Research Interest Areas
The discussion below represents
my original study plan of action for
a possible dissertation presented as part of my portfolio
comprehensive examination on December 3, 2004. These ideas
have developed over time beginning as a written focus in the
qualitative course with Professor Dunlop but originating
informally in my role as a classroom teacher and staff
developer who demonstrates support and care with colleagues,
particularly new colleagues, guiding and directing their
efforts at improving instruction and student learning.
Over the past three years my oldest
daughter has pursued a career in teaching and I have served
as a mentor to her discussing her role as a classroom
teacher several times a week. During this year, 2004-2005, I
serve formally as a mentor to a new, young teacher of
English in the high school of my school district.
Considering the dispositions of beginning teachers seemed
only natural to me as a result of my personal and
professional experiences and subsequent reading.
My interest in teachers' experiences
is fueled by a passion and love of teaching and young
people. I imagine and I wish that circumstances in schools
were such that students and new teachers could readily
experience the care, support, and encouragement they
deserve. I hope for schools that are constructivist and
collaborative so that teachers and students may learn and
grow through authentic, personally meaningful shared
experiences based on trust, respect, and care.
I am convinced that the learning
represented below may easily be folded into a new conceptual
framework as recommended by Professor Hughes and Professor
McGuire that provides a lens for looking at the passion and
care of the late-career teacher in the professional learning
research interest and
How does a beginning teacher understand and experience
Of what value is teacher leadership to a beginning teacher?
Beginning teachers have limited ways to
develop a disposition about school leadership in the
professional community and may be excluded from the
professional community as a result. Novice teachers enter
the profession with little or no notion of themselves as
potential teacher leaders. So burdened and isolated are new
teachers that see little opportunity to view leadership as a
value (Johnson, 2004).
For beginning teachers, school
micropolitics is a challenging complexity that often acts as
an impediment toward developing a disposition about teacher
leadership in the professional community. School
micropolitics may also ease the path to membership in the
professional community. The goal of teacher leadership in
the professional community is to improve teaching and
increase student achievement. Beginning teachers may be
included or excluded from membership in the school’s
professional community depending on the micropolitics that
influences how they develop a disposition towards teacher leadership.
The intention of a possible study may be
to understand beginning teachers’ dispositions (Johnson,
2004) toward the goal of teacher leadership (Lambert, et al,
2002). The nature and process of the political discourse in
discussing interests and decisions (Stone, 1997) and power
(Blase & Anderson, 1995, Blase, Ed., 1991) are problems to
which solutions may be discovered to be relational trust
(Bryk & Schneider, 2002) in the functional learning
community (Senge, 2000, 1990, Newmann & Wehlage, 1995)
I see understanding the work of Sarason
and Popkewitz is also important to this potential study.
Sarason (1990) writes about the intractable nature of
schools to the reform process and the power relationships
among administrators within the schools. Popkewitz (1982)
has studied the effect of school reform on the culture of a
school. Beginning teachers develop dispositions toward
school leadership within the school culture which is based, in
part, on the political processes that occur in the school.
Any understanding of the problem of
beginning teachers' dispositions
towards teacher leadership might consider the nature of
power in the political environment of the school and the
nature of trust in the professional learning community, as
represented in the graphic below, in forming beginning
teachers' dispositions toward teacher leadership.
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The problem of the study to be
considered is that beginning teachers have no way or limited
ways to develop a disposition about teacher leadership in
the professional community and, at the onset of their
careers, may be excluded from the professional community as
Possible Research Questions:
What do beginning teachers say
about teacher leadership?
What are the goals of teacher
leadership for beginning teachers?
How do beginning teachers view
their role in the professional community?
What are the advantages and
opportunities of teacher leadership for beginning teachers
as they view teacher leadership?
What are the problems,
disadvantages, or obstacles of teacher leadership from the
viewpoint of beginning teachers?
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How could the problem of beginning teacher's dispositions
toward teacher leadership be studied?
My dream methodology
would be one of mixed methods. I hope to survey a large
number of beginning teachers across Long Island or Suffolk
County, and then interview several beginning teachers and/or
create a focus group of beginning teachers who could meet in
each other's presence to tell stories about school leadership
and teacher leadership. I imagine that I could use the
survey data descriptively and comparatively with certain
appropriate statistical measures.
The survey data might
include beginning teachers general dispositions toward their
experiences and toward school leadership and the
professional community. Dr. Gerald M. Mager has developed,
for the New York State Education Department of Education, a
survey entitled "Beginning Teachers' Views-of-Self."
Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001) have a readiness for teacher
leadership survey in their text that might be used.
The narratives that
might develop from interview, follow-up interview, and/or focus
group would reveal a different kind of data that would
require qualitative analysis. The qualitative results would
be used to assist in explaining and interpreting the
quantitative results. This mixed method approach to research
design is known as a sequential explanatory strategy
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Theorists and Related Concepts:
Power-over, Power-through, & Power
Blase & Anderson, (1995).
Blase, Ed., (1991).
Bryk, A. S. & Schneider, B. (2002).
Research Design & Mixed Methods:
Creswell, J.W. (2003).
Building a New Structure for School
Elmore, R. (2002).
Helping New Teachers:
Johnson, S. M.(2004).
Katzenmeyer & Moller (2001).
Lambert, et al, (2002).
School Response to a Program of
Popkewitz, T.S., Tabachnick, B.R., &
Wehlage, G. (1982).
The Problem of Change in Schools;
the Intractability of School Culture; Altering Power
Sarason, S. B. (1996, 1990, 1982, 1971)
Senge, P. (1990).
Schools That Learn:
Senge, P. (2000).
Political Strategic Representation:
Stone, D. (1997).
Successful School Restructuring:
Newmann, F. & Wehlage, G. G. (1995).
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Additional Areas of