Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Brian R. Beabout

Second Advisor

Christopher Broadhurst

Third Advisor

D'Lane Compton


This research examined instructional leadership support of eight Louisiana high school social studies teachers as they experienced positional turbulence as a result of teaching to politically and socially aware students in a polarized political and social climate during the 2020-2021 school year. In recent years the American education system has been challenged in unprecedented ways. A global pandemic, renewed calls for social justice, and a highly polarized political climate created an extremely turbulent environment for all educators. Social studies teachers faced a unique set of challenges of integrating controversial current events into a high-stakes standards-based curriculum. Utilizing a conceptual framework of turbulence theory and Leader-Member Exchange theory, this heuristic phenomenological study chronicled the impact of instructional leaders’ support of teachers as they navigated those challenges. Participants experienced primary supports such as modified school schedules and technology integration for instructional purposes. Participants also reported experiencing ancillary support when their instructional leader deferred to their professional judgment trusting their instructional practices. Differentiated support, based on experiences of positional turbulence, was rare and largely resulted from curriculum-based parent complaints. Participants’ identity salience impacted their relationship with their leader and their perceptions of support. Participants primarily relied on colleagues and self-directed learning to solve curriculum dilemmas. Many participants rationalized the lack of support during experiences of positional turbulence by citing a high-quality relationship with their instructional leader that was based on trust, mutual respect, and professionalism. Participants’ stories support the prioritization of two types of relationships to mitigate the effects of extreme positional turbulence: those among teachers that support collegial conversations and dyadic relationships between the leader and teacher that enable high-quality relationships based on trust, sharing of information, teamwork, and strategy formulation that inform the level of support provided by an instructional leader to a faculty member experiencing turbulence.


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