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Leadership Skills and Strategies of School Principals and Their Influence on Teacher Morale

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Leadership Skills and Strategies of School Principals and Their Influence on Teacher Morale from Teacher Perspectives

ABSTRACT

It is important that principals employ behaviors that build teacher morale, especially on the elementary level. Although many studies have explored leadership from the perspective of principals, very few have investigated it and its influence on teacher morale through the lenses of classroom teachers. This qualitative study was conducted at an elementary school in the Belleview City School District. Utilizing a conceptual framework, the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and their influence on teacher morale from the perspectives of teachers. The questions that guided this study were: (1) How are leadership behaviors exhibited by principals? (2) What leadership behaviors associate with teacher morale? (3) What are teacher’s perceptions of their principal’s leadership behaviors? Based on the reviewed literature, the transformational theory conveys the importance of school leaders building trusting relationships with teachers. Limitations of the design are included.

Keywords: Leadership, Teacher Morale, Transformational Theory

Introduction and Statement of Research Problem

The modern educational system has recently set high expectations for all school leaders, teachers, and students. There has been overwhelming emphasis placed on accountability and the improvement of student performance in the educational paradigm of today. When discussing these matters, the impact of school leadership on these subjects is often a topic of discussion for educational reformists when they look at the characteristics of a successful school. Successful leadership is necessary for leading a school to exemplary growth. Leithwood and Jantzi (2008) stated that “school leaders’ collective efficacy was an important link between district conditions and both the conditions found in schools and their effects on student achievement” (p. 496). In addition to school leadership, teacher morale is also a discussed topic. Thus, the establishment of a good teacher-principal relationship is necessary in improving the school context as a whole. “Any attempt to change teaching behavior, however, is facilitated by social support as well as professional and intellectual stimulation from colleagues” (DiPaola & Hoy, 2012, p. 232). As a result, principals must establish an open line of communication with the teachers as they work toward the common goal of success for not only all students, but themselves as well. Furthermore, principals must give teachers the opportunity to develop and reach their full potential. Wahlstrom and Louis (2008) stated that improved instruction, improved teacher self-efficacy, and improved teacher attitudes toward professional development have been deemed as benefits from effective principal leadership. Both principals and teachers should be motivated to flourish in their field of expertise, whether it come as a challenge or not, to gain academic success for all students. Successively, the effectiveness of a leader can contribute to the improvement of school success. If the overall goal is to improve student achievement and produce more successful schools, then it is obvious that school leadership and teacher morale matter.

Conclusively, principals must scrutinize the way they lead their school. Principals have a great responsibility of establishing the culture of the school. In order to identify a school’s culture, the climate of a school must be determined. The climate is determined by the attitude of the individuals involved in the learning process. The culture of a school can help determine the performance of both principal and teachers. With the many encounters teachers face in today’s educational system, it is important that principals employ behaviors and strategies that build teacher morale, especially on the elementary level. After all, the power of leadership may enhance the motivational level of others to achieve the set goals of an organization. Thus, it is important for the individuals who make up the school to be effective in their areas of specialization. Barrett and Breyer (2014) stated that “through effective modeling and relationship and team-building between faculty and school leadership, teachers felt supported and were able to view administrators as more capable, trustworthy, and deserving of respect, which can help to counter the perception of the classroom as a hostile environment” (p. 7). The principal must ensure teachers feel confident to perform their job responsibilities. They must ensure the teachers receive the support and encouragement they need to effectively teach students. With no doubt in my mind, I firmly believe that the leadership behaviors and strategies of principals have the potential to make a substantial influence on teacher morale in the schools.

Although many studies have explored skills and characteristics of leadership from the perspective of principals, very few have actually investigated the school leadership behaviors and its influence on teacher morale through the lenses of classroom teachers. Thus, there is a need for further research in this area to delineate exactly what is meant by effective leadership from the perception of teachers and how it may influence teacher morale. For all intents and purposes, this study will help discover those perceptions.

