Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Carleton Holt

Committee Member

Kara Lasater

Second Committee Member

Richard Abernathy


Low-performing Schools, Principal Leadership, Teacher Motivation


This qualitative research study addressed the problem of motivating teachers to take on leadership roles in “low-performing” schools. Coupled with the high demands of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) being placed on public school principals to ensure that all students achieve and successfully graduate high school, better ways to distribute leadership and share responsibilities among teachers were identified. The research question and purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify the perceived leadership behaviors of high school principals in once labeled “low-performing” schools that support the motivation of teachers to take on leadership roles. Nine identified teacher leaders and three experienced high school principals with at least three years of administrative experience in once identified “low performing” high schools participated in individual in-depth interviews conducted by the researcher using semi-structured questioning techniques. Interviews were transcribed and coded and triangulated with observations and document reviews to identify emergent themes. Data analysis determined what behaviors teachers perceived as motivating them to take on leadership roles within their schools. By incorporating the findings of this study into educational leadership programs at colleges and universities, masters-level students will benefit by participating in improved practical experiences needed to better prepare them for all types of high school settings. Moreover, veteran principals at the high school level will be able to incorporate the identified leadership behaviors, leadership strategies, and lived experiences into their current context to build more sustainable leadership practices within their schools.