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Leadership Styles of Middle School Principals

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018

PART 1

Introduction of the Problem

The main aim of Professional Development is influencing the students’ results. From the thesaurus of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) database, professional development involves the activities tha enhance the growth of a career professionally.This is effected by impacting the teachers level of practice and their level of knowledge (Robinson and Carrington, 2002). With its implications on learning skills, professional development is beyond teacher training since it encompases formal and informal means of assisting teachers in their development of new insights into their own as well as in the exploration of new and advanced resources that aid them in improving students performance. From the above statement it is clear that professional development requires the principals to support the teachers as they deal with the challenges that come along with new needs of their work. This support help the teachers to continually grow in their understanding of their nature of work as well as professional skills.

According to Fullan (1991), it has been observed that in the last decade, the role of a principal has been increasingly involving, become more complicated and the roles are not clearly defined. He also noted that the principles roles have been through a kind of metamorphosis. Initially, the roles of the principle were limited and involved instruction leadership or a master teacher. With time these roles changed to transactional leadership and, most recently, to transformational leadership. This brings out the importance of examining the way principles deal with professional development of teachers, being one of the most pressing issues.

The extent to which the quality of professional development of middle school teacher is influenced by their administrators’ leadership styles is not known.  According to Jackson and Davis (2000), one of the most important components in accomplishing great achievements in schools and ensuring high quality teachers is instructional leadership. For a high achieving school, an administrator should be able to supply instructional leadership. To make this possible, the administrator should have specific leadership characteristics which ensure effectiveness in professional development of teachers and also heip in sustaining an educational environment that fosters high achievement  vision in students (Jackson & Davis, 2000).

In the past few years, middle schools have become more and more all-encompassing (Hoy et al, 1996). In the American education systems, the notes being appear to be a replacement of the traditional junior high schools.  According to the Maryland State Department of Education (2008), the academic, social and emotional progress of a student is greatly influenced and evident in middle school. This requires educators to be highly equipped when it comes to addressing the changes undergone by students in middle school and this makes the professional development of the teachers a very critical and sensitive process.  According to (Robinson and Carrington, 2002).   In cases where progressive and extensive involvement of the schools administration and teachers is emphasized, their results of professional development are likely to be effective. During this stage, an adolescent’s process of education is characterized by a change in the line of thought, and also developments which are both psychological and physical, and these changes may influence the student in terms of their achievement.  For example in middle school, students have more academic responsibilities than in the elementary school. There is involvement in extracurricular activities and restructuring after school may be required. There is also a change in the educational environment which is brought about by the fact that the environment is more structured and not as nurturing as the elementary school environment. This means that the students have to adopt to the riles and regulations set and that they are held responsible for their actions. Therefore, it is very important to equip the middle school teachers with  quality leadership skills as well as quality professional development so that they meet the advers social,educational and emotional needs of all their students. (Maryland State Department of Education, 2008).

Most studies done on the impact of the principal-teacher relationship show that there is a possible correlation between supportive leadership style and the involvement and dedication of teachers.(Theo Wubbel, Jack Levy, 1993).  Leithwood and Montgomery say that the approval and a support of a teacher from the administrator were positively related to the satisfaction of the teacher. In a later study, (leithwood 1990) repoted tjhat a principals support and the teachers professional development were highly correlated. It is therefore very important for the principals to be involved in the activities of the teachers so that they can be able to provide the support the teachers when they need. This will aid in motivatimg teachers which will improve their commitment amd this will lead to improvement of the performance of the teachers and consequently, the students.

Johnson (1986) noted that discovering the most important thing to teachers as well as motivating them to improve their work was a very complicated task and has not yet been figured out. He also wrote that the specific contribution of instructional leadership styles to professional development was not fully explored.

Stepans, 2001 stated that the role of the principal was to support the professional development activities appeared to be crucial ti the  crucial professional growth of teachers since it assisted in its success. When there is a full discussion on issues and problems in a school between the teachers and the principal, the process contribute a lot in the carrer development  and professional expertise.(Hopkins 1990)

This study will discuss the specific characteristics  instructional leadership styles necessary in the enhancement of quality professional development in middle schools. It will also look at the ways that the principals can try and motivate teacher by researching on what teachers find important and using it to motivate them.

The research is also geared towards the evaluation of the relationship between the  characteristics leadership styles and the overall teacher performance  and higher student achievement improvement in middle schools.
Further research may be done in order to evaluate whether or not the characteristics of leadership have a direct correlation to overall improvement in teacher performance and higher student achievement in middle schools.