Purpose Statement and Research Questions

The purpose of this research study is to investigate the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and there influence on teacher morale from the perspectives of teachers. A qualitative study is appropriate for this problem because focuses on people and their experiences. This particular study will help develop an understanding of how classroom teachers define school leadership. In addition, it will assist in examining the teacher’s perceptions about school leaders’ strategies that may influence teacher morale.

The following questions will guide this study:

1. How are leadership behaviors exhibited by principals?

2. What leadership behaviors associate with teacher morale?

3. What are teacher’s perceptions of their principal’s leadership behaviors?

Framing Literature and Conceptual Framework

The purpose of this literature review is to highlight previous studies related to effective leadership and teacher morale. Upon reviewing the research for this study, the review was organized into the following content: leadership theories, principal leadership, and teacher morale. Prior to understanding principal leadership, it is important to note the various theories. This will help understand the traits and qualities leaders possess. It becomes even more significant to note principal leadership and teacher morale because these leaders are the main study groups in this research. It is valuable to acknowledge and understand the numerous factors that contribute to leadership on the school level.

Literature on Leadership Theories

Although there are several perspectives of the term leadership, Northouse (2013) describes leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (p. 3). Over the past decades, there have been several theories developed about leadership. The most common seven leadership theories include the following: Great Man, Behavioral, Trait, Situational, Contingency, Transactional, and Transformational. According to the great man theory, leaders have heritable traits that distinguish them from non-leaders (Day & Zaccaro, 2007). According to this theory, leaders are born. In contrary, the behavior theory suggests that leaders are made. In the research study by Ahmed, Z., Nawaz, A., & Khan (2016), the authors determined that behavioral “acknowledges the significance of certain necessary leadership skills that serve as enabler for a leader who performs an act while drawing its parallel with previous capacity of the leader, prior to that particular act while suggesting that each individual has a distinct style of leadership with which he/she feels most contented” (p.2). Both of these ideas influenced the trait theory of whether individuals are born or made to be leaders. Hersey and Blanchard (1932), stated that “the focus in the situational approach to leadership is an observed behavior, not on any hypothetical inborn or acquired ability or potential for leadership” (p.68-69). According to this theory, leadership is made up of both a directive and a supportive dimension which must be applied appropriately in a given situation” (Northouse, 2013). The importance of the theory relies is on the behavior of the leaders and followers and numerous situations.  The model is helpful to the leader in choosing leaders for the different situations. Ultimately, this theory suggests how leaders can become effective in many different types of organizational settings involving a wide variety of organizational task (Northouse, 2013). Thus, the contingency theory is closely related both the situational and behavioral theories. It contests that there is no specific way of leading/organizing and that leadership style effective in some circumstances may not be effective in others (Greenleaf, 1977). Bass and Avolio (1994) interpret the transactional theory as a contingent-reward leadership that has active and positive exchanges between the leaders and followers. It is viewed as a theory in which the leaders and followers do for each other as they achieve set goals. In this theory, leaders and followers do for each other if they are being rewarded. Since those collaborating in the activities are promised a reward for their collaboration, their behaviors may change to improve not only themselves, but the entire organization (Mohammadi & Boroumand, 2016). Simply stated, it is viewed as give and take relationship in which everyone works hard for the good of each other. Similar, yet slightly different from this theory is the transformational theory. When transformational leadership is practiced, both the leaders and followers motivate each other continuously in efforts to go to the next level (Pawar & Eastman, 1997). As a result, all focused is placed on the production of the school and not the individuals who make up the school. Based on the previous theories of leadership, my theoretical understanding of leadership lies within the transformational theory that conveys the importance of school leaders building a trusting relationship with teachers and staff members.

