03 SES 13 A, Role of Teachers and Principals in Curriculum Making
There is robust debate among educationists about the principal’s obligation for curricula matters in public schools. Some contend that principals are faced with new demands, more complex decisions, and additional responsibilities than ever before. Their day is usually filled with diverse administrative and management functions such as handling conflicts and dealing with unexpected teacher and learner crisis. There are others who argue that it is imperative for principals to facilitate best practices and keep their schools focused on curriculum, instruction, and assessment to meet students’ learning needs and enhance achievement.
Principals are thus faced with a predicament of how they can play a more pronounced instructional leadership. As instructional leaders they should at all times strive for excellence in teaching and learning environment with the purpose of enhancing student achievement. They are required to provide the necessary resources for learning, and create new learning opportunities for students and teachers. Instructional leaders should forge partnerships with teachers as colleagues by spending more time in classrooms and engaging teachers in conversations about learning and teaching.
Hallinger’s (2009) three dimensions that are prerequisites for effective instructional leadership was used to frame this research:
- Defining the School’s Mission focuses on the principal’s role in working with staff to ensure that the school has clear, measurable, time-based goals focused on the academic progress of students;
- Managing the Instructional Programme focuses on the coordination and control of instruction and curriculum. The principal has to be deeply engaged in stimulating, supervising and monitoring teaching and learning in the school; and
- Promoting a Positive School Learning Climate conforms to the notion that effective schools create an “academic press” through the development of high standards and expectations for students and teachers.
The problem statement was: How can principals be professionally developed to enhance their instructional leadership role? The sub-questions that encapsulated this study were:
- What do we understand by the concept ‘instructional leadership’?
- What professional development programmes relating to instructional leadership can be implemented for principals?
- What are the perceptions and experiences of principals of their role as instructional leaders?
- How can principals strengthen their instructional leadership role?
The empirical investigation was aimed at determining the perceptions and experiences of principals in their role as instructional leaders facilitating effective teaching and learning in schools. To gain a better insight into the participants’ realities and experiences of instructional leadership, this study was located within the interpretivist paradigm. Using a generic qualitative approach, eight principals were asked to complete an open ended questionnaire, and this was followed by semi-structured in-depth individual interviews with each of them. Principals of eight public schools situated in the Gauteng Province of South Africa were selected. The sample included four primary schools and four secondary schools selected from a range of affluent schools (quintile 4 and 5), so-called middle schools (quintile 3), and poor schools located in previously disadvantaged communities (quintile 1 and 2), for comparative purposes To achieve greater validity for this study, the researcher was mindful of the fact that he could not be biased or prejudicial by the way questions were framed and asked during the interviews. Reassurances were given to the participants that the aim of the research was not to judge or evaluate their leadership and management skills but rather to determine their perceptions in respect of instructional leadership. To ensure confidentiality, no personal information would be revealed without the participants consent. Using Tesch’s method of coding, the data collected from interviews and open ended questionnaires were analysed and examined in search for themes and patterns that illustrated similarities and differences, and uncovered the meaning of particular perceptions focusing on the aim of the study.
This study has shown that principals have placed more emphasis on their managerial and administrative duties rather than focussing on their leadership role. Although principals are accountable for the plethora of administrative and managerial tasks, there is a dire need for them to take on an instructional leadership role which is pivotal to enhancing student performance. To promote best practices in teaching and related instructional areas with the aim of improving student performance, a paradigm shift should be made where principals are required to give instructional leadership high priority. To advance a culture of teaching and learning in schools and where student achievement features, principals are duty-bound to balance their administrative and managerial duties with instructional leadership functions. Principals should be conversant with innovative teaching theories and practices, and encourage teachers to model them in the classroom. The principal has the power to influence student-learning outcomes by setting the school’s goals and by promoting effective instructional practices. The core of instructional leadership is to transform schools into environments where teachers and students reach their full potential. It is recommended that the current legislation depicting the principals’ functions should be reviewed to include a detailed and precise description of what is expected from principals in terms of curriculum and instructional matters. Aspects such as providing mentorship, creating a school climate conducive to learning and providing professional development opportunities should be considered for inclusion into their job description. Principals should be innovative by creating more professional development and training opportunities instead of waiting for the Department of Education to arrange professional development programmes. These programmes should be custom made rather than having a ‘one size fits all’ training. .
. Alig-Mielcarek, JA. 2003. A Model of Success: Instructional Leadership, Academic Press, and Student Achievement. Unpublished Dissertation: The Ohio State University. Blasé, J; and Blasé, J. 2000. Effective Instructional Leadership: Teachers’ perspectives on how principals promote teaching and learning in schools. Journal of Educational Administration, 38(2):130-141. Available from http://www.emerald-library.com (Accessed on 23 March 2010) Bush, T. 2007. Educational leadership and management: theory, policy and practice. South African Journal of Education, 27(3):391- 406. Cohen, L; Manion, L; and Morrison, K. 2011. Research Methods in Education. New York: Routledge. Copeland, D. 2003. Instructional Leadership Characteristics of Secondary Blue Ribbon School Principals. Doctoral thesis (unpublished) Seton Hall University. Creswell, J.W. 2009. Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc. Fink, E; and Resnick, L.B. 2001. Developing Principals as Instructional Leaders. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(8):598-606. Fullan, M. 1991. The new meaning of education change. New York: Teachers College Press. Glanz, J. 2006. What Every Principal Should Know About Instructional Leadership. Thousand Oaks, California. Goslin, K.G. 2009. How Instructional Leadership is conveyed by High School principals: The Findings of Three Case Studies. A paper presented at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. 6 January 2009. Gupton,S.L. 2003.The Instructional Leadership Toolbox. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press Inc. Hallinger, P. 2005. Instructional Leadership and the School Principal: A Passing Fancy that Refuses to Fade Away. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4:1–20. (Accessed: 22 November 2015). Hallinger, P 2009. Leadership for 21st Century Schools: From Instructional Leadership to Leadership for Learning. This paper was firstly presented in a lecture of the Chair Professors Public Lecture Series of The Hong Kong Institute of Education on 23 September 2009 file:///C:/Users/rajm/Downloads/Hallinger%20-%20Booklet%20-%20Final%20(3).pdf (Accessed on 28 November 2015) Hallinger, P; and Murphy, J.1985. Assessing the instructional leadership behavior of principals. Elementary School Journal, 86(2):217-247.
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