A qualitative study of teachers as path-goal leaders with an emphasis on clearing the path of distraction
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This qualitative phenomenological study investigated teachers as leaders in their classrooms. The study focused on the various ways high school teachers facilitate deep work in their students to lead them to learning goals, by examining how teachers define goals, clarify paths, remove obstacles, and provide support to learning. The study acknowledges the current problem of students needing help to overcome learning obstacles such as distraction. The setting of the study was a single high school in the Midwest. Findings from interviews of teachers, principals, and students include a consensus on the importance of controlling the context of the learning environment by clarifying task relevancy and monitoring focus intensity. Findings also showed the importance of the dynamic interplay between teacher and students; continual feedback is necessary to meet student needs. Preferred feedback is verbal, and data showed strong agreement in student engagement in a positive student/teacher relationship as the most effective way to learn and avoid distractions. The implications for practice apply to both teachers and instructive decision-makers in terms of planning and expectations of class organization, management, and content delivery. Future research is needed in how the brain science of cognitive load theory can inform classroom practices.