and instructional c oncerns. When sharing best practices or participating in staff development opportunities with colleague s, teachers felt satisfied with their work environments. School leaders and teachers unde rstood the roles they played in the overall success of their schools. 85


Based on the literature review and wh at has been discovered throughout this study, the researcher hoped to provide principals with a se t of conditions for building teacher leadership capacities within their schools. The data collected for this dissertation carries with it implications for practice a nd future research within the educational leadership field. In the following chapter, the results of this study are summarized and its implications are highlighted. 86


Chapter Five Conclusion and Recommendations This chapter provides an overview of the resultant data from surveys, interviews, and focus groups with administ rative team members and teac hers at three elementary schools located in a large school district in central Florida. The researcher conducted all scheduled interviews and focus groups, and school leaders and teachers shared their thoughts regarding teacher leadership with in their schools. Emerging themes are presented and discussed, along with recommenda tions for future research. The researcher concluded with some thoughts regarding my journey through the course of this study. Introduction The purpose of this study was to explor e how public school principals develop teacher leaders and how this effort af fects school performance. The idea of leadership distributed across multiple people and situations has proven to be a useful framework for understanding the realities of schools and how to improve them (Timperley, 2005). One principal interviewee shared, There is no way I can do this job by myself. I rely on the expertise of the leadership t eam and classroom teachers in order to make our school the best it can be. Another school leader added, Running a school is much like that familiar proverb It takes a village to ra ise a child. I believe it takes al l of us to educate a child. After examining a variety of sources, such as journal articles and web-based search engines, it was concluded that there was limited information concerning how leadership was distributed particularly about how principa ls establish these leadership 87


roles. Therefore, the researcher sought to di scover what characterist ics principals look for when selecting new teachers, what leadersh ip opportunities were made available to teachers, and how these roles helped to sustain a high-performing school. The researcher also explored recent school-based decisions made by teachers and administrative team members. In addition, the behaviors of three elementary school principals as portrayed by their teachers a nd their perceptions of their principals were depicted. Furthermore, teachers and school l eaders views of their school cultures were examined. A main significance of this research was the specific focus placed on what elementary school principals do, primarily studying how these leadership roles and opportunities were created. At this time of th is study, this research provided more insight than what the current literature on teacher leadership had to offer. To accomplish the goals of this study, th e researcher reviewed salient reports on teacher leadership. These reports aided with the task of developing data collection instruments for teachers and school leaders, and with conducting a p ilot and the actual study (see chapter 3). In all, 165 surveys, 24 interviews, and 6 focus-group sessions with school leaders and teachers were completed between March and June 2006. Features of teacher leadership in high-performing schools were investigated. Fina lly, an analysis of the studys results was undertaken (see chapter 4), and a written report followed addressing the need to continue research on teacher leadership (see chapter 5). Conclusion Based on this research and the connection among themes presented, three prominent conclusions of high-performing schools were identified: 1. The principals role 88


2. School-based leadership opportunities 3. Professional learning communities The Principals Role Research consistently suggested that the principal was the key to shaping a schools culture (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Lambert, 2003; Patterson, 2001). The principal sets the tone for the school by establishing the policies, procedures, and expectations. This system of meaning often influences how people think and act. Questions from the surveys, interviews and focus groups were designed to explore what principals do and how they act. When teachers were asked to describe a time when they served on a committee that presented an issue or concern to the principal, all participants had an incident to share. A ll issues shared had been resolved, with the exception of one. This was the result of the principal not following up with the technology committee at one school. This is si gnificant because school leaders in this study were seen as completing tasks in a timely manner. Principals were also viewed as having an open-door policy, inviting teachers to suggest ways to improve the school. Principals also treated their teachers as professionals and set high expectations for performance and achievement. This quote also brings home the theme of communication. Teachers respect ed their administrators when they understood what was expected from them. The beliefs and perceptions formed by the teachers were reflective of the principals behaviors. Based on the data an alysis, principal behaviors observed by the teachers included listening to concerns and i ssues, sharing the vision of the school, being 89


