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The researchers involvement with the school administration and the leadership profession over two decades has encouraged a desire to perform a study of leadership and its use of the communication process. This communication process and skills have been extensively researched as a means of enabling school leaders to lead their school establishment more efficiently. In fact, it is known that successful schools are the natural outcome of successful leadership policies dependent on effective communications. La Plant (1979) expressed the idea that ideal communication produces lasting outcomes affecting all corners of the educational process. According to Pitner and Ogawa (1981) "superintending is communicating" (p. 49). They studied a number of school leaders on communication skills and concluded that an essential element of the school leader's job is the ability to communicate effectively with people. In another study by Mazzarella and Grundy (1989) with a sample of school principals based on interviews and surveys, it was revealed that effective school leaders are particularly distinguished as communicators and have the skill and aptitude "â€¦they need to interact well with others; they know how to communicate" (p. 18). For this study, by utilizing the method of interviews, effective communication skills and practices of the selected school leaders of urban and rural schools in Egypt are examined in order to identify and explore the lines of effective communication they utilize to convey their vision of learning, their development of a school culture, the promotion of instructional programs conducive to student's learning and their facilitation of professional development of the school faculty.
The effective school models focus on shared visions and goals, effective communication, high expectations of all learners, accountability, learning communities, and a stimulating and secure learning environment. Lack of effective communication between the school leader and the other participants, including teachers, students, and parents, impedes the school's performance. According to Patrick and Frankel (2004), communication encompasses more than speaking. It is also written communication as well as communicating with behavior. The personal communication skills of the school leaders, including verbal and non-verbal ones, open door policies, and regular meetings, can pave the road to effective communication with the other participants. Much has been studied about the diverse channels of communication that school leaders use with teachers to share objectives, visions, and goals at school.
The communication skills of rural and urban school principals of Egypt are the focus of this study. In Egypt, rural and urban populations present great differences such as the degree of education for women. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report on the Millennium Development Goals in Egypt, due care needs to be dedicated to programs that enhance female education and awareness, since indicators reveal a strong relationship between mother's education and children's success. The data in this report showed that mortality rates in rural Upper Egypt were 64% higher than rural Lower Egypt since postnatal mortality in rural Upper Egypt is twice the rate in rural Lower Egypt. The data in this report showed that death rates at all ages in various rural regions in Egypt are highly affected by the mother's education. While the UN report states that the ratio of literate females to males in urban areas is 87:93, the ratio in rural Lower Egypt is 52:76. In brief, the rates of illiteracy in rural areas are higher than those in urban areas. As a consequence of the illiteracy level, the percentage of early child marriage in urban to rural areas is 9:22 (UNESCO, 2002). In general, according to the World Bank data, in 2011 the percentage of illiteracy was 40.6%, most of which was focused in the rural region (World Bank, 2012).
Education in the rural areas is a major factor which has tremendous impact on all areas of life. Rural schools as well as urban schools and the effective use of the communication process by leaders in those schools are the target of this study. Not only do the locations of the schools differ but also the communication tools and mechanisms employed to operate the schools are different. In urban settings, for example, the use of technology for communication has become the norm, not the exception to the rule. In rural settings, on the other hand, technological means are in the basic stage of implementation. It will take time for communication in rural schools to reach the level of sophistication that communication has already reached in the urban schools.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it explores the impact of the principal's utilization of communication in the rural and urban school communities and, second, it examines the various tools of communication used by the rural and urban school leaders to convey their vision of learning, to develop a school culture, to promote instructional programs conducive to student's learning and to facilitate professional development of the school staff members.
To address the issue of effective communication of urban and rural school leaders, the following questions will guide this study.
How can the vision of learning be shaped by the effective communication of a school leader?
What role does the effective communication of the school leader play in developing school culture?
What tools of effective communication used by leaders promote instructional programs conducive to student's learning?
How can effective communication of the school leader promote the professional growth of the staff members?
Chapter Two -- Literature Review
This section describes the literature relevant to the research purpose and questions of this study. It is organized into five sections: (1) communication and the role of school principals, (2) communication and vision of learning, (3) communication for the development of school culture,
(4) the effect of communication on the promotion of instructional programs conducive to student's learning, and (5) the importance of communication in the professional development of teachers.
Communication and the Role of School Principals
The literature review is consistent on the role that the communication plays in the daily life of school principals. There are studies that support that effective principals are good communicators. A study conducted by Marzano, Waters and McNulty (2005) found that effective principals establish strong lines of two way communication throughout the school community. It is important for the principal to ask questions, be truthful, and encourage feedback from members of the school community (Bolman & Deal, 2002). Additional studies identified the major roles of effective school principals in decision making and building productive relationships with parents and the wider community (Leithwood & Riehl, 2005). The principal interacts with students, staff, and parents on a regular basis. Research by McEwan (2003) found that successful principals are communicating one hundred percent of the time by listening, speaking, writing, and reading. Often the principal will use written communication to parents, students, and staff. The importance of correct grammar and spelling is crucial (Holman, 1997).
