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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 therea positibe 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.


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.(

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 


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 limitations.
All the techers have the same motivating factors.
Similar leadership styles produce the same results in schools

It is the view of the researcher therefore, that the findings of a study on two middle schools are homogenous across all middle schools.
This study will also assume honesty and and truthfuness in the response from all participants in regard to the questionnaires and interviews and also the main methods of data collection. It is assumed that the respondents will believe the researchers assurance of complete confidentially and anonymity.


This study is based on a sample of middle schools and it contains two schools as the samples. The study will be carried out through the use of interviews and questionnaires.
Time of the interviews may be an inhibiting factor. In case the respondents feel rushed or are fatigued due because of various reasons that are caused or not caused by the researcher and has no solution to, may greatly influence their responses.

Principals may fail to respond with candor to the researcher’s interview questions in an effort to impress the interviewer or to make their schools or systems look better. Therefore great efforts must be put in to provide a comfortable situation for the respondents, ensuring that they clearly understand that all of the responses were academic purposed and will be used for academics only, and that all information obtained from the interviews and the questionnaires will be confidential and an with anonymity.


This study will be delimited to 2 middle schools in the US Territorial base of Guam. The participating principles are aged 35 – 40 years.

Nature of the study

The nature of this study is informative and it aims at voicing out the changes that are required and the leadership styles of middle school  principles. in a way it also ensures that the country as a whole is assured of a brighter professional future and that it ia able to cope with todays’ world dynamism. Moreover, the study also refers to future middle schools principals and other parties that are interested in knowing what needs adjustment and what needs to be embraced. This study would form the basis for future advancement of studies on the same and to avoid the recurrence of undesired leadership styles characteristics.

Organization of the reminder of the study

Chapter two reviews the relevant literature – and it is basing it on the principals instructional leadership styles, and the documented effect of these styles on the professional development of teachers. The chapter explores the theoretical framework for an effective quality professional development program. In this chapter, the characteristics of the principals leadership styles are discussed

Chapter three focuses on the methodology used when carrying out the study in order to obtain the findings the paper deems to be primary and the justification. The paper will also look at the advantages and disadvantages of the adopted methodology. In this chapter the data collection methods to be used and the data validation tools to be used prior to the analysis of data collected are also discussed.

Chapter four brings out the methods of data analysis and collection and the study will also locus it tentacles to cover details on the data analysis and collection methods used, their merits and demerits, and justify the reason behind choosing the method of data collection and analysis in  comparison to others. This is where the study will also be nearing optimality.

In chapter five there is a brief run through the study. Here, the paper will give the required results, conclusions and recommendation on the issue of leadership styles of principal in middle school and also show the impact that quality professional development has in middle schools.



Middle schools
According to Hoy et al (1996) different people have different views on what middle schools are. In the U.S. school going children are divided by age groups, and  into grades that starting from the kindergarten which is the grade for the youngest childrenattending elementary school. The kindergarten is followed by first grade and the twelfth grade is the last grade and corresponds with the final year of school . configaurarion of grades varies with states, and in some cases, with schools which use the 5-8, 6-8, and 7-8 schools often being referred to as middle schools (U.S. Network for Education Information: U.S. Department of Education). Research however, dispels any notion that may be propagated that middle schools are nothing more than junior high school with a different grade configuration (Cawelti, 2000; Toepfer 1990). According to Hoy et al (1996) middle schools do in fact provide distinct programs.

In any middle school, programs have team structures which are interdisciplinary, a child-centered philosophy, and heterogeneous groupings for most subjects as well as specialization of subjects. According to Cawelti, 2000; Alexander and and George, 2000), there are also interdisciplinary activities, an appropriate core curriculum and also time and flexibility for exploration, activities structured around the team or unit concept, and teaching strategies tailored specifically for young adolescents.


Middle schools: A Conceptual Perspective

Halphin (1966), Hoy et al (1986) and Hoy et al (1991) attempts to form a theoretical framework of middle schools along the concept organizational climate. Hoy et al (1996) defines the schools organizational climate as the set of internal characteristics which differentiates schools from each other and at the same time influences the behavior of its members. According to (Hoy, 1991 and Tagiuri 2000). school climate is the constantly  experienced school environment and has effects on  the members behaviors, and is based on their collective perceptions of behavior in schools

Hoy et al (1996) perceives organizational climate as the schools personality, that is: climate is to organization as personality is to individual. The openness of the school climate was viewed as a pivotal second order characteristic of schools. It was suggested that middle schools could be viewed along a rough scale of climates from open to closed.

An open climate is defined as one that has open and sincere teacher-teacher and teacher-principal interactions. In such a climate, the participants are forthright with one another, supportive, receptive to the ideas of each other and always up to the task in hand. On the other hand, a closed school climate is characterized by highly secretive interactions, suspicion, restrictions, distance and disengaged. Hoy et al (1996) adds that in such a climate  “game playing” and “posturing” permeate.

These two general dimensions are based on the level of openness and they provide the basis for a range of school climates. Through cross-partitioning openness in principal behavior with openness in teacher behavior, four categories of climate are identified.


Open climate

This is a school climate characterized freedom for teachers to act and the supervision is not close. The administrator is supportive of the teachers’ actions and suggestions, avoids bureaucracy and doesn’t burden teachers with a lot of work. In such an environment, there is great respect for the teachers professional competence and there is an open and warm feeling towards and among the members of the teaching staff. The members of the teaching staff are also committed to helping them and are open with them. This creates a very conducive environment for high performance from both the teachers and students. In simple terms, every member in this school climate is open in their behaviors. It is in this kind of environment where democratic kind of leadership is mainly found (Halphin, 1966; Hoy et al, 1986; Hoy et al, 1991 and Tagiuri, 2000).

