The Success of a School, Dissertation – Literature Example
Words: 3804Dissertation - Literature
Principals have been noted to play an itergral role in the success of a school. Ginsberg & Thompsohn maintains that principals are the center of school improvement because the efforts and relationships they have with their teachers are the key ingredient of student success. They added that principals must be aware of their leadership styles and the personalities of the teachers that work with them. Marzano, Waters, & McNulty(2005), added that most impactful aspect of school success is driven by leadership styles of the principals. Marzano, Waters, & McNulty(2005), conducted a study where they examined 2802 school principals’ leadership stlyes. They concluded that the six most popular leadership theories were: transformational, transactional, total quality management, servant, situational, and instructional. As a result, Marzano et al. (2005) compiled a list of 21 leadership responsibilities that enhance the principal’s influence on school improvement.
Brennan, J., & Mac Ruairc, G. (2011), conducted in Ireland to examine the emotional aspect of being a principal. One hundred principals were surveyed about their experiences of being a principals and their perceptions of how much emotional management is needed to do the job adequately. All principals stated that their job required a big emotional commitment. They also believed that collaboration with staff was imperative for school success. A healthy collaboration creates a collaborative environment which is necessary for a working and learning environment. The principals felt that colleges and universities should add an emotional maintenance course to the requirements of becoming a principal.
There has been much research conducted on what makes for an effective principal. The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium set forth some standards that guided principals in their responsibilities. These standards are believed to ensure student success by creating a shared vision while promoting positive school environment through ethical and fair behaviors (Educational Leadership Policy Standards, 2008). Much work has been done on how to become a great principal, but very little work has been conducted on how to evaluate the effectiveness of principals (Davis, Kearney, Sanders, Thomas, & Leon, 2011). They conducted a study on evaluation systems. They found that employee feedback is important, but very complicated within the educational field because teachers are often afraid of being retaliated against or loosing their jobs.
Williams, Persaud, & Turner (2008), noted the importance of principal evaluations too. According to them an effective assessment system has the ability to improve leadership by providing principals with feedback about their effectiveness and weaknesses. Some states are implementing the principals’ role in their school improvement plans. For example, in 2006 the Georgia Department of Education created a school improvement plan referred to as the School Keys. One of the components of the School Keys is a 75 question survey that allows data to be collected on how effective teachers, parents, and students feel their principals are (School Improvement Opinion Survey, 2006).
Leadership Styles and Benefits
Gatongi (2007), discusses how person centered approach that is usually used in a therapy setting can betransferred to school setting. This will ensure that students and teachers have a greater sense of self-worth and trust in their principals. The teachers’ positive feelings about the principal and students would impact self-esteem. The author feels as if thestudent should see the principal as less of an authority figure and more as guide. It is believed that this approach would improve the overall climate of the school.
Halawah (2005), discusses how school climate and student achievement is direcctly correlatedwith the effectiveness of lthe school’s principal. Halawah stated that one of the most important aspects of principals effectiveness was his/her ability to effectively communicate with the staff and student body. A study was conducted on 555 students and 208 teachers. The participants were polled on how well they felt their principals communicated and interacted within the school community. The study helped to prove that the principals leadership ability and communication skills had a great impact on the school as a whole.
Transformational leadership style is very effective when used by principals because it inspires followers by providing them with powerful feedback. When this type of leadership style is used barriers are minimized within the organization. Yet, there are some challenges within this style of leadership. Many principals have difficulty influencing their followers because many teachers are unable to set aside their personal likes and dislikes of their principals(Guthrie & Schuermann, 2010). In 1992, Kirby, Paradise, & King surveyed over 100 educators to determine which leadership strategy they preferred most. The results indicated that most educators preferred transformational leadership. Another empirical leadership study conducted by Hater & Bass, 1988; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Koh, Steers, & Terborg, 1995) also noted that transformational leadership styles were consistently rated number one by teachers.
