How Sole Rural Elementary Principals Use Distributed Leadership Practices to Build Capacity of Teacher Leaders: An Interpretive Qualitative Study

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Fall 2020


The purpose of this interpretive qualitative study was to explore how sole rural elementary principals use distributed leadership practices to identify and develop teacher leaders to benefit students in Northeast Texas schools. The researcher collected interview data to explore and analyze codes and categories to identify emergent trends or patterns. Six themes, with sub-themes, emerged from the data as a result of the analysis process. These themes are the need for teacher leaders by sole rural principals, the use of distributed leadership practices by sole rural principals, characteristics of teacher leaders determined by sole rural principals and by teacher leaders, techniques for capacity building of teacher leaders by sole rural principals, and potential barriers that reduce or impeded opportunities to distribute leadership tasks. The findings and implications for practice from this study can aid sole principals as they identify and develop teacher leaders to help with instructional activities in rural elementary schools. Recommendations include conducting a cross-sectional, quantitative survey design study to determine a definition for what a rural elementary school requires in a teacher leader and to conduct the original study face-to-face with more rural elementary principals and teacher leaders to determine if the same themes and findings would be similar to this study, or if the numbers and the procedures in the new study would make a significant difference. Keywords: Distributed Cognition and Activity Theory, Distributed Leadership, Instructional Leader, Rural Schools, School Leadership, Situation of Leadership Theory, School Principal, Teacher Leader


Julia Ballenger

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision