Teacher Perceptions of Change in Leadership Roles and Activities as a Result of Participation in a Science Education Leadership Program
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Teacher leadership has emerged as a component of the movement to increase student achievement in science and mathematics. The Information Technology in Science Center for Teaching and Learning (ITS Center) was funded by the National Science Foundation with the goal of developing science education leaders. This study explored the changes in teachers' descriptions of their leadership in their school settings before and after their participation in a science education leadership program and the aspects of their science education leadership. A study of teacher-participants in Cohort II of the ITS Center was conducted to investigate how they demonstrated leadership in their school settings and to what extent these teachers attributed changes in their leadership to their ITS Center experience. Participants in this study were 15 classroom teachers who participated in Cohort II of the ITS Center. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used. These teacher-participants completed a Teacher Leadership Roles Survey as a part of their application to participate and then again one year after their ITS Center participation. Their primary leadership roles were to serve as a source of knowledge and a generator of new ideas for their fellow teachers. Their major activity was to develop curricular/instructional materials. However, the change in their leadership roles and activities was highly variable. As the literature indicates, demonstration of teacher leadership is highly dependent on context. The participants who greatly increased their leadership roles and activities moved into new, formal leadership roles following their ITS Center experience. Participants who greatly decreased their leadership roles and activities had changed school campuses or districts. A case study was conducted of two teachers demonstrating a great increase in leadership. They identified the components of the ITS Center experience that contributed to increased leadership roles and activities as: relationships developed with fellow teachers, graduate students, and university faculty; extended time for engagement in ITS Center activities; accountability for implementation of ITS Center Instructional Frameworks and Practitioner Research Plan; and their increased understanding of educational research and the role it plays in evidence-based decision making.