Kelley, R. C., Thornton, B., & Daugherty, R. (2005), conducted a study by the that surveyed teachers and administrators from 31 elementary schools. The aim of their research was to identify how the principal’s leadership skills directly affect the school’s overall climate. They found that the principal’s self-ratings did not accurately depict the school’s climate; however, the teachers’ ratings were more accurate.
The authors completed a qualitative study on two schools to determine how leadership practices are handled by principals. The study was conducted in Malaysia, an area that has had poor academic performance. The principals in the study made countless efforts to improce school climate in hopes of improving academic achievement. The study was conduted on only two schools, but the authors concluded that positive change can dramatically effect student learning(Nor, S. M., & Roslan, S, 2009).
The authors conduct an autobiographical study on how Pepper(2002), became a more effective principal. Initially, she used an authoritative and autocratic leadership style, but found it had little or no impact on the school’s climate and student performance. Pepper used strategies like involving parents and staff in decision making. She focused on approaching discipline in a way that lacked judgment and defensiveness. She found that over time, this change in leadership style increased staff and student morale and improved student achievement, while reducing discipline issues.
A study was done to determine what factors of principal leadership help to improve student achievement and school climate. This study was conducted in Atlanta, Georgia after the school system was pressured to improve the leadership skills of its principal. The study looked at five aspects of leadership and how those aspects correlated with school climate and student achievement. Eighty-one schools participated in the study. The researchers found that school climate is directly linked to student achievement. Instructional leadership had the greates influence on student achievement. The interpersonal skills of the principal ranked second in student achievement (Williams, E., Persaud, G., & Turner, T, 2008).
According to Marzano, 2003), effective leadership is possibly the most important aspect of successful schools. As a result, clearer roles of principals are required. Consequently the role of principals has been found to have a great impact on schools with at risk populations. According to Sergiovanni (2007), teachers and administrators must be active participants in decision making to develop an effective curriculum. Effective leaders must be genuinely concerned with how to increase academic performance.
Guthrie & Schuemann (2010), discusses how leadership practices and behaviors affect job satisfaction. He conducted a study that involved 242 participants who worked in an engineering based industry. He found that regardless to the industry, workers were more satisfied with their jobs when they felt valued and respected as professionals.
In 2004, a survey was conducted to determine how principals can best handle generational gaps in the education field. It is more likely now, that principals are much younger than many of their teachers. This causes tension in the workplace. Many of the older teachers often have a lack of respect for their principals because they feel they lack of experience (Burke, 2004). Older teachers often have issues with the way younger principals handle ethical issues, change, and organizational hierarchy. Fullan (2000) added there are ways to bridge the gap between multigenerational organization. When implemented properly, the work place can be a satisfying and productive environment for all employees.
Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris, & Hopkins, 2006 also note that principals have an idirect impact on student achievement. They feel that principals must stay actively involved by monitoring assessment, curriculum, and other aspects of students’ data. Teachers feel this is also important, but have noted that principals’ leadership styles are directly affected by age. They conveyed that younger principals tend to play a more atctive role in student learning, while older principals focus more time on authoritarian leadership.
Trust is said to be the foundation of all relationships, so the relationship between principals and teachers should be no difference. Most reseachers agree that trust is a multidimensional and varies from perspectives. According to Blase & Blase (2003), does not exist alone and grows with interactions between people. Varies levels of trust are necessary to build successful relationships. With trust, one must be willing to take risks and encounter new situations. If teachers and principals do not build trust relationships it will be difficult for each party to trust the other’s judgement in reference to what is best for student learning and achievement. Hallinger & Peck (2010), added that when adequate communication levels are established, greater levels of trust are gained.
