«CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN MARCOS Restructuring Leadership for 21st Century Schools: How Transformational Leadership and Trust Cultivate ...»
As these researchers assert, transformational leadership through the lens of trust theory has major implications for 21st century leaders. First, principals who are open promote supportive and trusting environments for teachers. Second, a transformational administrator recognizes the need for teacher buy-in and creates opportunities for teacher leaders to share in decision-making. As with all new educational reforms, the impact on achievement must be at the forefront when decision makers are creating change or implementing programs that affect students. Thus, transformational leadership extends the belief that collective efficacy promotes the advancement of schools as productive, organizational entities that understand the myriad of complexities and challenges presented in 21st century schools.
Summary and Conclusions Transformational leadership is characterized through four key components.
Educational leaders (Bass, 1985; Hay, 2006; Ross & Gray; 2006) believe successful leadership is pivotal on how these components – idealized influence, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and intellectual stimulation are strategically present in a transformational leader’s repertoire.
In these changing times where a school's greatness is measured by state test scores, introducing any new leadership style can be met with resistance from members of the learning community. Transformational leadership coupled with quality, trusting relationships can produce positive effects on teacher leadership. The key to success is in creating ways for all school members to collectively participate in leadership roles.
Leadership plays a major role in influencing change and many principals believe it is important for teachers to assume leadership positions. With the successful implementation of transformational leadership principals maintain a collaborative, professional school culture that fosters teacher development and student growth. A leader’s decision to shift from a transactional style of leadership to a more inclusive transformational style can result in obtaining desired results from followers. When presented with a united vision, teachers are more willing to commit to the school mission, student achievement, and partnership with parents. Research has found teacher involvement contributes to overall school success and a transformed school culture (Lucas, 2002). Every school is as unique as its members and creating opportunities for teachers to be part of decision making creates an atmosphere that nurtures and sustains collaboration, trust, learning, and high expectations.
In the spirit of creating schools that meet the needs of today’s students, leaders must look beyond state testing and begin to examine other factors that make schools great. This is an important consideration due to the ever-increasing mismatch between accountability and performance. Trust matters when creating a professional school culture (Daly, 2009). Therefore, one aspect to be considered is the quality of relationships among principals, teachers and students. This common sense approach to professional efficacy is vital in helping schools develop a collaborative community supported by a shared interest among all stakeholders. When collaboration is constructed around a universal purpose, (i.e. structures, culture, policies, and standard operating procedures) principals and teachers develop systems that promotes norms of collective responsibility, professional growth, and continuous improvement (Leithwood, Harris, and Strauss, 2010). For quality relationships to flourish a level of trust must be maintained.
The following chapter will provide a detailed account of the design methodology selected to explore how the connection between transformational leadership and trust in the middle school setting affects the development of teacher leadership. Using a mixed methods approach, the researcher has outlined the qualitative and quantitative portions of
The first chapter stated the need to examine leadership styles of middle school principals, study their relationship with teacher leaders, and identify why these relationships are important for critical change to happen in today’s schools. The second chapter reviewed the literature on transactional and transformational leadership, trust theory, and the effects of leadership on teachers, school culture, and the overall direction of the school. This chapter will explain the design methodology selected to explore how the presence of transformational leadership and the construct of trust affect relationships between middle school principals and teacher leaders.
Purpose of the Study and Research Questions The purpose of this study was to explore the leadership practices of middle school principals, as perceived by the principal and their teacher leaders and ways in which the practice of transformational leadership impacts the development of teacher leaders. The study also examined the presence of trust on middle school campuses that are led by principals identified as being transformational leaders. The following three research
questions guided this study:
1. In what ways does the principals’ leadership style affect the development of teacher leadership in the middle school setting?
33 2. In what ways might the principals’ leadership style affect the quality of relationships among middle school principals and teachers in developing teacher
3. What are the interaction of transformational leadership, trust, and the development of teacher leaders?
Research Design Using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in research has become more common in recent years. According to Roberts, “combining what with a possible why adds power and richness to your explanation of the data” (2010, p. 145). Therefore, a mixed methods design was conducted in two phases in order to answer the three research questions.
Phase One: Qualitative Analysis A phenomenological comparative case study. A case study research method is common in social sciences and based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group, or event (Creswell, 2008). Case studies allow the researcher to focus on a process within a “specific, unique bounded system” (Stake, 2000, p. 436) in order to obtain the most comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. According to Yin (2009), a case study approach is best served when “how” or “why” questions are being asked (p. 13), when the researcher has “little or no control” of events in the setting (p. 13), and when the focus is on a “contemporary phenomenon in depth and within its real-life context” (p.
18). To qualify as a comparative case study, a contrast or judgment must be made between participants or sites. For this study a multi-site comparison was performed allowing the researcher an opportunity to analyze how varying degrees of transformational leadership and trust supported teacher leadership.
