Date of Award

5-15-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Sheryl Cowart Moss, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robert Hendrick, III, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gregory Middleton, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Kristina Brezicha, Ph.D.

Abstract

This research explored the interactions between school and teacher leaders and teachers in professional learning communities. Using a distributed leadership framework, it examined the interactions that took place in professional learning communities to discover how they may influence perceptions of collective efficacy. Perceptions of collective efficacy have been positively correlated with student achievement (Bandura, 1993; Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000). Additionally, both teacher leadership and professional learning community implementation have been positively correlated with higher perceptions of collective efficacy (Angelle, Nixon, Norton & Niles, 2011; Derrington & Angelle, 2013; Voelkel & Chrispeels, 2017). The literature provided context in four primary areas: distributed leadership, efficacy, teacher leadership, and professional learning communities. This qualitative case study was conducted in a Southeastern school district that encourages the development of teacher leaders and the implementation of professional learning communities. Two school leaders, two teacher leaders, and four teachers from two professional learning communities were interviewed for the study, and each professional learning community was observed three times. Documents also were collected and analyzed. Interview data were triangulated through observations and document reviews, and member checks were utilized. Data was analyzed using initial, then axial coding. Categories were created that were responsive to research questions. This study identified four types of interactions that occurred between school leaders, teacher leaders, and teachers in the PLC context: people-focused interactions, purpose-focused interactions, work-focused interactions, and instruction-focused interactions. The study also found that through celebrating success, modeling, creation of instructional work, commitment to continuous improvement, and shared experiences, PLC interactions provided experiences aligned with sources of collective efficacy. Understanding more about how interactions between leaders and teachers in professional learning communities influence the development of collective efficacy provides valuable knowledge about how teachers and leaders work together in professional learning communities. This insight, along with future research, may enable school leaders to prepare and support teacher leadership and professional learning community implementation with research-based best practices that may lead to increased student achievement.

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