Literature on Principal Leadership

There is little controversy over whether educators and educational researchers think that school principals indeed make a positive impact on school performance (Stephen & Carolyn, 2007). However, the opinions of others differ on principal leadership. The educational policy community and researchers are inclined to believe that it is critical to the success of educational programs (Hallinger, Bickman, & Davis, 1996). Researchers tend to think about the idea in a broader context. Vision-related research recognizes that educators do not perform their critical function of supporting student achievement in isolation, but they believe the support is included within the structure of the organization (Mombourquette, 2017). Principals should be aware of the impact they may have on both teaching and learning. Again, this leads to the notion that principals can work closely with teachers to build teacher efficacy. Principals can do this by identifying the specific instructional needs of teachers and making arrangements to give teachers access the opportunities that are beneficial for their professional learning (Ross & Gray, 2006). Additionally, they must know what strategies will work better to improve curriculum, instruction and achievement. Research shows that schools will improve when teachers realize their potential and are given the support they need to develop the skills of leaders (Danielson, 2007). In addition, principals should promote collaboration amongst teachers as they contribute to the decision-making process. Ultimately, principals can assist in improving teaching and learning.

Literature on Teacher Morale

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2012), morale is defined as the “principles, teachings, or conduct, the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand, a sense of common purpose with respect to a group, or the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future.” Thus, teacher morale can be defined as the satisfaction a teacher may feel with their career. Basically, it describes how a person feels about their purpose and effectiveness toward a certain.  Regardless of their school level setting, teachers may experience low or high morale. When teachers do not feel respected or trusted, they may have a low level of morale (Noddings, 2014, p. 15). However, the issue of low morale can be improved when principals practice the transformational theory. According to Quin, Deris, Bischoff, and Johnson (2015), “a healthy and positive organizational culture improves the morale and motivation of the teaching staff in the school organization”. For example, when teachers are supported by their principals, they take the initiative to improve schoolwide policies and programs, teaching and learning, and communication which benefits the entire school.

Allen, Grigsby, and Peters (2015) stated that “while the relationship may not always be a direct one, the results of focusing on strong leadership and the development of a positive school climate will benefit student engagement and bring about a rise in the levels of student achievement” (p. 6). Thus, the success of a school can be determined through a teacher’s performance, the principal’s performance and/or the school climate. Principals who utilize effective leadership practices have a healthier and more positive school culture. It is important to establish and maintain leadership that transpires to all individuals involved in the educational process. Principals who have exhibit behaviors of the transformational theory motivate their teachers to achieve greatness. Thus, principals should strive to build cooperative relationships with their teachers. For example, the “teachers felt more positive about their school environment when their principal values them as a partner in the school program, and not just as a staff member” (Allen et al., 2015, p. 16). Principals should strive to make sure their teachers feel valued and included in the educational process. When teachers demonstrate instruction that is focused and has a good, trusting relationship with both the teacher and principal, it can lead to a positive effect on academic performance and the success of schools.

Research Design

Selection of Settings, Participants, Timeframes, and Events

This research study focuses on understanding the leadership skills and strategies of school principals from the perspectives of school teachers through the use of interviews, observations, and documents. According to Merriam and Tidsdell (2016), the characteristics of a qualitative case study includes “the search for meaning and understanding, the researcher is the primary instrument of data collections and analysis, and inductive investigative strategy, and the end product being richly descriptive” (p. 37). Thus, I believe a qualitative case study is the best approach to investigate the phenomenon using multiple sources of data. The main types of data are interviews, observations, documents, and artifacts. A study conducted by Harrison, Burks, Franklin, and Mills (2017) indicated that interaction between participants and the researcher is required to generate data, which is an indication of the researcher’s level of connection to and being immersed in the field. Once data has been collected, I can separately analyze the data before comparing them to categorize the findings or themes. This process will stimulate results that are deemed credible and reliable. As a researcher, I am able to gain an insight into the behaviors school principals display throughout lens of teachers using a qualitative case study approach.

