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Administrative support and teacher leadership in schools implementing reform

Nancy A. Gigante (Parsippany Hills High School, Morris Plains, New Jersey, USA)
William A. Firestone (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




This paper aims to explore how teacher leaders help teachers improve mathematics and science teaching.


Research focused on a purposive sample of seven teacher leaders selected to vary in their time allocated to teacher leader work and their content knowledge. Each teacher leader was interviewed, as were two teachers and at least one administrator working with that teacher leader. Each interview was first subjected to a mix of deductive and inductive coding before a case study was written for each teacher leader. Ultimately, a cross‐case analysis was written.


Teacher leaders conducted two sets of leadership tasks. The paper finds that support tasks helped teachers do their work but did not contribute to teacher learning. Developmental tasks did facilitate learning. All teacher leaders engaged in support tasks, but only four did developmental tasks as well. Teacher leaders who engaged in developmental tasks had access to one material resource and three social resources not available to other teacher leaders: time to work with teachers, administrative support, more positive relations with teachers, and opportunities to work with teachers on professional development

Practical implications

When teacher leadership is intended to facilitate teacher learning, the payoff comes from engaging in developmental tasks. A key to teacher leader success is administrative support. Schools and districts should not invest in teacher leaders unless they intend to support teacher leaders adequately through time, administrative follow through, and training to help teachers develop the positive social relations on which their work depends.


These findings have implications for how to integrate teacher leaders into larger school improvement efforts.



Gigante, N.A. and Firestone, W.A. (2008), "Administrative support and teacher leadership in schools implementing reform", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 302-331.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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