Instructional leadership as perceived by principals of 3-7 teacher schools : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education in Educational Administration at Massey University
The major objective of this study was to determine the match/mismatch between the ideal and the actual role of Instructional Leadership as perceived by a group of Teaching Principals (N=10) of 3-7 Teacher Schools. Instructional Leadership is one of the major components of the principal's role and involves influencing the work of another teacher in order to improve the perceived effectiveness of the teaching-learning experience. Teaching Principals of 3-7 Teacher Schools were chosen for the purposes of this study because these schools are an important component of the New Zealand education system, especially as falling rolls, changes in staffing ratios, and integration of private schools have increased both the proportion, and the total number, of these schools. Very little research has been carried out into the actual role of a Teaching Principal. Most of the literature on the role of a principal assumes that all principals are without the responsibility for an actual class. Teaching Principals have a dual role because, while Teaching Principals have been appointed as "Principal", they have the full time responsibility for a group of children. This study utilized semi-structured interviews to determine the perceptions of the Teaching Principals, and questionnaires to determine the perceptions of selected teachers in the Teaching Principals' schools. No observational or experimental interventions were attempted. Each of the Teaching Principals had experienced some kind of course or training in educational administration, however minimal. Some of the Teaching Principals expressed doubts as to the relevance of these courses or training to their present positions. The Teaching Principals perceived their role as both principal and teacher, and felt that they were unable to provide the standard. and extent of Instructional Leadership that their position required because of the lack of sufficient time resulting from involvement in full time teaching, administrative tasks and continual interruptions by visitors. Although the teachers were generally satisfied with the Instructional Leadership provided, there were differences in perception between the Teaching Principals and the teachers, with the teachers concentrating on the Teaching Principal's role as a facilitator and supporter. The teachers also placed greater emphasis upon help provided by other teachers. There were also some differences in perception between the Teaching Principals and teachers of the smaller schools and those of the larger schools. The latter schools appeared to be more formal with syndicates being the major organizational focus. While there was seen to be a need for more assistance with courses and training and the provision of extra professional and non-professional staffing to enable Teaching Principals to carry out their role as Instructional Leaders, the position of Teaching Principal was seen as providing definite advantages for Instructional Leadership. As classroom teachers, the Teaching Principals possessed a close identification with other staff members, and this gave credibility to their advice and guidance, as well as providing a practical example of class teaching. By utilizing the advantages of their position Teaching Principals can provide worthwhile Instructional Leadership, which will ultimately benefit the children in their schools.