Nor & Roslan (2009), discuss three levels of trust that must exist in order to build a positive working relationship. They are provisional-based trust, knowledge-based trust, and identity-based trust. During the first stage of trust, each party assumes that the other wants to maintain a healthy trust filled relationship. The second stage occurs when the two parties get to know eachother and become comfortable with eachothers decision making. The final stage occurs when each party is able to predict the actions of the other. These relationships are evident in the school setting because it can be assumed that all parties are there to educate the children. Over time, teachers began to trust principals and vice versa because they share a common interest. Within school settings, relational and intitutional trust is important because often teachers are not the ones that make decisions about student learning. The principal plays a great role in establishing and maintaining trust. Successful schools have high levels of trust among all stakeholders (Gillespie & Mann, 2004).
Theories About Education
Trust is a key component of a quality education. Students must trust teachers in order to learn from them and principals must trust teachers and allow them to teach using various methods. Tschennan-Moran & Hoy (2000), convey that school personnel must trust eachother in order to maintain an environment that is conduscive to learning. Louis (2007), discusses the types of trust that must be present in the workplace. They are relational and institutional trust. Relational trust is developed when interactions occurs between the two parties and institutional trust when people within a workplace assume that each will behave approriately.
When No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2001, principals were placed under great pressure to ensure that students were being taught at high quality. As a result, many principals began encouraging teacher collaboration and teacher leadership. Involving teacher leadership increases the probability of teacher cooperation. An organization can only be as successful as the leadership skills of its leader. Success within a educational community occurs when the members of the community are successful (Hallinger, 2006). Fullan (2001), adds that collaboration is an important aspect of any professional learning community. When collaboration occurs, a relatioship begins between principals and teachers and breaks the barriers of boss and employee.
In the early 1990s Leithwood & Jantzi (1990, 1998), began doing work on what would later become known as transformational leadership. They began focusing on school climate as an intergral part of the school’s success. According to them, cultural change is the most important aspecto successful school reform. Their belief is that the principal is the leader of the school’s climate. In their research, they looked at behaviors that principals displayed that could influence the school’s climate. They identified six effective strategies:
- Reducing teacher isolation by strengthing school climate
- Providing resources and using burearucrativ evaluations
- Provide professional development opportunities
- Sharing power with teachers
- Adequate communication
- Recognition for success
The work that Leithwood & Jantzi did helped researcher better understand teachers’ perception of principals attitudes and behaviors that foster and negate professional collaboration.
The distributed leadership theory conveys that principals distribute leadership duties throughout the organization by forming teams to help meet and maintain school improvement demands. Principals are the leader force in demonstrating how to lead organizations. Their leadership sets the stage for fostering good leadership techniques among individuals and committees. Leithwood and colleagues (2006), add that principals are responsible for establishing professonal standards. Setting the mission of the school, implementing strategic instruction, and defining organizational structure. From their perspective, these strategies are imperative for principal teacher relationships.
Spilane, Halverson, & Diamond( 2001), added to the distributed leadership theory by providing a theoretical framework. Within this framework, they proposed that school leadership is more effective when distributed among stake holders, not just those who have the title of principals or administrator. They also outlined some practices that successful principals used within their schools when they implemented distributed leadership. They also examined how teachers felt about the leadership practices that principals used and how those practices influenced teachers’ decisions to pursue leadership roles. Yet, Diamond (2007), warns that there is a differnce between delegating duties and distributed leadership:
“…distributed leadership moves beyond trying to understand leadership through the actions and beliefs of single leaders…It is constituted through the interaction of leaders, teachers, and the situation as they influence instructional practice. Distributed leadership’s a powerful way to understand leadership activity in schools in more complex and interconnected ways.”(Diamond, 2007)
However, Diamond (2007), reminds educators and administrators that implementing this strategy will not solve all problems, nor will it easy. In order to have teachers share decision making, teachers must be adequately trained in the decision making process through facilitation and collaboration.
Copland (2001), points out another benefit of distributing leadership-lessons the principals work load. It also places the principal in the role of facilitator rather than boss. Copland(2001) says, “Leadership is embedded in various organizational contexts within school communities, not centrally vested in a person or an office…exciting work is under way that explores specific ways in which schools might distribute leadership more broad. There is a need to identify and support aspects of leadership beyond the role of the principal” (Copland, 2001).