efficient in daily tasks, and demonstrati ng successful communication skills with staff members. As an elementary principal, the teachers in this study have shared that they want a principal who is willing to listen, support th em with the decisions they make within reason, and have trust in what they say and do. Teachers are willi ng to take on more responsibilities, such as leader ship roles, if they respect a nd admire their principals and feel supported. The value of building collegial relations hips among the teachers and between the teachers and administration is extremely powerful. Principals must strive to establish trust with their teachers before they can begin to share leadership responsibilities and develop teacher leaders within their schools. School-Based Leadership Opportunities When school leaders and teachers were aske d if they were part of any school committees, numerous responses were give n. All participants gave examples of leadership opportunities, such as acting as a member of the Discipline Intervention Team or Literacy Council and being a ma th specialist. It is important to note that the principals perceived the leadership roles in their schools differently than their teachers. After further investigation of this discre pancy, an additional theme em erged: Principals defined leadership opportunities as non-paid, as opposed to teachers receiving supplements for their roles. Teacher participants defined themselves as leaders and gave examples of their leadership in and out of the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, or as new initiatives were being implemented, all school leaders created leader ship committees. They were established by identifying needs and asking for volunteers or speaking with teachers individually. The 90

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researcher categorized committees as: (a ) mandatory school-ba sed, (b) social, (c) curriculum, (d) professional development, a nd (e) discipline. Teacher participants and school leaders believed it was essential to be a part of the decision-making process, especially when it came to the hiring new faculty members, purchasing curriculum, and researching new instructional practices. When teachers and school leaders were asked about situations when committees gave input into school-based decisions, (a) opinions and suggestions are solicited from stakeholders, except in emergencies and topdown district mandates, and (b) opinions are solicited when teachers are expected to implement a program. Although most public school districts select which curriculums are going to be a dopted, schools do have control over supplemental materials and delivery of instruction. It is important to add that communication needs to be ongoing between the pr incipal and the commi ttee at all times. Open and honest communication is the most im portant way that principals can establish trust with their teachers. Professional Learning Communities Based on the teacher and administrative team members responses during the interviews and focus groups, study participants shared that they were satisfied with their work environment and enjoyed interacting wi th colleagues, with the exception of the transition of the principal at one school site School principals created opportunities for teacher interaction within their schools, such as mentoring new teachers, discussing students strengths, and shari ng best practices for classr oom instruction and student achievement. 91

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Based on the analysis of transcribed texts, principals initially created these professional learning communities by selecting new teachers. Several desired characteristics were given, such as curri culum knowledge and being a team player. Furthermore, school leaders understood that some teachers chose not to take on leadership roles. However, leadership opportun ities were available to all and encouraged by the principals. So what does all of this mean? The c oncept behind teacher leadership involves principals developing their schools as a comm unity of leaders. Schools have become very complex and have to accommodate too many needs. One person can no longer address all of the demands placed on these institutions. In order to accomplish this goal, school leaders have to understand that the relationship between the faculty and principal is crucial. This relationship must exist in order for teacher leadership to thrive in a school. Teachers have to see themselves and others as leaders and understand the impact they have beyond the classroom. School leaders must establish a culture of trust, honesty, and professionalism between themselves and th e teachers. In addition, principals must provide and support opportunities for leader ship by, for example, aligning teacher strengths and roles. What is the impact of teacher leadersh ip on schools? In order for school reform and student achievement to be better facilitated as major e ducational goals, principals and teachers have to discuss and implement methods for improving schools. Principals and teachers are both continuous learners within the school, sharing stra tegies and ideas to make decisions that will affect them and th eir students. Furthermore, school leaders come and go. Schools should be able to carry on in their daily opera tions regardless of 92

