«CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN MARCOS Restructuring Leadership for 21st Century Schools: How Transformational Leadership and Trust Cultivate ...»
Conclusion The use of qualitative and quantitative data analysis allows researchers to study the "how" and "why" of a phenomenon (Yin, 2009, p. 13). This study began by questioning how to best support the expanding role of the teacher as they develop leadership capabilities. A correlation between transformational leadership and the presence of trust was examined as being essential to maintaining supportive breeding grounds for teacher leadership. Through data analysis this study revealed that shared leadership and trusting relationships are essential to creating environments of support where teachers can become leaders of change. Since gender and years of experience do not appear to be predictive factors in building trust on middle school campuses, principals should not place consideration on these characteristics. The next chapter will discuss findings of the study and further connect the need for transformational leadership and the construct of trust and how the two combined cultivate teacher leadership.
Chapter Five: Discussion and Conclusion
Summary of the Study This study was designed to examine the cultivation of teacher leadership through the lens of transformational leadership and quality relationships. With a focus on how the intersection of the two further supports teacher leaders to consummate their leadership potential, this chapter will provide a summary of the study supported by conclusions drawn from the data analysis. The chapter will conclude with implications for educational leaders as they continue to practice leadership, which encourages all stakeholders to rise up and lead schools into the 21st century.
As school accountability becomes more apparent in schools across our nation, a leader's ability to take a school from good to great becomes ever more difficult. School superintendents and principals have determined that in order to successfully lead they must encourage teacher leaders to join in the movement for the betterment of our schools.
Teacher leaders are the heart of our school and lead "within and beyond the classroom" (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009, p. 6) while contributing to the learning community through professional development, mentorship, and collaboration. Successful leaders must strongly consider the development of teacher leaders and the need to include them in creating schools where students can thrive.
65 Teacher leaders not only influence student performance, but they also provide support and guidance to other teachers (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009). Through formal and informal roles teacher leaders assist with curriculum development, facilitate professional developments, and construct supportive partnerships with new teachers. One of the many jobs of a school leader is to create opportunities for teachers to become productive leaders (Ash & Persall, 1999). The practice of transformational leadership encourages school leaders to consider the interests and needs of teacher leaders and to look at how shared leadership fosters a sense of group efficacy.
Transformational leaders know the presence of trust promotes openness throughout an organization and the practice of trust must be sustained in order to maintain effectiveness. Trusted teachers help facilitate strong commitments from other teachers and know that supporting trusting relationship with school leaders is an essential factor in maintaining environments of communication. Quality relationships create schools where teachers are willing to join principals in overcoming the obstacles facing today's educational system.
The purpose of this study was to explore the conditions that help support the leadership practices of middle school principals and the development of teacher leaders.
While a convincing case was presented to support the practice of transformational leadership and the impact of trust on quality relationships in schools, an examination of how these two constructs intersect and impact teacher leadership was the focal point of this study.
Therefore, the following questions guided this study:
1. In what ways does the principals’ leadership style affect the development of teacher leadership in the middle school setting?
2. In what ways might the principals’ leadership style affect the quality of relationships among middle school principals and teachers in developing teacher
To examine these questions, qualitative and quantitative methods were used to observe the relationship of leadership and trust on teacher leadership. In the qualitative phase, surveys and interviews were conducted with a superintendent, principals and teacher leaders in order to identify transformational leadership practices and its impact on site teachers. In the quantitative phase, teachers at sites identified to have a transformational principal participated in a survey designed to measure the presence of trust between the principal and teachers.
Discussion of Major Findings and Results Both qualitative and quantitative data yielded interesting results. The objective of this study was to explore the connections between the practice of transformational leadership and the presence of quality relationships and its impact on developing teacher leaders. From the qualitative phase of this study it became evident leadership that includes teachers in the direction of the school is critical in creating an environment of alliance. Additionally, it became apparent from the study’s findings that a principal’s leadership style can nurture or impede the development of teacher leadership. Teacher leaders expressed wanted a leader who is supportive and encourages their own development as a teacher. Data from the quantitative phase examined the presence of trust between principals and teachers and how those interactions promote the development of teacher leadership. The data purports that high levels of trust is evident between teachers and their principals and is not influenced by outside factors such as teachers’ gender or years of experience. The discussion of findings, as they relate to the literature, further extends the current body of knowledge on how a principal’s leadership style further impacts the development of teacher leadership in the middle school setting.
This discussion will now address substantive findings according to major themes that originated from teacher interviews and the ways, which those themes are interconnected to the 4Is of transformational leadership. Table 2 provides a chart linking each transformational leadership quality to one of the four emerging themes.
Table 2: The Interconnectedness of the 4Is and Emerging Themes
Idealized influence and the opportunity to lead. When leaders practice idealized influence they inspire others to follow the vision set for the organization while creating opportunities for followers to take on leadership roles (Ash & Persall, 1999).