It is known that the role of the school principal demands essential dispositions of skills and cognitive schemes. According to Leithwood and Steinbach (1995), common dispositions among principals include a great passion, zeal, and enthusiasm for the education of children and for a child centered school. The enthusiasm and passion are shared with the school community and are buttressed by the ideology of care, values of social justice, and the equitable education of all students without any sense of discrimination, favoritism, or bias.
One of the leadership roles of successful leaders is to show awareness to the needs and aspirations of their colleagues, staff members, the parents, and the students served by their schools. They are depicted as skilled communicators with highly cognitive flexibility to listen carefully to other ideas, which they apply to their problem solving. Bolman and Deal (2002) warn about conflicting values that may emerge in the leadership process as being difficult to manage. On the other hand, the work by Leithwood and Steinbach (1995) and Wong (2002) agree that the emotional sensitivity of leaders requires attention.
A prominent strength of the effective principals is the sense of ethics and includes treating people with respect, exhibiting honesty as a policy, and demonstrating and modeling ethical behavior on a daily basis (Whitaker, 2003). The effective principal does the right thing, keeping in mind that the student's welfare is the bottom line (McEwan, 2003). As confirmed by Begley and Johansson (2003), the values and the morals of school principals strengthen their role as school leaders.
Work-related communications is another pivotal area in the role of the school principal. Bridges (1977) stated that around seventy percent of the manager's time involves face- to- face communication with others. For example, principals deal with continuous states of emotions. Irritated parents, excited students, and rebellious staff are familiar scenes encountered by the principal. School principals must know how to firmly communicate their academic and administrative decisions to parents who may not be co-operating or who lack formal education.
The face to face communication with others constitutes a logical component in the role that the principal must perform on a daily basis.
Cheng and Townsend (2000) see teaching in the 21st century as more intricate than it has ever been because of the numerous challenges shaped by modern modes of technology, economic globalization, and social-political life. In an era of such rapid changes, principals are expected to play many roles and put into practice numerous tasks and responsibilities related to teaching, curriculum changes, educational improvement, students' learning experiences, professional growth, and interactions with parents and with the community. Others expectations that are set on the school principals' shoulders are to guide and implement programs that nurture and develop the high performance of their teachers and students. Jantzi and Leithwood recognized six aspects critical in the practice of leadership :(1) Identifying and articulating a clear vision, (2) Encouraging the recognition of group goals, (3) Providing individualized enhancement, (4) Providing academic and intellectual motivation, (5) Providing a proper model, and (6) Setting high performance expectations all of which involve effective communication. (1996, pp. 514-515). Walker et al. (2000,) developed the basic framework and stated the six pivotal areas of leadership that are outlined below:
Planning for the future strategic direction and policy environment in addition to ensuring school community contributions to the practice by including related aspects of policy from the social, educational and political setting in the school.
Matching a certain unity among applicable curriculum, teaching processes, school community, and extra-curricular activities.
Enhancing and caring for the sharing of knowledge and lifelong professional growth for teachers.
Establishing a co-operative team administration philosophy through effective communication and paying attention to utilizing human, physical, and financial resources competently to achieve the objectives of school development, student accomplishment, staff development, and resources management.
Setting up quality assurance and responsibility systems in their school communities that provide feedback to students, teachers, and others through channels of effective communication with a view to securing school improvement.
Extending communication channels between the school and the surrounding and global communities to enable their school communities to contribute to the wider society and its development (pp. 13-17).
Coping with this conception, Beane and Apple (1999), Furman and Starrat (2002) and Woods (2005) presented the issues facing leaders who desire to be democratic principals and the challenges of communicating that desire to their school community. Research has identified the main concerns and priorities of democratic school leaders as: (1) maintenance of an open stream of thoughts that enables people to be as fully knowledgeable as possible, (2) utilization of critical reflection and feedback in addition to investigation to assess thoughts, concepts, crises, dilemmas, and policies, (3) support of the wellbeing of others and the 'common good' and (4) care for the dignity and privileges of the whole citizen and of minorities(Moos, 2008, pp.231).
School leadership tasks can be summarized in this way. Leadership is setting and discussing directions even though schools in some systems are governed in some detail when it comes to outcomes measured by standards, inspections, and tests. They must identify the ways to accomplish these outcomes themselves. Effective communication enables school leaders to make demands and signals from the outer world clear and to select the way by which they want to respond to them. It is a challenge to school leadership to interpret indicators and make them into narratives about differences which form the grounds for the subsequent decisions in the community (Weick, 1995 & 2001).
Principals, within a critical assessment of perceptions and perquisites of their work, have selected four concepts that form challenges to the regularity of activity that communication is believed to bring about. They are: talk, distributed leadership, professionalization and knowledge management. Gronn (1983 & 1985) showed through two noteworthy studies that the work of administrators is endorsed through talk. Talk engenders understanding and yet mediates between structure and agency, affecting both. Talk occurs during conversations, interactions, and meetings with others and these shape one of the distributed facts of work. Administration is regarded as talk. This comes from the work of Gronn (1983) but reflects other research that extended back to that of Mitzberg and comprises many others from Sergiovanni to Leithwood, who identified the work of the administrator as disjointed, chaotic, and incongruent (Gronn, 2003).
The image is enhanced by the principals who spend much of their day moving from an issue to another and in interactions with a great variety of people in the process.
Communication and Vision of Learning
Effective principals are those who endorse a notable vision. In his study McEwan (2003) concluded that less effective principals offer excuses, while highly efficient principals envision a successful school that has fulfilled its mission. They are able to stress the prospect of a high achieving school and to encourage their school community to buy into that vision. Fullan (1997) found out that effective principals set up and communicate clear objectives and encourage the school continually toward attaining these objectives. Most school leaders understand that while they help establish the school's vision, they must also promote an environment that allows teachers to make decisions conducive to ownership in the vision (Beck & Murphy, 1996). That is to say, stakeholders supply the input that the school leader requires to effectively create and assemble a vision.
Principals are required to set direction. Evidence reviewed by Leithwood and Riehl (2005) suggested that successful leadership creates a compelling sense of purpose in the institutions by developing and communicating a shared vision of the future, helping build agreement about related short-term goals, and representing high expectations for colleagues' work. They agree that direction setting is closely linked with perquisites for responsibility and shared visions emphasizing learning over the lifetime. In guiding the educational process, many related issues emerge to explain the direction of the organization. For example, democratic principles and ideals are emphasized throughout debates about school directions. The school leaders make certain that those principles guide the implementation of institutional objectives. Simply having vision and mission announcements on the wall is not sufficient for successful leadership. Fulfilling planned goals in an accountability context therefore require guidance and development which sets up the school's ability to release policy responsibilities and develop the involvement of senior staff members and other teachers in the decision-making process; this is done by distributing leadership among all members of the team (Law et al., 2010).
Leithwood (2005) classifies school leadership as a mission distributed in the entire school community for it is based on a tenet of leadership characterized as opportunistic, resilient, responsive, and context specific not prescribed by roles, which are inflexible, hierarchical and status driven. This concept of leadership is not hierarchical, but federal and engages clarity of direction, structures, and enhancement. Concerning school leadership as a distributed task, school leadership is an action that is extended through school community. "Schools that are desirous of continuous growth and advancement are required to harness their human and social assets that are their main potentials, generating and sharing the leadership opportunities that give the aptitude to attain this" (Leithwood, 2005, p. 11). Widely distributed school leadership is much more influential with schools and students and is reflected in the school vision. In additional, personal traits are not distinctive factors of the variation in leadership effectiveness. Setting direction for the school is one of the main functions of school leaders. It is also understood in this way in the research of Leithwood and Riehl (2005), where it is found that successful principals set and communicate the direction for their schools. "Successful leadership creates a compelling sense of purpose in the organizations by developing a shared vision of the future, helping build consensus about relevant short-term goals and demonstrating high expectations for colleagues' work" (Leithwood, 2006, p. 620).
Principals, in setting and negotiating direction for schools, have a great impact on the teachers, the other followers, and students in one way or another. The types of influence and power differ from one situation to another and from one context to another. Christensen and Jensen (1986) recognized that schools employ a model of power that includes four forms: direct power, indirect power, consciousness-controlling power, and institutionalized power. Direct power means persuading other people to implement tasks they would not have done under other conditions. This kind of power is usually linked with sanctions of some sort (Dahl, 1961). Indirect power is exercised when the principal sets the agenda for the professional discussion in schools (Barach & Barat, 1962). Consciousness controlling power is a broad range of influences that include storytelling, narratives, sense-making and other ways one can use to try and get other people to change their opinions or refine their understandings (Lukes, 1974; Weick, 1995 & 2001). 'Institutionalized power' captures the influences that are laid down in the structures, measures, and social technologies that are working (Barach & Barat, 1962).
