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Follower Engagement in Elementary Schools: A Multi-Site Study

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As globalization continues to impact local education agencies, learning about constituent engagement in schools provides important insights into how these actors respond. Using a followership framework, faculty and support staff at three public elementary schools in geographically diverse areas of the United States were interviewed regarding their roles as followers within their school and their influence on the school’s ability to carry out its core purposes. Findings suggest that follower behaviors could be grouped in three broad categories: consideration, cooperation, and commitment. Behaviors of consideration included doing one’s job, learning expectations, fitting in, and isolating. Cooperation involved making an effort, settling in, following through, and working together. Finally, behaviors in the commitment category were paying it forward, taking it to the next level, building a legacy, and being part of a team. These follower behaviors appeared to move from actions revealing self-interest to those showing explicit social connection to the sites studied; however, even follower behaviors of consideration have potential positive ramifications for schools and other organizations. Leaders and committed followers would benefit from considering the full range of follower behaviors and asking themselves what those behaviors communicate about the varying needs, capacities, and contributions of all members of their organizations.
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Keywords: elementary schools; engagement; followership; leadership; school community; trust; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2020

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  • World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.
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