Teacher Perceptions of Leadership

Introduction

Leadership is a significant aspect of every organization including the learning environment for teachers and students. The perception that employees have of their leaders can either lead to success or failure of the organization. In the school context, the perception that teachers have of their leaders can either motivate them or demoralize them with detrimental results being realized on failure of children. Most teachers perceive their leaders as those that are focused and skilled enough to steer them into performance and success of students. As discussed in this paper, the school leaders should be endowed with good judgment skills that can make improvements that will increase the performance of students.

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Theoretical Framework

This paper examines the perception of teachers concerning leaders at the school level and their impacts on the success of students. While most organizations require highly skilled and experienced managers to enable them attain higher levels of performance, teachers add that focus is an additional value to a leader and has to be incorporated in the qualities of a good leader. This study will examine both dependent and independent variables that are the success of students and qualities of leaders as perceived by teachers respectively.

Research Methods

Quantitative and qualitative research methods exist and can be employed by every researcher in the course of a given study. While the quantitative research method deals with numerical and statistical values, a qualitative method is concerned with descriptions and explanations of the research phenomena. Most studies that use statistical data usually involve primary data whereby numerical data is collected for the first time from the respondents of the study. The collection of fast hand data ensures that the findings of the study are very reliable. On the contrary, qualitative research involves collection of qualitative data that involves much description and explanation of the social phenomena. This method is mostly applied in social sciences because it enhances understanding of social phenomena. This study will apply qualitative research method because it will enhance understanding of the teachers’ perceptions of a leader in schools. Secondary data will be used since the study utilizes studies done by previous researchers.

Research Results

The perceptions of a leader by teachers differ from one school to another. In a Meta-Analysis conducted by Blasé and Blasé (2010), it was established that the success of leaders was dependent on their focus on 11 practices and factors that were closely related to increased student achievement. The factors responsible for the success of students were divided into those requirements for the school that the leaders must ensure it has, the practices of teachers and students. For the school, a leader must ensure that it has a viable curriculum, it has challenging goals and effective feedback, there is involvement of the parents and community in the activities of the school and that there is safety and order at school. A leader also needs to focus on strategies for instructions as applied by teachers, their ability to manage the classroom and the design of the curriculum. All these factors should be supported by the environment at home, motivation of students and having a learned background for students.

In another survey conducted by Hulpia, Devos and Rosseel (2009), the researcher sought to establish the job satisfaction and commitment of teachers based on perception of distributed leadership in secondary schools. Working as a team for teachers was established as one of the significant factors that increased level of performance. The study was quantitative in nature and it examined a sample of 1770 leaders and teachers from 46 secondary schools. The existing relationship among the variables in the study was established using regression. The study established that there was a lower level of variance for job satisfaction and distributed leadership at school as compared to organizational commitment and leadership in school. The level of decentralization of leadership in schools indicated a weak relationship with commitment to the school and satisfaction of the job. Moreover, leadership as offered in teams and the support of the team by leadership at school were indirectly related to the satisfaction of teachers.

Leaders should offer direct assistance to teachers in order to realize their increased performance in terms of student success. According to Glickman, Gordon and Ross-Gordon (2009), leaders in schools should clinically supervise teachers while providing support. This could be achieved through preconference, observation and analysis and interpretation of what the teacher is teaching. The outcomes of clinical supervision could be compared to the outcomes of teacher evaluation where a teacher is evaluated on his or her success. The success of the teacher could be measured using various measures some of which include the ability of the students taught to pass examinations and the social aspects of student interactions. It is expected that leaders in the school context should provide developmental supervision whereby teachers undergo internal training on how that can improve their skills the school leaders supervise their implementation of taught skills.

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Glickman, Gordon and Ross-Gordon (2009) postulate that teamwork is significant in teaching and it cannot be avoided. In some cases where teachers are unable to handle a given task, the leader in teams or the school should come forward and coach the entire team on handling the task. Therefore, peer coaching is a significant aspect of leadership in schools. The leader at school should also provide other forms of direct assistance to teachers with positive feedback being provided for improvement where necessary.

Roby (2011) assessed conflict resolution skills among teacher leaders and compared with perceptions of leadership among teachers. Using a sample of 70 teachers from both private and public schools, he established that there were no significant differences between self perception and teacher colleagues concerning conflict resolution in schools. Roby (2011) established that most teachers perceived their leaders to be well equipped with skills in conflict resolution.