In sum, the vision of learning can be disseminated across the school environment using the proper communication skills. Hoyle, English, and Steffy (1998) addressed skills for successful school leaders in their book Skills for Successful 21st Century School Leaders: Standards for Peak Performance. The authors listed skills needed for success as visionary leadership, policy and governance, communication and community relations, organizational management, curriculum planning and development, instructional management, staff evaluation, use of research and data, and the ethics of leadership. At the same time these leaders must be able to consider and to articulate what is best for the school in order to make the right decisions (Whitaker, 2003).
Communication for the Development of School Culture
Weldy (1979) identified the influential school principal to be the leading individual in any school. Through his/her leadership the tone of the school is established, a healthy and safe environment of learning is set up, and the standards of professionalism and the spirit of teachers are raised. The principal is the key factor of any successful, innovative, child centered, and reputable school environment. Effective principals seek out and create opportunities that actively engage the community as reflected in the school culture (Beck & Murphy, 1996).
School leaders impact the school culture. The leadership provided by a principal directly affects the climate and culture of a school, which in turn affects student achievement (Sergiovanni, 2001). Effective principals pay attention to the culture of the school and focus on creating a collaborative work environment (Fullan, 1997). Studies by Marzano et al. (2005) found that effective principals fostered shared beliefs and a collegial sense of community within the school that ultimately impacts student achievement. In order to impact the school culture, school principals must be able to envision a successful school, act with integrity, and communicate this vision through relationships with the school community (McEwan, 2003). Principals, who are effective, work to create a positive environment and believe it is their responsibility to do so (Whitaker, 2003). They understand that local citizens want a school that reflects their values and works to shape a positive culture (Sergiovanni, 2001).
Leithwood and Riehl (2005) built collaborative school culture by creating structures to encourage participation. Schools became effective professional educational institution. They recognized the school leader's role in creating a school culture with a sense of collaboration by distributing leadership or developing broad based governance structures, and de-privatizing teaching practices.
There are communication factors that may improve the school culture and climate. La Plant (1979) indicates that the communication process would favor and inspire the principal to lead by example. The school community would be empowered by decisions that are made in a timely manner. To ensure that community and parents are informed about school strategies and various programs, the school principal communicates encouragement to participate in school life activities. In this direction, the leader of the school according to La Plant would promote listening to the ideas and suggestions of parents in order to prevent the emergence of dissenting groups of parents and community members.
La Plant (1979) also referred to the communication lines between the school principal and governing bodies such as the district office. It is a fact that good and healthy relations between the principal and the higher administrative bodies would reinforce and fortify the school culture and climate.
According to La Plant (1979) the flow of communication in the school should reinforce the relationships between staff members, students, and parents. For example, effective communication would help members of different groups feel that their work is meaningful and important. With clear lines of communication, the principal becomes more concerned with giving credit and recognition for the diligent efforts of all. He also stated that through an environment of openness, mutual confidence, and co-operation, principals become peer reviewers of the professional development and school amelioration programs. In regard to students' effective communication in the school, the school leader would support students' involvement and participation in the school decision making and development programs.
Nurturing a social environment through social events and gatherings can help the principal to know his staff members more closely and can deepen their sense of mutual cordiality and belonging to the school. In summary, La Plant (1979) strongly believed that effective communication skills of the school principal build up a school culture that is sensitive to and supportive of those of different social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Gimbert and Fultz (2009) emphasized the importance of school leaders to nurture positive relationships, set clear expectations, hold sensible views of beginning teachers' performance, have in place significant mentoring program, and provide sincere enhancement to beginning teachers to increase and maintain skills for successful classroom instruction all of which invited the new teachers to become part of the school culture. Schools principals at this point play a prime role in ensuring beginning teachers' development by offering the necessary training and support as well as observing their sense of adaptation with the school culture during their early years.
Moreover, leadership is organizing and developing communities with and beyond the school culture. Schools are institutions held together by structures, but if they are to be influential and successful they need to be run as communities held together by a shared sense of identity and by common norms and communication structures. Classrooms and schools are social fields where education and learning occur. Loyalty and devotion to the organization are not by any means an automatic starting position for any institution; building and enhancing loyalty and commitment is therefore a leadership task and mission. If staff and students show complete loyalty to their organization, leaders have to exert diligent efforts to transform the organization, which is characterized only by a formal structure, into a community with welcoming culture, which is characterized by all members being sufficiently committed to the ethos of the community (Bourdieu, 1990; Wenger, 1999).
