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Exploring the Experience of AISI Instructional Teacher Leaders Open Access


Other title
teacher leadership
instructional leadership
instructional coaching
teacher identity
school improvement
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kuntz, Jeffrey P.
Supervisor and department
Thomas, Greg (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Examining committee member and department
Thomas, Greg (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Cherkowski, Sabre (Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus)
Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education, University of Alberta)
Adams, Pamela (Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Instructional teacher leaders are teachers who are asked to facilitate school improvement through mentorship, collaboration, coaching and professional dialogue. These teachers, who are usually not supervisors or administrators, are faced with the challenge of leading through encouragement and support rather than through directives and demands. This study examined the case of the instructional teacher leader and how teachers in these roles negotiated their identity as they dealt with the responsibilities and constraints of their duties. The research drew upon a series of semi-structured interviews with ten instructional teacher leaders from Alberta enlisted to work with and lead their colleagues in three year school improvement initiatives stemming from district and site-based projects sponsored by the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (2000-2013). The ten participants, who worked as lead teachers and instructional coaches, came from a variety of leadership roles and contexts. This dissertation used an adaptive process model as a frame to describe how teachers negotiate their roles and identity and work through the process of supporting and leading through instructional change. Observations and anecdotes from instructional teacher leaders were used to substantiate previous research, identify emergent themes, and develop this model. The resultant Instructional Teacher Leader Adaptive Process Model incorporated four interrelated and concurrent sub-processes: 1) clarifying leadership purpose and identity, 2) engaging the faculty in strategic change, 3) responding to organizational and relational challenges, and 4) reflecting on the work and reforms. Using excerpts from teacher interviews to support and contextualize them, these sub-processes are fully described and elaborated - each in a separate chapter of the dissertation. As a result of this study, suggestions were made regarding: considerations for prospective and continuing instructional teacher leaders, strategies for leading educational reforms from within a shared leadership model, and considerations for school and district leaders who would like to encourage and support instructional teacher leadership. In addition, a number of recommendations regarding the selection, training, support, professional growth and ideal contexts for instructional teacher leadership were also shared.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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