Teachers' perspectives of shared governance after a ten year implementation in a Georgia primary school
Fish, Helen Therese
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Scant empirical work on the problems, benefits, and key issues related to teacher involvement in decision-making and governance continued to exist in 2000. The literature did not offer in-depth, comprehensive information about the long-term effects of Shared Governance on teachers’ lives and on the schools that were implementing it. Previous research considered only three years of application of this governance system. |The purpose of this study was to conduct a follow-up of Allen’s (1993) work at a primary school in central Georgia to uncover the teachers’ perspectives regarding Shared Governance 10 years after its implementation. This single school case study utilized in-depth, open-ended interviews, group discussions, artifact collection, researcher’s memos, and observations. It described the teachers’ perceptions of change within themselves and in the governance structure of the primary school between 1990 and 2000. |The teachers’ perspectives revealed positive changes in several areas, including: (1) development of teachers’ professionalism through the use of teacher voice, (2) enhancement of teacher self-confidence from initially negative to positive, and (3) more direct interactions of the teachers with staff and students as isolated, competitive teachers became leaders that shared knowledge with other staff, schools, and districts. This shared governance initiative produced long-term positive results for teachers, administrators, and students. The study also noted that a supportive principal was needed for Shared Governance to survive. These findings led to the following recommendations for this primary school: (1) Make continued, positive change through use of the Shared Governance structure, (2) expand teacher professionalism though use of teacher voice, and (3) validate supportive administrators. Recommendations for further study include teachers’ perspectives in other settings (urban or at other grade levels) and perspectives of other school members (students, principals, and parents). This study is significant because it both initiated the needed research on teachers’ beliefs about the long-term effects of Shared Governance and it followed up on one specific school’s experience, which had been studied 10 years earlier.