Communication on the Promotion of Instructional Programs Conducive to Student's
The instructional programs in terms of design, implementation, and assessment are the tools of school success. According to Marzano et al. (2005), effective principals continuously monitor the impact of school programs on student learning, and they use this information to inform future practice. Student learning is central to the direction planning activities of all successful leaders in all countries since children are the central focus of the educational process. The most obvious tasks of a principal are to direct, plan, set goals, reinforce, supervise, and assess. Through communication, an effective principal can direct and plan improvement in curriculum and teaching, get across the goals of the district, evaluate the program outcomes, deal with staff concerns, plan for their professional development, and supervise and direct custodial services (Hoyle et al., 1998).
Effective principals understand what good teaching is and they recognize it as a critical factor in successful instructional programming. Findings of Marzano et al. (2005) reinforce the belief that effective principals are knowledgeable about the current curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices, and are involved in the design and implementation of the instructional program. According to McEwan (2003) effective school leaders are knowledgeable about teaching and learning and serve as instructional leaders within their buildings. They believe it is critical to be up-to-date on the best practices in instruction and assessment and to seek out opportunities to learn more about good teaching (Beck & Murphy, 1996). Not only do effective principals understand what good teaching is, they also recognize that their primary goal is to improve the effectiveness of their teachers by sharing this understanding (Whitaker, 2003). The instructional leaders are able to tell the difference between activity and achievement, and can help teachers improve their practice by providing professional development to benefit student learning (McEwan, 2003).
Leithwood (2006) identifies school leadership as a process that comes in priority directly after classroom teaching as a pivotal impact on pupils' learning. School leaders enhance the processes of teaching and learning implicitly and directly through their influential impact on staff motivation, dedication, and working conditions through various interactions and communications. Enhancing instructional leadership is a prime concern. Pragmatic proof also reinforces that instructional leadership at primary and secondary levels is likely to be different (Johnson & Holdaway, 1990). However, leadership functions connected to learning, teaching and curriculum define a school principal's instructional leadership. This is supported by literature spanning the last 25 years. For instance, Purkey and Smith (1985) suggested that influential, or high achieving, schools are managed around the main goal of teaching. The significance of instructional leadership carries on in concert with the supremacy of transformational leadership. Research has concluded that transformational leadership when not escorted by instructional leadership may not be influential on school performance and accomplishment, as measured by the quality of its pedagogy and the achievement of its students. The basic notions encompassed setting and communicating directions, developing people, redesigning the organization and managing the instructional program (Hallinger, 2003; Marks & Printy, 2003).
La Plant (1979) says that communication helps promote teaching and learning and helps reinforce continuous lifetime learning by deepening respect for students and for their learning. On the other hand, Leithwood and Riehl (2005) concluded that successful schools are the outcome of great principals who take full responsibility for leading teaching, and learning. Walker et al (2000) noted that principals direct programs to create unity and consistency across the curriculum and achieve a common ground between the curriculum, teaching and learning. Together with their school communities, they ensure that all students experience a broad, objective, sensible, and applicable curriculum through official, casual, and extracurricular activities.
McEwan (2003) disclosed that effective principals know how to collect meaningful data, but more importantly, are able to critically discuss, analyze, and use it in a meaningful way to improve instruction. The most recent programs of school leadership have incorporated the use of data for school improvement planning. In recent years, an educational international movement has established specific criteria which include effective communication to measure school improvement based on either quantitative or qualitative data concerning instructional programming as well as other identified factors. Principals have become critical consumers of information for the decision making process by understanding the limitations of individual pieces of data. School principals are results-oriented and realize that translating high expectations for academic achievement into effective instructional programming for their students will provide greater opportunities in the future. To conclude the entire school community in this process, they must clearly articulate the goals and the processes which will make them effective.
Communication and the Professional Development of Teachers
Effective principals are talented at building relationships. As McEwan (2003) states,
"Relationships drive school improvement" (p. 54). School leaders understand that to have a successful school, they need to focus on the people within the school, not the programs (Whitaker, 2003). By maintaining the focus on people the successful principal indirectly promotes the development, implementation, and growth of high quality instructional programs. The ability to establish personal relationships with all members of a school community is central to the work of a school principal. These relations convey a sense of caring and appreciation. This constant attention to relationships allows school principals to build up emotional bank accounts. They know how to bring out the best in those around them to foster relationships that empower people and help them thrive (McEwan, 2003). Caring is a way of showing respect for teachers and students involved in this process. Principals may express caring through challenging people to grow personally and professionally. Marzano et al., (2005), McEwan (2003) and Whitaker (2003) found that effective principals demonstrate and engage in a variety of relationship-building behaviors with teachers, students, and parents on a daily basis in an effort to keep their relationships positive and growing.