Blush (2003), introduces collegial models which are very similar to distributive theory. In this model, members of an organization are actively involved in decision making. The collegiate model is rooted in the following five beliefs:
- The model is practical and not just based upon practice
- Teachers have authority within learning environments because of their knowledge and expertise in their given area.
- Members of the organization have a common set of goals and values.
- Collaboration is needed before any decisions are made
- Decisions are made only when a consensus has been reached.
When this model is implementing properly, teachers feel empowered and respected and much more likely to have favorable opinions about their principals.
Components Needed For An Effective Environment
Teacher motivation has been discussed greatly over the years. Many researchers agree that motivated teachers are the most important aspect of effective collaboration. Likewise, collaboration is the most important factor of success. Little (1982), added that recognizing the efforts that teachers put into their work helps to foster teacher leadership.
The relationship that leaders have with the people who work under them is the foundation of all organizations. Thomas Hoerr (2005), says “good leaders change organizations, but great leaders change people”. Reeves (2002), believes that leaders of all organizations must realize that the workers or just as important as the leaders of the organization. He goes on to add that leadership is mostly about the relationships between the people in the organization. He also adds that teamwork is the foundation of success within an organization like a school or facility of higher learning.
Trust is an issue that many researcher point out as a paramount component of educational environment. According to Donaldson (2006), the principal is the primary facilitator of building strong relationships among the teachers within an organization. It is the principal’s job to engage, listen to, and understand the teachers they work with. He goes on to add that the principal’s personality style helps to create levels of trust and determines how other members of the organization perceive them. Martin (1998), adds that people do not trust just based on the title that a person has, but they trust based upon relationships they have with people. He believes that some principals have the false notion that just because they have the title of principal and the ability to fire them, they should receive respect. Principals must initiate relationships with their teachers in order to build relationships. Principals can build trust with their teachers by sharing goals, being fair and ethical, and consistency in behavior and personality.
Traditionally, principals have been the primary decision makers, as a result, teachers are reluctant to challenge or even share the opinions about issues that directly and indirectly affect them (Blasé & Blasé , 2008). Fortunately, the traditional role of the principal has changed over the years. Principals are no longer closed leader- leaders that do not share power. Principals are practicing sharing leadership abilities. According to Blasé & Blasé 2008, principals today strive to be leaders that are a mixture of open and transformative. Principals are being taught to use democratic policies. Yet, some principals still display authoritarian and coercive styles, but generally they tend to misuse authority (Blasé & Blasé, 2008).
The principals’ leadership style has a great impact on the teacher’s perception of him/her that can be either positive or negative. Some negative impacts that leadership styles may cause are teacher isolation and low levels of compliance to school policies. When teachers feel powerless, they become combative and passive which leads to mistrust and low morale in the learning environment (Perkins, 2008).
A breakdown in communication can cause a major problem in educational communities. Communication is important for teachers and principals, as well as students. Researchers have found that communication goes through various channels. For example Kelly, (2000) says:
“The sender may express the message in such a way that it is not heard or received. The receiver may decode the message inaccurately, misinterpret the sender’s intent, and respond inappropriately. Inconsistent verbal and non-verbal channels may mean that the receiver doubts the true intention of the sender and does not respond at all”. (Kelly, 2000).
Communication is based upon perceptions and experiences that one has in life. Quirke (1995), discusses some barriers in communication that principals and teachers may encounter. Semantics is one of the barriers that can be encountered between principals and teachers. When there is a generational gap between the principals and the teachers, communication may be difficult. Younger people tend to prefer written communication over face to face communication; while older person tend to prefer face to face communication so that they can read facial expressions and body language. According to Daft (1997), “Communication is central to the environment created at work. It influences interactions among coworkers, the impact of what individuals do, [and] who they are” (Daft, 1997). When effective communication is present, teachers and principals form strong relationships that help produce great learning environment.
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