Engaged climate

In this kind of a climate, the teachers work together to accomplish their goals, carry out their duties co-operatively and exhibit commitment to their students. However, and unlike in an open system, there is the lack of the principal support towards the teachers in their courses. Instead, the principal supervises them closely, and does not shield them from the burdens of bureaucratic routine. Despite the lack of the principals support, the climate however is still conducive enough for the teachers to professionally work together.  This means that in this kind of an environment, there is a closed relationship between the teachers and the principal but on the other hand thre is an open relationship between teacher and teachers, teachers and students and teachers and other members (Hoy et al, 1996). Though this kind of leadership may not be democratic by principal, it seems it allows flexibility and some level of independence in the work-place.


Disengaged climate

      The circumstances found in this kind of a school are the exact opposite of the engaged climate. The school principal accords the teaching staff all the requisite support, provides them with the necessary professional courtesy to do what is necessary, is opens in his decision-making process and welcomes constructive criticism and suggestions and also works to minimize the bureaucratic impediments. However, there is some level of indifference between the teaching staff members and the principal. The teachers are not committed to their students and are vulnerable to sabotage moves of peers and those of the principal. In these schools, the principal is dislike and teachers are disengaged from the tasks at hand. Concisely, although the principal’s behavior is open, teacher behaviors are closed (Halphin, 1966).


Closed climate

According to Halphin (1966), Hoy et al (1986) and Hoy et al ( 1991) the schools with a closed climate are not fit for the principal, the teachers, or the students. The principal highly distrusts the actions and motives of faculty, is unsupportive, bureaucratic and autocratic, and insists on perceived unnecessary paperwork. His behavior can be summarized as controlling ad therefore his behavior is controlling. On the other hand the teaching staff is nothing better,  they are unmindful abut their students as well as colleagues. They are unwilling to accept responsibility, regarding duties to both their students and colleagues. These behaviors in this climate can be summarised to be guarded and closed.

Which climate is the best for teachers’ development and high student achievement?

Hoy et al (1996)  says that all schools should aim at achieving an open and authentic relationship. He continues to write that healthy organizational dynamics assist in the realization of  positive student outcome. One can also conclude that teachers will feel free to pursue professionally enriching courses in an open climate. In an open climate, the implementation of any professional development program will be easier since it will be considerate and will address the needs of the teaching staff who are the intended beneficiary of the program. This is made possible by the open communication with staff which helps him to know their needs and how they would like them to be addressed. An open climate also assist the school to realize its purpose  since ot becomes a place where both the teachers and students are willing and happy to be rather than a place where they are forced by circumstances to be. In a school where there is trust among students, administrators and teachers, it is high is likely to offer a comfortable environment for both teachers and the students, as well as the principle.

Pelz, 1952, says that one  key to successful leadership is to influence organizational members. Teachers will most likely accord voluntary compliance and co-operation to a principal who leads by example. According to Borgler (2002), leading by example to asking the surbodinates to do only what the leader should do, and be supportive and helpful. However, this does not mean the principals will not point out areas of weakness and thus needing improvement, but they do constructively and with professional courtesy and. Hoy et al (1996) argues that a rigid and domineering administrative style rarely achieves the subordinates commitment and loyalty; but instead, in an atmosphere with close guarding and suspicion,  the teachers are uncooperative, they alienate themselves and act against the principal. Such an environment discourages respect for professional competence for the teaching staff. Leaders who support and encourages teacher initiation are very effective when it comes to implementing any program that they may wish to, including but not limited to professional development program. This is because the teachers will view the introduction of such a program by a supportive principal as another way of the principal support. For this reason, they are more likely to embrace it, meaning that the program would be more successful than when introduced for implementation by a principal who runs a less open school climate. Therefore it is evident that open and less guarded relations between teachers and principals and teachers and teachers are crucial if schools are to become areas where professionalism is encouraged.

Further, research points out that it is only in open relationships where supervision yields optimal results (Scott et al, 1961; Sergiovanni, 1992). It is therefore clear that openness is critical for long-term and health productive relationships, both among colleagues and between superiors and subordinates.


According to (Brailsford and Ann, 2001) effective middle school principals employ the commonly known leadership styles so as to meet their principal roles.  Ocholi and Oshagbemi (2006) identify and classify the different types of leadership according to the following basis;

Directive leadership which is a style of leadership that is based on an entails telling subordinates what to do.
Consultative leadership which is determined by the extent of discussing matters with subordinates and others before the leader makes decisions.
Participative leadership is one that involves sharing in a consensual decision-making process with others, which basically means and advocates for joint decisions.
Delegative leadership this is where the leader leaves the subordinates and others free to make their own decisions.
Laissez-faire the leader avoids taking a stand, ignores problems, does not follow up, and refrains from intervening. It is as if he is not there.
Management-by-exception. This can either be active or passive. The leader monitors deviations from performance standards, and takes corrective action as necessary or waits passively for deviations, mistakes and errors to occur and then takes corrective action.
Contingent reward: which is a type of leadership style where the leader sets performance objectives and exchanges rewards and recognition for achievement.
Individualized consideration: The leader shows concern for the individual by identifying her unique abilities and needs and providing matching challenges and opportunities.
Intellectual stimulation: The leader questions the status quo and encourages imagination and creativity and the use of intuition and logic.
Inspirational motivation: The leader communicates a clear vision and aligns the goals of the organization with that of the individual
Idealized influence: The leader displays charisma by expressing confidence in the vision and gaining respect, trust and confidence by demonstrating extra ordinary ability.
According to Brailsford and Ann, 2001) whether or not the principal actually does adopt any of the style is best determined through the perceptions of the teachers under their leadership.

