Details of Thesis

Title An Exploration of the Relationship Between Teacher Leadership and the Principalship in Nurturing Student Learning
Author Madden, John Henry
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2007
Abstract The concept of instructional leadership has become a growing interest in the discourse on school leadership. Effective schools studies in the 1970s and early 1980s found that principals who were strong instructional leaders significantly influenced school performance. While this thesis predominately focuses on the relationship between principal, school curriculum officer (hence forth as SCO) and teacher, it focuses heavily on the role of the principalship in fostering the growing emphasis on multiple leadership approaches throughout the school. The specific purpose of this study is to explore how teacher leadership and the principalship nurture student learning. It highlights the professional culture which principals nurture to engage teachers in school improvement issues. The notion of teacher leadership potentially empowers teachers to exercise professional responsibility for student learning and promotes a focus on teacher professionalism. The literature illuminated several key themes, which formed the conceptual framework underpinning the research. These included school improvement, encouragement of learning communities, teacher commitment and motivation, changing roles of principals and promotion of teacher leadership. Given the purpose of this study it seemed fitting that the approach of the study should be predominantly interpretive and orchestrated through multiple site case study. The research results confirmed the findings of the literature in terms of leadership. The response of schools to improve student learning was strongly influenced by the principal and SCO who were able to articulate school vision and engage staff in meaningful whole school decision-making practices. This study concluded that the support of the principal for the role of the SCO was a major determiner of the SCO’s success in implementing school-wide pedagogical reform. The findings also affirmed the role of principals as being able to influence student learning through their interactions with class teachers. Furthermore it is essential such interactions are school wide, agreed upon and implemented via a close working relationship with the principal and the SCO. The findings also highlight that specific work conditions had an influence on the motivation and commitment of teachers to ongoing school reform.
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