Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Wording Their Own Worlds: A Phenomenological Exploration of Teachers’ Lived Experiences of Teacher Leadership
by Hamilton, Kristin Buckstad, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2019, 311; 13860423
Abstract (Summary)

Teacher leadership remains prominent in policy, career ladder programs, research, and professional discourse, yet few studies center what teacher leadership is like for teachers or what teachers are seeking when they construct their own career pathways. This gap is important to address. Teacher dissatisfaction certainly leads to recruitment and attrition challenges, but there is also an imperative for education as a human institution to attend to teachers’ needs. This study describes the lived experiences six teachers and the author had of teacher leadership.

Following the methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology as articulated by Heidegger, Gadamer, and van Manen, participant descriptions and other lifeworld texts are analyzed to render themes that evoke the lived bodies, time, spaces, and relationships of teacher leadership. Metaphorically, teacher leaders travel into between-spaces, across borders, and over edges in response to their callings. Teachers experience teacher leadership bodily, insatiably growing and enacting pedagogic knowledge. They experience leadership as a following of a pedagogic need that compels them. They navigate the world with finely tuned sense-abilities that perceive what students, teachers, and pedagogy need. Lastly, they experience leadership relationally, feeling connected with other teachers near and far. Teachers in this study also experience a profound tension. The decision to accept new responsibilities as their professional vision expands is rooted in their being as a teacher, whether the roles are in the classroom or not. Yet, teacher leadership asks them (via policy, titles, and other cultural signals) to replace their teacher identities with teacher leader or educational leader identities. The teacher leader name does not always feel right to them.

The final chapter of the study invites us to wonder about expanding the teaching profession’s scope in a way that resonates with teachers. In a world where “teachership”—the state of being a teacher, just as leadership is the state of being a leader—is recognized, the name “teacher” would be expansive enough to invoke all the opportunities teachers seek in pedagogy’s name. The study explores implications for a profession that empowers itself to claim teachers’ right of participation as teachers in other worlds within education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hultgren, Francine .
Commitee: De La Paz, Susan, Imig, David, Valli, Linda, Wiseman, Donna
School: University of Maryland, College Park
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Teacher education
Keywords: Educational leadership, Phenomenology, Professional development, Teacher education, Teacher leadership, Teaching profession
Publication Number: 13860423
ISBN: 9781085556866
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