Author(s)

Gina Friedman

Date Approved

8-26-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum, James III

Subject(s)

Elementary school teachers--In-service training

Disciplines

Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

Abstract

Teachers' beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes toward professional development initiatives have a powerful impact on the effectiveness of those programs after implementation. Specifically, teachers in first order change schools perceive inhibiting factors (i.e. lack of faculty buy-in, scheduling conflicts, limited time for trainings within the calendar, lack of leadership support, etc.) as a hindrance to the success of program implementation. Concurrently, Cedar Creek teacher's perceptions identify many of the same inhibiting factors to effective professional development that are found on a national level. These perceptions suggest a first order mental model perspective. This mixed methods action research study identified a second order feedback loop process that facilitated sustainable professional development programs through an initial cycle of surveys, followed by the development of a collaboratively designed series of professional development trainings in Cycles II and III. Trainings were assessed for effectiveness both by the training participants and the committee who designed them. This dissertation cleared the way for a mental model perception shift by the staff, which became an integral component of the feedback loop process, and has fostered sustainable input from teachers to identify and eliminate the underlying factors inhibiting successful programmatic implementation at the elementary level. Baseline data were collected from K-5 staff through qualitative surveys with a purposeful sampling of 20 teachers, and a quantitative survey of 35 teachers. Survey data were collected from workshop participants after Cycle III, to determine if workshops were effective. After two months of implementation, Cycle IV observational data were collected by Committee members to determine how the workshop content had impacted instruction. Teachers' perceptions were further assessed through surveys and interviews with committee members to ensure the sustainability and accountability of the initiative. Data revealed that participants had a positive experience, and workshop content was successfully implemented into classroom practice at multiple grade levels. Cycle IV interviews and surveys revealed that my leadership style throughout this dissertation was situational: at times collegial and facilitative and at other times directive. While participants are optimistic about the future of this program, most realize this is only a first step toward overall systemic change.

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