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leadership changes. It is important that teachers work with the principal when this happens. Based on this study and my personal ex periences as an administrator, these are the reasons why teacher leadership is cruc ial to the educational profession. Teacher leadership instills lifelong lear ning among students and educators. As noted in chapters 1 and 4, some of th e conditions of teacher leadership offered may not be relevant to every site since all schools are different This research or researcher does not assume that schools grad ed B to F are not util izing similar teacher leadership roles and that principals in thes e schools are demonstra ting different behaviors and have different teacher perceptions. In a ddition, this research or researcher does not assume that principals at these schools ar e in any way less effective if they are not developing their teachers as leaders. In fact, they may have created comparable leadership opportunities for thei r teachers at their schools a nd exhibit some of the same behaviors as the principals described in this study. Howe ver, those schools were not studied in this research project, which instead sought to provide a foundation of successful teacher leadership practice s in high-performing, grade A schools. Implications for Future Research Throughout the literature, shared governance has been a popular educational reform strategy for schools (Hicks, 2006; Holloway, 2000; Schlechty, 2001). This exploratory study supports the need to continue to examine the principals role in developing teacher leaders in order to im prove schools. Because of the qualitative methodology of this research and its use of a modest number of participants, user generalizability is limited. Expanding the number of participants by including more school districts within the state of Florid a or within other states could increase 93

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generalizability. In addition, sc hools with free and reduced lu nch rates of 75% or more and schools rated a B to F by the Florida Department of Education could have been examined. Furthermore, the borders of this study could be expanded to include private educational institutions. Additional implications for future resear ch should include why some teachers choose not to take on leadership roles. Base d on the 165 surveys collected in this study, only 2 teachers indicated why they did not take on leadership roles. Interviewing teachers who choose not to take on leadership role s would provide furthe r research on teacher leadership. To expand this st udy to make it more global, st ates should be compared to determine what constitutes high-performance schools. For example, Texas has a series of standardized tests, similar to Florida, known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) (Texas Education Agency, 2006). TAKS reports the percentage of students in grades 3 through 11 on various a ssessments that scored high enough to meet the standard to pass the test. In addition, state educational statutes could also be examined to determine if the legal implications are the same for principals in Florida as compared to other states. Nonetheless, an abundance of data were collected at multiples sites that revealed critical insights. Re gardless of the studys limitations this dissertation may help to continue dialogue and provi de practical tips for principa ls in building leadership capacity within their schools. Examining the Principals Role As established, the purpose of this study was to discover prominent features of teacher leadership in high-performing sc hools. In addition, principal behaviors and 94

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teachers perceptions were examined. Characteristics common to the three principals and what leadership opportunities teachers were unde rtaken at their schools were described. This research took place at the end of the year, when leadership roles were already well established. Although principals described how leadership opportunities were presented to their teachers, this st udy neither addressed why teachers selected specific committees nor explored the convers ations occurring between teachers and principals when teachers were asked to be on a committees. Researchers in the leadership field need to pursue a study that focuses on th e initial interactions between principals and their teachers at the beginning of the school year. Teacher and Principal Retention Recent research has also examined sc hool culture and its effect on teacher retention (Plecki, Effers, & Knapp, 2006; Y oung, 2007). Plecki, et al. (2006) suggested that little research exists nation-wide on th e extent to which teachers move from one school or district to another or exit the profession, or the factors that may influence teachers to leave a school or the profession entirely. The researcher began to question whether school principals perceptions and behaviors could be a factor in whether teachers stayed at a school. In addition, principal reten tion could also be studied more. There are principals that are moved from school to school and prin cipals that remain at a school for several years. Why have some principals been move d from a school only after a few years? Why have some principals remained at schools for several years? Is there a correlation between principal retention and effectiv e leadership? Knowing the reasons why principals stay at a school fo r years or move from one school to another could shed light 95

