- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758462, 1758342, 1758438, 1758452
- First Name Wendy
- Last Name Smith
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Math, Physics
Brett Criswell, University of Kentucky, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Rushton, Middle Tennessee State, email@example.com; Jan Yow, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org; Christine Lotter, University of South Carolina, LOTTER@mailbox.sc.edu
Wendy Smith, University of Nebraska, email@example.com; Brett Criswell, University of Kentucky, firstname.lastname@example.org; Greg Rushton, Middle Tennessee State, email@example.com; Jan Yow, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Lotter, University of South Carolina, LOTTER@mailbox.sc.edu
The overarching goal of the Teacher Leadership (T-Lead): Investigating the Persistence and Trajectories of Noyce Master Teaching Fellows Track 4 collaborative research project is to contribute to the currently limited understanding of teacher leadership by thoroughly examining the influences of teacher leadership development on the persistence and professional trajectories of Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) from eight current or past Noyce projects. Existing and completed Noyce projects report that although some of their MTFs have been retained by high-need school systems (stayers), others have moved to teaching positions in other buildings or districts (movers), still others have taken on formally-recognized leadership positions outside the classroom (shifters), and a subset have left K-12 education altogether (leavers).
Through this project, the research team is addressing the following goals: Goal 1: Determine the impact of the professional development models used in the various Noyce projects on the professional identities and trajectories of participating MTFs, and look for patterns in the features of those models that may be correlated with teacher persistence. Goal 2: Explore how different contexts, networks and leadership opportunities shape the decisions of MTFs to remain in classroom roles during and after the Noyce PD program. Goal 3: Describe the leadership opportunities in K-12 systems that engage classroom teachers as leaders, and what are sustainable, scalable models that do or could exist to provide such opportunities. The main T-Lead research questions are: How do various MTF characteristics, professional networks, contextual features, and leadership opportunities shape the decisions of MTFs to remain in classroom roles during and/or after their Noyce participation? What is the impact of the professional learning models used in Noyce projects on the professional identities and trajectories of MTFs?What are sustainable and scalable models of how teacher leaders engage with leadership opportunities while maintaining classroom teaching responsibilities?
T-Lead is a mixed methods research project with two primary foci of developing (1) a structural equation model to investigate the relative impact of various contextual features and Noyce program characteristics on MTF leadership trajectories and (2) in-depth case studies of MTFs from different leadership trajectories and opportunities. The dual focus will allow us to understand both the what and the why: the varying influences of contextual factors on teacher leadership trajectories across 175 MTFs and why those particular contextual factors shaped individual leadership trajectories in practice. Across Year 1, our focus was on creating, revising and finalizing instruments for data collection, collecting data from the eight participating sites, and starting the data analysis process. We created and revised four instruments for gathering data from across Noyce projects about the nature of programmatic and pedagogical experiences and about impacts on teacher leadership and retention.
We are currently analyzing our Year 1 data. Across summer 2019, we are coding MTF interviews, and will identify teacher leadership trajectories. After mapping the MTFs’ initial leadership trajectories, we will look for patterns across leadership domains, project features, and system contexts. We will use the interview data, supplemented with survey responses, to identify approximately 35 MTFs as targeted cases, whose distinct leadership trajectories are either exemplar cases representative of the different pathways we will have documented, or are special extreme cases that represent particularly strong contextual factors. To the extent some leadership trajectories appear multiple times, those are candidates for exemplar cases. When we encounter an MTF who had some particularly strong contextual factors, such as very supportive and structured Noyce opportunities, a very supportive principal, or very dense professional network, those are candidates for extreme cases.
The T-Lead project team acknowledges that all aspects of educational practice are context dependent, but also operates under the premise that there are generalizable features of practice – including leadership activity – that will transfer across similar and even significantly different contexts. The findings from the T-Lead project will be useful to guide the design of professional learning work associated with teacher leadership, as well as to support the development of STEM teacher leader courses at institutions that have master’s and doctoral programs in STEM education. We will share our findings within and beyond the Noyce community, to help provide more opportunities for teacher leadership and help programs and districts better develop teacher leaders.