The Relationship of Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale

The first chapter of this assertion describes the background of the study, details the statement of the problem, discusses the professional significance of the study, briefly overviews the methodology, and defines specific terms as they pertain to the study. Background of the Study The study was performed to address two distinct areas: the morale of teachers and the actions of the school’s principal. In the extremely dynamic field of education, the role of the principal has drastically changed. Principals are no longer able to simply manage a school and the employees of the school.

It is now vital that the school principal effectively leads the school. In addition to the changes in the principals role, the teacher’s role has changed with the increase in accountability. Expectations for teachers have changed moving the focus from what the teacher is doing to what the students are learning. The teacher is no longer expected to follow a set of structured criteria for teaching a lesson as outlined in an educational textbook; rather, the teacher is expected to facilitate learning in the classroom so that the students will grasp information and learn skills in order to perform 3 well on standardized exams.

With this shift to higher accountability, teachers experience greater pressures and demands. These pressures and demands can be very burdensome and can cause teachers to have a lower morale level or even to exit the profession (Hardy, 1999; TTY & O’Brien, 2002). Many teachers also find student discipline a reason for a low morale level. Teachers who have difficulty handling discipline issues as they arise in the classroom or teachers who receive little support from their administration while handling discipline issues may have a low morale level and may even leave the profession (TTY & O’Brien, 2002).

It is important for principals to make their teachers feel they are supported in order to keep quality teachers in the profession and maintain morale in the demanding field of education. Principals have the power to influence many factors of a school. They have a myriad of roles included in their job. One of the most important and influential is the effect the principal has on the teachers of the school. A good teacher will be successful in spite of a bad principal. This good teacher knows how to handle the pressures of the profession and ignores the incompetence of this principal.

This teacher is interested primarily in what is good for the individual students in the classroom. For the others -the teachers who need some support, a little guidance, or just the occasional pat on the back the principal plays a vital role in their morale. Blase and Blase (1994) stated that praise by the principal provides teachers with an increased efficacy, self-esteem, and creates greater motivation. Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale Statement of the Problem The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of a principals 4 leadership practices and the morale of the school’s teachers.

Did the leadership of the principal have a significant correlation to the morale of the teachers? The dervish of the principal was determined by the Leadership Practices Inventory (LIP, 2003). Teacher morale was determined by the Purdue Teacher Opinionate (OPT, 1972). The study looked at the correlation between principal leadership and teacher morale using the two surveys. The study addressed the following research questions to evaluate the stated hypotheses. Research Questions 1. How strongly are teacher morale and principal leadership practices correlated?

Hypothesis: There will be no significant correlation between teacher morale and principal leadership practices. 2. Which of the five leadership practices correlates cost strongly with teacher morale? Hypothesis: There will be no significant correlation between the five leadership practices and teacher morale. 3. Is there a significantly higher overall teacher morale level in some schools? Hypothesis: There will not be significantly higher levels of morale in some of the schools as compared to others in the study. 4. If some schools have a higher morale level, is this related to the school’s L PI scores?

Hypothesis: Any difference in morale level will not be correlated to LIP score. Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale 5. Do low LIP scores have a significant correlation to teacher morale levels? Hypothesis: Low LIP scores will not significantly correlate to teacher morale levels. Significance of the Study The study is significant to the field of education in that it builds upon the 5 available body of knowledge relating teacher morale and principal leadership. There have been several studies that look at the relationship between teacher morale and principal leadership.

The present study focuses on a geographically unique school system with unique characteristics and challenges. The school system has experienced and continues to experience enormous increases in enrollment and the urban sprawl from Atlanta. Many challenges to keep up with the growth including facilities and the hiring of staff have been present for this school system. This study also focuses on the middle schools of this school district to provide an in-depth look into this challenging level of education. Much of the present research focuses on elementary education, high school education, or a combination of levels of education.

In addition to the significance for the field, the study is important to the school system where the study was performed. The study can lead to improvements in the principal preparation program in order to raise the morale level for teachers. With the demands on this growing school system to hire and retain teachers, this sort of principal preparation program improvement could be very beneficial. Overview of Methodology To address the problem of the study and attempt to answer the research questions by evaluating the hypotheses, the study used a correlation research design.

The Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale variables studied were researched with two survey instruments distributed to the 471 middle school teachers in this school system. The OPT was used to determine a quantified representation of the teachers’ morale. The LIP was used to quantify the 6 rainfall’s daily practices. This survey asked teachers to respond with their impression or observation of their principals practices. The faculties of each of the seven middle schools of this school system were randomly split and assigned to receive one of the two surveys.

The surveys were distributed to the teachers at their individual schools with instructions and an explanation of the research. The researcher collected all surveys from the schools and analyzed the data using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (Pearson r). The correlation coefficients were calculated for the overall scores of each survey as ell as each category of each survey compared with each category of the other. Additionally, Analysis of Variance (NOVA) tests were used in combination with Least Significant Differences (LSI) tests to determine the significant differences between schools for both surveys.

For a full discussion of the methodology, see Chapter 3. Definitions Teacher Morale: For the purposes of this study, teacher morale is the numerical representation of the teachers’ job satisfaction as reported on the Purdue Teacher Opinionate. The survey reports the results as a total morale score as well as scores in 10 categories. Principal Leadership Practices: The Principals Leadership Practices is defined as the score on the Leadership Practices Inventory. The observer form was used to allow each Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale school’s teachers to report on their principals daily practices.

The LIP reports a total score as well as scores in five categories. Organization of Dissertation 7 After this introductory chapter, this dissertation is organized into four additional chapters. The second deals with the review of the literature. The third chapter then turns to a detailed discussion of the methodology used in this study. The Ruth chapter presents the results of the research as they relate to the five research questions and the fifth and final chapter summarizes and discusses the findings of the study. Chapter 2: Review of Literature The School Principal The role of the principal in American schools has been in a constant state of change since its emergence. The issue has been mostly around whether the principal is a manager of the building or a leader of the school. Additionally, there has been discrepancy in the expectations of the principal in regard to curriculum and instruction. The emergence of the school principal began in the mid-nineteenth century Reassurance, 2007). With the formation of graded schools in urban areas, a head teacher emerged in many districts to help guide or lead the other teachers in the school.

As Reassurance points out, the lead teacher or principal teacher was the authority in the school, organized curriculum, was the disciplinarian, and supervised operations. With the continuation of arbitration in America, the development of the principals position continued through the end of the nineteenth century when most urban schools had a principal. The role was very diverse in that some systems had the principal as primarily a teacher with minor operational duties while others had the principal as simply a clerk with record keeping duties.

Into the twentieth century, the principal continued the emergence from teacher to administrator with professional requirements and licensing becoming required for the position of principal. For much of the twentieth century, the role of the principal was that of manager where the principal was expected to uphold district mandates, manage personnel, manage the budget, and handle other operational issues (Sudan, McCollum, & Pothooks, 2000). As American education moved into a new era of accountability in the later part of the century, this role necessitated the inclusion of leadership.

As Celestial (1984) stated: “Continuing research on effective schools has verified the common sense observation that schools are rarely effective, in any sense of the word, unless the principal is a “good” leaded’ (p. 3). Sudan, McCollum, & Pothooks (2000) further develop this role of principal by stating: “principals today must serve as leaders for student learning” (p. 2). They list the following items as the requirements for fulfilling this role: Knowledge of academic content and pedagogy. Working with teachers to strengthen skills. Collect analyze and use data. Rally all stakeholders to increase student performance.

Possess the leadership skills to fulfill the role. Leadership Leadership is often difficult to define and evaluate. Leaders have a multitude of roles they fill and many duties they perform each day. There are many traits and behaviors that may create effective leaders. The research on leadership contains the following primary leadership theories: Great Man, Trait, Situational, and Transformational. These theories are briefly described and discussed below. The Great Man Theory The outdated Great Man Theory held that great leaders were born with qualities that made people naturally want to follow them.

The theory was based upon the assumption that great leaders were born predisposed to leadership. It was also thought through the Great Man Theory that these leaders would arise when the need was present. Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale 10 That is, if a cause or situation was present that needed a leader, he would arise (Lippies, 1969). The Trait Theory The Trait Theory of Leadership focused on traits such as personality, physical appearance, social background, intelligence, and ability (Taylor, 1994).

