Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Monica Taylor

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Emily J. Klein


Imagine school-based meetings that encourage faculty to design and direct their own professional learning during the course of a school year. This is the type of structure I implemented at Lakeside Elementary School during the 2013-2014 school year. With this practitioner action research study, I seek to add to the research related to the ways inquiry is presented and used as a professional learning structure within schools. I examine the way I, an elementary school principal, established a series of faculty meetings called “Design Your Own Learning” in which teachers were responsible for planning and carrying out professional learning based upon their own inquiry into their daily practices with students. Using a framework that defined inquiry as the many professional interactions within a school that promote processing and questioning of student and school needs, professional knowledge and understanding, as well practices that open a dialogue about ways to address and learn from each, I investigated the core question, “What happens when I (the building principal) implement an inquiry based professional learning structure (Design Your Own Learning) in my school?”

I found that the Design Your Own Learning structure provided dedicated time and space for teachers to direct their own learning and reimagine the way a “meeting” structure, such as a typical faculty meeting, could be a space in which to engage in professional inquiry. I came to see myself as a teacher educator, learning how to support my faculty as they engaged in inquiry. This highlighted a challenge between what I (the principal) “understood” about being a principal or educational leader and my emerging conception of a principal as teacher educator. Additionally, I found that the teachers who engaged in Design Your Own Learning gained useful inquiry skills that helped them think critically about their teaching, learn with and from colleagues, and challenge school norms to ask meaningful questions about their practices. This study made clear that teachers do have the willingness and capacity to engage in meaningful and practical inquiry.