The Role Of Principal Education Essay

As the key intermediary between the classrooms, the individual school and the education system as a whole, effective school leadership are essential to improve the efficiency and equity of schooling. Within each individual school, leadership can contribute to improve student learning by shaping the conditions and climate in which teaching and learning occur. Beyond the school borders, school leaders can connect and adapt schools to changing external environments. And at the school-systems interface, school leadership provides a bridge between internal school improvements processes and externally initiated reform.

But school leadership does not operate in static educational environments. As countries are seeking to adapt their education systems to the needs of contemporary society, the expectations for schools and school leaders have changed profoundly. Many countries have made schools more autonomous in their decision making while centralising standards and accountability requirements and demanding that schools adopt new research-based approaches to teaching and learning. In line with these changes, the roles and responsibilities of school leader have expanded and intensified. Given the increased autonomy and accountability of schools, leadership at the school level is more important than ever.

The challenge facing education in the 21st century is to make changes to achieve higher levels of learning for all children (Ramsey, 2002). At the time of the present study, public schools are undergoing scrutiny and criticism of such magnitude; it is difficult to predict the future of public education. An increased emphasis on accountability and school improvement, including the utilization of ICT among teachers to enhance student achievement, is at the forefront of all education debates.

Research has shown that appropriate use of ICTs to catalyze a paradigm shift in both content and pedagogy that is the heart of education reform in the 19th century. ICT-supported education to enhance the success of the ongoing knowledge and skills that will give the students continuous learning if properly designed and implimented. Leveraging ICT in an appropriate manner enables new methods of teaching and learning, especially for students in exploring exciting ways of problem solving in the context of education. New ways of teaching and learning is supported by constructivist learning theory and paradgm shift from prinbcipal and teacher-centered pedagogy of memorization and rote-learning to focus on student centered. (Thijs, A., et al. ,2010)

Furthermore, the utilization ICT learning procedures and tools in the educational process, obviously leads to revolutionary changes in the roles of both teachers and learners as the emergence of new teaching and learning environment and finally for new virtual training that ultimately aims to facilitate the tools and resources to support communication and interaction as well as disseminate teaching materials via the web will in order to encourage promote enhance collaboration and cooperation among participants in the learning process. On the other hand, many author such as Salinas (2003) agree on the fact that the integration of ICT in education produce a set of transformations which transform all the elements that take part in the educational process such as organizations, students, curriculum, and notably, they affect teachers’ role, function and behavior .

Nevertherless, investments in information and communication technology (ICT) for enhancing formal and non-formal education systems are essential for schools improvement (Tong & Trinidad, 2005). According to Betz (2000), information technology will only be successfully implemented in schools if the principal actively supports it, learns as well, provides adequate professional development and supports for his/her staff in the process of change. In fact, school principals have a main responsibility for implementing and integrating ICT in schools (Schiller, 2003). Anderson and Dexter (2005) carried out a study on technology leadership behaviors of school principals and found that “although technology infrastructure is important, technology leadership is even more necessary for effective utilization of technology in schools” (p.49). Moreover, various other research studies support the literature that leadership is an important key factor in effective use of technology in education (Schiller, 2003; Anderson & Dexter, 2005). Therefore, it can be said that technology leadership behaviors are important to successful implementation of educational technology plans (Chang, Chin & Hsu, 2008).

As such, the principal has consistently been recognized as a significant factor in school effectiveness of change process. The complexity of the job of a school administrator has demanded highly developed skills to carry out the many functions of the school operation. Exceptional leaders have always been rare, but many believe that they can be made as well as born (Abrashoff, 2002). At the same time, there is limited understanding about the ways that school leaders make a difference particularly in new technology integration. Principal leadership, along with the effectiveness of classroom teachers, has a great impact on student progress. The relationship of an administrator’s leadership style and its affect on teachers and student achievement has become critically important in continued research.