The setting for this proposed study will be in an elementary school in Belleview City Schools District. Due to the nature of this study, a purposeful sampling which included the requirement of several characteristics for participants to be considered in this study. For this study, one school, one principal, and 5 teachers will be selected to participate. Yin (2011) defines purpose sampling as “the selection of participants or sources of data to be used in a study, based on their anticipated richness and relevance of information in relation to the study’s research questions” (p. 311). The criteria selected for the principal contributes to determining effective leadership strategies and skills the principal possess in successful schools. Based on the Louisiana School Performance Scores, the school selected must be classified as a B school. In this school district, schools with a grade of “B” or better are considered to have effective school leaders. In addition, the principal of the school must have achieved an Annual Yearly Performance (AYP) for at least the past three academic school years. Consequently, he/she must have a minimum of three years’ experience in leadership. In addition, he/she must have a master’s degree or doctorate degree in education. Because the principal has at least three years of experience and at least a master’s degree in education, chances are very likely that he/she has learned about and practiced effective leadership strategies in his/her current career. The teacher participants for this study had to meet criteria as well. Because of the nature and time frame of this study, only five classroom teachers will be selected to participate. The selected teachers will have to have at least five or more years of classroom experience and a master’s degree or higher. I chose the previous two mentioned criteria because it increased the chance of having teachers who have worked not only under their current principal’s leadership, but the leadership of other principals. Because of this, they will be able to provide key information about the behaviors and strategies of their current principal and past principal(s).  As final criteria for participation, classroom teachers must have a leadership role in the school. This criterion needs to be met because it can help develop commonality in moral amongst the teachers. Instead of the principal evaluating himself/herself, the teachers will share their experiences with the principal to help determine the leadership skills and strategies of the principal.

Site Entry

Although my study focuses on a specific elementary school, I will request verbal support from the superintendent. However, I will get verbal and written consent from the principal and teacher participants. First, I will contact the Superintendent to provide him with an overview of my research study. I will request his permission to visit the school and interact with teachers whose chose to participate in the research study. Upon receiving the Superintendent’s consent, I will notify him that all information gathered from the school and participants will remain confidential. Once consent is received, I will contact the elementary school principal to explain the research study to receive consent for the principal to conduct a research study and request for voluntary participation. To avoid sampling bias on behalf of the principal, I will not request information from the principal about teachers who meet the criteria. Instead, I will do some prior research to learn of the teachers who meet the criteria for this study. Through the use of a formal letter, I will contact the teachers and provide them with an overview of the research and seek their voluntary participation in this study. Also, with consent of the principal, I will meet with the teachers as a group to verbally explain the research study.

To persuade all potential stakeholders involved in this study, I would express to them the relevance of this study in relation to exemplifying effective leadership in elementary schools. Because I am an educator in this school district, I will personally share the need for participation in this study with my colleagues. Furthermore, I let the potential participants know that their perspectives are valuable in shaping effective school leaders in today’s educational realm. I will inform them that data will be collected via observations and interviews that will last approximately 30 minutes. In addition, I will enlighten them that the entire research study will be conducted over a period of about one month. I will reassure them that this study will not inhibit their daily responsibilities nor be of time constraint.

Data Collection Strategy and Procedures

I will conduct observations and interviews to gather data about the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and teacher morale from the perspectives of school teachers. Merriam and Tisdell (2016) stated that before the observations, researchers can decide what events, behaviors, or persons to concentrate on. Observing the interaction of and between school leaders and teachers can help discover the leadership behaviors the principal exhibits. A 30-minute observation that I will record would be one in which the principal and teachers interact with one another, such as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). My justification for choosing to observe a PLC is because it an opportunity for me to view interaction between the principal and teachers. In addition, I can also observe the various strategies the principal exhibits throughout the meeting. In addition, it may possibly provide information on the actions taken by the school leader to increase teacher morale. As a teacher-researcher, I will observe PLCs to get a better perspective of how school principals and teachers interact with one another. I will observe the focus participants and interpret what I see. In essence, this event is closely related to efforts made by educational leaders to support academic success and continuous school improvement.