The theory believed that leaders were born with certain traits that made them naturally effective leaders. Hickman and Johnson (2000) stated that with many earlier studies performed to evaluate the specific traits of these highly effective leaders, researchers found inconclusive results, but with more advanced statistical analyses, recent researchers have shown that certain traits or attributes appear to be present in many effective leaders. Hickman and Johnson (2000) list the following three traits as the most evident in effective leaders: interpersonal factors, cognitive factors, and administrative factors.

These interpersonal factors contain items such as integrity, sensitivity, consistency, emotional stability, self- confidence, communication skills, and conflict management skills. Cognitive factors are said to be related to leadership in that more intelligent leaders are better at problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, and creativity. The administrative factors are having the ability to plan and organize as well as being able to perform most of the tasks regularly required of the followers.

Situational Leadership Lippies (1969) stated, “Leadership must be flexible in style to meet the need of a particular situation .. P. 2). In situational leadership the methods to lead an organization are dependent upon the situation or organization. The following four situational approaches are briefly discussed below: Fiddler’s Contingency Model, Path- Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale 11 Goal Theory, Hershey and Blanchard Situational Leadership, and Leader-Member Exchange Theory.

In Fiddler’s Contingency Model, three factors determine the influence a leader has over followers. First, position power refers to the leader having the power to give reward or punishment. A leader with a higher position power will have greater influence over the follower. Second, task-structure refers to the flexibility or lack of flexibility in how a follower performs a task. Third, leader-member relations refer to the relationship -loyalty, affection, trust, and respect between the leader and follower (Hickman & Johnson, 2000).

The Path-Goal Theory is based upon the intersection of the follower’s needs, abilities, values, and personality, with the structure and clarity of the task. The leader determines the proper communication approach in each situation depending on the structure of the task and follower’s experience, skill, confidence, and commitment. When an inexperienced or unsure follower must perform an unstructured task, the leader must use a directive communication approach. If the follower is skilled but lacks confidence or commitment while performing a structured task, the leader must use a supportive communication style.

Next, if followers are unsure and the task is unstructured, the leader must use a participative communication style designed to elicit ideas from followers. Lastly, if a skilled follower must perform an unstructured task, the leader must use an achievement-oriented communication style designed to show confidence in the follower to perform ell (Hickman & Johnson, 2000). Similar to the Path-Goal Theory, Hershey and Blanchard Situational Leadership looks at the readiness level. In their theory, follower readiness level was the combination Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale 12 of their skill and motivation.

Followers with low readiness who were unskilled or unmotivated require the leader to use telling, which is providing specific instructions followed by close supervision. If the follower is willing but does not have the proper skill, the leader must use selling, which is explaining then providing opportunity for clarification but requires less supervision. If a follower is skilled and able but has low motivation, the leader should use participating, which gets the follower involved in the decision-making creating more motivation.

Lastly, if the follower has high skill and motivation, the leader should use delegating. In delegating a leader simply gives the follower the responsibility to make decisions and implement the decisions (Hickman & Johnson, 2000). The Leader-Member Exchange Theory focuses solely on the relationship the leader and follower develop. Near the time followers join an organization, they either become part of the leader’s in-group r part of the leader’s out-group. Simply stated the in-group contains followers who are trusted and allowed to participate in decommissioning and have input into the organizations future.

Members of the out-group are simply expected to perform their duties but are not allowed the autonomy or participation that the members of the in-group are allowed (Hickman & Johnson, 2000). Transformational Leadership The most current leadership theory that has the most abundant presence in the current literature is that of Transformational Leadership. Transformational Leadership is about getting everyone involved in cession-making. With overriding element of successful leadership is to involve people in the process of leading’ (Horal, 1999, p. 1). Most explanations of Transformational Leadership begin with distinguishing it from Principal Leadership and Teacher Morale 13 Transactional Leadership. In Transactional Leadership the leader is concerned with the basic needs of the person through a reward system in exchange for favorable group or organizational outcomes. While Transformational Leadership also seeks to reach these needs for the follower, its aim extends to reaching the higher level needs wrought empowerment and inspiration.