Teacher Leadership - Literature Review Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


The Teacher and Principal Relationship with the Principal as Leader
Research indicate that the primary role of the principal is that of
the school "leader." The decision a principal makes concerning the issue
of instructional leadership and the extent to which that principal
develops the skills needed to exercise appropriate instructional
leadership will influence what does or does not happen in classrooms
throughout the country. Marks and Printy (2003) agree that the
importance of the instructional leadership responsibilities of the
principal cannot be ignored, nor can the reality that good leadership
skills are seldom practiced. Principals require information and skills
in order to support practices of instructional leadership in their
schools. They need to know what effective instructional leadership is
and how to become an effective instructional leader. Tasks to be
accomplished encompass those of supervision and evaluation of
instruction, of staff development activities, of curriculum development
knowledge and activities, of group development knowledge and activities,
of action research, of development of a positive school climate, and of
the creation of links between school and community.
Research on the perceived relationship of the principal as the school
leader indicates that there are two skills of an effective instructional
leader; technical skills and interpersonal skills. Technical skills
include goal setting, assessment and planning, instructional observation,
research and evaluation; whereas, interpersonal skills are those of
communication, motivation, decision making, problem solving, and conflict
management. Instructional leadership encompasses those actions that a
principal takes, or delegates to others, to promote growth in student
learning. It also comprises the following tasks: 1) defining the purpose
of schooling; 2) setting school-wide goals; 3) providing the resources
needed for learning to occur; 4) supervising and evaluating teachers; 5)
coordinating staff development programs; and 6) creating collegial
relationships with and among teachers. The term instructional leader
clearly describes the primary role of the principal in the quest for
excellence in education. To achieve this quest, it will take more than a
strong principal with concrete ideas. According to Marks and Printy
(2003), instructional leadership emphasizes the technical core of
instruction, curriculum and assessment, provides direction and affects
the day to day activities of teachers and students in the school.
Finally, the literature regarding the principal as leader
acknowledges there is no single definition of instructional leadership
nor specific guidelines or direction as to what an instructional leader
does. Marks and Printy (2003) concluded that past understandings of
school leadership have failed to meet two functional tests; 1) that
leadership promotes organizational improvement and 2) that it is
sustainable for the leaders themselves. Their study demonstrates the
effectiveness of integrated leadership in eliciting the instructional
leadership of teachers for improving school performance. Effective
principals are managers and instructional leaders; instructional
leadership functions involve all the beliefs, decisions, strategies, and
tactics that principals use to generate instructional effectiveness in
classrooms. In order to meet the rapidly changing needs of our students,
teachers must be given the authority to make appropriate instructional
decisions. Therefore, the basis for school leadership must include
teachers and parents, as well as the principal, in the role of problem
finding and problem identification. Principals, then, become the leaders
of teachers, those who encourage and develop instructional leadership in
teachers.
Teacher and Principal Perceived Relationship
Research by Blas? (1999) analyzes the teacher - principal perceived
relationship, demonstrating that in effective principal-teacher
interaction about instruction, processes such as inquiry, reflection,
exploration and experimentation result. Blas? states that teachers build
repertoires of flexible alternatives rather than collecting rigid
teaching procedures and methods. The Blas? (1999) research was conducted
via talking with teachers in and outside of instructional conferences;
according the Blas? study results, principals used five primary talking
strategies with teachers to promote reflection: 1) making suggestions; 2)
giving feedback; 3) modeling; 4) using inquiry and soliciting advice and
opinions; and 5) giving praise. Another important aspect of an effective
teacher leader and principal relationship from the Blas? data was the
promotion of teachers' professional growth with respect to teaching
methods and collegial interaction about teaching and learning. The Blas?
(1999) research also supports the theory that the principal - teacher
relationship plays a crucial role in promoting an environment within the
school that is conducive to student learning.
The Blas? (1999) research also stresses the importance of the
fundamental human needs for trust, support, and professional interaction.
This research also reveals that teachers have a strong need for growth,
such as engaging in continuous collaboration, reflection, and critical
thinking, which can best be supported by a positive relationship
perception between themselves and their principal. According the to
Blas? study, effective instructional leaders used six teacher development
strategies: 1) emphasizing the study of teaching and learning; 2)
supporting collaboration efforts among educators; 3) developing coaching
relationships among educators; 4) encouraging and supporting redesign of
programs; 5) applying the principles of adult learning, growth, and
development to all phases of staff development; and 6) implementing
action research to inform instructional decision making. Their results
found that principals who were effective instructional leaders provided
former staff development opportunities to address emergent instructional
needs. These opportunities resulted in innovation and creativity,
variety in teaching, risk taking and positive responses to student
diversity as well as effects on motivation, efficacy and self-esteem.
Thus, the literature in this area indicates that the perceived teacher
and principal relationship is conducive to the strategies and methods
taken by the teachers.
This perceived relationship is important because the principal is the
key figure in promoting an environment within the school that is
conducive to student learning. Such an environment is positive and the
school's environment impacts on all, not just the students. It takes the
combined effort of both the principal and the staff to identify factors
that create and, also, those that inhibit the development of a positive
climate. Then, it takes cooperative teamwork to develop strategies to
promote the desired climate or to overcome the inhibiting factors. The
Blas? (1999) research also stresses the importance of the fundamental
human needs for trust, support, and professional interaction. This
research also reveals that teachers have a strong need for growth, such
as engaging in continuous collaboration, reflection, and critical
thinking. The more positive the perceived teacher-principal relationship
is, the more positive the actions of the teachers will be.
Impact of the Teacher & Principal Relationship on Student Achievement
The perceived teacher-principal relationship has also shown to have a
significant impact on student achievement. Schools exist in the heart of
each community, and school-community links are a mutually beneficial
relationship in which the principal can play a leading role. The
community can assist the learning climate of a school in many ways such
as providing direction in recruiting volunteers to help at school
functions, in class presenters, in a mentorship function, and in a sense
of stability. It is a recognized fact that student achievement is higher
when parents display interest by being actively involved in their
children's education. Parents and community groups can be included in
decisions that the school makes. Such activities promote within students
a sense of responsibility and service to their community or, on a larger
scale, to their country. The research indicates a positive result on
student achievement where the teacher and principal relationship is a
positive relationship that fosters growth and allows creativity.
Research by Witziers, Bosker and Kruger (2003) examined the possible
impact of the principal's leadership on student achievement. Their
results show that that the positive effects are small; however, those in
the field also recognize that the measures used in the studies are not
perfectly reliable, and therefore the association between the impact of
the principal and student achievement may be drastically underestimated.
Furthermore, Witziers, Bosker and Kruger (2003) acknowledge that a small
effect may still be very relevant. More refined analyses show that there
is no evidence for a direct effect of educational leadership on student
achievement in secondary schools. In the studies by Witziers, Bosker and
Kruger (2003), a variety of explanations can account for the reasons why
the tests of the effects model have been inconclusive. The research
suggests that context and immediate factors should be taken into account
in future research. For example, Barnett and McCormick (2004) examined
transformational approaches to leadership in schools. Their research
suggested that the effect of leadership on student learning outcomes is
mediated by school conditions such as goals, structure, people and school
culture. Their results indicate that a relationship between leadership
and school culture does exist, and they highlight the importance of
individual principal-teacher relationships in schools.
According to Barnett and McCormick (2004), in order to meet the
rapidly changing needs of our students, teachers must be given the
authority to make appropriate instructional decisions. Therefore, the
basis for school leadership must include teachers and parents, as well as
the principal, in the role…

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