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on knowing if their supervisors perceive them as possessing certain effective leadership behaviors. Talent Keepers Trust Builders (2007), a central Florida organization that primarily works with school dist ricts, found that the main reason teachers stay at a school is trust in the principal. Through a series of online training and workshops, Trustbuilders consultants work with school administrators on trust-building strate gies with teachers. These strategies apparently help principa ls retain teachers at their schools. This companys research suggests th at researchers need to pursu e study of the retention rates at these research sites, as well other schools with similar demographics. Implications for Practitioners This studys findings have implications for school practitioners. In many situations, teachers valued their principals communication skills, efficiency in handling situations, having an open-door policy, and soliciting their input in school-wide decisions, such as curriculum and instructional practices. Teachers also believed they benefited from the opportunity to reflect upon and share their cu rrent instructional practices with colleagues. These are the c onditions necessary for school principals to initiate and create teacher leaders with in their schools. The goals of this study were to identi fy the processes by which the principal participants started to create teacher leader s within their schools and to observe the principals selection of teachers for various leadership roles. Leadership roles were primarily created to assist with new school-bas ed and/or district initiatives that were being implemented, such as math specialists and wellness representatives. Principals had selected teachers for leader ship roles based on background in formation given during their 96

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initial interviews, through in formal conversations, and thr ough classroom observations. If teachers are looking to go beyond the classroom and are seeking administrative roles, such as assistant principals and principals they will ask their principals to take on additional roles to gain leadership experien ce. These examples provide a framework for principals who are beginning to create teacher leadership opportunities. School leaders must be conscientious of their behavior when interacting with faculty and staff members. Early one morni ng when arriving to work as principal, I opened my office door to discover that a teacher was knocking on the lobby window. She startled me. I did not expect to find one of my teachers there at that time. The teacher proceeded to ask a question that I could not answer immediately, so I indicated that I would give her the correct answ er after I made a call to the district office. Five minutes after my conversation, I left my office to dist ribute a memo to the faculty and staff. While in the lounge, another teacher approached me and said, I heard you are in a bad mood. I replied, No. Why would you think that? Sh e responded, [Mrs. Smith] said she asked you a question and you looked as though you were in a bad mood. I commented, No, Im in a good mood. I was just in deep thought because I was busy with a task and knew that I would need to research the answer to her question. This story highlights that teachers view principals behaviors under a microscope. Shared governance resonated as another theme throughout the literature and the findings from this case study; principals cr eated numerous opportunities for teachers to lead within their schools. This trend of i nvolving teachers in the decision-making process is predicted to continue (Fullan & Hargreav es, 1996), as leaders are now recognizing the value of empowering staff and students and producing greater buy-in from all 97

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educational community members (Johnson & Scollay, 2001; Ortiz & Ogawa, 2000). School leaders should focus greater atte ntion on understanding how teachers and principals can work together toward school improvement. Principals have a difficult balancing the management tasks and instructional tasks of their role. School leaders have to remember what their focus needs to be, that is, an instructional leader. Creating and empower ing teacher leaders is one of these instructional tasks. The principal is the pe rson who shapes the school culture, a practice that must be modeled in their daily actions with teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members. Implications for Scholars This studys findings also have implications for scholars. This research contributes to the current liter ature by adding insights into the principals role in building teacher leadership capacity. Just as practiti oners should focus on creating leadership roles within their school, perhaps some scholars should also center their research on identifying current leadership roles in school s. In addition, this study identified certain behaviors that teachers observed in their principals. Scholar s could help their students by creating school-based scenario s and using role-playing form ats to illustrate how the principals behaviors aff ect teacher perceptions. University professors should consider offering leadership courses on or embed themes of trust building and establishing leadership capacity within their programs. Scholars could instruct their students using cas e studies at local publ ic schools. Through this method, students could come to understand the nature of shared leadership within their schools. Future research in this area could center on studying whether shared 98

