«CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN MARCOS Restructuring Leadership for 21st Century Schools: How Transformational Leadership and Trust Cultivate ...»
Ross and Gray (2006) suggest three ways principals can contribute to a school's success through transformational leadership. First, collective teacher efficacy can create a well-established connection to student achievement. Teachers must be willing to take responsibility for the successes and failures of their students and reflect daily on their teaching practice. Second, collective teacher efficacy strongly predicts commitment to parents. Much like the process where the teacher is brought into the educational experience of the student, the teacher’s responsibility extends to the inclusion of parents in this learning process. Third, transformational leadership directly effects teacher commitment. As teachers feel appreciated and valued they are more willing to invest in the outcome of the school because they are an integral part of the process that creates the change.
Successful school leaders must develop ways to sustain the growth of students and the effectiveness of teachers. In doing so, principals must find ways to harness the benefits of quality leadership. Change happens when programs or new ideas have buy-in from the people who are closest to the problem (Healey, 2009). Teachers need to be part of the change process from the first step and feel that their contributions will make the change possible. Principals who practice leadership distribution are more likely to create a school culture where a shared vision is the driving force of transformation.
The practice of transformational leadership will foster teacher leaders who identify with and are committed to the organization as part of their own self-concept (Leithwood, Mascall, Strauss, Sacks, Memon, & Yashkina, 2007; Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012). In their 2007 study of the characteristics of non-administrative leaders, Leithwood et al., focused on leadership behaviors that have predictable and desirable influences on followers. According to their postulate, the likelihood of teachers
exercising leadership in their school and districts will increase as:
• hierarchical school structures are replaced or supplemented with flatter structures such as teams, committees and working groups with significant
• principals demonstrate their willingness to share leadership with teachers;
• principals actively encourage selected teachers to assume leadership functions for which they seem especially well suited; and • Principals provide resources and incentives within the school for
The study goes on to state that as principals positively foster teacher leadership the ripple effect to other members of the school community will surely be influenced. Thus, when leadership is shared among principals and teachers the school becomes central in the development of all its stakeholders.
As principals rethink their personal leadership style through the lens of transformational leadership revisiting the four components is vital to creating a strong sense of purpose. Principals who practice idealized influence build confidence and trust while providing a role model teachers seek to imitate (Hall et al., 2002; Hay, 2007).
Through individualized consideration principals recognize the unique talents and interest of their teachers (Hay, 2007; Ross & Gray, 2006). Principals who demonstrate inspirational motivation assist teachers in finding meaning in their work while motivating them to commit to the school’s vision (Hay, 2006). Finally, intellectual stimulation encourages principals to recognize the innovation and creativity in teachers allowing them to propose new ideas without fear of ridicule (Hay, 2007; 2006). Overall, transformational leadership has been shown to increase the willingness of the followers, increase efficacy and job satisfaction, and increase overall effectiveness (Bass, Avolio, Jung, & Berson, 2003; Ross & Gray, 2006; Thayer, 2003).
In his 2004 study of the impact of transformational leadership on teacher fulfillment and school performance, Griffin found a strong relationship between teacher satisfaction and a decreased achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. Teachers who felt supported by a principal who encouraged them to find meaning in their work were overall more successful in the classroom. Research has shown that a students’ relationship and interaction with their teacher can have the greatest impact on how much they learn (Griffin, 2004; Leithwood et al., 2004; Wahlstrom & Louis, 2008). Transformational leadership produces increased satisfaction and willingness for teachers to enhance their efforts in the classroom. Leaders who practice transformational leadership highlight the successes and positive contributions of their teachers (Liontos, 1992).
The Effects of Transformational Leadership on Teacher Leaders Over the past three decades the teaching profession has been criticized for supporting teachers who lacked motivation to invest in improving their own practice.
Additionally many schools across the nation allowed teachers, rather than administrators, to take charge of school reform initiatives (Lieberman et al., 1988; Little, 1988). Gone are the days of the closed door and isolation that once dominated the teaching profession.
Researchers have found that when teachers take a step forward and move from behind closed doors, they share in school roles such as mentor or coach (Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996). A new approach has taken root identifying highly skilled teachers and mentors whose expertise is to inwardly focus on the classroom teacher, evidence-centered teaching, and school reform (Lieberman et al., 1988; Louis et al., 1996). A true transformational leader embraces this innovative move toward team building.
Instead of a dictatorship approach, a transformational leader presents new ideas to the leadership team allowing them take ownership in the direction of the school.
Transformational leadership paves the way for a principal to implement change by creating a leadership team made up of a collective sampling of the staff. Once collaborative decisions are fine-tuned, they are presented to the staff for implementation.
The old adage two heads are better than one rings true for transformational schools where decisions are made collectively by the principal and the staff.
Today’s leaders have to be much more attuned to developing relationships through the people they serve. In the past the development of professional relationships has proven difficult in both business and education (Fullan, 2002). School leaders who practice transformational leadership recognize that administrative style is critical to developing relationships that sustain school culture and create teacher-learning opportunities. Principals that support teacher-to-teacher relationships, such as peer observation and effective professional development are paving the way for teacher leaders to exercise their leadership roles. Today’s teacher leaders are not only willing to improve their own practice but become invested in improving the practice of their colleagues as well (Kennedy, 1990).