Background of the study

Wiles (1983), notes that the quality of leadership that a principal exhibits determines the  success of a school system. Previous research has been carried out to determine if there was a relationship between principals leadership styles and the teachers motivation. Brown-Howard’s research carried out in 2007, identified the teachers  motivation levels were determined by teachers by age, gender and experience. He also indicated that principals leadership styles has little to no impact on motivation based on the age, gender or experience of the teachers (Brown-Howard, 2007). According to Raines (2004) the overwhelming responsibilities and demands of the  principals  professional positions  are constant challenge. In this age of increased accountability, he adds, principals are expected to manifest exemplary performance in an ever-increasingly number of fronts. One such front is the area of professional development of teachers under their command.

Jurasaite-Harbison (2009) in a study of the way teachers learn it was found that teachers are put under immense pressure by the current edicational policies.thse pressurs involved the teachers having to concurrently modify their practices.  For such changes to be effective, it is very important for the professional development to enlarge areas of scope so that it can capture a wider range of areas that are within their unique epistemology that is teaching resources and instructional practices(Elmore, 2000).  On the other hand, Jurasaite-Harbison (2009) stresses that for the reforms to to be a success, various learning opportunities continuous professional growth is necessary for the teachers. According to Jurasaite-Harbison (2009)  Within schools context, this professional growth takes place under the schools administrators guidance and is part of daily workplace learning.

Other researches including (Maehr and Midgeley, 1991; 1996; Maehr and Anderman, 1993; Maehr and Fyans, 1989) have come up with a considerable empirical evidence that suggest that the culture of a school can motivate both the teachers and students to learn by instilling a positive feeling in the teachers about their work.  High achieving and motivated students as well as improved teachers attitude towards their jobs and collaboration amongst themselves are factors that are highly associated to a positive school culture(Stolp and Smith, 1995). Research done by (Sashkin and Sashkin, 1990; Sashkin and Walberg, 1993; Ogawa and Bossert, 1995; Leithwood, 1994) proposed that for a school culture to operate effectively and for its creation and maintenance, the principals leadership practices used are very important. Further, evidence obtained from several studies (Leithwood and Jantzi, 1990; Sashkin and Sashkin, 1990) provides a strong base in supporting the suggestion that transformational leadership leads to relatively more desirable school cultures.

There are other concerns ot teaching teaching principals that have been focused on in research. These concerns are; inadequate professional preparation and support, inadequate time for instructional leadership, isolation, and few opportunities for career advancement (Murdoch and Schiller, 2002). It was further discovered that principals are often overwhelmed and frustrated by the usual heavy workload and felt guilty about it to an extent that these frustrations adversely affect their family relationships and also their physical health. According to(Lashway, 2003; Lester, 2003; Wildy and Clarke, 2005) it was realized that most teaching principals lack the necessary skill to deal with the challenges, tensions and dilemmas that result from and those related to instructional leadership and management, the high system and local community expectations as well as personal and community values. However, Southworth (2002) discovered that success in principal ship came along with some significant development and growth in confidence and an individual’ sense of self.  These findings clearly show that a principles ability to cope and survive the challenges and trials of organization leadership helped in building their self esteem.

Findings suggest a positive correlation between principals’ transformational leadership and the presence of school social organization associated with effective schools (Evans, T.J 1996).  Research studies strongly support the fact that the leadership of the school principal impacts directly on the climate of the school and, in turn, on student achievement (Norton 2003). From these findings, it is evident that  the leadership stlyles of a principal are very important in defining the success of a school and also that these styles describe the kind of climate that will be prevalent in the school.

Mickey (2000) in a case study of a middle school on institutional leadership found that the principal as an instructional leader used an approach to leadership that was systematic. According to more finding, the principals realize their roles’ importance and use the position and positional power to in influencing change. The study also discovered that organizations that are successfully restructured insisted on and practiced shared leadership.  As Mickey (2000) writes, shared leadership involves a lot of teamwork and collaboration between the principle and the staff and also among the the staff themselves. In this case, the principal has to realize the need for a safe and disciplined environment. From the case study it was revealed that in shared leadership, the teachers professional development was highly facilitated. From the principals point of view ,such professional development is perceived to be an important means to an end. The end results that were intended, implementation of change and teachers were found to be a useful vehicle of such change, as “empowered leaders”. The study revealed that principals provided the teachers with extensive professional development to enable the them to be empowered leaders.

