Theses Doctoral

Teacher Leadership and Science Instructional Practice: Teaching Elementary Science in a Time of Crisis

Bookbinder, Allison

This study explores the challenges that elementary science educators face when teaching science in a time of crisis, as well as how to best provide elementary teachers with ongoing support for their science teaching during the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Using a phenomenological approach, this research focuses on elementary science teachers, educators, and formal and informal leaders to understand their experiences during the pandemic and how to best support them during remote and in-person science teaching.

Using data collected from questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions, findings discuss the specific experiences and challenges faced by elementary science first-year teachers, early career teachers, and leaders. Following the transactional model of stress and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and the buffering effect of social support (Cohen & McKay, 1984), first-year and early career elementary science teachers used multiple coping mechanisms to handle the stress of science teaching during the pandemic, including problem solving and collaborating with other educators.

From a distributed leadership perspective (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001b), district-level elementary science curriculum specialists and coaches act as leaders in science education. When faced with constraints and challenges due to the pandemic, these district-level leaders used this opportunity to reimagine what their leadership work could look like, including rethinking what supports they can offer classroom teachers when they cannot easily access classrooms, how to design effective science curricula for remote teaching, and how to collaborate with other educators in new ways.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Science Education
Thesis Advisors
Mensah, Felica
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2022