According to Chappelear and Price (2012), the principles of high schools are responsible for the achievement of students since they should exercise their leadership skills by monitoring the progress of students to ensure that there is success. While acting as effective instructional leaders, school principles can positively impact student achievement. Due to this, there is a significantly direct relationship between the behaviors of school principles and the achievement of students. In another conducted by Wermke (2012) who studied the perceived significance of the sources of knowledge, it was established that whenever the source of knowledge is perceived as trustworthy, it would be taken seriously and implemented in the course of teacher development thereby adding skills to their careers.

Tuytens and Devos (2010) studied the impact of leadership at school regarding their perception of teacher evaluation policy and established that the perception of the evaluation policy by teachers is significant in the implementation of the policy. However, the teachers’ perception of the policy is significantly influenced by the trust that teachers bestow on their leader and leadership structure at school.

Findings

The findings of the studies indicate that leadership is significant at school since it has great impacts in all areas at school. While most school leaders determine the performance of the school through their increased participation in various activities at school, any negligence by leaders could lead to poor academic achievements of students. Teachers perceive their leaders to be focused on the success factors of the school such as having a viable school curriculum and skilled teachers to implement the curriculum. A leader should be in a position to help a school acquire a curriculum that leads to effective academic achievements of the students. In order to attain the set goals, the school leader should be a team player that involves all stakeholders of the school in its activities. For instance, the success of students does not only depend on teachers and the school environment. It also involves parents who must provide a humble environment for students at home.

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Teachers perceive a leader as a person who acts as a role model to be emulated with certain characteristics of leadership. The leader must establish effective communication at school with the ability of establishing interpersonal relationships with teachers and students. Through a good interpersonal relationship, the school leader can guide and evaluate the performance of teachers. In addition, it is only good leader that can provide teachers with a positive feedback regarding their performance. Studies have established that teachers expect to have a leader that establishes a good organizational structure that has clear set hierarchy of duty performance.

Recommendations

Basing on the findings of the study, it is highly recommended that schools have good leaders since only good leaders can enable students to excel in their achievements. Good leaders should be qualified in specific disciplines and should possess special leadership skills such as effective communication. Establishing interpersonal communication and relationship with teachers is a significant quality of a good leader. Leaders at school should be focused on factors that could lead the school to excellence through success of students. These could include focus on getting highly qualified and skilled teachers, establishing an organization culture that promotes work both for teachers, and students. The environment could include teamwork among teachers and students with the leader offering guidance to all groups where necessary. It is highly recommended that clinical supervision be carried out by a good leader in order to ensure that teachers perform their duties well.

Conclusion

This paper has reviewed literature on the perception of the qualities of a leader that teachers would like to have. It is clear from the study that a leader is an important person in every organization since he or she is directly linked to the success of the organization. In the school context, teachers expect a leader to be of outstanding character that can be emulated by his followers. He or she should be focused on establishing viable policies for the institution. Through constant supervision of teachers and students, the school leader can ensure that students succeed in their achievements.

References

Blasé, J. R. & Blasé, J. (2010). Handbook of school improvement: How high performing principles create high performing schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication, Inc.

Chappelear, T. & Price, T. (2012). Teachers’ Perceptions of High School Principal’s Monitoring of Student Progress and the Relationship to Student Achievement. Connections Module, 1(6), 1-16.

Glickman, C., Gordon, S., & Ross-Gordon, J. (2009). Supervision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Hulpia, H., Devos, G. & Rosseel, Y. (2009). The relationship between the perception of distributed leadership in secondary schools and teachers’ and teacher leaders’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 20(3), 291-317.

Roby, D. (2011). Teacher Leaders and Colleagues Assessing Conflict Resolution Skills: A Comparison of Perceptions. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2(15), 1-5.

Tuytens, M. & Devos, G. (2010). The influence of school leadership on teachers’ perception of teacher evaluation policy. Educational Studies, 36(5), 521-536.

Wermke, W. (2012). A question of trustworthiness? Teachers’ perceptions of knowledge sources in the continuing professional development marketplace in Germany and Sweden. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 618-627.

Teacher Perceptions of Leadership
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