I will conduct two 30-40 minute interviews to explore the perspectives, thoughts, and ideas of the teachers. The first structured interview will give me the opportunity to gain an insight of how they feel about leadership and observation practices they encounter each day. A trusting relationship between the participants and myself will continue to evolve. The second semi-structured interview will focus more on leadership and teacher morale. Conducting a semi-structured interview will be more relaxing for the participants. “Because we cannot observe feelings, thoughts, and intentions”, Patton (2015) stated that interviews are a conducted to learn what is “in and on someone else’s mind” (p. 426). I wanted to give the teachers an opportunity to be more open with me. From their responses, I will be able to probe their thoughts and take notes that support why they feel they way they do. This will also help me understand teacher morale as it relates to leadership. In addition to observations and interviews, I will also collect documents and/or artifacts, such as communications from principals for teachers and agendas from faculty meetings and PLCs. In addition, I may collect information about the principal/school, such as their vision and mission statements. These ready-made sources are easy to access and resourceful for the researcher (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 162). To collect them, I plan to attend the meeting and/or request a copy from the administration team or individual(s) responsible for preparing the agenda or leading the meetings. If the school vision and mission statements are not listed on their website, I will request a copy from the school secretary or principal. From these documents I can see what initiatives, if any, the principal is taking or has taken to exhibit leadership behavior. In addition, they can show leadership styles displayed by the principal and values he/she possess about school. Collectively, these data collections strategies and procedures can contribute to the exploration and understanding the experiences of and between school leaders and teachers to help discover leadership behaviors and how they influence, whether directly or indirectly, teacher morale.

As a researcher and teacher, I find it pertinent to explain my biases regarding this research study. My positionality in this study would be that of a teacher-researcher. Since I am a teacher, I have had the opportunity to observe behaviors of leaders that I feel positively or negatively impacted teacher morale. In all honestly, those behaviors led me to believe the principal was either effective or ineffective. This strategy is called reflexivity. Reflexivity is a measure taken that “allows the reader to better understand how the individual researcher might have arrived at the particular interpretation of the data” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 249). Thus, I will be more thoughtful to the information provided by the participants. This strategy can increase the quality of my work. To strengthen the trustworthiness and dependability of the findings of my proposed research, I plan to randomly select the teachers.

After collection, I will code the data by using an interpretive method to determine the claims gathered from the data sources. An open-coding technique will be utilized to label concepts and define and develop categories to form the actual analysis of the research. To ensure the reliability and validity of the collected data and eliminate potential bias, I will employ the triangulation strategy. Using multiple sources of data, triangulation means the researcher compares and cross-checks data collected from the participants (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). Thus, the research questions are studied from different perspectives. As the researcher, I will compare and cross-check that data collected from the observations and interviews. I will view the texts several times to look for leadership behaviors and strategies in the observation, interviews, and documents while looking for ways the behaviors and strategies shaped teaching morale. From this, I can determine the themes, categories, and hypotheses. Based on the themes, I can investigate them more and put them into larger categories. From then, I will be able to see the different leadership behaviors and strategies as they related to teacher morale. Respondent validation is another strategy I will employ to ensure credibility. According to Maxwell (2013), this strategy is helpful in “ruling out the possibility of misinterpreting the meaning of what participants say and do and the perspective they have” (as cited in Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 246). This feedback from the participants will help validate the results gathered from the data. In addition, I find it beneficial to let the teachers review the interviews transcripts and themes based on analysis.

Ethical Considerations

An ethical qualitative researcher is one who conducts a study by avoiding bias, showing responsibility to scholarship, ensuring accuracy, striving for credibility, and understanding the qualifiers and limitations of the research study (Yin, 2018). In addition, I must not allow my preconceptions to guide the collection of evidence. As a researcher, it is my ethical responsibility to protect the research participants. Initially, I must get the participants’ consent to participate in the study. I must protect the participants from any harm and their privacy and confidentiality. Also, I must take the necessary precautions to protect the teachers. Selecting the participants fairly is another way to protect the participants in the research study.