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leadership has an effect on how long teach ers remain at a school. Additional studies could consider the principals role in esta blishing teacher leaders at the beginning of a school year. Through the observation of this pr ocess in the school se tting, scholars could begin to understand which leadership roles are created and which roles teachers select and why. Summary The researcher recommends that principals exhibit certain characteristics, such as taking time to listen to teachers concerns a nd soliciting feedback from staff via surveys or e-mails. Other pertinent ac tions included asking for input into decisions that affect students and showing appreciation for their work and ideas through face-to-face conversations or thank-you notes. The teacher s participating in this study valued such behaviors. The researcher also proposes that principals create more opportunities for teacher leadership school administrators and teachers must work together when making decisions involving classroom curricu lum and instructional materials. Lastly, the researcher suggests that future research in teacher leadership continue to examine the principals impact on teacher leadership and teacher retention at their schools. In addition, studying the teacher retention rates at these or similar schools are grounds for future study. Furthermore, principa l retention should also be examined to determine the reasons why school leaders are re tained at schools or transferred to other schools. Answering the question Does the pr incipals role in building leadership capacity impact teacher retention at a sc hool? would provide more insight into the teacher leadership phenomenon. By empo wering practicing school leaders with 99

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conditions to enhance teacher leadership w ithin their schools, K schools will continue to improve. Researchers Final Thoughts My journey simultaneously overlapped as researcher and practitioner. While writing this dissertation, I experienced some professional changes in my career. My school-based role changed from an assistant prin cipal to principal, a nd this change helped me reflect on my own thoughts and emotions ab out leadership and the leader I want to be. As an assistant principal, I felt like all of the teachers in my building respected and valued me as an administrator and person. I fe lt that I had great rappo rt with the entire staff, and I had a minimal number of negative confrontations with faculty and stafflife as an administrator was relatively conflic t-free. Then things changed when I became principal at a different school site. As a principal, I feel the effect of all eyes on me teachers, students, parents, community member s, and school board members. In general, a tremendous amount of pressure is placed on school principals concerning student success. As I was told by a deputy superintendent for a school district in central Florida, We are living in a high-stakes environment where accountability is at the forefront and high student performance is expected. As prin cipal, I have learned that I am on stage every day and I have to model what I expect from the teachers and students at all times. Before I began my first day as prin cipal, I had a meeting with my area superintendent. During our meeting, she informed me that I had two goals to meet for the school: to take it to the next level in terms of student achievement and to work with the staff. I replied, What can you tell me about the staff? Prior to selecting the new principal for the school I lead, she had a pr incipal input meeting with the teachers. 100

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Teachers had shared with the area superintendent that they felt unappreciated and distrusted the previous prin cipal. In order to move th e school forward, I knew that I needed to work on the issue of trust with the staff. When I arrived at the school in 2005, I met individually with the teachers that served on the interview committee. I wanted to ask them questions and ascertain their feelings about the school. After I gathered i nput from the faculty and staff, I understood their biggest concern with the previous admi nistrator was that they felt they were not included in any decisions a nd never knew what was going on at the school. I spent my first year of administration making sure to keep the faculty and staff informed of district policies and procedures. When making school-b ased decisions, I solicited opinions from teachers and included them in the decision-m aking process. I also worked on developing a positive rapport with the teacher s. I made sure to take time to talk to the teachers to learn something personal about them and their students. I felt I had built the foundation for establis hing trust during my first year of the principalship with the teachers. During my second year of administration, we had to implement two major curriculum initiatives. The teachers seemed open to and supportive of this idea. I felt buy-in had occurred w ith the staff largely b ecause I had established trust with my teachers, solicited feedback from the teachers, and had open and honest conversations with them as to why the changes were needed for our students. As I reflect upon this dissertation resear ch, I learned about my strengths and opportunities for growth as a leader. I have also learned that I cannot solve all the schools problems by myself. Building a pos itive and honest relationship with the teachers has proven critical to the success of the school and its students. Based on my 101

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learnings from this study in addition to my current role, I strive to have positive and honest interactions with th e teachers with whom I work involving such matters as students, data, curriculum, a nd best practices. When decisi ons must be made, I gather teacher input by sending out e-mail surveys targ eting different concerns about the school. In addition, I create ways for teachers to be a part of the school, i nviting them to pilot new curriculum and serve on interview committees for new teachers. The results of this study have helped me become a better princi pal by making me even more conscientious in my interactions with teachers and student s toward creating a better school for the teachers and primarily our students. 102