Role of Principal

Several definition of a principal, the first six do not mention their role as the leader of a school. Though, there are key phrases that most certainly apply to the position; highest in rank, authority, most considerable, and important. The definitions go on to mention that which pertains to a prince or being princely, along with a leader or one who takes the lead. What may be considered ironic is that “acts independently” is included as well. Because the role of a principal is extremely fluid, being shaped by a diverse set of concerns and values, conceptualizations are problematic (Brown, 2005). Evidence should be visible in a school of what a principal believes as a principal and what the school stands for (NAESP, 2001). The test of good leadership is the achievement of change in a system. Change can be difficult; however, it is necessary to abandon the past to pursue the future (Bell-Hobbs, 2008). Examining the ways in which principals lead their schools through change, and its effect on teachers’ attitude towards technology as well as student achievement and is critical to future educational research.

Traditionally, the principal resembled the middle manager suggested in William Whyte’s 1950’s classic The Organization Man as an overseer of buses, boilers and books. Today, in a rapidly changing era of standards-based reform and accountability, a different conception has emerged one closer to the model suggested by Jim Collins’ (2001) Good to Great, which draws lessons from contemporary corporate life to suggest leadership that focuses with great clarity on what is essential, what needs to be done and how to get it done.

This shift brings with it dramatic changes in what public education needs from principals. They can no longer function simply as building managers, tasked with adhering to district rules, carrying out regulations and avoiding mistakes. They have to be (or become) leaders of learning who can develop a team delivering effective instruction. Wallace’s work since 2000 suggests that this entails five key responsibilities:

Shaping a vision of academic success for all students, one based on high standards

Creating a climate hospitable to education in order that safety, a cooperative spirit and

other foundations of fruitful interaction prevail.

Cultivating leadership in others so that teachers and other adults assume their part in realizing the school vision.

Improving instruction to enable teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost.

Managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement.

In addition, schools are no different. Principals who get high marks from teachers for creating a strong climate for instruction in their schools also receive higher marks than other principals for spurring leadership in the faculty, according to the research from the University of Minnesota and University of Toronto. (Bradley Portin, Paul Schneider, Michael DeArmond and Lauren Gundlach., 2003) In fact if test scores are any indication, the more willing principals are to spread leadership around, the better for the students. One of the most striking findings of the universities of Minnesota and Toronto report is that effective leadership from all sources such as principals, influential teachers, staff teams and others – is associated with better student performance on math and reading tests. The relationship is strong albeit indirect: Good leadership, the study suggests, improves both teacher motivation and work settings. This, in turn, can fortify classroom instruction. “Compared with lower-achieving schools, higher-achieving schools provided all stakeholders with greater influence on decisions,” the researchers write.( Karen Seashore Louis, Kenneth Leithwood, Kyla L. Wahlstrom, Stephen E. Anderson et al. ,2010) The better results are due to collaboration between two parties. “The higher performance of these schools might be explained as a consequence of the greater access they have to collective knowledge and wisdom embedded

within their communities,” the study concludes.( Karen Seashore Louis, Kenneth Leithwood, Kyla L. Wahlstrom, Stephen E. Anderson et al. ,2010)

Principals may be relieved to find out, moreover, that their authority does not wane as others’ waxes. Clearly, school leadership is not a zero-sum game. “Principals and district leaders have the most influence on decisions in all schools; however, they do not lose influence as others gain influence,” Karen Seashore Louis, Kenneth Leithwood, Kyla L. Wahlstrom, Stephen E. Anderson et al., 2010). Indeed, although higher-performing schools awarded greater influence to most stakeholders. Little changed in these schools’ overall hierarchical structure. (Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis, Stephen Anderson, Kyla Wahlstrom,2004) .University of Washington research on leadership in urban school systems emphasizes the need for a leadership team role led by the principal and including assistant principals and teacher leaders and shared responsibility for student progress, a responsibility “reflected in a set of agreements as well as unspoken norms among school staff.”( Knapp et al., 2003)

School leaders are in charge of connecting and adapting schools to their surrounding environments. According to Hargreaves et al. (2008), school leaders will increasingly need to lead “out there” beyond the school, as well as within it, in order to influence the environment that influences their own work with students. In small towns and rural areas, school leaders have traditionally stood among the most important leaders in their communities. While it may be argued that urbanisation, immigration and school size have weakened school-community ties, these and other pressures on family structures have at the same time contributed to make the community responsibilities of school leaders even more important today. Principal play an important role in strengthening the ties between school personnel and the communities that surround them (Fullan, 2001).