In 1995, a study by Kristine Hipp and Paul Bredson was published and it was about the relation ship betweenthe self efficacy of teachers and leadership styles of principals. The basic assumption of this study and two more that were done later (Hipp 1996,1997) was that the leadership style of a principle and the self efficacy of teachers were linked directly. From this study, there was empirical evidence that connected the aspects of transformational  leadership and principle teacher efficacy. This led to the conclusion that transformational leadership led to self efficacy of teachers.

The importance instructional leadership responsibilities of the principal  has been emphasized in research done(Brookover & Lezotte, 1982; Duke, 1983; Edmonds, 1979 and Kroeze, 1984). On the other hand, according to (Flath, 1989), literature has seemingly come to a consensus that instructional leadership is rare practice.  Stronge (1988) found out that most time of the principal is concentrated on school management and only a few of their hours are allocated to program issues. In reference to his computation,62.2% was the time used in school management , and only 6.2% of the time was allocated to program issues. He adds that in a principals typical day, out of the many tasks carried out,only11% of those tasks is instructional leadership related. Berlin, Kavanagh, and Jensen (1988) say that for schools to progress ,principals should be able to plan their tasks in a way that their daily activities come in between their leadership role in the curriculum.  McNally (1992) argues that there are certain middle-school principals who are effective but  Fullan (1991) says that effective institutional leaders are a rare group to find.

The above cases try to identify the various attempts that have been made to explain and clarify the various relationships that exist between the principal and the teachers. Mickey (2000) case study that aimed at provide empirical evidence about a specific approach to leadership and the resulting effect on the teachers, this paper has not identified any study that focused on the leadership styles and their impact on quality professional development of teachers. The study therefore, by presenting empirical evidence, seeks to find the impact of administrators leadership styles on the professional development of teachers, focusing on middle schools.
In a study by leithwood 1990, it was conluded that a principals support and the teachers professional development were highly correlated.

Statement of the Problem

According to the Maryland State Department of Education (2008), middle school marks a significant change in the way in which a student progresses in learning.  In order to equip the teachers to properly address the school students changes, their preparation needs to be extensively and professionally addressed.  This is a stage where adolescents change how they think  and view thinking, and there are also developments that are both psychological and physical and these changes influence the students achievements. Therefore, it is very important that the middle school teachers undergo extensive and quality professional development in order to meet the educational needs of the middle school population (Maryland State Department of Education, 2008).

It is not known however, to what extent the leadership styles of middle school administrators have an impact on quality professional development of teachers in middle schools.  According to Jackson and Davis (2000), the instructional leadership in middle schools is one of the most essential components to accomplish a high achieving school and quality teachers.  This leadership in high achieving schools is supplied by an administrator who has specific characteristics which assist in effective professional development of teachers as well as the sustainment of an educational environment fostering a vision of highest student achievement (Jackson & Davis, 2000). This paper therefore seeks to explore the link between middle-school administration and professional development and high student’s achievement by addressing the following questions:

To what extent do leadership styles of middle school administrators affect quality professional development of teachers in middle schools?
Which specific leadership style or styles contribute to effective professional development for middle school teachers?
What are the experiences of middle school administrators during the process of teacher professional development?

Wiles and Bondi (1994) observed that most research carried out has been directed towards gaining knowledge about and understanding leadership styles. Yet, despite the considerable thought, extensive writings and a large body of empirical research, leadership remains a rather mysterious concept. This study is aimed at contributing greatly to understanding the specific characteristics of instructional leadership styles that have influence on the quality of professional development in middle schools.  Further research may be carried out to evaluate whether thecertain characteristics of leadership have a direct or indirect correlation to overall improvement in teacher performance and higher student achievement in middle schools.

Purpose of the study

In 1995, a study by Kristine Hipp and Paul Bredson was published and it was about the relation ship betweenthe self efficacy of teachers and leadership styles of principals. The basic assumption of this study and two more that were done later (Hipp 1996,1997) was that the leadership style of a principle and the self efficacy of teachers were linked directly. From this study, there was empirical evidence that connected the aspects of transformational  leadership and principle teacher efficacy. This led to the conclusion that transformational leadership led to self efficacy of teachers.
Continued professional development of middle school educators and their quality preparation is imperative for middle school educators.  Fo adolescents, this timeframe within the educational process is marked by changes in how student’s think about thinking, as well as other physical and psychological development that may affect students’ achievement.  Therefore, it is crucial that middle school teachers receive quality professional development in order to meet the educational needs of the middle school population so that these students are prepared to progress from middle school to high school (Maryland State Department of Education, 2008).
Findings suggest a positive correlation between principals’ transformational leadership and the presence of school social organization associated with effective schools (Evans, T.J 1996).  Research studies strongly support the fact that the leadership of the school principal impacts directly on the climate of the school and, in turn, on student achievement (Norton 2003).

