Teacher Leaders’ Conceptualization of Teacher Leadership and Individual Teacher Leader Identity Public Deposited

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  • July 6, 2020
  • Feller Jr, Thomas R
  • Researchers recently concluded that over half of teachers who left the profession did so because they were “dissatisfied,” and two of the reasons offered were lack of opportunities to advance and lack of administrative support. Developing teacher leaders is a focus for many districts, foundations, federal funding agencies, and professional educators in an effort to address this troubling trend in teacher attrition. Yet, when asked what distinguishes teacher leaders from other educators, the responses seem as varied as the people who answered the question. In this exploratory multi-case study, I examine how six teacher leaders in one rural school district in North Carolina conceptualize “teacher leadership” and how they saw themselves as teacher leaders. The research questions I address are: (RQ1) How do teachers who have experienced a leadership program conceptualize “teacher leadership”? and (RQ2) How do these same teachers understand what it means to be a teacher leader? The purpose of the study was to determine if a common definition of teacher leadership exists among teacher leaders and, if so, what it is. This involved investigating motivations and identities, as described by the teacher leaders themselves. Data were collected from two rounds of semi-structured interviews and analyzed using an eclectic coding method. I present common themes from across the case studies. Deeper explorations of two of the teacher leaders provides additional data on how they think about their identity and roles. My goal is to inform the development of effective systems and structures for growing and supporting teacher leaders. At the end, I offer specific recommendations for districts and academics interested in creating teacher leader programs and topics for future researchers to explore.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • McDiarmid, G W
  • Greene, Jeffrey A
  • Glazier, Jocely
  • Houck, Eric A
  • Lys, Diana B
  • Doctor of Education
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2020

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