Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fostering the development of reciprocal collaboration between mainstream teachers and collaborating teachers
by Johnson, Frederick D., Ed.D., Rowan University, 2008, 217; 3359936
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this action research study was to analyze how I used my leadership theory as a building principal to facilitate change at Brown Elementary School located in Ivy Township, New Jersey. In this study, I was looking to define and/or redefine roles of collaborating teachers as it related to them having the ability to develop voice in reciprocal collaborative teams. I examined how my espoused leadership theories and leadership theories in use affected my actions as it related to creating the opportunity for collaborating teachers to see what currently existed in their professional relationships. Furthermore, I examined how my leadership theory enabled me to facilitate the development of improved collaborative relationships among mainstream teachers and collaborating teachers.

The focus for this study was on six classrooms in Brown Elementary School in which two teachers were engaged in collaborative teaching practices. There were eleven participants in the study, which consisted of five collaborating teachers and six mainstream teachers (homeroom teacher) in an inclusion setting. These individuals worked in pairs, co-teaching lessons to students who might not be academically marginal and/or economically disadvantaged. Classrooms that have co-teachers present are designed to meet the academic needs of marginal and/or economically disadvantaged students in an effort to create academic success for them.

This study looked at how collaborating teachers and mainstream teachers worked collectively in an effort to foster student success academically by engaging in meaningful dialogue that allowed all participants to have input into the creation, implementation, and assessment of student lessons. I used my leadership through a series of action research cycles in an effort to modify teachers’ perceptions about how to engage in authentic collaboration and not merely co-exist. Action research was selected as the methodology because it provided me with the opportunity to analyze the collaborative relationship between mainstream teachers and support teachers at Brown Elementary School in Ivy Township in an effort to improve practice. Researchers have noted that action research can be utilized to solve specific problems within an organization or program by engaging the people in the program in studying their own problems in order to solve those problems (Patton, 2002; Whyte, 1989). Additionally, action research was utilized as part of the change process at Brown Elementary School in an effort to improve the collaborative relationship among mainstream teachers and collaborating teachers in an effort to increase student achievement.

The major findings in this study involved me discovering that my espoused theories and theories in use were not congruent. Initially, I indicated that my leadership was comprised of characteristics of four tenets: transformational leadership, servant leadership, feminist leadership, and constructivist leadership. However, through the course of this study I discovered that characteristics of transformational leadership and constructivist leadership were more prevalent. This may be due to the nature of the study and other characteristics such as the perspectives of the participants and the setting of the study. A second major finding at the end of the study was that some teachers were in fact collaborative. However, for several other teachers data highlighted various areas of collaboration which needed to be improved such as communication and developing a shared vision. A final thought by me for the study was one in which I felt that the study could be extended. I would incorporate exit interviews with the participants in an effort to allow them to articulate their perspectives on their involvement in the study as it related to the four strategies that were identified by the group: (1) creating a safe environment that values diversity and includes teacher perceptions; (2) develop trust between mainstream teachers and collaborating teachers; (3) having a shared vision; and (4) establishing open lines of communication.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Coaxum, James, III
Commitee: Sherry, John M., Williams Pichon, Henrietta
School: Rowan University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Elementary education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Collaboration, Leadership, Team teaching
Publication Number: 3359936
ISBN: 978-1-109-22918-9
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