This study will contribute to understanding the specific characteristics of instructional leadership styles that are most likely to enhance the quality of professional development in middle schools.  This research will identify high achieving schools characteristics as well as the instructional leadership styles that contribute to their success as evident from the students achievement.
            In a study by leithwood 1990, it was conluded that a principals support and the teachers professional development were highly correlated.
           

Rationale

This study will use qualitative research methods in the identification of  instructional leadership of middle school administrators in the Guam school district.  Guam,is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States. It is the largest, in terms of size, of the Mariana Islands. It also has an organized established civilian government (DOI Office of Insular Affairs, 2007).
In the United states, education is to a large extent provided by the public sector. The federal government, state and local government. are responsible for the funding and the control of schools. It is compulsory for all children to attend primary(elementary school) and secondary (high school.)levels. At these school levels there are locally elected school boards that se the school curricula, funding and teaching and these boards also have juriction over school districts.

The School districts have distinct jurisdictions from other local bodies, and have independent budgets as well as officials. The governments are left with the role of making educational standards and standardized testing decisions.. Different states have different ages for mandatory school attendance, and mostly the beginning ages are five to eight and ending ages are between fourteen to eighteen. Increasingly, states are now requiring school attendance until the age of 18 years (U.S. Network for Education Information: U.S. Department of Education).

Attending a public school, a state-accredited private school, or a certified home school program meets the requirement for compulsory education.. In most public and private schools, there are rhee levels of education;; elementary school, junior high school and high school. The junior high school level is the one that is usually referred to as middle school. Children are divided by age groups into grades, starting from the kindergarten for the youngest children in elementary school. The kindergarten is followed by first grade. The last grade is the twelfth grade which should correspond with the final year of school. However, the exact age range of students in these grade levels varies slightly from state to state (U.S. Network for Education Information: U.S. Department of Education).

The entire island of Guam is served by the Guam Public School system. High rate of school dropouts and poor performance in test is a problem common in Guam Public Schools. Guam has a very diverse student body which includes many students from backgrounds that do not use the traditional United States education. In addition Guam’s educational system has always faced other unique challenges as a small community located 6,000 miles (9,700 km) from America mainland. The island went through an economic downturn in the mid-1990’s and this led to the education problem (Pacific Stars and Stripes, 1993; DOI Office of Insular Affairs, 2007)

The U.S. Department of Defense initially partnered with the Guam Board of Education but in September 1997 the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) opened its own schools which were initially for  the children of military personnel but later started serving the children of some federal civilian employees. DoDEA schools had an attendance of 2,500 in 2000. In Guam, there are three elementary/middle schools and one high school  that are operated by DoDEA.(http://www.gdoe.net)

This study will discuss two out of the three middle schools on study in the Department of Defense Education Activity in Guam and which both are in close proximity.  The participants are two male administrators with 35-40 teachers.  One middle school is on a Navy base, while the other is on an Air Force base.  Both schools follow the same district professional development, face to face interviews and observation will form the basis

Research Questions 1

According to Bennis & Nanus (2003) an organization a vision and the mechanism for translating the vision into a reality is given by leadership.. This study will examine the impact tht a principal’s style of leadership has on professional development of teachers which is  aimed at ensuring high achievement of students. The following research, grounded on the leadership literature, the educational institutions’ organization culture–highly focusing on middle school and professional development. Specifically, the study will require answer to the following questions;
To what extent do leadership styles of middle school administrators affect quality professional development of teachers in middle schools?
Which specific leadership style or styles contribute to quality professional development for middle school teachers?
What are the experiences of middle school administrators during the process of implementing quality professional development?
Is there a relationship between the principals leadership stlles and teachers motivation?
If there is a relationship between the leadership style and teachers motivation, what is the extent of the relationship?
What is the impact of teachers motivation on their performance at work and also in their professional development process.
What is the impact of techers professional development on their performance and the performance of the students.
What is the impact of an schools culture on professional development of teachers and their relationships in the school.