Forms of leadership

There are two types of leadership as conceptualized by Burns (1978); transformational leadership and transactional leadership. According to  him, transformational leaders are the leaders who raise the levels of consciousness of their subordinates about the importance and value of designated outcomes and ways of attaining them. These leaders also motivate their subordinates to rise above their own immediate self interests in order to achieve the mission or the vision or the organization. Transformational leadership is about putting the organization first and the everyone and everything else follows. According to (Burns, 1978),  transformational leadership is based on a direct exchange relationship in which the subordinate’s effort, productivity and loyalty are exchanged with expected rewards from the company (Burns, 1978).
Bass (1985)  developed a framework and measuring instrument, which places transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership on a spectrum. Further, Bass et al (1997) proposes that four different behavioral configurations form the identity of transformational leadership and Idealized influence and inspirational motivation are the most important transformational configurations, These two are the behavioral components of charisma, the integral quality of a transformational leader. Idealized influence is charisma in theory  takes place where leaders are seen as role models, are respected and admired by their subordinates.

Awamleh and Gardiner (1999) add that behaviors like the embracement of high morality, avoiding use of power for personal gain, emphasizing the mission and expressing values and beliefs also reflect the idealized influence. They go ahead to argue that inspirational motivation occurs when leaders motivate and inspire subordinates by providing meaning and challenge to their work. For instance, this can be done by making inspirational presentations, clearly communicating the vision and acting in ways that encourage diligence and agility. Intellectual stimulation is the third transformational configuration and ir is where the leaders cultivate creativity and diversity in situations. According to (Bass et al, 1997; Awamleh et al, 1999) In individualized consideration the leader does give attention to each individual’s needs and do not assists in their development.
On the other hand, transactional leadership is identified by three behavioral constructs. the first one is the contingent reward where the relationship between the leader and the subordinates is characterized by an exchange. The second one is active management by exception in whereby the leaders monitor the subordinates to ensure that they do not make errors in their duties. Incase of an error, the leader makes this the point of management as he or she steps in. The third is management by exception which is passive. Compared with the second one and in this case the leader only step in when things are out of hand. (Burns 1978; Barnet et al, 2003)

Laissez-faire leadership reflects the absence of leadership to the fullest extent as it has a non leadership construct (Barnet et al, 2003). It is also included in the model.

Successful leadership practices across contexts

There is no single leadership practice that is applicable to all situations. However, a review of Leithwood and Riehl (2005) identifies three leadership practices that have scored above average in majority of situations. The identified leadership practices are aimed at setting the directions, attaining people development and redesigning the organization. These are mentioned as the basics of any successful leadership though Shum et al (1997) acknowledges that they are probably not sufficient for success. As Leithwood and Riehl (2005) notes, these practices are necessary in almost all contexts. It is also suggested that from recent findings these practices might be shared or distributed across individuals or teams although these practices were associated with individuals only. These practices are as explained in the following paragraphs.
Setting directions: Successful leadership is known to create a compelling sense on purpose in the organizations by developing a shared vision of the future and helping build consensus about relevant short-term goals. For instance, in China, Leithwood (2005) found that two principals used exceptional volleyball and choir performance as short-term goals contributing to the longer-term vision of a school considered excellent for many things, including its academic programs. When directions are set, it means that there are high expectations for colleagues’ work, and doing all that is requisite to help them achieve their targets. Accountability is also an important  aspect of setting directions.

Developing people. It includes providing intellectual simulation. This  practice is also entails  providing support for individual colleagues’ ideas and initiatives. It  and provides leadership on important values and practices by being role models (Leithwood and Riehl, 2005).

There are a number of ways that are used in the development of people and they include the acknowledgement of good, supporting staff in times of crisis, and engaging staff in critical reflection. The tools considered effective in the development of people include  instructional practices, mentoring as well as modeling the values  of people. Leithwood (2005) supports this by arguing that the most successful leaders today are those who are visible and accessible to staff, students and parents. Such leaders are readily available to provide assistance as needed.

Redesigning the organization:  as observed by Hofstede (1980), many successful leaders have been involved in, redesigning  the organization which they lead. Redesigning activities involve; the creation of structures that encourage participation in decision making, building a collaborative school system and cultivating healthy and productive interactions with the parents and the entire community.  In most countries, successful principals are reportedly known to support and encourage cultures that ensure collaboration. They do this by developing broad based structures, distributing leadership and also by de-privatizing the teaching practice.
It is evident that  practices are not mutually exclusive but they point out that the their main purpose is to have good and predictable effects. 

In context, leadership is never an innocent activity since it a reflexively automatic activity. Rather, it is the context that provides the subtle, implicit, tacitly interpreted cues for enacting actions every single day. This active process of conducting affairs in day to day practice is always shaped by the reflexively automatic use of tacit knowledge that is deployed case by case and by the principals themselves. (Ray et al., 2004).
According to(Yukl, 1994) there are different models used in the description and measurement of the complicated leadership behaviour . Conventionally, leadership is a dual model, where one dimension is concerned with people and their interpersonal skills and the other is concerned with accomplishment of tasks and general production (Blake and Mouton, 1985; Halpin, 1966; Stogdill, 1974). However, recent studies have come up with multi-dimension approach to investigate and expound on the complexities of leadership in education (Bolman and Deal, 1991b; Cheng, 1994; Sergiovanni, 1984; Yukl, 1994). Sergiovanni’s (1984) identified a five-forces model -technical, human, educational, symbolic and cultural. This was further developed by Bolman and Deal’s (1991) four dimensions model which suggested the following four dimensions: structural, human, political and symbolic. The two eventually culminated in Cheng’s (1994) five dimensions model which is explained as under.

