The perspectives of a principal and emergent teacher leaders of instructional leadership in a shared governance elementary school
Phillips, Dana Yon
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The purpose of this study was to explore the principal’s and emergent teacher leaders’ perspectives of instructional leadership in a successful shared governance school in which emergent teacher leadership thrived. Symbolic interactionism was the theoretical framework of the study, and the methodology was grounded theory. Face-to-face interviews were the primary data source. Constant comparative analysis was used to analyze the data and to generate theory grounded in the data. Instructional leadership was found to be a collaborative practice involving the principal and emergent teacher leaders. Instructional leaders used four co-determined instructional leadership strategies: (a) sharing instructional decision making, (b) communicating for instructional purposes, (c) focusing on improvement, and (d) focusing on instruction. Their use of these strategies positively influenced relationships built on mutual trust and respect, a partnering relationship, the learning community, and challenges. Furthermore, use of the instructional leadership strategies and the outcomes of their use positively affected classroom instruction—teaching practice, leadership capacity, ownership, job satisfaction and stability, and student engagement and achievement. Six theoretical ideas are discussed: When collaborative instructional leadership is practiced, (a) norms of collaboration and collegiality develop, and teachers emerge to lead; (b) individual member’s interests and goals align with the co-determined group’s interests and goals, and work efforts stay “on task” and utilize the individual’s strengths to accomplish and serve the common purpose; (c) more effective strategies are developed and more effective instructional leadership is delivered; (d) relationships built on trust and respect are strengthened, partnering relationships are established, and a positive learning environment is created; (e) instructional leaders experience an increased sense of ownership and responsibility for outcomes; and (f) classroom instruction is positively impacted. Implications for future research are discussed. Implications for practitioners, as well as for higher education, are presented.