NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED528622
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 167
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-5517-2
Great Teachers: The Internal and External Characteristics that Sustain Them
Gennerman, Theresa
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Cardinal Stritch University
For a century, school reform has been a topic of local and federal government efforts. While the reforms have evolved and changed to a small degree during this time, the deficit focus of reform has been consistent, failing schools and failing systems. Education's focus on the deficits within the system has yielded reform that has yet to succeed in educating all children. While educational reformers had set their vision to improve failing systems, districts, schools, and students; the private sector had begun to look at reform from an asset model. Jim Collins (2001) and his research team attempted to find a model for reform by identifying elite companies that demonstrated above average stock market results for at least fifteen years. This study took a similar approach examining great teachers in an effort to uncover the characteristics that allow them to continue to thrive and achieve. The questions that guided this study were: (1) What are the internal characteristics that sustain high-achieving teachers? and (2) What are the external characteristics that sustain high-achieving teachers? The study approach was phenomenological. The theoretical framework included Jim Collins (2001) work in "Good to Great" and his explanation of Level 5 Leadership as well as Krisko's (2001) work with teacher leadership. Both theorists suggest that effective leaders are impacted by particular internal characteristics as well as external characteristics in the environment. For this study, ten teacher participants were selected using a referral loop based on predetermined criteria: minimum of seven years in current school, persistent efforts toward student achievement, persistence toward own professional growth and a reputation for achieving great results with students. All were currently employed in districts with a history of high achievement. Each participant was interviewed and observed working with students in their classroom. A focus group interview was conducted at the end of the study to verify and extend findings. Results suggested that participants shared the common internal characteristics of (a) strong view of self; (b) positive disposition toward others and the work of teaching; (c) practice of humor within the classroom; (d) an internal drive for continuous learning and (e) a commitment to giving students what they need. The common external characteristics were: (a) working in a climate of risk taking, (b) using research based practices, (c) having a strong connection with students, (d) using colleagues as support and (e) working with a supportive administration. Research results suggest that organizations that foster the development of the external characteristics help sustain teachers possessing the internal characteristics. Implications for practice include the identification of such teacher leaders as positive examples for all staff and leadership for the organization. Using the identified teachers as models could shift reform efforts to a focus on positive deviants rather than on the traditional deficit model. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A