Principals of the most successful schools in challenging circumstances are typically highly engaged with and trusted by the schools’ parents and wider community (Hargreaves et al., 2008). They also try to improve achievement and well-being for children by becoming more involved with other partners such as local businesses, sports clubs, faith-based groups and community organisations and by integrating the work of the school with welfare, law enforcement and other agencies (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007). Moreover, in rapidly changing societies, the goals and objectives to be achieved by schools and the ways to get there are not always clear and static. In increasingly globalised and knowledge-based economies, schools must lay the foundations for lifelong learning while at the same time dealing with new challenges such as changing demographic patterns, increased immigration, changing labour markets, new technologies and rapidly developing fields of knowledge. Consequently of these developments, schools are under enormous pressure to change and it is the role of Principal to deal effectively with the processes of change.

The roles and responsibilities of school leadership in each of these scenarios would vary widely. School leaders must master the new forms of pedagogy themselves and they must learn how to monitor and improve their teachers’ new practice. Moreover, instead of serving as head teacher primus inter pares, they have to become leaders of learning responsible for building communities of professional practice. Methods of evaluation and professional development take more sophisticated application and principals must embed them into the fabric of the work day. While practices vary across countries, it is clear that school leadership is generally expected to play a more active role in instructional leadership: monitoring and evaluating teacher performance, conducting and arranging for mentoring and coaching, planning teacher professional development and orchestrating teamwork and cooperative instruction. Countries also note a shift in emphasis from more administration- and management-type functions to leadership functions of providing academic vision, strategic planning, developing deeper layers of leadership and building a culture and community of learning.

As a result of the increasing central mandates and programmes, changing student populations and growing knowledge about effective practice, schools are under enormous pressure to change and it is the school leader’s role to manage the processes of change. The transformation of policy into results occurs most critically through the adaptation of practice in the school and classroom. This process is complex and must be led intentionally and skilfully. In some cases, resistance to change needs to be overcome with carefully structured support, relevant information, a clear sense of purpose and goals and opportunities to learn requisite skills (Hall and Hord, 2005). While some changes are purely technical and can be readily accomplished, more significant change calls for deeper adjustment of values and beliefs about the work (Heifetz, 1998). Sophisticated skills of “adaptive” (Heifetz and Linsky, 2002) and “transformational” leadership (Burns, 1978; Leithwood, 1992; Leithwood and Jantzi, 1990; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2000) are needed here.

Brief Understanding of Leadership

The term “leader” has been included in the English language since about 1300 A.D., while the term leadership was introduced about 1800 A .D . (Stogdill, 1974, p . 7) . Historically speaking, the leadership position in past years was occupied by the person exhibiting most prowess, strength or power. Today, the leadership position seems to be dependent on the group that person leads and exerts some authority over. The leader maintains his position as long as group needs and/or goals are met. Yura (1976) indicated that regardless of their purpose, needs or goals, all groups have a basic commonality: they rely on leadership.

A review of the literature revealed that earlier studies were directed at defining the ingredients of leadership. Despite those efforts, it appears that much remains unknown. At this point in time, it has been recognized that there is no clear cut agreement on the definitions of leadership styles or behaviour. This lack of consensus has led to much confusion on the topic. Amid all this, most authorities agree leadership styles can be learned and there is no one best style of leadership. Stogdill and Coons concentrated on two aspects of leader behavior :

(1) What does an individual do while he operates as a leader, and

(2) How does he go about what he does? As a working definition they stated, “Leadership, as tentatively defined, is the behavior of an individual when he is directing the activities of a group toward a shared goal” (Stogdill and Coons, 1957, pp . 6-7) .