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U.S. Department of Education. (1996). The role of leadership in sustaining school reform: Voices from the field. Retrieved March 3, 2003, from Vanderbilt University. (2001). Teachers as leaders initiative Retrieved January 30, 2003, from Wasley, P. (1989, April). Lead teachers and teachers who lead: Reform rhetoric and real practice Paper presented at the annual m eeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA. Wasley, P. (1991). Teachers who lead: The rhetoric of reform and the realities of practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Weber, J. (1989). Leading the instructional program. In S.C. Smith & P.K. Smith (Eds.), School leadership: Handbook for excellence (pp. 191). Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED309513). Weiss, C. (1993). Shared decision making a bout what? A comparison of schools with and without teacher participation. Teachers College Record, 95 (1), 69. Welsh, P. (1987). Are administrators ready to share decision making with teachers? American Educator, 11 47. Whaley, K. W. (1994). Leadership and teacher job satisfaction. NASSP Bulletin, 78 46 49. Wilson, M. (1993). The search for teacher leaders. Educational Leadership, 50 (6) 47. Yukl, G. (2001). Leadership in organizations (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 120

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Zmuda, A., Kuklis, R., & Kline, E. (2004). Transforming schools: Creating a culture of continuous improvement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 121

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Appendices 122

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Appendix A: Survey Questions fo r Administrative Team Members My name is Rahim Jones, and I am a docto ral candidate at the University of South Florida. I am completing a case study as pa rt of a doctoral requirement. Kindly respond to the following questions on the front and back of this survey. In addition, please give the number of teachers that participate on these committees. Thank you for your time. Please return the completed survey to me at the end of the faculty meeting. Basic demographics of participant: Number of Years Total in Education _______ Number of Years at This School _______ Number of Years in Administra tion or Administrative Role ________ Please mark the categories t hat apply to you with an X: Gender: Male _______ Female _______ Age: 25 to 30 _____ 31 to 36 _____ 37 to 42 _____ 43 to 48 ______ 49 to 54_____ 55 or over _____ Directions: Please list all the leadership opportunities or committees that are available at your school. Also, please give the number of teachers that belong to each of these. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 123

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Appendix A: (Continued) Directions: Please answer the following questions. 1. Describe when it is importa nt to have teacher input. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 2. Describe when it is not importa nt to have teacher input. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 3. Describe situations or instances when it is not important to have teacher input. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 124

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Appendix A: (Continued) 4. Describe situations or instances when you have implemented or changed a policy or procedure due to suggestions made by a committee or teacher at your school. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 5. What strategies, techniques, and/or programs have helped your school to become an A? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 125

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Appendix B: Survey Questions for Teachers My name is Rahim Jones, and I am a docto ral candidate at the University of South Florida. I am completing a case study as part of a doctoral requirement. Please take a few minutes to respond to each question. Tha nk you in advance for your time. Before you leave the faculty meeting, please return the completed survey to me. Basic demographics of participants: Number of Years Total in Education _______ Number of Years at This School _______ Highest Formal Degree Obtained (i.e ., Bachelor of Science [B.S.]) ________ Are you a National Board Certified teacher? __________ Please mark the categories t hat apply to you with an X: Gender: Male _______ Female _______ Age: under 25 _____ 25 to 30 _____ 31 to 36 _____ 37 to 42 _____ 43 to 48 ______ 49 to 54 _____ 55 or over _____ Directions: Please answer the following questions. 1. Are you a member of any school comm ittees? __________ If yes, please list the name(s) of the committee(s) ________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 2. What leadership opportunities have you take n on this past school year? Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 126

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Appendix B: (Continued) 3. Describe when you have served on a committ ee that presented an issue or concern to your principal. ___________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ How did the principal handl e the issue or concern? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 4. Under what circumstances are you given the opportunity to have input into the important decisions that affect your school? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 127