Efficacy and Teacher Leadership Teacher efficacy examines the factors that contribute to the confidence teachers have to motivate students, successfully achieve goals related to classroom instruction, and contribute to the understanding of what makes teachers efficacious. First coined in 1977 by Bandura, efficacy was defined as a person’s own judgment as to their ability to organize and execute actions in order to obtain certain results. Since then educational researchers (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000; Woolfolk & Hoy,
1990) have recognized the important link between teacher efficacy and student achievement (Hipp, 1996). Developing teachers with high efficacy beliefs creates teachers who perceive trouble as challenges, invest more time and effort into daily planning, and think strategically about how to solve issue that arise.
Transformational principals have opportunities to build efficacy in teachers through the experiences they provide. Hoy (2000) examines two factors that can have a positive impact on teacher efficacy: vicarious experiences and social persuasion. Through vicarious experiences a teacher can observe another teacher using an effective strategy and then feel more confident to try it in the comfort of their own classroom. The idea of social persuasion supports the need for teacher-to-teacher observation and the importance of effective conversation that highlights good teaching techniques and suggestions for improvement. Although fruitful, if teachers are not provided with a protocol for productive feedback, social persuasion could lose its learning impact causing ill feelings among teachers.
Getting teachers into each other’s classrooms is an excellent way to improve instruction and therefore improve student learning (Whitaker, 2010). It is human nature to imitate what is seen. When principals introduce an effective observation model to a staff, it provides easy access for teachers to enter colleagues’ classroom and observe. When teachers experience great teaching first-hand they are more willing to try something new.
The more teachers observe each other the greater the benefit to student learning. To invest in education means to invest in the professional development of teachers. All students deserve to be instructed by well-informed, high-quality educators. With the goal of helping all teachers to be as good as the best teachers, creating collaboration is one of the most basic and effective ways to improve instruction (Day, 1999; Whitaker, 2003).
In a time when resources are limited and school budgets are being stretched, how can a school afford to promote best practices among its teachers? Researchers of this educational movement (Corcoran, 1995; Little, 1993; Odden, Archibald, Fermanich, and Gallagher, 2002) believe opportunities for teachers to grow in their practice cannot be overlooked if schools are to produce well-informed, educated students. For professional growth opportunities to best serve busy teachers, principals should create opportunities for teacher collaboration within the school day. In addition, if teachers are presented with new teaching strategies at teacher-led trainings they might be more likely to immediately implement a newly learned skill into their practice. In his book, What Great Principals Do Differently, Whitaker (2003) suggest pairing up your best teachers with your new teachers. This match-up creates an opportunity for mentoring relationships to be established between new teachers and experienced teachers while giving teacher leaders ways to develop their leadership skills. Just like teachers influence their students, teachers influence each other and successful mentorships produce measurable results. Through their performance and interaction with colleagues, teacher leaders leave their mark on teaching. By example, these leaders model effective collaboration and the benefits of collective efficacy on classroom practices (Little, 1993).
When fostered by transformational leadership and the presence of trust, group efficacy can support teachers' professional growth, build confidence, and improve best practices (Hoy, 2000). A 1999 study of a comprehensive school in England supports the need for insider-led professional development (Day, 1999). In the study, the school’s mission supported equal learning opportunities for all students while fostering the fullest professional development for teachers. With the belief that all people have strengths, the principal viewed the teachers as experts and tapped into their potential to create positive learning experiences for the staff. Participants of the study shared their positive experiences with the researcher and talked of the personal gains that resulted from visiting other classrooms and discussing ideas with colleagues. Teachers expressed how an open forum produced opportunities to engage in dialogue about shared values, student concerns, and future directions in teaching. Most importantly, teachers experienced the success of shared learning as teachers from different disciplines came together to discuss the interconnectedness of subjects. Overall teachers began to recognize a gap between their teaching intentions and teaching practices as they began to look at their own practice more broadly.
Implications for Social Justice and Leadership Through mutual respect, responsibility and accountability organizations thrive.
For a school to operate well there needs to be coherence between the principal and the teachers for the betterment of the students they serve. Social justice is about leveling the playing field or giving the same rights and opportunity to the largest number of people (Landorf & Nevin, 2007). In order for this to happen, all stakeholders must actively support the vision of the school. Students deserve to learn from an equitable standpoint and transformational leadership is one way of focusing the efforts of a school in a specific, unified way to achieve common goals or objectives. For any organization to survive efforts must continuously be made toward empowerment of its members while encouraging them to work collaboratively. Once achieved, personal relationships and a shared purpose become the glue that holds the organization together.
Transformational leadership is at the conceptual heart of several research studies that consider social justice and educational equity (Dantley, 2003; Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012; Shields, 2010). Two of these studies look specifically at leadership for the greater good of the larger society while one in particularly considers the role of interest convergence and trust as key elements of what the researchers call applied critical leadership (Santamaría &, Santamaría, 2012; Shields, 2010). Applied critical leadership occurs when transformational leaders have at the core of their practice leadership that considers the implications of cultural, linguistic, racial, gender, socio-economic status or other differences with regard to advantage or disadvantage in educational contexts. Along with trust as a prerequisite for any substantive change in schools, these researchers found relationships and shared purpose among all constituencies to be imperative (Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012).