Additional factors in the relationship between principals and the school community involve respect for staff members' relentless efforts, and high collegiality among staff aspiring for innovation, creativity and co-operation, enhancement of integrity, responsibility, and involvement with extracurricular community (La Plant, 1979). Principals work with or through people to reach goals which frequently are directly related to instruction. They must create relationships based on trust with their staff members. For example, relationships can be reinforced through scheduling time for individual meetings, providing personal and professional growth opportunities, encouraging dialogues, and modeling trust. Through communication, professional development of staff members may be designed and developed. For instance, involving staff in assessing current policies and practices of school and proposing changes to move the school forward could empower school members. Staff members feel their individuality and importance as factors of development since the principal confides in them, promotes their professional growth, and has them as a source of instructional and emotional support. The school staff members and the principal, then, can be depicted as a ship crew and the captain who share responsibility for their survival and success.
A critical group which requires special professional consideration is the new teachers who are added to the school each year; they affect the dissemination of the instructional program. The school principals, school administrators, mentors as well as senior teachers provide a multifaceted prospective on the performance of beginning teachers (Brock & Grady, 2007).
Their viewpoints on the novice teacher's efficiencies are essential to buttress the quality of teaching and learning for both students and teachers. Principals and teachers are also loaded with numerous expectations that society places on them. Ballantyne et al. (1998) argue in their research on principals' perception of competent beginning teachers that there are many ways that they perceive a beginning teacher's efficacy and that it is principals' own perception that precedes their judgment of efficacy. Research by Cheng and Cheung (2004) has shown that the school's perceptions may vary from the perceptions of others, and these may have positive or negative impacts on beginning teachers' teaching and learning.
School leaders are responsible for facilitating the transformation of beginning teachers from a pre-service teacher preparation program into the school educational setting (Gimbert & Fultz; 2009). Throughout this process, school leaders are required to figure out beginning teachers' points of strengths and areas for improvement and to provide great support and training to address identified needs (Melton, 2007; Peltier-Glaze, 2005; Protheroe, 2006). School leaders are realistic about beginning teachers' attentiveness and provide enhancement and training through positive communication that encourages these teachers to develop and maintain skills for effective classroom instruction (Cheng & Chung, 2004). Novice teachers are required to fully comprehend their tasks and duties, as well as their team position in the school context in order to be influential. They are required to be aware of their tasks in terms of classroom management and the execution of curriculum and instructional plans (Brock & Grady, 2007).
Care and attention to the induction of the beginning teacher into the profession is essential, so it is widely recognized that support is essential for beginning teacher success (Kaufman, Johnson, Kardos, Liu, & Peske, 2002). In the beginning years, the school leaders play an important role of interaction with the beginning teachers that would have a positive impact on the quality of the beginning teachers' know-how, self-assurance, efficacy, and efficiency. This creates a two-step issue for school leaders: they are required to enhance beginning teachers as they promote student success and accomplishment and to enhance the potential of those teachers. Professional development must address both issues. Kaufman et al. (2002) emphasized that beginning teachers need careful orientation and guidance concerning curriculum, instruction, and essential appraisal measures as well as to bridge theory and practice in the construction of high-level learning environments. Gimbert and Fultz (2009) emphasized the importance of school leaders to nurture positive relationships, convey clear expectations, hold sensible views of beginning teachers' performance, have in place significant mentoring program, and provide sincere enhancement to beginning teachers to maintain and increase skills for successful classroom instruction.
School leaders should recognize the importance of encouragement and empowerment as positive tools to enhance beginning teachers (Melton, 2007). Cheng and Cheung (2004) found that beginning teachers' sense of awareness and efficacy is better when their self perception and that of their school principals are united. This must be communicated clearly. Research has also stated that these are the prime concerns for many beginning teachers. A consistent and unified amalgamation between theory and practice is perquisite for beginning teachers to engender skill knowledge (Bromfield, 2006; Stansbury, 2001). The process of professional developmental and growth from a novice teacher into a talented one can last for many years, but the most crucial and challenging ones are the early phases of growth (Stansbury, 2001).
While the new teacher's need for quality professional development is great, the effective principal recognizes the importance of continuing support and development for established teacher as well. Leithwood and Riehl (2005) asserted that by providing support for individual colleague's ideas and initiatives, promoting intellectual stimulation, reflecting on existing practices, questioning granted assumptions, considering new practices, and modeling important values and practices by promoting and sharing these practices and their outcomes, principals contribute to the growth of all school staff. The explicit and implicit actions of the school principal have direct impact on the construction of teachers' professional identities and growth.
Successful principals are reported to enhance staff in time of crisis, to praise good work, and to engage staff in critical discussion. Ideal principals are reported to mentor their colleagues, in addition to modeling the values and instructional practices that are considered productive for their schools.
