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TNLI: Action Research: Professional Development: Leadership by Design: How a Team Experience Shaped Teachers’ Views of Themselves as Leaders

Research Summary

The Questions:

If professional development is to be meaningful and valuable to teachers, it is necessary to know what teachers want to learn, from whom /how they want to learn it and give them a part in creating it. When teachers see themselves as active participants in a variety of school governance issues ranging from advisement to planning to leading workshops, they are more likely to buy into professional development activities, strategies, and implementation.

Using grant funding and consultant support, the school established a Design Team comprised of faculty and administration. The Design Team helped to set goals within the school in terms of school-wide student activities and professional development planning. With this in mind and spurred by the decision in my school to develop a Design Team, my research question became: How does a teacher’s level of involvement in planning or facilitating professional development impact his/her view of him/herself as a teacher/leader in a school and level of teacher involvement in PD creation/facilitation impact the culture of a school?

Draft of Action Research

Over the last three years, my pre-kindergarten to eighth grade school in the Bronx had been implementing a Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) grant. The goal of the CSR Program is to ultimately raise student achievement in the school by making changes and improvements in the way certain aspects of the school are organized. Among the reforms implemented to positively affect student achievement and school improvement has been a commitment to “distribute educational leadership” within the school building. This strand of school improvement includes having teachers take on more active leadership roles irrespective of whether they have specific “leadership” titles within their school building.

In my school, we chose to focus on greater involvement of teachers and staff in choosing and planning for professional development. Our rationale for this approach was that when a someone takes a personal interest in what he is learning and sees relevance in it, he is more likely to become engaged and active in that learning process. For teachers, this means deciding which topics are for study as relevant professional development. Student achievement is impacted because teachers bring information or instructional practices that they have sought to help them meet student needs and reach standards and goals.

In order to see how teachers perceive leadership and professional development in my school, I developed a survey. After looking at the survey format, I made some changes that I believed would make the survey shorter and data analysis easier. The survey was then shared with the school principal. The survey and principal feedback were then shared with the Design Team. The Team made decisions about wording and about questions that might be added in order to gauge what teachers felt about on leadership and involvement in planning. Once the survey had been updated and approved by the principal it was given to the school’s teachers during a faculty conference.

Elizabeth Gil

Research Focus:
Collaborative Teaching

TNLI Affiliate:
New York City

CS 211 - The Bilingual School
1919 Prospect Avenue
Bronx, NY 10457

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute, please e-mail Kimberly Johnson for more information.



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