In the world of phenomenology “perception is regarded as the primary source of knowledge, the source that cannot be doubted” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 52). The primary focus of phenomenological research is on the participant's experience and how that experience, or snapshot, is described through language. The goal of the phenomenological researcher is to be as loyal to the lived experience of the participants as possible (Polkinghorne, 1989).
Moustakas (1994) presents a detailed, systematic approach to conducting
phenomenological research whereas three steps guide the data analysis process:
bracketing, horizontalization, and cluster of meanings. First, the researcher must evaluate the problem to be studied and determine the importance of examining a shared or common experience while making a conscious effort to describe the participants’ views of the phenomenon, without expressing personal voice or perspective. In this step, the researcher is encouraged to separate or “bracket” any preconceived notions about the topic of study. Phenomenological data is typically collected through individual interviews although other forms of data collection include observations and written responses. Once data has been collected, phenomenological researchers use a “building on the data” system to highlight “significant statements, sentences, or quotes” that provide an understanding of the participants’ experiences. Comparing this process to a “horizon” gives researchers insight into how the analysis of phenomenological data is quintessentially a never-ending process (p. 95). Finally, the researcher develops “clusters of meaning” from the significant statements where common themes begin to emerge that best describe the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1994, p. 60-61) ensuring that the data analyzed is true to the lived interpretations of the participants and not interpretations of interpretations (Levering, 2006).
Selection of participants and identification of transformational qualities. The chosen district to be studied was located in Southern California. Considered to be consistent with many schools throughout California and across the Nation, it was comprised of a large Hispanic population (56%) with a majority of those students receiving free or reduced lunch. The district had been labeled a Program Improvement (PI) district and like many of the schools it serves had been unsuccessful in exiting PI status as defined by federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) laws. In California, PI is the designation for schools and districts that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years. Schools that fail to make AYP toward proficiency goals are subject to corrective action measures as deemed by the state (California Department of Education, 2010).
Identification of middle school principals. In order to generate a sampling of middle school principals to study, the researcher conducted an interview with the superintendent. The focus of the interview was for the superintendent, based on a checklist of transformational leadership qualities adopted from Avolio and Bass’ Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), to identify which middle school principals in the district exhibited transformational leadership practices (Appendix A).
The superintendent selected three principals for participation in this research.
Each principal has taken a different path leading them to their current position and each is currently at the helm of three uniquely different schools. Principal A, a newly appointed principal, leads a middle school that has a predominately Caucasian population and has always produced high Academic Performance Index (API) scores. As of the 2010 state testing results, School 1 was not in PI status. Principal B started as a teacher in the district over 20 years ago and has been principal of School 2 for the past five years.
Under his guidance API scores have steadily increased although the school continues to remain in PI status. School 2 is comprised primarily of Hispanic students. Principal C opened School 3 five years ago as a magnet school focused technology, science, and math and has always produced high API scores. However, due to the changing demographics of the student population School 3 found themselves in PI status for the first time this past year.
The challenge of generating social equity within a school district evokes a sense of urgency to create learning environments, which provide equitable opportunities to acquire knowledge (Landorf & Nevin, 2007). The primary aim of educators should be to facilitate the teaching and learning of all students. School leaders must consider what might be missing from the process and address these inequities so all students receive a quality education. Leaders cannot say one thing and exercise something different. Their theory-in-use must align their thoughts with their actions (Argyris & Schön, 1974).
Therefore, as this study intended an examination of leadership styles and trusting relationships is supported through the lens of social justice.
Middle school principals’ self-identification. Based upon the superintendent’s recommendations, the researcher asked principals identified by the superintendent as transformational leaders to partake in this study. Selected principals were then asked to rate their own leadership qualities using the MLQ (Appendix B). The researcher then analyzed the data to determine if the principals’ leadership characteristics matched the qualities deemed transformational as determined by Avolio and Bass and their seminal research on transformational leadership (1995). Asking both the superintendent and the principals to rate the practice of transformational leadership established a baseline for understanding how transformational principals effectively lead their schools.
Instrument: the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was developed in 1995 by Bruce Avolio and Bernard Bass to identify the relationship between leadership styles and a four component model of leadership called the 4Is. Seeing a need for leaders to practice shared leadership, Avolio and Bass believed that the presence of idealized influence, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and intellectual stimulation in a leader’s repertoire would lead an organization to greater success. The MLQ (5x-Short) used in this study consisted of 45 questions and was rated using a 5-point Likert scale from 0 (not at all) to 4 (frequently, if not always). Two styles of the survey were available for use.
The superintendent used the Rater Form (written in third person) when deciding which middle school principals fit the criteria of transformational leader and selected principals were given the Leader Form (written in first person). Completed surveys were analyzed using the MLQ scoring key published by Mind Garden, Inc. (1995).
Teacher leaders and the transformational practices of middle school principals.