From the Classroom to the Principal's Office: How the Teach for America Experience Influences School Leadership

Rikki Hunt Taylor, University of Pennsylvania


In urban education, both researchers and practitioners seek to understand the complexities of school leadership. In urban schools, school leaders are expected to be instructional leaders, guiding the work of teachers, changing pedagogical practices, and ensuring that an overall effective instructional program is cultivated. This role is difficult in any school, and especially so in schools with children that are impacted by social and economic barriers. Urban school districts face a second problem: attracting and maintaining high quality teachers. In urban school districts, teacher shortage continues to be a concern. Twenty years ago, Teach for America was formed in response to this issue. TFA corps members were chosen from the best students in the nation’s top universities to participate in a rigorous induction process that would quickly prepare them for the classroom. It is expected that corps members teach for two years, and return to the corporate industry, applying the lessons that they have learned in the classroom to their new profession. However, many fall in love with education and choose to stay to work as teachers beyond their two-year commitment. As school districts look for school leaders who have specific qualities and skills, TFA corps members are looking for more opportunities in the schools. Trained to consider themselves leaders and to focus on accountability for their students, TFA corps members have chosen to move into positions of leadership within schools, and are electing to become principals and district leaders. As school districts attempt to develop and maintain school leaders, understanding the interplay between TFA core values and how these values transfer into instructional leadership can be an important contribution to the topics of school leadership and in school reform. Through interview and observation of principals, this study of instructional leadership seeks to answer the following question: How does the TFA experience shape the instructional leadership of principals who are former corps members? In order to answer this question, this study analyzed the behaviors and leadership activities of former TFA principals.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Hunt Taylor, Rikki, "From the Classroom to the Principal's Office: How the Teach for America Experience Influences School Leadership" (2017). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10267209.