Teachers' experiences and perceptions of voluntary committee work as a vehicle for leadership development
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In response to a looming leadership shortage, leadership development for teachers has become an increasingly important area of interest around the world. A review of the literature identified the key components of educational leadership development programs as effective curriculum, leadership practice, relationship building, and reflection. A gap in the research was found regarding the use of voluntary committee work as a vehicle for leadership practice. The purpose of this study was to explore teachers' perceptions of their experiences within board-level committees to determine the key factors that contributed, positively or negatively, to their leadership,pevelopment. A qualitative research design was employed using semistructured interviews with 8 participants. The key findings included a list of factors perceived by teachers as either supporting or hindering their leadership development. The supporting factors were: (a) leadership practice, (b) mentors and role models, (c) relationships and networks, and (d) positive outcomes for students. The hindering factors were: (a) lack of follow through and support, (b) committee members with a careerist approach to the experience, (c) personal and political agendas, and (d) overcommitment leading to burnout. Recommendations for practice focused on strategies to enhanc~_ the committee experience as a tool for leadership development. Recommendations for theory and research suggested more research be done on each of the 8 key factors, perceptions associated with teachers choosing to follow a leadership path, and how school boards can structure the committee process as an effective leadership development tool. This study provides a starting point for educators to begin to intentionally design, develop, and deliver voluntary committee experiences as a tool for leadership development.