Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair Lea Hubbard, PhD, Member Jeffrey Sheldon, PhD, Member Jody Britten, PhD, Member


Inclusion, Leadership, Agency, Efficacy, Collaboration, International School


As international schools continue to flourish, they must consider how to be inclusive and meet the needs not only of multicultural populations of students, but also the needs of students with diagnosed learning difficulties (i.e., students with special needs). Promoting teacher agency is a potentially important component in successfully implementing inclusive practices given that teachers are key actors in the implementation process. Currently, however, there is limited empirical evidence regarding the interconnectedness of teacher agency and inclusion of special needs populations in international schools.

This qualitative research explores the role of school leaders in promoting teacher agency to support the inclusion of students with identified learning needs in inclusive classrooms. Through in-depth interviews with three school leaders, six primary class teachers, and six learning support specialists from three international schools in Europe, the study examines the factors influencing teacher agency and the implementation of inclusive practices. These factors include: participation in policy development, collaboration structures, professional development, self-advocacy, colleague influence, and leadership influence.

The findings reveal that school leaders can enhance teacher agency by fostering trusting relationships, prioritizing interdisciplinary teams, establishing consistent collaborative structures, including learning support specialists in decision-making processes, and providing meaningful professional development opportunities. These findings emphasize the importance of proactive leadership in creating inclusive school environments and supporting educators in meeting the diverse needs of students. The study contributes to filling a gap in the literature on the relationship between leadership, teacher agency, and inclusion, and offers insights for policymakers, school leaders, and educators seeking to improve inclusive practices in schools. Future research directions are also discussed to further explore these dynamics across diverse educational contexts.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies