Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Early Care and Education Leadership: Toward a Theory of Essential Experiences, Skills and Knowledge for Effective Early Care and Education Change Agents
by Austin, Lea J.E., Ed.D., Mills College, 2014, 138; 3630410
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the ways in which mid-career intermediary early care and educations leaders, "change agents among change agents," have prepared themselves for leadership roles given the lack of articulated competencies and pathways to ECE leadership. Thousands of ECE leadership roles in which persons are responsible for informing, developing and implementing policy and practice standards for the ECE field, and working in politically charged settings, are being filled across the country. Yet little is known about those filling these roles and scant attention has been paid the educational and professional development needs of these leaders. This study used a constructivist grounded theory methodological approach to learn about the lived experiences of nine mid-career intermediary leaders, and from this derive a contribution to a theory of essential skills, knowledge, and experiences for effective ECE leadership. Findings indicate that participants in this study, regardless of whether they had prior experience in the ECE field, identified a need for leadership development focused on developing subject matter expertise about the ECE system, political strategies, and communication skills. Findings also indicate that participants experienced a range of challenges as leaders based on age, and that participants of color also experienced leadership challenges because of their race. Findings further indicate that participation in in-depth ECE-based leadership programs and relationships with mentors helped to fill in some knowledge gaps and mitigate some of the challenges experienced because of age or race. The results suggest that a lack of attention to the development of a diverse cadre of field leaders has led to a knowledge gap in the acquisition of leadership competencies, and has undergirded generational and racial tensions among field leaders, amplifying the need for further research to inform policies, programs, and practices to support the development and promotion of a diverse, well-prepared leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ketelle, Diane
Commitee: Kahne, Joseph, Stroud, Regina
School: Mills College
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education, Early childhood education
Keywords: Change agent, Child care, Early childhood, Generational, Leadership, Race
Publication Number: 3630410
ISBN: 978-1-321-08347-7
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