Five dimensions model

The five dimensions are structural leadership, human leadership, political leadership, symbolic leadership and educational leadership.

Structural leadership means the exercising of leadership influence through rationality, efficiency, structure and policies. Principals with structural leadership emphasize on analysis and data, keeping performance above the bottom line, setting clear goals and directions and holding people accountable for results. They also use new policies and rules to try  finding solutions to organizational problems.

Human leadership is exerting leadership influence through the interaction between the individual and organizational needs. Such principals as those with human leadership emphasize relationships and feelings. They also seek to lead through empowerment and facilitation. These kind of leaders are likely to be democratic.

Political leadership refers to the leadership influence through dealing with conflict caused by scarcity of resources, mainly among different individuals, groups and interests. Principals with political leadership are good in negotiations and they spend much of their time networking, building a power base, creating coalitions and negotiating compromise with different interest groups.

Symbolic leadership this new-model refers to leadership as influence through the interpretation of facts and emphasizing on socially constructed meanings in school. Principals whose style of leadership is symbolic leadership pay close attention to the important functions of superstitions, myths, rituals, ceremonies, stories and other symbolic figures.

Educational leadership refers to leadership influence through the generation and dissemination of educational knowledge and instructional information, development of teaching programmes and supervision of teaching performance. According to Bolman and Deal, (1991), Cheng (1994), Duignan and Macpherson (1993) and Sergiovanni, 1984, principals with educational leadership encourage professional development and teaching improvement.

The principal’s leadership in terms of these five dimensions was found to be strongly associated with high organizational effectiveness, a strong organizational culture, positive principal-teacher relationships, greater more participation in decision making, high teacher spirit and professionalism, less teacher disengagement and hindrance, more teacher job satisfaction and commitment, and more positive student performance particularly concerning student attitudes to their schools and learning. Tam and Cheng (1995) provided further evidence to support the importance of the five dimensions of leadership to school performance.

Instructional leadership

Many researchers concur that there in not a universal definition of instructional leadership nor are there specific guidelines as to what constitutes an instructional leader (Flath, 1989). Debevoise, (1984) defined leadership as a set of all actions that a principle does in order to promote growth in student leaning, whether he does it in person or through delegation (Debevoise, 1984). According to Acheson and Smith (1995), an instructional leader is an administrator who focuses on the process of instruction and lays down the mechanism of teacher, student and curriculum interactions. Bird et al (1995) attempts to define instructional leadership by differentiating it from educational leadership. According to them educational leadership are all the efforts of the principal that are aimed at preserving or producing favorable educational ethos within the school. Bird et al (1995) argued that this is different from instructional leadership which refers to the specific area that addresses curriculum and instruction. Mendez (1989) looks at it from this angle of the role of the leader. First, he observes that there are three major forces that impact upon a school –the public, the staff and the students – and that these forces do the interaction through the curriculum. The instruction leader by manipulating these three forces should maximize the quality of interaction.

According to (Wildy & Dimmock, 1993) it encompasses a number of tasks ranging from defining the purpose schooling, setting objectives and measurable goals for the whole school, allocating the requisite resources for learning to take place, to supervising and evaluating teachers. In addition, coordinating staff development programs and creating collegial relationships with and among the teachers does fall under the roles of an instructional principal.

The term instructional leader seems to be pointing at the primary duty of the principal in his pursuit of high student achievement. Realizing such a pursuit would take “more than a strong principle with concrete ideas”, writes Chell (1995). According to Richardson et al. (1989), a principal must be focused on achievement, be a person who takes instructional quality as the top priority of the school, and must have the capability to bring that goal to realization.

Research also varies in the area of instructional leadership qualities. Flath (1989) contends that there is no universal leadership skill or set of skills that is appropriate for application in all instructional circumstances or schools. However, Flathe (1989) still finds it possible to group together certain instructional leadership activities. These are as presented in the following four categories.

  • Goal emphasis: These are all those activities by which the principal focuses on student achievement by setting high expectations and instructional goals.
  • Coordination and organization: These are all the activities by the principal which are aimed at attaining effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Power and discretionary decision making: These are all those activities by which the principal secure resources and generates alternatives. Included here also are activities for assisting and facilitating the improvement of the instructional program.
  • Human relations: Activities aimed at dealing effectively with staff, parents, students and the entire school community

However, further examination of the literature reveals repeating themes on instructional leadership qualities Baskett and Miklos (1992) suggests a person-centered leadership orientation that focuses on working with teachers, subordinates, peers and the outside public to achieve effective institutional leadership.

Anderson & Pigford, 1987) also mentions  the five general leadership qualities of effective leaders.

Vision: The institutional leader works towards a shared understanding of set targets and progresses towards their achievement by coordinating curriculum, giving requisite instructions and periodic assessments.

Translate the vision into action: The leader endeavors to achieve the set school wide expectations by involving every member of the school community and ensuring all work as a team.

Creating an enabling environment: The instructional leader should cultivate a school climate that is orderly, academic-oriented and purposeful. He or she should also be in the know of what the teachers are dong and how well.

