Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Currin

Abstract

In this action research study, I adapted statewide systems of support for visual and performing arts educators in an effort to promote a positive sense of professional identity and strengthen the collaborative culture of the support systems. Prior to this study, the educator network met monthly for professional learning sessions planned and facilitated by a leader in a non-teacher role. As an action researcher, I restructured the sessions to create an autonomy-supportive environment to foster educators’ leadership skills and promote authentic collaboration. Study participants had autonomy over the planning, aims, content, and facilitation of the networking sessions. A basic qualitative research design surfaced several conditions of the teacher-led environment that informed participants’ social connections with each other, sense of validation, self-confidence, and sense of agency.

The findings indicate that teacher-led networks can be a tool to support agency and a positive sense of self among members of the network. Additionally, the collaborative dynamic is stronger when networks are teacher-led. In addition to the problem of practice, research design, and findings, I discuss implications of this research for facilitators of similar teacher-led networks and possibilities for using the networks as a catalyst for local or statewide sustainable change in traditionally top-down systems.

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