Principals’ perspectives of the issues and barriers of working with marginal teachers
Causey, Kelly Katherine Nagle
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The purpose of this study was to examine the perspectives of five elementary principals related to the issues and barriers they have encountered when working with marginal teachers. Moreover, this study sought to determine the perspectives that elementary principals hold about working with marginal teachers, the issues and barriers elementary principals experience within their own buildings and as they worked with central office personnel in handling issues related to marginal teaching, and the types of supports that elementary principals received from central office personnel when working with marginal teachers. An open-ended, inductive qualitative approach was used to gain the perspectives of five elementary principals from one large, urban school system in the state of Georgia. The interview questions were semi-structured. The greatest barrier the principals encountered in working with marginal teachers was the difficulty in getting the marginal teachers themselves to admit and understand the problems they were experiencing. The greatest concern of the principals’ was the impact on the students and the suffering that the students endured at the hands of marginal teachers. The personal toll on the principals was significant as they worked with marginal teachers. The data showed that the principals perceived their greatest support from central office personnel to actually be the building level coaches that had been trained by and were supported by the central office. The principals’ responses indicated that their greatest need in the way of support from central office personnel was the development of a more specific protocol to follow when working with marginal teachers. Due to the highly sensitive and confidential nature of the topic, many of the responses the principals provided were contradictory. In addition, the principals had difficulty articulating the differences between marginal and incompetent teachers.
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