Acting on knowledge: The principal should make periodic interventions, accommodating different teacher personalities, styles and leadership qualities.

Glickman (1985); Smyth (1988) and Wiles & Bondi (1986) focus on instructional supervision as a vital component of instructional leadership. They argue that supervision is fundamental to improved instruction and student achievement. Haughey and MacElwain (1992) observed that while writers agree that the aim of instructional leadership should be to enhance student learning, the difference comes in how it should be practiced. These authors point out some of the areas in which researchers differ. For instance, Wiles and Bondi (1986) defines supervision as a general leadership function that is concerned with coordinating and managing all the activities concerned with school learning while Glickman (1985) and Smyth (1988) emphasize that it is important to involve  teachers in the process. Sergiovanni (1987) presents a more reflective model of supervision in which he suggests that since teachers vary in their goals and learning styles, supervisors should adopt supervision styles that are responsive to these differences. Morris, Crowson, Porter-Gehru, and Heurwitz (1984) concluded that the principal’s influence determines whether the climate is favorable or unfavorable  for learning and that the most effective role may be more supportive than supervisory oriented.

Instructional improvement and accountability issues are addressed in an interesting supervision model developed by Dagley and Orso (1991). It is a two part model and is presented in a cyclical manner. The first part is a summative evaluation for determining whether minimal standards of accountability are met and the second part is a formative evaluation which dwells on growth and improvement. The two parts operate cyclically such that if minimal accountability standards are met, teachers move immediately to the formative side of model where they focus on improving a specific teaching area. Teachers can return to the formative side to work on another target once the cycle is completed, or move to the summative side to begin a new cycle. If the teachers do not meet accountability standards, they are either terminated or enter intensive assistance. Once intensive assistance is completed successfully, they can reenter the cycle at the formative side and so on.

A key area within the instructional leadership or supervision model is the planning in-service training or staff development. Dagley & Orso, 1991 mention five steps of clinical supervision that include pre-observation conference, analysis of observation, post-observation conference, and planning for improvement.

Research also mentions an additional criterion for instructional leaders whereby the principal should also be practicing teacher. Weindling (1990) states that head teachers in the United Kingdom indicated that the fact that they had practiced teaching for an average of about twenty percent of the week,  contributed to instructional leadership. In attempting to explain why this is important Harden’s (1988) research proposes that for principkes to be credible, they need to work closely with students, develop teaching techniques and methods as a means for understanding teacher perspectives and for establishing a base on which to make curricular decisions. He adds that by practicing teaching, the principle serves a lot in emphasizing the belief that the purpose of the school is to meet the learning requirements of the students.

The importance of the principal’s role as an instructional leader and the direct relationship on changing instructional practice to improve student performance has been researched extensively. Leithwood (1994, p. 3) describes instructional leadership as a series of behaviors that is designed to affect classroom instruction. In this environment, principals are responsible for informing teachers about new educational strategies, technologies and tools that apply to effective instruction. Principals must also assist teachers in critiquing these tools to determine their applicability to the classroom (Whitaker, 1997).

Despite the researchers disagreement  on a definition or the characteristics that embody instructional leadership they all agree that the principal must be a strong instructional leader . In his vision for improving schools, Barth (1990, p. 64) declared, “Show me a good school, and I’ll show you a good principal”. This phrase captures the essential belief of researchers who study instructional leadership. When the concept of instructional leadership first emerged, principals were thought to be effective if they led a school by setting clear expectations, maintaining firm discipline, and creating high standards. Current research reveals that the indicators for effective instructional leadership involve a number of variables.

Foriska (1994) described instructional leadership as critical to the development and maintenance of an effective school. Instructional leaders must influence others to pair appropriate instructional practices with their best knowledge of the subject matter. The focus must always be on student Active Teaching, and principals must supply teachers with resources and incentives to keep their focus on students.
Jantzi and Leithwood (1996, pp. 514-15) defined six dimensions critical in the practice of leadership including:

  1. (1) identifying and articulating a vision;
  2. (2) fostering the acceptance of group goals;
  3. (3) providing individualized support;
  4. (4) intellectual stimulation;
  5. (5) providing an appropriate model; and
  6. (6) high performance expectations.

Andrews and Soder (1987, pp. 9-20) described the effective instructional leader as a principal performing at high levels in four areas – resource provider, instructional resource, communicator, and visible presence in the school:

  1. (1) As resource provider, the principal takes action to marshal personnel and resources within the building, district, and community to achieve the school’s vision and goals. These resources may be seen as materials, information, or opportunities, with the principal acting as a broker.
  2. (2) As instructional resource, the principal sets expectations for continual improvement of the instructional program and actively engages in staff development. Through this involvement, the principal participates in the improvement of classroom circumstances that enhance Active Teaching.
  3. (3) As communicator, the principal models commitment to school goals, articulates a vision toward instructional goals and the means for integrating instructional planning and goal attainment, and sets and adheres to clear performance standards for instruction and teacher behavior.
  4. (4) As visible presence, the principal is out and around in the school, visiting classrooms, attending departmental or grade-level meetings, walking the hallways, and holding spontaneous conversations with staff and students.

In their research on instructional leadership, Andrews and Soder (1987) found that student achievement data revealed that the gain scores of students in strong-leader schools were significantly greater in both reading and mathematics than those of students in schools with average or weak leadership. However, Heck et al. (1990) acknowledge that principal behaviors aimed at improving student achievement do not have the same direct impact on learners as does instruction by the classroom teacher. Siens and Ebmeier (1996) concur and found that while principals have strong, direct effects on intermediate school variables, such as teacher attitudes, they have little direct effect on student outcomes. Removed from the classroom, principals can only influence student achievement indirectly by working through the teaching staff.

