Teachers Learn to Lead in the Classroom: An Action Research Model
In recent years, there is an increased acceptance of teachers to function as leaders for school improvement at the instructional level of practice. Improvement at the instructional level requires leadership by teachers in the classrooms and with colleagues (Darling-Hammond, Bullmaster, & Cobb, 1995; York-Barr & Duke, 2004).
This study is intended to illustrate the way in which action research can be utilized as an inquisitive, natural approach to instructional changes in the classroom. Additionally, the practice of reflection is illustrated as an innovative way to address student needs while enhancing teacher leadership and teacher learning (Dick, 2007; Hendricks, 2009).
All 26 in-service teacher participants from the urban schools of southern California enrolled for a 15 weeks capstone course while pursuing a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. A teacher leadership matrix guided participants to connect teaching and learning theory to best practices by exploring uncharted territory within an iterative cycle of research and action. Three research questions prefaced the illustrative studies to ensure success in the iterative cycles of action research, systematic reflection, and teacher leadership and collaboration. Teachers developed the philosophy of critical pedagogy through the reflective practice of journal-writing and highlighting innovative teaching intervention strategies. Finally, participants collaborated through peer dialogue and instructor mentorship to accept change and ownership of the action process and student learning outcomes. Excerpts from participant’s reflective journals exemplify growth in teacher knowledge, confidence, personal empowerment, and enhanced professional leadership.
Keywords: Action Research Model, Systematic Reflection, Teacher Leadership, Iterative Cycle
Dr. Leena Furtado
Professor, Graduate School of Education, California State University, Dominguez Hills