Findings from a study conducted by Jackson (2008) stated that the school principal plays five key roles in promoting the retention of teachers: (a) caring listener, (b) supportive advocate,
(c) respectful colleague, (d) open-minded team player, and (e) enthusiastic facilitator (p. 112). These roles are reinforced in well designed programs of professional development for all staff.
A basic theme that turns up from the literature focuses on school leaders' expectations and standpoints and their communication to faculty and staff (Bodycott, Walker, & Kin, 2001; Melton, 2007).
Walker et al. (2000) described the role for principals in the development of both leaders and teachers. They felt that principals must endorse and facilitate lifelong professional growth for teachers and for themselves. They must pay due care to sharing advanced professional knowledge. The importance of professional development supporting principal leadership practices in the areas of leader and teacher professional growth had a positive influence on the school's configuration, unity, and organization. Leadership practices include developing teachers as leaders, aligning professional development programs with school development needs, and utilizing coaching and mentoring to enhance the quality of teaching. Integration among leadership practices includes strategic trend analysis and professional development.
The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it explores the impact of the principal's utilization of communication in the rural and urban school communities and second, it examines the various tools of communication used by the rural and urban school leaders to convey their vision of learning, to develop a school culture, to promote instructional programs conducive to student's learning and to facilitate professional development of teachers.
In this research study the qualitative constructs of vision of learning, school culture, instructional programs delivery and staff professional development are defined as follows: vision of learning is the capacity of the school leader to effectively communicate and share a picture of practices that promote a school culture of teaching and learning, staff collegiality and growth, and community empowerment leading toward high academic achievement. The school culture of urban and rural schools is operationally defined as a healthy academic environment that supports teaching and learning through standards of teacher professionalism, shared beliefs, a safe learning environment, and a collegial sense of community. In this study, promoting instructional programs through communication is perceived as the capacity the school principal has to effectively communicate the design, development, assessment, implementation and evaluation of formal and informal curriculum programs to support the teaching and learning environment of the school and student achievement. In regard to professional development of staff members, this study defines it as the capacity of the school principal to effectively communicate the design and implementation of plans to professionally assist and develop the school staff on diverse areas of instruction, personal growth, and school and community relations skills.
Description of the Site
Two schools were selected for this study. One is located in a rural area. This rural school is geographically located in a small village in Menofia governorate in the north of Egypt and has approximately 250 students and 35 teachers. It is a co-educational school. The other selected school is an urban school located in Cairo with an enrollment of approximately 600 students and 80 teachers. It is also a co-educational school.
The target sample of the study is composed of school principals, teachers, students, and parents. The site selection automatically determined the sample selection. It was convenient and purposeful in nature. Each selected site constitutes a cluster that provided the participants of the study. The school principal of the rural school is a 50 year old female who was formerly a psychology teacher. For the urban school, a 50 year old female former math teacher is currently the school principal. Both principals have significant years of experience in education. Rural and urban school leader interviews were conducted to provide information to enable the researcher to understand the communication processes utilized by each of them in their respective school environments.
The qualitative instrument to collect the narrative information from school leaders was a semi structured interview. The school leaders were interviewed individually. The findings of the literature review provided the platform to design the items for the interview. These questions addressed the vision of learning, school culture, instructional program for learning, and professional development of teachers. For the validity of the interview questions, three school leaders including a school principal were asked to review and comment on the proposed topics derived from the literature review.
The focus group session with teachers, students, and parents were based on the questions used in the principal's interview. Although the questions were worded differently, the content was based on the same four aspects included in the research questions: vision of learning, school culture, instructional programs for learning, and professional development of teachers.
Data Collection Procedures
Each school was contacted by the researcher prior to beginning the process of interviewing. Based on the school administrator's decision, the researcher visited the school to inform the principal and staff members about the research purpose and questions. Once the permission was granted, the researcher, with the collaboration of the principal, prepared a timeline for the interview of the principal and the meetings with teachers, students, and parents. For the interview of the principal, the interview consisted of five questions on their ways of communicating the vision of learning, the development of school culture, the promotion of instructional programs for learning, and the professional growth of teachers. The interview time depended on the length of the responses given by the school principal. For the focus groups of teachers, students, and parents, the researcher and the principal determined the exact date, time and number of participants for each group. The questions used with these groups to guide the discussion addressed the same areas as those used with the principals.
In terms of the timeline for data collection, the study was conducted over three months. The two schools were visited during that period of time. At each school approximately three weeks were used for interviewing the principal and for conducting the meetings with the focus groups formed by teachers, students, and parents.
The data were collected to determine responses from the principals and each of the focus groups for each of the four areas of the study: vision of learning, school culture, instructional programs for learning, and professional development of teachers. Attention was directed to a broader discussion of the perceptions of all participants of the role of the principal within the identified school community. These responses were collected and reported as findings.