Heck (1992) studied instructional leadership behaviors of elementary and high school principals in high achieving and low achieving schools to determine whether school performance could be predicted through examination of behaviors. Heck (1992) surveyed principals on eight instructional leadership tasks:

  1. (1) makes regular class visits;
  2. (2) promotes discussion of instructional issues;
  3. (3) minimizes class interruptions;
  4. (4) emphasizes test results;
  5. (5) participates in discussion about how instruction affects achievement;
  6. (6) ensures systematic monitoring of student progress;
  7. (7) communicates instructional goals; and
  8. (8) protects faculty from external pressures.

The results indicated that principals in high-achieving schools, as measured by academic achievement in a variety of areas, are more effective instructional leaders than their counterparts in consistently low-achieving schools.

Instructional leadership is not necessarily defined as the same for principals of elementary schools and principals in secondary schools. Larsen and Hartry (1987) found there were major differences between elementary and secondary principals and teachers’ perceptions of how instructional leadership behaviors were being implemented in six categories of instructional leadership. The categories included goal setting, school-community relations, supervision and evaluation, school climate, instructional coordination and staff development.

Johnson and Holdaway (1990) also examined instructional leadership among elementary and secondary principals and found disparities between the two levels. Elementary principals often were personally moreinvolved in planning and instructional supervision, whereas secondary school principals tended to delegate leadership responsibilities and influence instruction indirectly and symbolically. Leadership at the building level clearly influences student achievement and school effectiveness, but it has been difficult for researchers to directly link principal attributes to academic growth (Heck, 1993).

Linking instructional leadership with instructional practice
            Pre-eminent in the principal’s role as an instructional leader is the ability to motivate and inspire teachers with the end-goal of impacting instructional practice and ultimately student achievement:
           Research on school effectiveness concluded that strong administrative leadership was among those factors within the school that make a difference in student learning (Hallinger and Heck, 1996, p. 5).
            Bossert et al. (1982) suggest that principals could have a positive impact on a variety of in-school factors, and at least indirectly affect the achievement of students. Jackson (1982) found weak but positive effects of principal behaviors on student learning at the elementary level and according to Rowan and Denk (1984) the effects of leadership were significantly present in schools with low SES, whereas the relationship was negligible in high SES schools.

There is a significant relationship that existed between leadership and student outcomes across all schools for reading and math. However, when school socioeconomic status was taken into consideration, all significant relationships between principal leadership and student outcomes were annulled for high SES schools. The relationship did persist for low SES schools.

In a discussion of principal leadership and the impact on student achievement, Heck and Marcoulides (1993, pp. 23-6) concluded: Effects of principal instructional leadership on student outcomes at both levels are not strong, as researchers have suspected, but collectively they do suggest that through manipulating a series of variables at the school level, both secondary and elementary school principals can have a similar positive influence on school achievement … After controlling for “hard to change” contextual variables such as socioeconomic status and language background, our model identifies positive effects of principal leadership that help explain the elementary or secondary school’s performance at lower or higher academic levels. Thus, the principal must now be considered as one “school effects” variable that directly influences school achievement.

Principals are becoming progressively more accomplished in measuring student engagement rates and in helping teachers to fashion techniques based on those assessments to improve student learning. Murphy (1992, p. 20) developed a framework that illustrates available time for learning. The following six dimensions can be understood as nested boxes that become continually smaller, depicting the limited amount of time at hand for the goal of academic learning time:

(1) opportunity time;
(2) relevant instructional time;
(3) allocated academic time;
(4) instructional time;
(5) engaged time; and
(6) academic learning time – the amount of engaged time in which students are experiencing high rates of success.

There is no single leadership style or approach that is fitting for all school settings. It is clear, however, that a narrow focus on management issues alone is a disservice to teachers and students. Principals must provide instructional leadership to facilitate and promote active learning experiences for all students. Through their words and their actions, principals model the importance of students being actively engaged in their learning and highlight the achievement gains that are a product of this engagement.
Teachers’ learning

Teachers have had to improve their skills and capabilities so as to cope with increasing demands. This has meant that schools have to implement programs to enhance the skills of teachers. Such programs are referred to as professional development programs. Professional development is required to focus on a wide variety of subject areas –encompassing their unique epistemologies, instructional practices, and all the teaching resources (Elmore, 2000). To achieve this, middle school principles have to design structures and programs aimed at enabling the teachers to employ their knowledge and skills more effectively and to develop approaches necessary for learning to teach in an ever-changing environment. If such programs are to succeed, the teachers must use the various opportunities for learning and continuous professional growth. Within school contexts, such professional growth to a large extent occurs through everyday workplace learning.

The influence of formal in-service professional development experiences on teachers’ practice is limited (Goldenberg and Gallimore, 1991; Lieberman, 1996 and Richardson, 2003). Bransford et al (1999) observes that lectures and workshops do not seem to result into effective professional development for teachers. To emphasize this, it has been argued that the most effective and powerful means of realizing professional development are fostered most directly and very powerfully by the unique circumstances found inside the school (Leithwood et al., 1999; Bradley et al., 1994). These views seem to call for a major re-examination of the traditional professional learning systems, leading to re-desing. Jurasaite-Harbison (2008) writes that for the new and re-designed systems to be effective, they must include the workplace learning that occurs daily and informally in everyday practice especially in the classroom.