In 1977, Hersey and Blanchard defined leadership as “the process of influencing the activities of an individual or group in efforts. Toward goal achievement in a given situation” (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977, p. 84). From these definitions it follows that the leadership process is a function of the leader, followers and other situational variables. Barnard (1969) agreed that leadership is an involvement of the three variables listed above. In his discussion on “The Nature of Leadership,” he stated that, “Whatever leadership is, I shall now make the much over simplified statement that it depends on three things: (1) the individual, (2) the followers, and (3) the conditions”.

Behavioral leadership theory focuses on what the leader does. It is different from personal trait theory because behavior can be observed. The observable behavior is not dependent upon either individual characteristics or the situation (Moloney, 1979, p. 23). Barnard (1969) defined leadership .as “the quality of the behavior of individuals whereby they guide people or their activities in organized effort”(p. 83). Researchers and writers have amassed a large body of literature in defining leadership. The results of the leadership definitional process have been plagued with uncertainties. This phenomenon Halpin (1958) cited in his attempt to define leadership . In his review of the literature, he stated : Leadership has been defined in numerous ways . The definition proposed here derives its value primarily from the relation to the body of theory being developed . In some respects it is more comprehensive than other more usual definitions ; in others it is more restricted . To lead is to engage in an act that initiates a structure-in-interaction or part of the process of solving problems . Halpin (1958)

Stogdill (1974) devoted a chapter in his book to the definition of leadership . He, like Halpin, recognized the complexities of defining leadership . He was explicit in stating that :

There are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept. Nevertheless, there is sufficient similarity between definitions to permit a rough scheme of classification As a result of the research and theory about leadership behavior that was developed after 1945, Gerth and Mills (1953) stated :

To understand leadership attention must be paid to :

(1) the traits and motives of the leader as a man,

(2) images that selected publics hold of him and their motives for following him,

(3) the features of the role that he plays as a leader, (4) the institutional context in which he and his followers may be involved . (p . 405)

Furthermore, leadership can be described by reference to two core functions. One function is providing direction; the other is exercising influence. Whatever else leaders do, they provide direction and exercise influence. This does not imply oversimplification. Each of these two leadership functions can be carried out in different ways, and the various modes of practice linked to the functions distinguish many models of leadership. In carrying out these two functions, leaders act in environments marked variously by stability and change. These conditions interact in complementary relationships. While stability is often associated with resistance and maintenance of the status quo, it is in fact difficult for leaders and other educators to leap forward from a wobbly foundation.

To be more precise, it is stability and improvement that have this symbiotic relationship. Leaping forward from a wobbly foundation may well produce change, but not change of the sort that most of us value falling flat on your face is the image that comes to mind. Wobbly foundations and unwise leaping help to explain why the blizzard of changes adopted by our schools over the past half century have had little effect on the success of our students. School reform efforts have been most successful in those schools that have needed them least Elmore (1995). These have been schools with well-established processes and capacities in place, providing foundations on which to build in contrast to those schools, the ones most often of concern to reformers, short on essential infrastructure. In understanding these concept in a clarification of leadership means leadership is all about organizational improvement; more specifically, it is about establishing agreed-upon and worthwhile directions for the organization in question, and doing whatever it takes to prod and support people to move in those directions. Our general definition of leadership highlights these points: it is about direction and influence. Stability is the goal of what is often called management. Improvement is the goal of leadership.

There are as many definitions of leadership as there are theorists. Theorists no longer explain leadership in terms of the individual or the group. They believe that the characteristics of the individual and the demands of the situation interact in such a manner as to permit one, or perhaps a few, persons to rise to leadership status.

