Exploring the Leadership Experiences of Principal-Identified Teacher Leaders in American PK-12 Christian Schools Contextualized in a Distributed Leadership Environment: Told from the Teacher Leaders' Perspectives Open Access
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Linda M. CampbellAbstract of the Dissertation Exploring the Leadership Experiences of Principal-Identified Teacher Leaders in American PK-12 Christian Schools Contextualized in a Distributed Leadership Environment: Told from the Teacher Leaders' PerspectivesThe purpose of this exploratory research study was to investigate leadership experiences of teacher leaders in American PK-12 Christian schools. An overarching research question guided the study: How do principal-identified teacher leaders in PK-12 faith-based Christian schools experience leadership in a distributed leadership environment, as told from the teacher leaders' perspectives? As researcher, I chose a distributed leadership practice conceptual framework as the lens for the research study. The literature review focused on three areas: (a) Christian school structure and culture, (b) teacher leaders, and (c) distributed leadership. The research design consisted of purposeful sampling using semistructured interviews and a constructivist epistemology (Merriam, 2009). The research study involved 24 participants from PK-12 American Christian schools; 16 were principal-identified teacher leaders and 8 were heads of school or principals. Through the data analysis, six intangible themes emerged from the teacher leaders that proved to be central tenets of the research. The emergent themes constituted (a) an unconditional love for the school community, (b) a global school perspective, (c) an influencer, (d) a leader by example, (e) a mentor to other teachers, and (f) a desire to improve their schools. Then, using a comparative analysis, four themes emerged from the heads of school and principals. The themes converged with those of the teacher leaders, with two exceptions. First, a dichotomy occurred in the definition of teacher leader among the teacher leader participants; respectively, this dichotomy occurred between the teacher leader participants and the heads of school and principal participants. Second, with regard to human capital, a talent management and leadership succession theme for identifying and developing teacher leaders emerged from the heads of school and principals. Interestingly, the data analysis revealed that the study's findings have implications for PK-12 public and private schools in theory, practice, and policy.