26 SES 01 A, Teachers' Perceptions of Leadership and the Notion of Marketing in Leadership
The present contribution seeks to advance our knowledge on the interrelationship between different factors of school improvement at schools serving disadvantaged communities. The aim is to examine how teachers’ assessment of different leadership practices as enacted by their schools’ leadership are related to the extent to which they perceive shared goal orientations at their individual schools (i.e., feeling committed to the schools’ general mission and perceiving goal-oriented practices and structures). Building shared goals and a strong sense of overall purpose within the school community has been outlined as an important aspect of organizational learning (Marks et al., 2000; Mulford et al., 2004). At the same time, international research on school improvement has emphasized school leadership and management as a pivotal capacity for organizational learning within schools (Bonsen, 2010; Leithwood & Sun, 2012). Improvement-oriented leadership thus constitutes a central feature that distinguishes successful from less successful schools, especially among schools in challenging circumstances.
Various theoretical models, such as the transformational leadership (Leithwood et al., 2006), instructional leadership (Hallinger & Murphy, 1985) or distributive leadership (Spillane et al., 2001) model provide a framework for improvement-oriented leadership practices. These models focus on different aspects of leadership that are theorized to create organizational structures conducive to learning, to strengthen the professional development of teachers, and to raise awareness for important topics and development needs. The transformational leadership approach aims to increase the affective commitment and emotional attachment to the school and school goals (Harazd et al., 2012). It includes working toward whole-staff consensus on school priorities through idealized influence, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individual support (Bass & Avolio, 1994; Leithwood et al., 2006). One core element of the instructional leadership model (Hallinger, 2003) includes mission-building activities on the part of school principals, such as framing and communicating the school’s goals, but also on promoting professional development of the school staff, e.g., through systematic training. Finally, distributive leadership includes actively involving teachers in the core work of the school so that they participate in the leadership process and carry forward change more effectively (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). Distributed leadership is discussed as successful especially with regard to enabling participation and the resulting motivation of teachers (Harris, 2013).
While the identification of successful leadership strategies of schools in challenging circumstances has been the subject of various empirical studies, mostly from the Anglophone context, only little systematic evidence exists on the relationship between different leadership practices and teachers’ perception of shared goals and commitment to the school’s general mission.
The present contribution seeks to address this shortcoming by examining the extent to which teacher ratings of shared goals varied as a function of teachers’ perceptions of leadership practices. In doing so, six different leadership practices are distinguished: goal-orientation, promoting collaboration, intellectual stimulation, providing a safe learning and working environment, shared leadership, and systematic planning of professional development. Examining associations between leadership practices as observed by teachers in their individual schools and the extent to which they feel committed to the schools’ general mission strengthens our understanding of aspects related to successful school improvement in disadvantaged locations.
The data stem from a standardized online survey conducted among 911 teachers and pedagogical professionals from 35 schools serving disadvantaged communities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The survey was conducted within the model project “Talent Schools”, which is designed as a mixed method study and funded by the Ministry for School and Education of North-Rhine-Westphalia. This model project aims at enabling school improvement in schools serving disadvantaged communities over a period of six years (2019-2025). A total of 60 secondary schools (45 general and 15 vocational schools) from each of the five governmental districts of North-Rhine-Westphalia were selected to take part in the project after they had applied with a letter of intent declaring the school’s willingness for school improvement and the envisaged activities. The progress of the project is evaluated by a research team that monitors the school improvement processes and continuously feeds data back to the schools. The researchers’ approach is based on a mixed-methods design, involving a series of different data collection methods. These include quantitative online surveys as well as qualitative case studies and interviews with different actors, such as school principals, members of the school administration, and school improvement consultants. An initial online survey of teachers and other pedagogical staff was conducted between February and April 2020 to capture the initial conditions at the selected schools including perception of leadership behavior and shared goals. Teachers’ perceptions of leadership practices at the individual schools were measured in self-report on the basis of a German version of the Nature of School Leadership Survey (Leithwood et al., 2006; Klein & Bronnert-Härle, 2020). In total, seven dimensions of leadership practices were measured, six of which entered our analyses: goal-orientation, promoting collaboration, intellectual stimulation, providing a safe learning and working environment, shared leadership, and systematic planning of professional development. Teachers also self-reported their perceptions of shared goals among the staff on two scales: clarity of goals and consensus as well as goal-orientation of school practices and structures (Leithwood et al., 2006, translated to German). Using a person-centered approach, latent profile analysis (LPA) was used to identify groups of teachers based on their assessment of leadership practices. In a second step, we conducted multilevel linear regression models in which we regressed teachers’ and pedagogical staffs’ shared goals on teacher demographics and the identified latent profiles.