As the researcher, I will be sure to follow the guidelines established in the ULM Institutional Review Board. I will be sure to stress that participation is strictly voluntary, and that all information received will remain confidential; the participants identity will not be revealed. Although it is not a complete guarantee, any identifiable information collected will remain confidential and private. Individuals from the University of Louisiana-Monroe Institutional Review Board may view the data of this study to ensure the research protects all human subjects involved. It is possible for the findings of this research study to be published. Nonetheless, participant names will not be included in the results. All consent forms will be stored on a university computer. Any electronic data will be stored on a computer that is only accessible by entering a password. The gathered data will be kept for three years following the completion of the research study and will not be used for any additional research studies. All participants will receive pseudonyms that will be used throughout the study. After three years, all electronic data will be permanently deleted, and written data will be shredded. Lastly, I will inform the potential participants that if it is their desire, they may choose to withdraw from the study after it has begun.

Limitations of the Design

Some limitations for this qualitative study are present in this research design. Although purposeful sampling was used, the participants were still chosen as a convenience. As a result, this could serve as potential cause of bias. In addition, all participants were chosen from one school. To have a better study, I could have had principal and teacher participants from several schools in the district that met the criteria. Since I am the only researcher in this study, investigator triangulation will not be present in this study. Thus, the credibility and quality of my research may be lessened. Another limitation of this design lies within the leadership behaviors exhibited by the principals. For example, the principal may only employ specific strategies because he/she has to follow the directives of those in positions higher than him/her.

Significance of Study

Among the various practices and policies in the education field, the modern educational system has set high expectations for all school leaders, teachers, and students. Indisputably, the discussion of leadership comes to mind when educational reformists look at the many variables that help determine the characteristics of a successful schools. However, many people are unaware of how strong of an impact the principal has on the teacher, students, and community. This particular research informed those involved in the educational process how leadership can affect the school as a whole. This is alone, is one of the most important reasons why it is important to have a great leadership theory and great leadership skills.

As educators continue to research the various practices and policies in the education field, I believe this research is beneficial to my current practice. This study is also ideal for demonstrating the many influences that can help develop a positive school climate. Furthermore, leaders must understand how important it is to know how school climate relates to a child’s academic development and how it can help determine initiatives to help improve academic success. School leaders must realize that he or she must assist in improving teaching and learning.  Subsequently, it is vital to promote collaboration amongst teachers as they contribute to the decision-making process. I find this research study significant as it will discuss behaviors that contribute to school leadership and how they affect teacher performance. Ultimately, educators will have the opportunity to learn about the factors that could influence teacher morale.

A further understanding can be gained about implementing transformational leadership to produce more effective school. From reading this study, educators can reflect on their current school setting and how the teachers are motivated by the principal’s drive to lead a successful school. Additionally, principals must recognize the possible influences he/she can have on teacher morale. It will be beneficial for aspiring effective leaders to learn from the results of this study. In respect to their educational goals, this research study can lead aspiring leaders to evaluate their current behaviors and strategies. It can encourage principals to get involved in organizations that support programs designed to improve the knowledge and skills of principals, teachers, and those involved in the educational process. Principals will gain a better understanding of providing equity and excellence for teachers. While refining an environment that possesses a school culture that is safe and orderly with excellent teachers moving toward excellence for all students, this study can contribute to a leader’s goal of becoming an effective principal.

Since the study of the relationship between leadership and student achievement intersects with sociology with respect to anthropology limitedly, I furthermore believe it is beneficial.  Depending on the situation at hand, leaders must change their leadership style to suit that of the environment. In addition, a leader must be able to socialize with the teachers to ensure a relationship is established and continues. Sociologists of education focus on the maintenance of social order, which includes behavior, customs, values and practices that project certain outcomes of all involved in the educational process. These aspects are the structured human interrelationships in a society. Understanding how the school climate relates to the development of teacher morale is important and can help determine initiatives to improve school performance.  As a researcher of the practice and policies that affect education, I believe this study is important in helping educators investigate and learn how leadership influences teacher morale. Furthermore, principals and teachers can work together to lead schools to higher levels of academic performance. Overall, this research study is a great research to inform educators and educational leaders how the behaviors and strategies of principals can influence teacher morale.Therefore, it is important to continue to improve and implement great leadership skills.