Principal Leadership Style

Various researchers have tried to interpret school leadership in different manner. Peretomode (1991) stated the importance of Leadership in school for accomplishment of school programmes, objectives and attainment of educational goals. Cheng (1994) proposed that leadership in educational institutions compose of five major dimensions, namely: structural leadership, human leadership, political leadership, cultural leadership and educational leadership. These five dimensions describe the role and functions of school leader. However the functions of principal put a variety of demands and challenges for the principal Mestry and Grobler (2004). In an attempt to explain the requirements of a competent principal Cranston (2002) explained the skills and capacities which principals are expected to possess.

Principals’ competencies can be measured from various dimensions; from the perceptions of students, teachers, parents, communities and their employers. For instance, Scotti Jr. and William (1997) agreed that teachers’ perceptions of their principals’ leadership is one of the many variables, which affect a school’s productivity. Teachers’ perception of principals’ leadership style and behaviour is also positively related to teachers’ morale Hunter-Boykin and Evans (1995). Luo (2004) further contended that perceptions about principals as leaders by their teachers indicate an important dimension to evaluate the leaders capacities. According to him, understanding how teachers perceive their principals leadership capacities has a great significance and providing evidence for improvement of school leadership. Research has also demonstrated that teacher’ perceptions of their principals’ capabilities style and their working conditions will determine the organizational climate and culture of the school. Such perceptions will also impact on the performance of the school.

Research on leadership in non-school contexts is frequently driven by theory referred to by one of our colleagues as adjectival leadership models.â€- A recent review of such theory identified, for example, 21 leadership approaches that have been objects of considerable theoretical and empirical development. (Yammarino, Dionne, Chun, & Dansereau, 2005). Seventeen have been especially attractive, and some of them have informed research in school contexts.( Leithwood & Duke ,1999). Here are several best example of leadership style:

Contingent leadership. Encompassing research on leadership styles, leader problem solving, and reflective leadership, this two-dimensional conception of leadership explains differences in leaders’effectiveness by reference to a task or relationship style and to the situations in which leaders find themselves. To be most effective, according to this model, leaders must match their styles to their settings.

Participative leadership. Addressing attention to leadership in groups, shared leadership (Pearce & Conger, 2003) and teacher leadership, (York-Barr & Duke, 2004). This model is concerned with how leaders involve others in organizational decisions. Research informed by the model has investigated autocratic, consultative, and collaborative sharing styles.

Transformational and charismatic leadership. This model focuses on ways in which leaders exercise influence over their colleagues and on the nature of leader-follower relations. Both forms of leadership emphasize communicating a compelling vision, conveying high performance expectations, projecting self confidence, modeling appropriate roles, expressing confidence in followers’ability to achieve goals, and emphasizing collective purpose. (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006).

Nevertheless, leadership research also has been informed by models developed specifically for use in school- and district-level settings. Of these, the instructional leadership model is perhaps the most well known. It bears some resemblance to more general, task-oriented leadership theories. (Dorfman & House, 2004). The instructional leadership concept implies a focus on classroom practice. Often, however, specific leadership practices required to establish and maintain that focus are poorly defined. The main underlying assumption is that instruction will improve if leaders provide detailed feedback to teachers, including suggestions for change. It follows that leaders must have the time, the knowledge, and the consultative skills needed to provide teachers in all the relevant grade levels and subject areas with valid, useful advice about their instructional practices.

While these assumptions have an attractive ring to them, they rest on shaky ground, at best; the evidence to date suggests that few principals have made the time and demonstrated the ability to provide high quality instructional feedback to teachers. (Nelson & Sassi ,2005). Importantly, the few well-developed models of instructional leadership posit a set of responsibilities for principals that go well beyond observing and intervening in classrooms’ responsibilities touching on vision, organizational culture, and the like. (Andrews & Soder (1987), Duke (1987), and Hallinger ,2003). In addition, studies of school and principals leadership are replete with other adjectives purporting to capture something uniquely important about the object of inquiry such as learning leadership,( Reeves (2006). constructivist leadership, (Lambert et al. ,1995). and change leadership.( Wagner et al. 2006).

