Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Leadership in a Democratic School
by McCormick, Paul R., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 149; 10603433
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of a democratic school leader and understand how his conception of leadership is congruent or incongruent with notions of democracy and democratic leadership. This small, participant-observer case study follows a democratic school leader and his staff for a year and examines those challenges and opportunities. Specifically, the research addresses how a school leader’s belief system impacts their approach to school governance. It also examines the tensions leaders in this context encounter and how those tensions are navigated. The data uncovers unique opportunities that similarly situated democratic school leaders encounter, and the best approaches for practitioners in the field.

The research traces the history of democratic schools and the diverse set of ideas that define the broad spectrum of these types of schools. This work also examines recurrent leadership themes in literature and pairs them with some of the defining characteristics of democratic schools. It then looks specifically at research aimed at understanding democratic school leadership. It creates a conceptual understanding of democratic schools based on an intimate and practitioner-based understanding of the research site: voice in decision-making, curriculum, and community.

The findings uncover a school leader who is pulled in many different directions, but one who remains committed to the democratic process of deliberation and listening. The findings also elucidate a tension with autonomous teaching and curriculum writing, as well as the process of terminating students from community. While revisiting existing research, this work explains some new understandings about leadership in a democratic school context and contains some practical suggestions for leaders in similar situations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Remillard, Janine
Commitee: Ben Porath, Sigal, Lytle, James
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational administration
Keywords: Democratic leadership, Democratic school leadership, Democratic schools, Small schools
Publication Number: 10603433
ISBN: 9780355219173
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