 

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Appendix A (Observation Protocol)

My name is Lamekia L. Hardman. I am a researcher from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and am conducting a research on the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and teacher morale from the perspectives of school teachers. I would like to observe your Professional Learning Community and take some notes. The notes will be part of the data of the research. Your identification will not be revealed in any form.

Listed below are the things I will be paying attention to during the observation.

– Sequence of activities for the Professional Learning Community

– Interaction between the principal and teachers

– Content of conversations among the attendees

– Verbal and Nonverbal behaviors of the attendees

– Participation from attendees

– Issues addressed

– Shared support among attendees

Appendix B (Initial Interview Protocol)

My name is Lamekia L. Hardman. I am a researcher from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and am conducting a research on the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and teacher morale from the perspectives of school teachers. I would like to conduct an interview with you and take some notes of your response. The responses will be part of the data of the research. Your identification will not be revealed in any form.

Interview Questions:

1. Before I get into the specific questions, I would like to get some background information from

you. How many years have you been teaching and at how many, if any, different schools?

2. How many years have you been working under your current principal?

3. Suppose it were my first day working your principal. What would it be like?

4. Tell me about a typical day at work; what is your principal likely to do first thing in the

morning?

5. Give me an example of when your principal facilitated a change in the school. What was the

impact of the change and what did you learn about your principal from the process?

6. What have you observed about your principal’s support of/ reaction to teacher initiatives?

7. Tell me, in details, about the different options you have for voicing any school-related

concerns to your principal.

8. Can you describe the type of support you have received from your principal?

9. How do you feel when you feel about receiving feedback from your principal?

10. Explain how, with an example, how your principal delegated effectively to teachers at your

school?

11. What is your opinion about whether principals should also be leaders?

12. What else would you like to share about your principal?

Appendix C (Second Interview Protocol)

My name is Lamekia L. Hardman. I am a researcher from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and am conducting a research on the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and teacher morale from the perspectives of school teachers. I would like to conduct an interview with you and take some notes of your response. The responses will be part of the data of the research. Your identification will not be revealed in any form.

Guided Interview Questions:

1. What motivated you to be a teacher?

2. How did you get started working at this school?

3. If you were principal, what changes would you make to this school?

4. Give me an example of when you felt satisfaction with your job?

5. Have you ever felt irritated with your job?

6. Tell me about your morale as teacher?

7. Tell me about the moral of the school?

8. What influences do you think have impacted the moral of teachers at your

school?

Appendix D (IRB Human Subjects Application)

Appendix E (Principal and Teacher Consent Form)

Dear Participant,

You are being asked to participate in a research study. This study is being conducted at the school site in which you currently work. The researcher for this study, Lamekia Hardman, is a doctoral student at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

You have been asked to take part in this study because you have met the criteria for this study. The criteria for a principal includes the following: 1) annual yearly performance score of at least a B for the last three academic school years, 2) a minimum of three years’ experience in leadership. Criterion for a teacher includes who meet the following: 1) 5 or more years of classroom experience, 2) master’s degree or doctorate degree in education, and 3) a leadership role in the school. The researcher will obtain names of the potential participants regarding their participation in the study.

Please carefully read over this consent form and take your time deciding whether or not to participate. The researcher will meet you later to go over the form with you and answer any questions you may have. Included in this form is a brief overview of the research process, including the purpose, procedures, risks, benefits, if any, if you agree to participate in this study.

