Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Burns, Ph.D.


leadership capacity, teacher collaboration, teacher leaders, teacher networks


The enactment of teacher leadership can be challenged by both policy initiatives and school contexts (Anderson & Cohen, 2015; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). However, teachers can have a positive influence on each other and their broader school community by building capacity for leadership, innovation, and student achievement through the relationships, or networks, they develop and maintain (Baker-Doyle, 2015; Hovardas, 2016; Hunzicker, 2012; Moolenaar, Sleegers, & Daly, 2012). This single exploratory case study takes place in a Title I elementary school and uses a combination of Social Network Analysis and content analysis to uncover patterns in teacher professional networks, the context in which they exist, and teachers’ perceptions of the influence of these networks on their sense of themselves as teacher leaders. The study focuses on four constructs: teacher leadership, teacher efficacy, instructional innovation, and professional networks. The concept of social capital is used to explore the connection between networks and teacher leadership. Symbolic interactionism frames the analysis of the nature of relationships that emerge within these networks. Findings indicate that teachers linked their identities as leaders with a culture of leadership, exchange of advice, shared values, and high expectations for themselves and their students. Interview responses demonstrated they believed in their collective capacity to accomplish a shared mission of student achievement; they trusted in and supported each other through their professional networks.