The micropolitical perspectives of teacher leaders in an elementary school
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The purpose of this study was to describe the micropolitical perspectives of teacher leaders in a shared-governance elementary school. Symbolic interactionism guided the overall research design and interpretation of findings. The grounded theory method was employed for purposes of data collection and analysis. Data sources were face-to-face interviews, observations, and school document collection. Interpersonal team-building was identified as the core category that characterized teacher leaders experiences of political interactions and their derived meanings. Teacher leaders used four strategies to influence peers and the principals: (a) team building, (b) non-directive leading, (c) fostering team ownership of change, and (d) approaching administrators. They also used four strategies to protect self and the work group: (a) trust building, (b) organizational analysis, (c) resolving conflicts, and (d) managing the grey area. Finally, political interactions generated both positive and negative effects on teacher leaders. Based on the findings, this study presents a discussion of four theoretical meta-themes. First, teacher leaders experiences of school politics and the meanings they gave to it primarily occurred at the work group level. The primary goal of teacher leaders political interactions was to transform a physical, haphazard work group into a social, adhesive, trusting, and collaborative work team. Second, in political interactions, teacher leaders primarily relied on personal power and power from access to information in influencing others and protecting self and the work group. For teacher leaders, personal power came from expertise, emotional qualities, interpersonal skills, and dedication. Third, teacher leaders political interactions were influenced by a range of internal and external factors. Principal leadership proved to be a critical index of teacher leadership at this school. Fourth, regardless of the motivations of different political interactions, teacher leaders utilized team-building and interpersonal interaction as the foundations for all types of political interactions. The interrelationships between findings of this study and other salient educational issues are expatiated, for example, teacher collaboration and group development. Implications for future research, school practitioners, and policy makers are also discussed.