 

Significance of the Study

According to the Maryland State Department of Education (2008), middle school marks a significant change in the manner in which a student progresses in learning.  Quality preparation and continued professional development of middle school educators is imperative in order for middle school educators.  For adolescents, this timeframe within the educational process is marked by changes in how student’s think about thinking, as well as other physical and psychological development that may affect students’ achievement.  Therefore, it is crucial that middle school teachers receive quality professional development in order to meet the educational needs of the middle school population so that these students are prepared to progress from middle school to high school (Maryland State Department of Education, 2008)

Other researches including (Maehr and Midgeley, 1991; 1996; Maehr and Anderman, 1993; Maehr and Fyans, 1989) have come up with a considerable empirical evidence that suggest that the culture of a school can motivate both the teachers and students to learn by instilling a positive feeling in the teachers about their work.  High achieving and motivated students as well as improved teachers attitude towards their jobs and collaboration amongst themselves are factors that are highly associated to a positive school culture(Stolp and Smith, 1995). From this research principals will know the importance of mitivating teahers as well as the ways that best motivate the teahers and student so as to improve the performance of a shool.

Research done by (Sashkin and Sashkin, 1990; Sashkin and Walberg, 1993; Ogawa and Bossert, 1995; Leithwood, 1994) proposed that for a school culture to operate effectively and for its creation and maintenance, the principals leadership practices used are very important. The principals leadershot stles that are necessary in the creation and operation an effective school culture will be discusssed in this study.

Further, evidence obtained from several studies (Leithwood and Jantzi, 1990; Sashkin and Sashkin, 1990) provides a strong base in supporting the suggestion that transformational leadership leads to relatively more desirable school cultures.
Southworth (2002) discovered that success in principal ship came along with some significant development and growth in confidence and an individual’ sense of self.  The study will also focus on a principals individual characteristcs that help them in their leadership of the school as well as in their role of proffesionaly devoloping the teachers. These findings clearly show that a principles ability to cope and survive the challenges and trials of

The importance instructional of leadership responsibilities of the principal  has been emphasized in research done(Brookover & Lezotte, 1982; Duke, 1983; Edmonds, 1979 and Kroeze, 1984). On the other hand, according to (Flath, 1989), literature has seemingly come to a consensus that instructional leadership is rare practice.
Findings suggest a positive correlation between principals’ transformational leadership and the presence of school social organization associated with effective schools (Evans, T.J 1996).  Research studies strongly support the fact that the leadership of the school principal impacts directly on the climate of the school and, in turn, on student achievement (Norton 2003).

Previous research has been conducted to determine if there was a relationship between leadership styles of principals and the motivation of teachers. In 2007, Janet Brown-Howard’s research identified the motivation levels of teachers by age, gender and experience and indicated that leadership styles of principals has little to no impact on motivation based on the age, gender or experience of the teachers {{221 Brown-Howard,Janet 2007}} the relationship between the principles leadership styles and teachers motivation will be expounded and the extent to which it influences the techers professional development and the overall performance of the teachers. 


Definition of terms3pages

            Through out the research, the following key words will be used and their meanings are expressed below. These words include:

  1. Instructional leadership styles of principals; These are the directional forms of authority that the heads of middle schools use.
  2. transformational leadership styles.
  3. Middle school student; any scholar in the middle school is refer to as a middle school student
  4. Middle school teacher; these are the untrained or trained instructors of academics in middle school. Their involvement with the middle school students is usually direct.
  5. Middle school administrator; this is an office bearer in middle school and is charged with the responsibilities of administration of the middle schools
  6. Professional development; this refers to the growth in knowledge of an individual in a certain field or profession
  7. Quality professional development; excellent development of  an individual in middle school in terms of  a particular professional skill
  8. The process of implementing quality professional development: these are the method(s) used in seeing through development of quality professional development
  9. motivation
  10. teachers satisfaction
  11. correlation
  12. school culture
  13. school climate
  14. leadership literature
  15. educational institutions
  16. adolescents
  17. physical development
  18. psychological development
  19. empirical evidence 

Assumptions

Some assumptions have to be laid in place to assist in tackling the above questions.. These assumptions are just as a result of the common issues that are found within several middle schools namely;
most middle schools are faced by similar shortcomings,
most principals of middle school use similar educ[‘ational policies to oprete,
students, teachers and parent in most middle school experience similar limitati


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