Teachers’ Perception of School Leadership in High School

Teachers’ Perception of School Leadership in High School
Schools in the southern Metropolitan school district can be broadly
divided into low performing and high performing schools. This has been
attributed to leadership, among other things. The perception of teachers
about the leadership is very important as it has an influence on their
work culture. This paper shall discuss the role of effective school
leadership and the perception of teachers on leadership on high
performing schools. Research has found that there is a strong
correlation between the leadership of schools and the performance.
Effective school leadership
Schools are led by school principals who have a lot of teaching
experience. The principals should have the following skills, in addition
to being good teachers, they should have strong managerial skills, they
must be strict disciplinarians, cheerers, and strong advocators of the
schools’ missions and visions (Turner 2008). This enables them to
handle internal and external school matters effectively, to the
advantage of all stakeholders.
According to a research by Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, and Wahlstrom
(2004), effective leadership is the second most significant factor in
the performance of schools, after the quality of teaching. This is
especially so in schools where there student needs are enormous.
Effective leaders offer a direction that the students and teachers must
pursue. This is done by setting achievable goals and expectations, which
are frequently reviewed based on performance. The goals and means of
achieving them should be very clear and understood by all stakeholders.
This ensures that there is a commonality of purpose and goals. This
usually leads to good performance because everyone understands his or
her role in the achievement of goals. An effective leader is able to
achieve this by leading from the top, and thus ensuring that all
stakeholders head in the same direction.
An effective leader should also ensure continuous growth of teachers
and other members of staff. This is done by organizing regular training
seminars and opportunities for the members of staff (Kano 2013). This
improves their skills, and knowledge which is essential for improved
performance. In additions to training, a good leader offers the
necessary facilities for performance of duties so as to facilitate
teaching and learning. If the facilities are not within reach, a good
school leader will be able to get appropriate substitutes for the
facilities. The principal can also encourage the teachers and learners
to maximize available facilities.
Effective principals also work closely and collaboratively with
teachers to enhance performance. They do this through continuous and
constructive dialogue in decision making and policy formulation. This
does not mean that they play a less role, but they must do this while
remaining the ultimate leaders and decision makers (Marks & Printy
2003). Effective school leaders treat teachers as equal decision makers
while exploiting their knowledge, experience and professional
qualifications in formulating policies for improved performance.
Effective school principals play the role of both transformational and
instructional models of learning. Both qualities are important for
improved performance in schools. Transformational leaders seek to change
school cultures and maintain or improve them. The leaders encourage
innovation in the system, as well as supports teachers in their
activities. Instructional leaders abolish the hierarchical system and
replace it with the practice of shared leadership. This involves active
participation of teachers in the formulation of the model of instruction
and assessment, and curriculum development (Marks & Printy 2003). This
is necessary in improving performance because there is a sense of shared
responsibility between the teachers and principal.
Effective leadership also plays the role of ensuring the commitment of
teachers to the organization. The level of commitment of teachers to the
school is very crucial to the performance of students. When teachers are
more committed to their roles, the effect also shows in the commitment
of learners to their school work, which improves overall performance.
Effective leaders promote commitment by being supportive, promoting team
work, and ensuring participation of teachers in decision making (Hulpia,
Devos & Keer 2011). This makes teachers to be part of the whole system
while utilizing their skills, which is significant in enhancing their
role in implementation of policies. It thus leaves leaders with the role
of overall supervision.
Leadership also plays a primary role in motivation of teachers.
Effective leaders motivate their teachers through various activities
such as internal reward schemes. They also do this by treating the
teachers well which goes a long way in making the working environment
friendly. This makes work enjoyable, and motivates teachers to work
efficiently, leading to improved performance (Blasé & Blasé 2002).
Teachers’ perception of leadership
What are teachers’ perceptions of leadership at high performing high
schools?
Teachers perceive good performing schools as having effective
leadership, which seeks to develop positive relationships anchored on
openness, mutual respect, understanding and decision making. Teachers
are of the opinion that those schools that perform well have leadership
which appreciates their role and opinions and these go a long way in
motivating them. Once the teachers are well motivated, they are able to
embark seriously on implementing positive working policies. This is
necessary because teachers with good working environments teach
effectively because they are emotionally and psychologically engaged in
their work. This eventually leads to a positive attitude towards
learning, by students thus, improving the performance of schools (Blasé
& Blasé 2002).
A research carried out by Blasé (1987) revealed that teachers are of
the opinion that the leadership in high performing schools is usually
effective. The principals in such schools are viewed as being strong
leaders as they affect the school climate, and morale of teachers and
students. Teachers perceive leaders in high performing schools as being
very efficient morale boosters as they regularly challenge teachers and
students to strive towards improved performance. The leaders also ensure
that there is a conducive learning and working environment by
encouraging open and honest communication between the administration and
teachers. This ensures that the opinions of teachers and students are
considered in policy formulation, which leads to good performance.
Teachers also perceive leadership in high performing high schools as
having task- relevant competencies and socio-emotional competencies
(Blasé 1987). Task-relevant competencies are those skills that include
proper planning, evaluation of workers’ performance, and definition of
performance, decisiveness, reasonable expectations and good
organizational skills. These skills offer guidelines on how to perform
duties for the teachers so as to achieve the highest scores possible.
