Date of Award

Summer 7-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Angela O. Owusu-Ansah, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Marty A. Bullis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Cathryn Lambeth, Ed.D.


This study sought to explore whether or not master teachers who seem relatively unfazed by daily pressures and mandates may have some sort of internal structure to help them. In order to answer this question, relevant literature regarding self-concepts was examined. This literature included self-efficacy, self-determination theory, growth mindset, and grit. Synthesizing the literature, these theories had certain resounding commonalities among some or all of them. These commonalities include perceived autonomy, perceived competence, relational importance, and hard work. Using a heuristic, hermeneutic phenomenological framework, participants were interviewed, observed, and shared relevant documents. Specific codes were both prevalent and frequent among the participants. These included both a priori codes such as growth mindset and perseverance as well as emergent codes such as pedagogical philosophy, noncompliance, relational importance, collaboration, flexibility, and compartmentalization. The experience of the participants indicated that their pedagogical philosophy acts as an anchor in times of stress and as a foundation for professional growth. The idea that master teachers have a guiding pedagogy that is reflected in their lived experience, has not been studied. Such a thought is worthy of further research because what teachers think and believe about their teaching inevitably drives their practice and is an area we should consider.