Concurrent teacher and leadership professional development in Algebra I: shared instructional leadership and instructional program cohesion
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Over the years, significant curricula reform and professional development efforts designed to improve teachers’ abilities to implement standards-based mathematics curriculum and instruction have been enacted, with Algebra I teachers receiving significant attention. These mathematics professional development efforts, however, have largely ignored the central role of the school principal and school instructional leaders in mathematics education improvement. This study utilized a multiple case study format to examine the potential usefulness and benefits of professional development where both the high school principal and Algebra I teachers were concurrently engaged in coordinated professional development activities. The primary purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions of high school principals and lead Algebra I teachers to determine which aspects of concurrent professional development they perceive as critical to their work in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. This study provides a vii descriptive account of participant perceptions of concurrent professional development components and the importance of the professional development components. Two themes emerged from the interviews. Participants viewed the concurrent professional development as assisting them in attaining the following: (1) the development of a shared vision for the Algebra I program and (2) the emergence of instructional program coherence. Furthermore, within the context of the concurrent professional development setting data revealed that: (1) instructional leadership exists as a shared function, (2) instructional leadership actions stemmed from the tools produced within the concurrent professional development, and (3) shared instructional leadership created the emergence of Algebra I program coherence. The results of this study indicate that participants found value in the components of concurrent professional development that united instructional leadership tasks and instructional program coherence indicators. Results of the study suggest that concurrent professional development activities incorporating instructional leadership tasks and instructional program coherence indicators can serve both principals and lead teachers to improve their Algebra I program.