They are also significant in defining the way work is to be performed
for purposes of order and systematic achievement of goals. Thus, the
teachers are of the opinion that leaders in high performing schools have
leaders who promote good cultures in schools, and contribute towards
cohesiveness in schools.
Socio- emotional skills, on the other hand, involve actions that are
geared towards recognizing the role of teachers in improved performance.
They also include enhancing the satisfaction of teachers with their work
and boosting their morale and self esteem. This is also extended to
students as the leaders are also influential in how students feel about
school. The leaders offer support to their teachers. They are able to
stand behind teachers where conflicts arise. The leaders also encourage
teachers to offer their opinions, they have devised reward schemes for
good performance, and they are willing to delegate duties to the other
teachers.
What are teachers` perceptions of leadership at low performing high
schools?
Teachers perceived low performing skills as having poor leadership.
They described poor leadership as being dictatorial. This means that the
leaders do not consult teachers while making decisions and formulating
policies (Williams 2009). In cases where there were consultations, the
opinions of teachers were ignored. This leads to lack of ownership of
the schools’ policies by teachers and thus, poor implementation.
Teachers are the contact point between the school and students and thus
if teachers do not own and implement policies it reflects on their work
ethics, leading to poor performance.
The teachers were also of the opinion that the leaders failed to boost
staff morale. This was due to constant criticism and lack of
acknowledgements of improvement. The schools also lacked a recognition
and reward scheme for improved or good performance. This demotivates
teacher, leading to poor morale and thus, poor performance. The leaders
were found to be constant critics who never recognized improvement, and
this demotivates the students and teachers.
Teachers also perceive leaders in poor performing schools as being
indecisive and inflexible. They are unable to make decisions quickly,
and when they do, they do not stick by their decisions. This creates
confusion in the school and causes a lack of school culture. This means
that there is no standard code of conduct and teachers as well as
students operate on their own rules, leading to chaos. This leads to
poor performance as there is no sense of direction (Wahlstrom &Louis
2008).
Poor leadership also creates an unhealthy school climate. The teachers
are not happy with their jobs and do not appreciate their colleagues.
The schools also do not give due recognition to performance and thus,
neither the teachers not the students are committed to teaching and
learning (Macneil, Prater & Busch 2009). The leaders were perceived by
teachers as being managers and not leaders. This is because they did not
understand the school’s culture or failed to establish one. This means
that there are no structures in the school that create a culture unique
to the school. The lack of culture hinders the creation of a favorable
learning climate. This affects performance because a good culture
influences the formation of a good learning environment which is
essential for good performance.
Is there a difference in teachers` perceptions of leadership at low and
high performing high schools?
There is a significant difference in the perception of leadership in
low and high performing schools. Teachers in low performing schools are
of the opinion that the schools lack leadership that creates a direction
for teachers and students. They also feel that the principals are more
of managers than and leaders. This creates an environment of control
which leads to poor performance. Teachers in high performing schools, on
the other hand, perceive the leadership as being open and committed to
work. This ensures that teachers and students feel as if they are part
of the system and work towards improving it. This leads to good
performance (Williams 2009).
In conclusion, leadership is essential in the performance of a school.
The leadership is influential in establishing a culture which emphasizes
on the need for constant improvement. The leadership mainly influences
the commitment of teachers which is then transferred to students through
learning and this leads to a good performance.
References
Blasé, J., Blasé J. (2002). American Educational Research Journal. The
Dark Side of Leadership: Teacher Perspectives of Principal Mistreatment.
New York: Sage Publishers.
Blasé, J, J. (1987). American Educational Research Journal. Dimensions
of Effective School Leadership: The teacher’s Perspective. New York:
Sage Publishers.
Hulpia, H., Devos, G.,Keer, H,V. (2011). Educational Administration
Quarterly. The Relationship Between School Leadership From a Distributed
Perspective and Teachers’ Organizational Commitment: Examining the
Source of the Leadership Function. New York: Sage Publishers.
Kano, E. (2013). Leadership Styles and School Performance. Munich: GRIN
Verlag.
Leithwood, K., Louis, K, S., Anderson,S., Wahlstrom, K. (2004). How
Leadership Influences Student Learning. Minnesota: University of
Minnesota.
MacNeil, A., Prater, D, L., Busch, S. (2009). The Effects of School
Culture and Climate on Student Achievement. New York: Routledge.
Marks, H, M., Printy, S, M. (2003). Principal Leadership and School
Performance: An Integration of Transformational and Instructional
Leadership. New York: Sage Publishers.
Turner, S, B. (2008). Teacher’s Perceptions of Leadership
Characteristics of Public High School Principals Associated With Student
Socio-Economic Status, Community Type, Race, and Student Achievement.
Virginia: Falls Church.
Wahlstrom, K, L., Louis, K, S. (2008). Educational Administration
Quarterly. How Teachers Experience Principal Leadership: The Roles of
Professional Community, Trust, Efficacy, and Shared Responsibility. New
York: Sage Publishers.
Williams, E. (2009). Evaluation of a School Systems Plan to Utilize
Teachers’ Perceptions of Principal Leadership to Improve Student
Achievement. Atlanta: Wilson Web.
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TEACHERS’ PERCEPTION OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP 1

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