We first used an iterative model-building process to perform LPA, based on the selected leadership indicators. A series of models with up to six latent classes was fit. The best fit for the latent profile analysis of teacher-reported perceptions of leadership practices appeared to be a model with four profiles. Specifically, there was one group of teachers that rated all six leadership practices at their schools as lower than the sample average, comprising 10 percent of the sample; we labeled this profile “reduced leadership”. The second profile provided especially high ratings of goal-orientation with low to average ratings of all other dimensions (“pronounced goal-orientation”), which represented 4 percent of the respondents. The third group showed scores which were close to the overall sample mean; this profile comprised 32 percent of the sample and was labeled “average leadership”. The fourth and final group generally rated all dimensions of leadership higher than average and comprised 54 percent of the sample (“pronounced leadership general”). Multilevel regression analyses showed that, compared to the “average” group, teachers from the “reduced” group were less prone to perceive consensus and clarity of goals at their schools, while the other two groups were more likely to feel committed to the schools’ aims as well as to perceive a higher consensus among the school staff. The same pattern applied for the measure of perceiving goal-oriented practices and structures at their schools. Our preliminary findings suggest that shared goals, as a key dimension of organizational capacity, are highly related to goal-oriented leadership. This is particularly relevant in Germany because other studies point out that systematic goal-oriented leadership is comparatively low and that participatory processes play a key role in the formulation of goals in German schools (e.g., Klein, 2017). The implications of these findings will be discussed at the conference.
Bass, B. M. & Avolio, B. J. (1994). Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through Transformational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bonsen, M. (2010). Schulleitungshandeln. In H. Altrichter & K. Maag Merki (Eds.), Educational Governance: Vol. 7. Handbuch Neue Steuerung im Schulsystem (1st ed., pp. 277–294). Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwiss. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-92245-4_11. Hallinger, P. (2003). Leading Educational Change. Reflections on the Practice of Instructional and Transformational Leadership. Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(3), 329-351. Hallinger, P. & Murphy, J. (1985). Assessing the Instructional Management Behavior of Principals. The Elementary School Journal, 86(2), 217-247. Harazd, B., Gieske, M. & Gerick, J. (2012). Was fördert affektives Commitment von Lehrkräften? Eine Analyse individueller und schulischer (Bedingungs-)Faktoren. [What supports teacher’s affective commitment? Analysis of individual and organizational determinants in schools] Zeitschrift für Bildungsforschung, 2(2), 151-168. Klein, E.D., Bronnert-Härle, H. Mature school cultures and new leadership practices—An analysis of leadership for learning in German comprehensive schools. Z Erziehungswiss 23, 955–977 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11618-020-00968-4. Klein, E. D. (2017). Schulleitungshandeln in staatlichen Schulen in Deutschland und den USA. Eine vergleichende Analyse auf Basis von PISA-Daten. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 20(1), 61-87. Leithwood, K., Aitken, R. & Jantzi, D. (2006). Making Schools Smarter. Leading With Evidence (3. Aufl.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Leithwood, K. & Riehl, C. (2003). What We Know About Successful School Leadership. Philadelphia, PA: Laboratory for Student Success, Temple University. Leithwood, K. & Sun, J. (2012). The Nature and Effects of Transformational School Leadership. A Meta-Analytic Review of Unpublished Research. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(3), 387-423. Marks, H. M., Louis, K. S. & Printy, S. M. (2000). The Capacity for Organizational Learning. Implications for Pedagogical Quality and Student Achievement. In K. Leithwood (Hrsg.), Understanding Schools as Intelligent Systems (239-265). Stamford, CT: JAI Press. Mulford, William; Silins, Halia; Leithwood, Kenneth A. (Hg.) (2004): Educational leadership for organisational learning and improved student outcomes. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers (Studies in educational leadership, v. 3). Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R. & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating School Leadership Practice. A Distributed Perspective. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 23-28.
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