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Appendix B: (Continued) 5. How does your principal show that your opinion is valued? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 128

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Appendix C: Questions for the Administrative Team Member Interview 1. In your own words, define the word leader. 2. In what ways do you use this definition of leader for yourself? 3. What are the characteristics you l ook for when hiring a new teacher? 4. In what ways have you provide d opportunities for teacher input? 5. In what ways have you developed a prof essional learning comm unity at your school? 6. In what ways have you empowered your staff to develop their leadership skills inside and outside the classroom? 7. Describe a time when you felt satisfied with the work environment among the teachers at your school. Can you describe a time when you felt dissatisfied? 129

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Appendix D: Questions for the Teacher Interview 1. In your own words, define the word leader. 2. Do you consider yourself a leader at this school? Describe your position. 3. In what ways has your principal provided opportunities for teacher input? 4. In what ways has your principal developed a professional learni ng community at your school? 5. In what ways has your principal empowered you to develop your leadership skills inside and outside the classroom? 6. Have you been involved in a decision that ha s affected the students at your school as a whole? If so, describe. 7. Describe a time when you felt satisfied with the work environment among the teachers at your school. Can you describe a time when you felt dissatisfied? 130

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Appendix E: Discussion Prompts for Focu s Groups: Administrative Team Members 1. What opportunities have you created at your school for teachers to develop their leadership inside and outside the classroom? 2. Are there teachers on your staff that do not take leadership opportunities when presented? Why or why not? 3. What are the characteristics that you look for when selecting teachers for leadership roles and/or opportunities? 4. Describe how you have personally contri buted to the success of this school. 131

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Appendix F: Discussion Prompt s for Focus Groups: Teachers 1. What words would you use to describe you r principals leadership style? Give examples to illustrate each word you selected. 2. What experiences do you perceive have pr ovided you with the knowledge and/or skills to take on leadership roles at your school? 3. Describe how you have personally contri buted to the success of this school. 4. Do you think teacher leadership is en couraged at this school? If so, how? 132

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Appendix G: Transcript of Teach er Interview 2 from School A IN: Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. I have seven questions to ask. As I mentioned before, this information will not be shared with your principal. Do I have your permission to tape this interview? T2A: Yes. IN: First question: In your own words, define the word leader. T2A: Someone who guides or inspires others through their words, actions, and character. A leader is a person that ot hers look up to and respect. IN: Do you consider yourself a leader at this school? De scribe your position. T2A: Yes, I feel I am a leader and not just in my role as team leader that involves keeping my team informed and unified through meeti ngs and social activities, but also in my relationships with others. IN: In what ways has your principal pr ovided opportunities fo r teacher input? T2A: He uses surveys and has an open door policy, which allows teachers to come in any time with needs or ideas. IN: In what ways has your principal devel oped a professional lear ning community at your school? T2A: He asks the staff for i nput about what training opportun ities they want or need. He offers workshops as voluntary, respecting teachers time and planning needs. The optional book talk [Ruby Payne] wa s a great learning opportunity. IN: In what ways has your pr incipal empowered you to deve lop your leadership skills inside and outside the classroom? T2A: He provides funding and professional or temporary duty days for additional training 133

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Appendix G: (Continued) off campus. He offers the opportunity to be a part of a variety of committees as well. IN: Have you been involved in a decision that has affected the stude nts at your school as a whole? If so, describe. T2A: I was asked to sit in and give feedback regarding the new assi stant principal. Being a part of the interview process was an honor because it was such an important decision for our school. IN: Describe a time when you felt satisfied with the work environment among the teachers at your school. Can you descri be a time when you felt dissatisfied? T2A: No, I do not have a recent example of feeling dissatisfied. The last time I dropped off the ESE [exceptional student education] progress reports I hand delivered them to each teacher and took a minute of two to see if they needed anything and how they felt the students were doing. Having a good worki ng relationship between ESE and general education teachers is very satisfying. IN: That is all the questions I have. Is ther e anything else that you would like to share? T2A: No, I think you covered everything. IN: Again, thank you for taking the time to par ticipate in this study. In a few weeks, you should receive a transcript of this interview w ith directions on what to do with it. If you have any questions about this st udy, please feel free to contact me. T2A: Thank you for having me. I look forward to reading your study. 134

