Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


Over the past century, Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade (PK-12) schools evolved into hierarchical learning organizations that centralized power, decision-making, and leadership at the top in the hands of a few predominantly male administrators. the teaching force, by contrast, became majority female. While teacher education programs formalized, the accountability movement that swept across the U.S. schooling system during the 1980s led to narrowed teacher educator programs and licensure requirements. Consequently, traditional teacher education programs in four-year universities focused more on theory and pedagogy but less on praxis and leadership in the name of producing highly-qualified teachers. Today, new pathways for teacher leadership are emerging in the form of advanced degrees, state endorsements, and National Board Certification for practicing teachers with a Master's degree. However, teacher leadership is often misunderstood, as there is no single definition of the roles and responsibilities of a teacher leader. Teacher candidates express a desire to take on non-administrative leadership roles or hybrid teaching positions, but little is known about how PK-12 teacher candidates in teacher education programs are explicitly exposed to leadership concepts or given opportunities to practice and evaluate their own leadership strategies. as such, professors' conceptualization of teacher leadership may influence how teacher candidates perceive leaders and their own leadership potential. This dissertation investigated how one Midwestern university's teacher education program defined, targeted, and integrated teacher leadership in its program and how teacher educators and candidates understood and experienced teacher leadership. Findings revealed that the inclusion of teacher leader skills and processes across the program supported candidate growth and transformation, improving their self-efficacy. Although teacher educators tied classroom efficacy to teacher leader potential, candidates felt that their program prepared them to be change agents and social justice advocates, thus priming them for future teacher leadership.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.