Nonetheless, Boykin and Evans (1995) found that majority of the principals were rated as ineffective by their teachers. This reflects that there is a big discrepancy between what the principals’ are and how they are perceived by the teachers. And in Hong Kong, the images of the principal in the mind of pre-service primary teachers were found to be negative. Lee,

Walker and Bodycott, (2000). A study by Luo and Najjar (2007), investigated Chinese principal leadership capacities as perceived by master teachers. Unlike in many developed countries where studies on principals’ competencies are available in multitude, such studies are still at its low in Malaysia. Keeping in mind the importance of role of the principal as a leader within the secondary school system, it is imperative to examine the leadership style in facilitaing change such as integrating ICT within school context. This is particularly so because of the fact that schools in this country serve for the large section of national students. Most studies in this country have focused on leadership qualities, rather than leadership style. The study therefore intends to fill this gap by investigating the perception of teachers on the leadership style of their principals in terms of facilitating change in implementing ICT utilization among teachers within school setting.

Leadership Change Facilitator Style

Previous research on leaders has explored traits, such as height, race, and gender. The work of Fiedler (1978) suggested that leaders’ style was dependent upon contingencies; meaning that different styles are needed for different styles. Blake and Mouton (1964) wrote that how a leader leads was in two dimensions; one in task and one in relationships. It was thought that the most effective leaders had high levels in both task and people skills. The level of maturity of the followers was thought to be reflective of the leaders’ success by Hersey and Blanchard (1988). Nearly all of the research on leaders and leadership models was built upon business and industry contexts. Educational organizations, namely schools, have much less to draw upon for research on leaders. What is lacking even more is the examination of leaders within the change processes.

Research is rich in the areas of leadership and leaders. Debates are not difficult to find on the topics of effective leadership; what makes it, who has it, and how does one do it. An essential component to effective leadership in today’s schools is the facilitation of change. How leaders implement changes can lead to either the success or the failure of any innovation.

Change continues as a theme in all educational discussions. In 1992, Fullan and Miles wrote about getting reform right in schools. “We can say flatly that reform will not be achieved until these seven orientations have been incorporated into the thinking and reflected in the actions of those involved in change efforts” (p. 744). Those seven orientations are listed in Figure 2. One of the objectives of this research, like a few preceding it, is to identify the specific kinds of combinations of behaviors that principals can and should exhibit on a day-to-day basis to bring about increases in student achievement through implenting ICT utilization among teachers.

Figure 1. Fullan and Miles’ orientations of change.

If the role of the principal is critical, then it should be possible to identify principals’ actions that directly relate to increasing the academic performance of students on standardized testing. An understanding that has been developed through the work of Hall, Hord, and Griffin (1980) is the principle that not all principals are the same. “Principals view their role and priorities differently and operationally define their roles differently in terms of what they actually do each day” (Hall, Ruthoford, Hord, & Huling, 1984)

All leaders have a style. That has been established in research on industrial organizational leadership, change process, and educational administration. What has not been established is that there is not an operational definition of style. Furthermore, there is not a distinction drawn between leader behavior and leader style. The terms, and more troubling, the concepts have been used interchangeably. In most studies, followers were asked to identify individual behaviors of leaders, not the leaders’ behaviors in total. In 1978, Thomas conducted a study on 60 schools, looking at the role of school principals in managing diverse educational programs. As a result of this study, she identified three patterns of principal behavior, and identified them as: Director, Administrator, and Facilitator. Director principals maintained an “active interest in all aspects of the school from curriculum and teacher to budgeting and scheduling.” Administrator principals were said to make decisions “in areas affecting the school as a whole,” this, leaving teachers with a great deal of autonomy. Facilitator principals thought of themselves as colleagues of the faculty, and “perceived th

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