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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exploring How Teacher Leaders Influence Instructional Improvement Beyond the Walls of Their Classroom

  • Author(s): Seals, Kenneth Roy
  • Advisor(s): Howard, Tyrone
  • Tucker, Eugene
  • et al.

Teacher leadership is a critical component of school improvement efforts especially in light of the limitations of principal leadership including job demands, principal shortages, and high turnover. Schools need distributed leadership to implement sustainable improvement. Since teacher leadership has a positive impact on the school, including the students, administration, and the teachers themselves, this study focused on teacher leaders. The study examined both teacher and administrator perspectives of how teacher leaders impact instructional improvement in high schools and what supports and/or inhibits teacher leadership. Specifically this study investigated how improved or innovative instruction travels from one teacher's classroom to another and what supports or barriers exist for these teacher leaders. Using a multi-site case study model, this qualitative study used data collected from administrator and teacher leader interviews from three high schools. These high schools were chosen because they had the largest academic performance growth out of the 18 high schools in their school district. The findings highlight the importance of teacher leader credibility and the need for opportunities for teacher leaders to influence other teachers. In addition, barriers to teacher leadership such as resistance or commitment to the status quo are explored. Finally, the need for more teacher leaders and support by administration is discussed. The study concludes with implications and recommendations for policy and practice.

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