The research suggests that principals are more successful leaders when they enlist all members of the school community to carry out leadership roles (Chrispeels et al., 2000;
Darling-Hammond, 1990; Lieberman et al., 1988; Santamaría & Santamaría, 2012). The principals at these schools empowered teachers by providing opportunities for teachers to develop their leadership skills. Teacher leaders in this study reported they naturally felt like leaders within their own classrooms, yet in order to build leadership capacity at their sites, opportunities to lead must be made available for all teachers, not just a select few.
Creating an environment of shared leadership throughout a school has the potential to promote group efficacy and cohesion among the entire staff. When teachers felt as though they were part of the change process from the beginning they felt as if their contributions helped make change possible. Leaders who exemplify a dynamic leadership style inspire others to work at their highest performance level and are consistent with findings by Hay (2006) who contends that the charisma of the leader is a significant factor in determining how much teachers wanted to commit to the overall vision of the school. When principals led with optimism and support they were seen by teacher leaders as someone who can rally the troops especially in the difficult times of state mandates and directives. Many teachers feel discouraged by the restrictions placed on teaching and look to someone who can lead with optimism. Research on teacher leadership shows how creating a positive school culture develops a staff invested in continuous improvement (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009). Knowing the importance of inspiring others to follow, leaders must continue to engage all teachers in leadership activities to reach the goal of building community.
Individualized consideration and trust building. Trust, as defined by this study, is the extent to which one engages in a relationship knowing there will be a potential willingness to accept risk. For a transformational leader to practice individual consideration they must recognize the unique gifts of others and practice utilizing those talents in an environment of trust. Therefore, leaders understand the need to build social capital within the organization is critical to the establishment of trust (Chhuon et al., 2008). One teacher leader explained how his principal focused on establishing expectations of trust at the beginning of the school year. However, the school was in the midst of collective bargaining which can delay, and in some cases thwart, the principal’s effort of building trust. Once a collective agreement was achieved with the staff regarding outcomes for the coming year, the real work of building a culture of trust began. Research shows that leaders who encourage social capital highlight the successes and positive contributions of their staff (Liontos, 1992), see the strengths in others and tap into that potential, creating positive teaching experiences (Day, 1999).
Trusting relationships provide a belief that trust matters most when teachers want to implement new strategies in the classroom. Teacher leaders in this study felt they worked with principals who trusted them to make informed, instructional decisions. In Ghamrawi’s study on trust (2011), teachers involved with school decisions possessed the confidence to become risk-takers in the classroom owning the confidence to think outside the box without worry of ridicule. Furthermore, teachers who are acknowledged for their unique gifts and talents are more willing to share those ideas with colleagues if a culture of trust and respect has been established. For many teachers when they experience academic success with their students, a community built on trust encouraged them to share those successes in PLCs or grade-level meetings. When teachers feel confident and safe in sharing successes and challenges the benefits are taking responsibility for leadership. The teacher leaders in this study placed high importance having the trust of the principal to make academically sound decisions within their own classrooms.
Results from the Omnibus T-Scale further substantiated the importance of trust building on school campuses and confirmed that in schools where trust is reciprocated between the principal and teachers an environment of shared leadership is fostered.
According to the research conducted by Ghamrawi, trust also plays a pivotal role in teacher self-efficacy, collaboration, collective vision, and sense of belonging and indicates that “teacher leadership may not flourish unless it is supported by a very strong positive school culture” (2011, p. 336).
Inspirational motivation and systems of support. Mentoring relationships connect people. When systems are in place to support followers, the practice of inspirational motivation will assist leaders in connecting others to the meaningful work they do. Teachers who value connectedness with the principal and fellow teachers are often times the leaders of the future. The study clearly indicates that principals and teacher leaders value the benefits of supportive and collaborative relationships. Principals who associate with and promote teachers often find mentoring opportunities that are twofold: beneficial to the teacher’s growth and beneficial to the forward movement of the school. A school is an entity all its own and finding the means best possible to make it a functioning organization is in the best interest of all stakeholders. The teachers in this study found value in the mentorship of their principals and overwhelmingly shared how that confidence created an internal desire to grow as educators and as future leaders.
Most importantly, teachers in this study valued opportunities to share their experiences with fellow teachers. This sharing-based forum is a contribute to the environments established by the school’s leadership and continued throughout teachers leaders as they felt more prepared to take on leadership responsibilities which included supporting new teachers. Leithwood and Jantzi (2008) affirmed that leaders also influence student learning when they develop ways for teachers to share their learning with others. In a desire to influence the teaching of others, teacher leaders shared the added benefits mentorship brought to their own practice. This resulted in collaboration as a means of contributing for a common purpose, namely student achievement.
Consequently, without opportunities to connect with colleagues, teachers reported feelings of isolation that the teacher profession was once known for. Teacher leaders who participated in this study repeatedly indicated that mentoring and supportive relationships mattered and further stressed the importance of creating and sustaining these relationship opportunities for all teachers especially those new to the profession.
Intellectual stimulation, collaboration and communication. Intellectual stimulation provides an opportunity for leaders and followers to propose better ways of moving the organization forward as they share the comfort of expressing new ideas in an open, accepting forum. Principals and teacher leaders engage in purposeful collaboration and communication both formally and informally. There appeared to be high degrees of satisfaction among teacher leaders when it came to having access to their administrators.