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Appendix H: Transcript of Teach er Focus Group 3 from School D IN: Thank you all for taking the time to par ticipate in this focu s group session. I have four questions to ask. As I mentioned before, this information will not be shared with your principal. Do I have your pe rmission to tape this session? T1D: Yes, you do. T2D: Yes. T3D: Yes T4D: Yes, you have my permission. IN: Ok, let us begin with the first question. What words w ould you use to describe your principals leadership style? Give exampl es to illustrate each word you selected. T2D: Visionary. She was able to see the possi bility of a better school even when others could not. She knew what kinds of changes we re necessary to make that happen. She is willing to try everything at least once. T1D: She is a good listener. Whenever I have a problem or concern, she always takes the time to talk thru it and help me come up with a solution. T4D: Compassionate. I have seen her take her own money and buy supplies for a kid in need. IN: What experiences do you perceive have provided you with the knowledge and/or skills to take on leadership roles at your school? T3D: The various training opportunities in creased my skills and knowledge about the teaching profession, which gave me what I n eeded in terms of vital information for leadership. T4D: I agree. The staff development is very helpful. If we attend a workshop off campus, 135

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Appendix H: (Continued) our principal asks us to present the inform ation the following week. If you know upfront that is the expectation, it helps people step outside their comfort zones. T2D: I would say my principals encouragement. She is always letting us know of how to get involved in education other than teach ing, such as forwarding e-mails from the National Education Association or Department of Education. IN: Describe how you have personally cont ributed to the success of this school. T4D: I think the changes I implemented with the ESE [exceptional student education] students made a big difference in their performa nce as well as the schools. Before I came, most ESE students were self-contained. Now, most spend the majority of their day in regular education classrooms and receiv e support through co-teaching, consultation, and pullout services. T1D: I teach 3 rd grade, which is a tested grade level. It is important for me to know what the standards are, make sure I know my kids know the standards, and then help them understand what the standards look like on a test My kids have always done well year after year. That is how I contribute. T2D: I teach Kindergarten students. I realize I have to give the necessary foundation for all of my students because so much depends on their performance on these standardized assessments in the years ahead. If not then I know I have failed them. T3D: I think it is important to collaborate with teachers and share your ideas. It is through these dialogues that we become better educators. I love team planning and working with my team. IN: Do you think teacher leadership is enc ouraged at this school? If so, how? 136

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Appendix H: (Continued) T4D: It [teacher leadership] is emphasize d, but not overemphasized. There are plenty of opportunities to lead and get i nvolved. Yet those who choose not to lead are still great teachers. They are not made to feel negativel y for their lack of leadership involvement. T2D: If you want to get involved, you can. There are plenty of committees that our principal is always asking fo r volunteers. If not, you can alwa ys go the principal with an idea and she will support you in whatever way she can. T1D: Exactly. If you want to get involved, do so. If not, it is ok too. No pressure to do join, but I think everyone is involved in some way. T3D: I second what she said. IN: I have no more questions. Is there anyone that would like to a dd to something that was said? T1D: I do not. IN: I guess this ends our session. Thank you ag ain for your participation in my study. I will be in touch with each of you shortly to give you a tran script of our session. More details will follow at that time. If you have any questions about my study, please let me know. You are free to go. Thank you again. 137

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About the Author Rahim Jamal Jones earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Florida Southern College in Primary/Elementary Education. He taught various elementary grades for 5 years in public education wh ile earning his Masters of Education in Educational Leadership K-12 at the University of South Florida. Rahim was an elementary assistant principal for 3 years and is currently a prin cipal for 2 years. He continued his schooling and graduated from the University of South Florida with a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership a nd Policy Studies K-12. 138


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