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INSIDERS' VOICES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INFORMAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD

DeMore Palmer, Constance F. (2011) INSIDERS' VOICES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INFORMAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    INSIDERS' VOICES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INFORMAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD Constance F. DeMore Palmer, EdD.University of Pittsburgh, 2011This qualitative study examined the phenomenon of informal teacher leadership from the perspective of teachers who willingly, and for no compensation, choose to accept responsibilities beyond those specified by the terms of their contractual agreements. The study was conducted to discover factors - namely, elements of school culture - that motivate informal teacher leaders to accept responsibilities beyond those required. By learning why some teachers choose to lead by engaging in extra-role behaviors (Organ, 1990) while others do not, I am able to propose ways that school administrators might encourage informal teacher leadership necessary for school improvement.Research was situated in one small and one medium sized suburban middle school in Pennsylvania. During semi-structured interviews with principals, informal teacher leaders, and non-leading teachers, respondents described the phenomenon of informal teacher leadership according to his or her: (a) perception of self; (b) understanding of role; (c) prior experiences; (d) administrator's actions; (e) community's needs; and (f) school's culture.As a result of this study, I discovered that "informal teacher leadership" cannot be defined universally because the term means something unique and personal to every leader. Although informal teacher leaders often remain self-motivated to assume extra-role responsibilities (Organ, 1990), administrators' actions, school culture, relationships amongivcolleagues, and the perceived physical or emotional needs of students also influence whether some teachers will extend themselves beyond the terms of their contracts.To promote and sustain this abstract phenomenon, administrators might help teachers recognize their respective and often undefined roles - perhaps according to four domains of organizational citizenship behaviors (Oplatka, 2006). Administrators also might encourage the phenomenon by fostering a culture conducive to the emergence of informal teacher leaders. According to respondents, administrators can create this type of culture by: (a) cultivating, supporting, and praising informal leadership behaviors; (b) squelching behaviors that hinder informal teacher leadership, and particularly, incidences of relational bullying among colleagues - a significant impediment to informal teacher leadership; and (c) familiarizing teachers with the needs of the surrounding community.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairKerr, Mary Margaretmmkerr@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberTrovato, Charlene Atrovato@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberBickel, William Ebickel@pitt.edu
    Title: INSIDERS' VOICES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INFORMAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: INSIDERS' VOICES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF INFORMAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD Constance F. DeMore Palmer, EdD.University of Pittsburgh, 2011This qualitative study examined the phenomenon of informal teacher leadership from the perspective of teachers who willingly, and for no compensation, choose to accept responsibilities beyond those specified by the terms of their contractual agreements. The study was conducted to discover factors - namely, elements of school culture - that motivate informal teacher leaders to accept responsibilities beyond those required. By learning why some teachers choose to lead by engaging in extra-role behaviors (Organ, 1990) while others do not, I am able to propose ways that school administrators might encourage informal teacher leadership necessary for school improvement.Research was situated in one small and one medium sized suburban middle school in Pennsylvania. During semi-structured interviews with principals, informal teacher leaders, and non-leading teachers, respondents described the phenomenon of informal teacher leadership according to his or her: (a) perception of self; (b) understanding of role; (c) prior experiences; (d) administrator's actions; (e) community's needs; and (f) school's culture.As a result of this study, I discovered that "informal teacher leadership" cannot be defined universally because the term means something unique and personal to every leader. Although informal teacher leaders often remain self-motivated to assume extra-role responsibilities (Organ, 1990), administrators' actions, school culture, relationships amongivcolleagues, and the perceived physical or emotional needs of students also influence whether some teachers will extend themselves beyond the terms of their contracts.To promote and sustain this abstract phenomenon, administrators might help teachers recognize their respective and often undefined roles - perhaps according to four domains of organizational citizenship behaviors (Oplatka, 2006). Administrators also might encourage the phenomenon by fostering a culture conducive to the emergence of informal teacher leaders. According to respondents, administrators can create this type of culture by: (a) cultivating, supporting, and praising informal leadership behaviors; (b) squelching behaviors that hinder informal teacher leadership, and particularly, incidences of relational bullying among colleagues - a significant impediment to informal teacher leadership; and (c) familiarizing teachers with the needs of the surrounding community.
    Date: 13 May 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 23 March 2011
    Approval Date: 13 May 2011
    Submission Date: 22 April 2011
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
    URN: etd-04222011-094531
    Uncontrolled Keywords: educational leadership; informal teacher leaders; informal teacher leadership; organizational citizenship behavior; teacher empowerment; teacher extra role behavior; teacher leaders; teacher relational bullying; teacher volunteers; qualitative research; teacher leadership
    Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:41
    Last Modified: 30 May 2012 13:13
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04222011-094531/, etd-04222011-094531

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