Chapter 4 -- Findings
The Rural School
Description of the School
Located in an area adjacent to the villagers' houses and fields, the five floor school holds, according to its official records, 260 students distributed across the three high school stages. The number of male students slightly exceeds that of the females. The school classes are coeducational, so it is worth mentioning that boys and girls are not separated in any of the nine high school classes. The capacity of each class varies between 20 and 30 students according to the students' educational majors and divisions. The school classes are airy and well ventilated since the school is located by the fields. However, it has a library, computer laboratory, science laboratory and multimedia room none of which are well furnished or fully equipped. The school has a spacious football playground and an adjacent garden where a small mosque has been set up for religious rituals and prayers.
Description of the Principal
The fifty year old female principal has served as a school principal for two years. Her university study in psychology allows her to apply psychological theories with both her job perquisites and her students. It also makes her more aware of her students' needs especially during the critical stages of adolescence. After being selected as a principal, she enrolled in a diploma program in leadership to prepare herself to carry out her job more efficiently. She is highly involved in the community surrounding her school. Tragedy struck her life when she lost her only son at the age of 16 few years ago. As a result, she decided to focus attention and efforts on all her students.
Her personal resilient traits fully empower her to gain the trust of the people who approach her and her passion for education seems to be contagious; this enhances her school and fosters her students' and staff members' potential.
The principal affirms the concept that school leaders should be well prepared academically, professionally, culturally, and technologically since they are in place to upgrade education. She thinks that any society is thought to be fortunate as long as education reflects its social objectives. Her ideology of successful educational leadership reflects the effective communication between her and the surrounding community where her school is located.
Communication and the Role of the Principal
As a principal she believes in mutual trust and understanding, she keeps thinking out of the box to bring about untraditional solutions, and she makes students the prime focus of her concerns. She believes in lifelong learning for herself and her followers. Her main commitment is to communicate effectively with the all participants especially parents since students are regarded as the product of the surrounding community. Such communication is mainly organized by the principal and the board of trustees that includes various sectors of the surrounding community. So as long as the board of trustees is effective, the principal's success is guaranteed.
The school principal believes that she should be in good to be contact with the society outside her school and be aware of the events that take place there in order to share the joys and disappointments of the community. Even with the school campus, a principal should not be isolated or distant; she has to be involved with her staff members' and students' social events.
Teachers believe that as a leader the principal never gives up, but she is keen on finding a solution to all problems she encounters at school and she uses many strategies to do this. Due to lack of the governmental financial support, she keeps on searching for donations from affluent society members to buy some essential educational gadgets and didactic apparatuses. Teachers acknowledge that she maintains perfect relations with other schools that enable her to borrow some of their computers and other appliances to help with the severe shortage of tools in her school. Since the school is rather new, the principal has started a campaign to allocate money to supply the school with the gates as a means of protection against theft; she has the support of the civilian community headed by the village mayor because of her relentless endeavors. She also keeps in contact with companies and businessmen in the province where the school is located to seek their help in supplying her school with the numerous needs and to overcome the obstacles that impede an effective educational process.
Parents and students say that their school principal is always reachable and keeps talking to them about the school in general and teachers in particular. She highlights the importance of regular and punctual attendance at school, so she decided to make the students attend for four days a week and allow two days to give them a chance to study and revise their lessons. In fact she is keen to find solutions to all problems, especially the very serious problem of the high rate of absence. She founded a certain box for complaints and suggestions. She exhibits the principle of role modeling and honesty. She keeps her promises according to her ability to do so. In fact she is confined by the government perquisites and regulations; however, she is sometimes unable to meet her promises when matters are out of her hands. For example, she promised to update and equip the football playground but she got insufficient financial allowances. Both parents and students have a common feeling that their principal is "a clever jockey without a horse." The scope of her ambitions is limitless but she does not have a budget to implement her programs. They acknowledge her persistence and they appreciate her willingness to try new and different approaches to achieve her goals.
The students lament the fact that they do not have computer lab, well equipped science labs, a well furnished library, and a room for multimedia; however, they accept this as she keeps trying to obtain sufficient financial donations. She sometimes pays from her own pocket to meet the needs of the school. Examples include when she bought a gate to secure the school building and when she bought trees for the school garden. They feel that she is always working to make their school a better place for them to learn. Her ideology of successful educational leadership reflects the effective communication between her and the surrounding community where her school is located.
The school students have a strong conviction that she is devoted to giving them a high quality education although most of them do not pay the school fees and many of the parents are not co-operative enough; however, she is relentless and perseverant and never gives up asking parents for positive enhancement of the school for the sake of the students.