DISSERTATION PROPOSAL ANNOUNCEMENT Ed.D. Program: Amanda Reardon “Pedagogical Leadership in New Jersey Preschool Programs: A Qualitative Case Study”
For many years, researchers have explored preschool directors’ leadership pathways, professional development needs, and innumerable responsibilities. It is well-documented that many directors are promoted to leadership because they are skilled teachers, despite minimal formal education in pedagogy and leadership, and that directors’ level of education impacts program quality. Still, less is known about how directors approach leadership or manage their responsibilities, which can vary significantly based on each program’s size, philosophy, auspice, and profit-status. Given the multiplicity and contextuality of each directors’ role, qualitative research is needed to understand existing leadership practices and conceptualize effective leadership in various preschool program contexts. Because the preschool workforce is dominated by women, such research must be grounded in a feminine leadership framework that gives attention to the integration of teaching and care specific to early childhood settings. Pedagogical Leadership is one such lens that encapsulates directors’ responsibilities in management tasks, coaching/mentoring, and organizational culture. Using the lens of Pedagogical Leadership, this study seeks to understand the strengths and limitations of preschool leadership in New Jersey’s private, non-profit preschool programs through a qualitative case study approach. This study intends to identify (1) how directors understand and enact their leadership roles, (2) how they spend their time and manage competing priorities, and (3) how, and in what ways, their leadership practices align with the theory of Pedagogical Leadership. Results of this study will be derived from semi-structured interviews, interval-contingent time use data, field observations, and artifacts, and will inform recommendations for improved leadership practices.
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