Background

The modern educational system has recently set high expectations for all school leaders, teachers, and students. There has been overwhelming emphasis placed on accountability and the improvement of student performance in the educational paradigm of today. When discussing these matters, the impact of school leadership on these subjects is often a topic of discussion for educational reformists when they look at the characteristics of a successful school. School leaders have the responsibility of setting the culture of the school. In addition, he/she must ensure teachers feel confident to perform their job responsibilities. With the many encounters teachers face in today’s educational system, it is important that principals employ behaviors and strategies that build teacher morale, especially on the elementary level. Although many studies have explored skills and characteristics of leadership from the perspective of principals, very few have actually investigated the school leadership behaviors and its influence on teacher morale through the lenses of classroom teachers. Thus, there is a need for further research in this area to delineate exactly what is meant by effective leadership from the perception of teachers and how it may influence teacher morale. For all intents and purposes, this study will help discover those perceptions.

 

Purpose

The purpose of this research study is to investigate the leadership skills and strategies of elementary school principals and teacher morale from the perspectives of school teachers. A qualitative study is appropriate for this problem because focuses on people and their experiences. This particular study will help develop an understanding of how classroom teachers define school leadership. In addition, it will assist in examining the teacher’s perceptions about school leaders’ strategies that may influence teacher morale.

 

Procedures

The proposed research study will take approximately one month to be conducted. The participants will participate in observations and interviews that will last about 30 minutes each. The purpose of the observations is to gain an insight of the interactions between the principal and teachers. Potential observations may take place during Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) or faculty meetings.

To explore the perspectives, thoughts, and ideas of the teachers, the researcher will conduct two scheduled interviews at the school site. Although the first interview is structured, it will give the researcher the opportunity to gain an insight of how they feel about the leadership they encounter each day. The second interview is semi-structured; it focuses more on leadership and teacher morale.

In addition to observations and interviews, the researcher will collect documents to gain additional insights on leadership strategies and behaviors employed by the school principal. The documents may include communications from principals to teachers, agendas from faculty meetings and PLCs, vision statements, and mission statements. Collectively, the gathered data will be explored to understand the experiences of and between school leaders and teachers. In addition, the data will help the researcher discover leadership behaviors and how they directly or indirectly influence teacher morale.

Risk and Benefits

There is a minimal risk, no more than the daily risks taken in your daily life, for participating in this research study. However, the teachers may feel uncomfortable answering some of the questions about the leadership of their experiences with the their current and/or past principals. In respect to the principal, you may also be uncomfortable with your teachers sharing their views on your leadership behaviors and strategies. If it is your desire as a participant, you may choose to withdraw from the study at any time. Please remember participation is strictly voluntary. Efforts will be taken to ensure confidentiality of the information gathered, but it is not guaranteed. There are no direct benefits to participating in this study. Participants will not be paid. However, the information provided from the participants may help develop effective leadership behaviors and strategies for elementary school principals.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Although it is not a complete guarantee, any identifiable information collected will remain confidential and private. Individuals from the University of Louisiana-Monroe Institutional Review Board may view the data of this study to ensure the research protects all human subjects involved. It is possible for the findings of this research study to be published. Nonetheless, participant names will not be included in the results. All consent forms will be stored on a university computer. Any electronic data will be stored on a computer that is only accessible by entering a password. The gathered data will be kept for three years following the completion of the research study and will not be used for any additional research studies. All participants will receive pseudonyms that will be used throughout the study. After three years, all electronic data will be permanently deleted, and written data will be shredded.

Contact Information

Should you have any additional questions, concerns, or complaints about your rights as a participant, please do not hesitate to contact me at (318) 348-5469 or by email at hardmall@warhawks.ulm.edu. You can also contact Dr. Yiting Chu at the University of Louisiana at Monroe at (318) 342-1254 and chu@ulm.edu.

 

 

 

________________________________________           _______________________________

(Volunteer’s Printed Name)                  (Volunteer’s Signature)

 

 

 

_______________________________________  ______________________________

(Volunteer’s Title/Leadership Role)    (Date)

 

 

________________________________________  ______________________________

     (Signature of Person Obtaining Consent)    (Date)

 



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