That informal learning within the working context is further supported by the suggestion by Yinger et al (1993) that professional knowledge does not only develop in the mind of an individual but is inherent to the contexts within which the individual interacts. The context includes the cultural, physical, social, historical as well as personal. Thus a professional development program tailored to enable the teacher gain the most in their day to day practice enables the teachers to learn throughout their careers, according to Eisner (2000).

The environment in which a teacher works really determines the pace of professional progression, if any. The primary responsibility for the instruction and educational outcomes of all students has always been in the hands of regular teachers (Cook, 2001). Fisher et al (1999) observes that teachers either enthusiastically or begrudgingly respond to a wider range of student needs in classrooms. To achieve high student achievement, teachers need to be motivated to change from the traditional roles, progressing on to making class sessions more democratic (Carrington and Elkins, 2002). It is not surprising therefore, that the in the recent reform agenda staff empowerment and improvement has become an integral part. For example, research on effective school management has increasingly been addressing the ways that school staff can develop policy and practice to effectively meet the needs of all children by fully addressing the professional requirements of the teachers.

Carrington (2000) notes that teachers may feel isolated if they are responsible for executing mandates that were developed without consideration of the impediments to implementation. This would be so especially if the school administrators develop policy and then leave it up to the classroom teachers to implement it. An increased student diversity – in all fronts, and a shift in emphasis from knowledge workers will demand professionally skilled workers who are expected to be able to satisfy students quest for knowledge while at the same time ensuring the students perform well at all facets in the curriculum. Needless to say, such a burden would be too much unless the capacity of teachers is enhanced through professionally enriching programs. In addition, this change will necessarily impact upon school management style.
Evidently, there is an urgent need for continuing professional development in collaboration, team building and teaching methods for diverse learners as observed by Florian et al (1996). The problem with many leadership styles is that they seem to want to introduce change for the benefit of students. According to Guskey (1986), teachers are more likely to accept change if it helps their students to learn more efficiently and effectively. However, Dockett et al. (1998) warns that the teachers may still be hesitant to change even when improved learner outcomes are likely since such change involves changing old habits that may have made teaching comfortable and predictable. It thus calls for school principles to take into account the professional needs of the teachers as much as they may want to introduce change.

Why traditional approach to professional learning has failed

There are a number of reasons why the traditional professional approach has failed to yield optimal results as intended. Firstly, according to King et al (2001) a teacher will most likely experience learning if the teacher can concentrate on instruction and student outcomes in the specific contexts in which he/she teaches. The traditional approach has been providing material that is largely irrelevant to student learning in the opinion of teachers and thus teachers have not learnt to apply what these professional development programs have to offer.

Secondly, the traditional approach has been to use brief workshops, conferences or other courses. Corcoran (1999) suggested that while workshops may be valuable for promoting awareness of new practices or curricula and provide opportunities for teachers to network and share, there is little evidence of outcomes these conventions. They do not make an allowance for long-term follow-up and feedback. Teacher learning however, is likely to occur if teachers have the sustained chances to not only study and experiment specific innovations, but also to receive helpful feedback.

In addition, the traditional professional development programs have been relying to almost absolutely on outside experts and materials. However, according to McLaughlin et al (1996) teacher learning is most likely to occur when teachers have opportunities to pair with professional peers, both within and outside of their schools. Such pairing should also be enhanced with access to the expertise of external researchers and program developers. Peer collaboration offers a powerful vehicle for teacher learning as teachers respect the expertise of professional peers and share common experiences. This would be a necessary supplement to published materials and advice from other authorities.

Moreover, in the traditional professional development approach, the content is usually dictated by the school, district or the state without taking into account the views and suggestions of teacher. Even when such suggestions have been asked for, no much weigh is attached to them. In contrast, teacher learning is most likely to occur when teachers have influence over the substance and process of professional development according to (Fullan 1993). Giving teachers control over the course of their professional development increases their opportunity to connect it to specific conditions of their schools. It also provides  opportunities for them to exercise professional discretion. King et al (2001) notes that empowerment facilitates a sense of personal ownership. Such a sense is critical if the teachers are to internalize what they learn in professional development.

An effective professional development model

As mentioned earlier, the traditional professional development experiences are defined as brief workshops, conferences or courses usually with no follow-up and long-term feedback. Traditionally, teaching children reflected a behaviorist perspective with the teacher as the expert who did the controlling of learning, instructional technology, quantifiable predetermined outcomes and predictability (Novick, 1996). At such time professional development relied almost exclusively on outside the experts without integrating these resources into existing knowledge and systems of peer collaboration. Although the role of the teacher has moved on from a purveyor of knowledge the old model of staff development still continues amidst change in everything else (Miller, 1995). Worse still, more often than not, it is dictated by school, district, or state authorities without significant input from teachers. In a survey of American teachers, Beall (1999) obtained similar feedback on the benefits of conventional professional development. Specifically, teachers tended to disdain professional development on ever-changing topics and instead preferred programs that were more practical in nature and targeted to their specific needs. Gersten and Brengelman (1996) points out that more recently, professional development programs incorporating a cognitive-reflective component, along with demonstration and practice have been developed for teachers

Professional development will realize optimums results when it is an ongoing process that includes appropriate well planned for training and individual follow up through supportive monitoring and feedback, staff dialogue and peer coaching, suggests Moore (2000). Besides, professional development is most influential when it is conducted for such a length of period and number of times that are enough for progressive gains to be made in confidence, knowledge and skills (Little, 1993).

