Developing Teacher Leaders Through Professional Development Offered in a District Teacher Forum
Teacher attrition is an ongoing problem in education, and the lack of leadership opportunities contribute to that problem. Teachers who serve in leadership roles are more likely to remain in the profession and positively impact students and the profession as a whole. However, there is little qualitative research to address how teachers develop the needed leadership skills to take on additional leadership roles. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the experiences of participants in a District Teacher Forum. The District Teacher Forum is a cohort of teachers identified as Campus Teachers of the Year led by the District Teacher of the Year with the intended purpose of helping the members to develop leadership skills. The conceptual framework that guided this study was a congruence of the social cognitive theory, constructivist theory, and perceived organizational support. The study aimed to examine the experience of teachers participating in a teacher leadership development program. Interviews of 6 Forum members selected through maximum variation sampling and a focus group provided the needed information, and findings were analyzed in relation to the research questions. This study provided insight into how teachers perceive their experiences in a teacher leadership development program as a foundation for future professional development processes to develop teacher leadership. Findings showed that teachers who are provided the opportunity to participate in professional development related to leadership in a cohort setting gain a self-identity as a teacher leader and want to serve as teacher leaders. Implications for social change include a guide for other districts to use to establish a Forum or other leadership initiative and potentially greater teacher retention.