Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jason Berman

Second Supervisor

Ray Giamartino


The purpose of this study was to describe how teacher leaders collaborate to recognize and challenge deficit thinking, as perceived by teachers in two urban elementary schools. The study also explored the influence of teacher leaders' work on their colleagues' thinking. This examination of teacher leadership utilized a symbolic interactionist framework to guide a descriptive multi-site case study. The primary research methods used for gathering data included interviews, survey and document review and analysis to gain insight and interpretation. Findings from the two case studies suggest there are common factors to support teacher leaders' capacity to address deficit thinking. The antecedent conditions were district-level support, principal leadership, diversity training, and school culture. These conditions enabled teacher leaders to develop and execute school level equity projects. Equity project implementation led to the cumulative emergence of seven different categories, eighteen diverse themes, and twelve varied sub-themes. Common strands of categories, themes and sub-themes emerged from both case studies. Constant comparative analysis was used to: 1) identify a specific set of teacher leader role behaviors; 2) identify factors that followers (classroom teachers) consider when engaged in learning that is led by teacher leaders; and 3) describe transformative processes (later described as the, "Five Stage Empowerment Trajectory"). Professional training that incorporates diversity, equity and social justice issues coupled with inclusive leadership practices could foster deliberative, collaborative, problem-solving competencies that can better prepare future leaders for the challenges and rewards of leading urban schools.

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