An effective professional development will be made up of the following components as explained in the following paragraphs;

  1. School reculturing

This the introduction of a new approach to organization of students, models of support, teaching staff roles, and approaches to teaching and learning of inclusive policies due to the ever increasing diverse learning needs. According to Fullan (1995) reculturing schools means developing collaborative work cultures that focus in a sustained way on the continuous preparation and professional development of teachers. This is in relation to creating and assessing learning conditions for all students. Student outcomes and teaching practices are profoundly influenced by the school organization. This implies, according to King and Newmann (2000) that professional learning should be two edged and consider not only how individual teachers learn but also consider reflection and development in how the school as an organization affects teacher’s learning, teacher’s practice, and student achievement.

  1. Need for collaboration

It is argued that teaching is a lonely profession (Hourcade and Bauwens, 2001). As such, according to Gersten and Brengelman (1996),  professional development activities must include opportunities for teachers to discuss with colleagues the successes and difficulties in the application of new strategies and to learn about the underlying concepts by discussion. In other words, a professional development program must facto in the need for teachers to interact not only formally but also informally, in the place of work. This collaboration would have significant impact on the development of a positive culture in a school, which ultimately will mean better learning opportunities for all students. Kouzes and Posner (1993) note that the creation of a collaborative learning community requires promotion of shared values and development of an appreciation of working cooperatively and caring about one another. In such an environment, the staff does make use of the strengths, complementing each other’s knowledge and skills, the end result of which is generating more effective teaching practice and ownership of their own professional learning. This is more of an open environment in which professionals see each other as resources for one another with the collective value of delivering high quality education for all students.

  1. Individual teacher learning

According to King and Newman (2000) teacher learning is more likely to occur when: first, the teachers consider the particular needs of their students within the specific context of their classroom; Secondly, when teachers use sustained opportunities as a basis to engage in the process of development and to examine and monitor specific innovations by relying on feedback; thirdly, teachers collaborate with professional peers both within and outside of their schools so that they gain expertise from research; and fourthly, teachers have influence over the substance and process of professional development so that there is personal ownership.

It has been advocated that learning be viewed as a journey of personal discovery beginning at where the learner is. Such journey should help Education reformists have advocated learning be considered as a journey of personal discovery beginning at where the learner is and helping the learner to build new knowledge and understandings. Furhter, Novick (1996) emphasized that knowledge and skills taught in isolation and disconnected to previous learning or experience are rarely internalized and transferred, notwithstanding that they are often quickly mastered.

This implies that incase of professional development program meant for teachers, teacher learning should be viewed as constructivist philosophy and practice. It should reflect within authentic contexts underline effective adult learning. Teachers should be acknowledged as individuals with specific and distinct learning needs and learning styles, which vary with respective individuals. According to Norvick (1996) therefore, professional learning must offer a wide variety of opportunities for teachers to form their own understanding and theories in a supporting environment.

Conclusively then, a model incorporating school reculturing, collaboration, and opportunities for individual teacher learning is a lot likely to influence teacher thinking and practice, school culture and student learning outcomes. At such a scenario, the teachers assume the role of learners as well as teachers, and are thus able to establish and develop meaningful links between theory and practice. Such an inclusive school culture engages teachers in collaborative forms of learning and is emphasized by democratic planning processes and democratic leadership style. Kouzes and Posner (1993) in support of this view, warns that the development of shared beliefs is more about input from people than about telling them what is or is not important. McInerney (1999) observes that the teachers’ learning is of utmost essence if schools are to make a difference for students, and not only for the renewal of the teachers themselves.not only important for the renewal of teachers themselves but it is absolutely essential if schools are to make a difference for students

Teachers’ work attitudes

As discussed earlier, the leadership of a principal is a critical factor when iit comes to the school’s performance through shaping teachers’ beliefs, values, attitudes and work behaviour. In understanding leadership of women principals’, a further study should be dine to explore its relation and effect  teachers’ job attitudes, since these attitudes affect directly teachers’ work behaviour and performance (Cheng, 1990; Coppedge, 1993; Powell and Beard, 1986). According to (Carr, 1993; Chan and Cheng, 1993; Coladarci, 1993; Fraser and Fisher, 1990; Lee et al., 1991; Newmann et al., 1989), the here most important attitudes in relation to teacher performance are; Teachers’ sense of efficacy, sense of community and sense of professional interest.

Sense of efficacy is the teacher’s perception that his/her teaching is worth the effort, that it leads to students success and is personally satisfying (Coladarci, 1993; Lee et al., 1991; Newmann et al., 1989). Teachers with a high sense of efficacy are more likely to invest serious professional effort in teachingand therefore students’ achievement is hihly improved.(Chan and Cheng, 1993).

Sense of community is the teacher’s perceived relationship of unity, belonging and co-operative interdependence with peers (Newmann et al., 1989). Teacher with a high sense of community share the teaching values and goals with colleagues and are willing and aready to offer whenever needed (Chan and Cheng, 1993).

Sense of professional interest refers is the extent to which a teacher discusses professional matters with peers, shows interests in his/her work and seeks further professional development (Carr, 1993; Chan and Cheng, 1993; Fraser and Fisher, 1990). Teachers with a strong sense of professional interest are interested and keen on attending seminars, exchanging new ideas in teaching with colleagues in order to improve teaching techniques and further professional development (Chan and Cheng, 1993).

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Principals Leadership Styles – Part 1. (2017, Jun 26).
Retrieved September 18, 2023 , from

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