Teachers L.E.A.D. (Learn. Engage. Act. Discuss): a study of teacher leaders' perceptions on engagement in school improvement

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“If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is,

but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be

and could

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is,

but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be

and could be, he will become what he ought and could be.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Teacher leaders in public education have a great amount of responsibility on their shoulders in today’s political climate. They are responsible for evaluating instruction, improving the teaching force, and raising student achievement. These responsibilities coupled with the day-to-day demands of effectively running a school have caused many teacher leaders to disengage from the true purpose of their work and have lead to retention rates that are less than desirable. This mixed methods action research study was conducted to investigate how participation in L.E.A.D. (Learn. Engage. Act. Discuss.) groups, influenced the self-perceptions teacher leaders have of their ability to engage in the change process at their schools. The innovation was a series of three action-driven sessions aimed at providing the participating teacher leaders with a space to discuss their roles in the change process at their school, their perceived engagement in those processes, and their perceived ability to navigate the technical, normative, and political dimensions of change. The greater purpose behind the design of this innovation was to provide teacher leaders with tools they could utilize that would support them in the realization that their level of engagement was not totally dependent on those around them. Through the L.E.A.D. groups, it became evident that the participating teacher leaders were resilient and optimistic individuals that, despite factors outside of their control demanding their time and energy, were still dedicated to the change process at their schools.