Title

Sustaining Learning and Leading in a K–8 Charter School Setting Using Collaborative Structures: A Descriptive Single-Case Qualitative Study

Author

Joy R. Wilson

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Department

Educational Administration

Date of Award

Fall 2020

Abstract

The purpose of this descriptive single-site case qualitative study was to explore elements of collaboration perspectives and shared beliefs among school leaders and teachers in a Texas K–8 charter school setting. In this study, the elements of collaboration are described, along with the influences and impairments of collaborative structures and beliefs both teachers and school leaders share that aid or influence collaboration in this school setting. The purpose of this descriptive single-case qualitative study was to identify elements of collaboration evident at the school setting, to understand the factors that influence and impair collaboration from a teacher and school leader perspective, and, lastly, to distinguish beliefs that aid or impair collaboration among school leaders and teachers. To assist in understanding collaboration and how it is authenticated as well as created in this setting, the researcher observed a school leader in the natural setting, which provided context for creating and cultivating an environment of collaboration. The researcher then explored the perspectives and beliefs of 6 participants using semi-structured, face to face interviews. The analysis of the data (which included interviews, an observation log, and reflection journal entries) rendered 4 categories and 12 themes. Sengé’s learning organization theory was used as the theoretical framework. The underpinnings of Sengé’s work provided a basis for understanding collaborative structures including professional learning communities (PLCs). Personal mastery, mental models, and team learning specifically grounded this research and supported alignment to the work teachers and school leaders do daily in their PLCs, content meetings, vertical team meetings, and lesson demonstrations. The researcher found the most prevalent elements of collaboration among the study participants were open communication, buy-in, and a safe environment. The factors that influenced collaboration at this study site included PLCs, coaching, and communication, while factors of impairment included time and personality differences. The beliefs held by participants that aid in collaboration included a growth mindset and school leadership, while the beliefs to impair included personality conflicts and language barriers among teachers at the school. Key words: collaboration, public charter school, teacher and school leader perspectives, PLC, learning organizational theory.

Advisor

Julia Ballenger

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision

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