Teacher Leadership Term Paper

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Teacher Leadership - Literature Review


In the past few years, the relationship between the school principal

and teachers has emerged as a critical relationship necessary for the

continued educational opportunities of students, the growth of teachers,

and the success of the educational system as a whole. The available

literature on this topic reveals the importance of the perception of

teachers regarding their relationship with the principal, and these

studies clearly indicate that improved education for all students

requires a well-balanced relationship perception. A review of the

literature reveals that there is a large difference in the perceptions of

teacher leaders regarding their relationship with principals and the

relationship as perceived by the principal. Therefore, additional

studies are necessary in this area to correct the perceptions of the

teachers relationship with the principal, as the perception of this

relationship affects the quality of individual teacher instruction, the

height of student achievement, and the overall degree of efficiency in

school functioning.

Education & Training

A review of the literature in the area of education and training

indicates that principals are responsible for the implementation of any

educational reforms and stand in a unique position to challenge the ways

schools do business and motivate teachers to develop and learn the new

approaches to teaching and learning that are demanded through the

government's reform. However, the literature reveals a gap between the

actual role of the school principal and what the role of the principal

needs to be with regard to education and training. Research studies

mention the lack of education, training, and time for the instructional

leadership role, for leadership activities being set aside for more

immediate problems, and includes the increasing volume of paper work.

Additionally, public expectations for the principal's role are mainly

managerial and, to a principal, this appears to be a safe and comfortable


In studies by Barnett and McCormick (2004), each school is

responsible for resourcing levels, both financial and staffing, and for

the systematic evaluation and reporting of the outcomes of educational

programs and goals each year. Principals are responsible for the

implementation of any educational reforms and stand in a unique position

to challenge the way schools do business and motivate teachers to develop

the new approaches to teaching and learning that are demanded through the

government's reform. Barnett and McCormick acknowledge that the study

did have several limitations, such as the reliance on the perceptions of

teachers with respect to leadership and school learning culture. This

reliance on a single source may bias the relationships reported. A

conclusion of their study was that six dimensions of school culture were

identified: task focus goals, excellence in teaching, favoritism,

personal expectations for teaching, task and performance focus

instruction. One of the most important findings of their study was that

most of the variation in teachers' perceptions of leadership occurred at

the teacher level, and a smaller but significant amount occurred at the

school level. This result suggests that one-to-one relationships between

a principal and individual teachers mainly characterize leadership in


Barnett and McCormick (2004) also stated that the active principal

must be aware that individual concern is not simply being helpful and

considerate toward teachers. A principal demonstrates individual concern

when he or she approaches each teacher individually with respect and

fairness. The principal must also be assessable to teachers, support,

encourage, and recognize individual efforts. They must also provide

direction and guidance based on individual needs and development. The

results of other studies have also mirrored these issues. The selection

of principals was additionally addressed. This selection should include

a process to identify those who have a history of exhibiting the

interpersonal skills consistent with individual concern. A visionary

principal clearly defined expectations of teaching excellence to


Thus, in the area of education and training, since the since the

principal is the leader who sets the direction of the school, the

principal's skills with people are crucial to the success of the

position. To develop positive relationships, there are essentially four

areas of interpersonal skills that need to be mentioned: trust,

motivation, empowerment, and collegiality. As the literature indicates,

without trust on the part of the teachers toward the principal, a

positive relationship perception cannot be built. Secondly, a principal

position involves motivating others and one way to accomplish this is

through a process of sharing the decision making. In relationships where

power is viewed as a reciprocal unit of exchange, people can become

committed, significant, and competent through promoting empowerment. As

teachers are the players most affected by change, empowerment enables

them to identify obstacles and design strategies for dealing with change.

Collegiality promotes idea sharing, project cooperation, and assistance

in professional growth, all of which benefit the students. Finally, the

teacher and principal relationship must be enhanced with education and

training for both parties.

Professional Development

The professional development of the teacher and principal is also

related to the research on education and training. Youngs and King

(2002) state that a prominent way in which principals shape school

conditions and teaching practices is through their beliefs and actions

regarding teacher professional development. They state that individual

teacher competence is necessary for effective classroom practice, and

that teachers must be able to integrate knowledge of students, subject

matter, and teaching context in planning out units and lessons and

assessing student work. The studies discussed by Young and King (2002)

examine the relationship of capacity to instructional quality and student

achievement. Findings from the study by Youngs and King (2002) indicated

that effective principals can sustain high levels of capacity by building

trust, creating structures that promote teacher learning, assist in the

implementation of general reforms. Their study results also suggest that

during transitions in school leadership, incoming principals must be

cognizant of shared norms and values among their faculties before

initiating new practices into the curriculum, instruction, or school


Research on effective schools indicates that the principal is pivotal

in bringing about the conditions that characterize effective schools.

There are three major forces that serve to shape and describe a school;

the public, the staff and the students, and that these forces interact

through the curriculum. Youngs and King (2002) concluded that principals

can enhance teachers' knowledge, skills, and dispositions and other

aspects of school capacity by connecting teachers to external expertise.

Their research defined the set of professional development activities in

which a faculty participate to include: 1) Planned professional

development for the entire staff; 2) Planned professional development for

individual teachers or key groups of faculty within the school; and 3)

Unplanned activities, some of which are individualized and some of which

are common to the entire faculty or to key groups of faculty. Youngs and

King (2002) determined that research has also demonstrated higher student

achievement to be associated with higher levels of school professional

community and program coherence. The literature in the area of

professional development indicates that in conducting future studies of

principal effects, it may be useful for researchers to employ

professional community and program coherence as mediating variables

between principal leadership and student achievement.

Collaboration between Teachers and Principal

Research by Marks and Printy (2003) examined the relationship between

principals and teachers and the potential of their active collaboration

around instructional matters to enhance the quality of teaching and

student performance. They base their analysis around a comparison of two

concepts of leadership; transformational and instructional. Marks and

Printy state that transformational leadership provides intellectual

direction and aims at innovating within the organization, while

empowering and supporting teachers as partners in decision making.

Instructional leadership, on the other hand, replaces a hierarchical and

procedural notion with a model of shared instructional leadership.

The findings of the studies by Youngs and King (2002) are comparable

to those of Marks and Printy. Both believe that instructional leadership

involves the active collaboration of principle and teachers on

curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The principle and teachers

share responsibility for staff development, curricular development, and

supervision of instructional tasks. The studies by Marks and Printy

(2003) differed in the aspect that they were able to study the

relationship of transformational and shared instructional leadership to

the quality of teaching and learning. This mode of instructional

leadership provides for learning and working with others; teachers,

students and parents to improve instructional quality. It is the

principle's responsibility to create a strong school culture, enabling

teachers to collaborate with them in redesigning the instructional

program so that all students can learn.

The research in the area of the relationship between teacher and

principal in collaboration revolves around the perception of the

relationship in the future. The research indicates that the role of the

principal in the future will be to encourage collaborative groupings of

teachers to play a more central role in the instructional leadership of

the school. This will require active participation of the principal to

facilitate change by motivating the staff and students, by reaching out

to the community, and by continually improving the school. This

includes teacher… [END OF PREVIEW]

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