Date of Award



© 2018 Michael J. Rafferty

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brandi Shatto

Third Advisor

Anna Cutaia


Teacher Leadership movements over the last 30 years have attempted to create leadership opportunities within and across an organization. The purpose of this mixed method case study was to evaluate the impact of a district’s teacher leadership opportunities to reduce teacher isolation and increase teacher collaboration. This study illustrated how effective teacher leadership initiatives should take Piaget’s idea (1971) of discovery learning and combine it with the concept that teaching and learning are more powerful when they involve social interaction (Bandura, 1987).

A literature review revealed a gap in understanding what systems and structures made collaboration more successful for teacher leaders. The design of these structures should move away from punitive accountability to developing new capacities that promote the improvement of the group (DuFour & Fullan, 2013). The study employed an interpretive qualitative research design (Creswell, 2015). The research process documented how the roles and supports from district leaders impacted teacher capacity and the collaborative culture of the organization.

The perceptions of the teacher leaders who participated in the teacher leadership academy were that the experience had influenced the way they teach. Additionally, the use of teacher leadership as an improvement strategy helped reduce teacher isolation and improve collaboration among colleagues. It was found that effective collaboration should exist in smaller settings and have a common area of focus to increase the ability of teachers to take risks and to embrace innovative teaching practices. An important finding was the need for leaders to understand organizational culture and possible misunderstandings that arise when teacher leaders are viewed as formal leaders by colleagues. This case study added to the body of knowledge about the importance of processes and structures in supporting teacher leadership development.


Ed.D. Dissertation