Most states require that schools engage in school improvement programs to meet accountability mandates which necessitates that teachers develop the skills necessary to accomplish school improvement efforts. The problem is that classroom practitioners lack the skills necessary to achieve effective school improvement. Limited research exists with respect to professional development activities and teacher perceptions toward professional learning experiences. Teacher perceptions of their professional development experiences affect classroom instruction and student learning. The SMART Goal Framework (SGF) has been developed as a school improvement model designed to provide teachers with the skills necessary to build leadership capacity through focus, reflection, and collaboration. This qualitative, single site case study examined teacher perceptions with the SGF to understand how the skills learned affected teacher behavior and student learning, built collegiality with peers and school leaders, and built leadership capacity within the school. Individual interviews, written responses, and a focus group interview were conducted with 10 teachers who were trained and implemented the SGF over a 5-year period in a rural East Texas school district. Using case study analysis, data were triangulated and three themes emerged relative to the skills learned from the SGF training: intentional instruction, collegiality and collaboration, and leadership and leadership capacity. Results of the study indicated that: 1) teachers were empowered to make instructional decisions which increased teacher efficacy and student learning; 2) collegial relationships allowed teachers and administrators to work collaboratively to solve instructional problems; and 3) teachers could articulate the traits of leadership capacity, but they were unable to articulate a conceptual understanding of leadership capacity. Teachers identified campus leadership as the key to successful SGF implementation. Teachers perceived three barriers that hindered campus implementation: failure to train non-core content teachers, new employee training, and campus leadership. Recommendations included: 1) developing an induction program for new employees; 2) developing a training plan for non-core content teachers; and 3) discussing the findings with district administration regarding leadership capacity. Recommendations for future research included: 1) conducting a study on the effect of the resistance of school leaders to engage in professional development activities to further school improvement efforts; 2) conducting additional studies on practitioners' perceptions and attitudes of professional learning experiences to add to the existing limited research in this area; and 3) conducting additional studies on practitioners' perceptions of professional learning experiences with other initiatives in the current district.
|Advisor:||Fore, C. Jerome|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, School administration, Teacher education|
|Keywords:||Collaboration, Instructional practices, Leadership, Professional development, Professional learning, Teacher behavior|
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