Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Belinda Edwards

Second Advisor

Dr. Jen Wells

Third Advisor

Dr. Laurie Dias


This qualitative case study investigates how faculty members in a Title I middle school engage in collaborative practices to enhance professional growth without formal professional learning. Framed within a descriptive lens (Merriam, 1998) and informed by Brown and Duguid's Community of Practice (CoP) framework (1991), the study addresses two research questions: (1) How do teachers collaborate to improve their practice outside formal professional learning? (2) In what ways do these methods reflect the elements of CoP: working, learning, and innovating? Through data analysis, the study reveals that teachers predominantly collaborate on student behavior and classroom management, with curriculum being a desired but less frequent focus. Interpersonal conflict and time constraints emerge as primary barriers to collaboration. Despite challenges, participants perceive the school environment as collaborative, preferring self-selected collaborative communities over mandatory professional learning activities. The study underscores the alignment of teacher collaborative practices with CoP principles, emphasizing their interconnectedness and importance in resource-constrained settings, as well as the effect of such collaborative work on teacher identity.