Demystifying teacher leadership in comprehensive high schools

2008 2008

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Abstract (summary)

While significant research has been conducted about how leadership has been distributed in schools (Spillane, 2006; Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001; Elmore, 2000; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1998), most of the studies to date have emphasized how leadership is distributed to those in formal leadership positions, and also focus on identifying the aspects of teacher leadership rather than examining how and why teacher leadership is executed (Spillane, 2006). This study addresses both of these areas that are less emphasized in the existing literature. It examines how instructional leadership is executed by teachers in comprehensive high schools, determines why informal teacher leaders are recognized as leaders amongst their peers considering they have no positional authority, identifies the characteristics that formal and informal teacher leaders possess, and determines the roles that principals play in facilitating or inhibiting teacher leadership.

The study analyzes teacher leadership in two different suburban Philadelphia high schools with similar demographic and student achievement characteristics. The faculty members at each school completed a survey pertaining to three different instruction-related issues, the results of which were converted into social network maps. These maps reveal the actual leaders in each school, as opposed to simply the titular leaders. Interviews were then conducted to ascertain a level of specificity about teacher leadership from the perspective of teacher leaders, teacher non-leaders, and principals.

The main finding of the study is that formal and informal teacher leaders' capacities to lead are informed by social capital configurations and the distribution of leadership throughout a school's faculty. The study's results have implications for high school teachers in general, existing titular leaders, and school principals. These implications are largely anchored in the notion that leadership is equated with the influence that leaders have on their followers (Maxwell, 1998; Hart, 1995).

Indexing (details)

School administration;
Teacher education;
Secondary education;
Secondary schools
0514: School administration
0530: Teacher education
0533: Secondary education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Comprehensive high schools; Distributed leadership; High school; High school principal; Leadership; Social capital; Teacher leadership
Demystifying teacher leadership in comprehensive high schools
Fraser, Robert Joseph
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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