Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Examining the Relationship between Teacher Leadership and School Climate

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Examining the Relationship between Teacher Leadership and School Climate

Article excerpt

Effective leadership is one of the most important factors in school improvement and student learning. However, the job of running and improving schools has become more complex and difficult (Grubb & Flessa, 2006). Leadership literature clearly indicates that school leadership has been heavily focused on school principals only, instead of focusing on collaborative action, shared understanding and collective responsibility (Harris & Muijs, 2003). Several scholars have already argued that a solitary, principal-centred leadership style poses potential obstacles to improving teaching and learning in schools (Barth, 1990; Gronn, 2009; Harris & Muijs, 2003; Lambert, 1998; Sergiovanni, 2001). Murphy (2005) observes that the great man theory of leadership still prevails in schools.

Harris (2003) notes that the social exchange theory of leadership, which heavily depends on a clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities among members of a school community, continues to reign. On the other hand, Hook (2006) asserts that an increasing expectation for student performance and conflicting demands from schools add significantly to pressure on school administrators. Arguing that administrators have difficulty functioning both as decision-makers and holders of power, Beachum and Dentith (2004) suggest that new models and practices of leadership should be developed that allow for more collaborative and democratic relationships among school community members to facilitate student learning and respond to the diverse needs of students. Harris and Lambert (2003) assert that traditional school leadership assigning schools complete responsibility for increasing levels of student learning and building a higher-quality teaching and learning environment negatively impacts school change and renewal processes. Therefore, an understanding of school leadership that views teachers as a leadership resource seems urgently required.

In recent years, teacher leadership has become the centre of educational research on improving educational practices (Beycioglu & Aslan, 2010; Camburn, Rowan, & Taylor, 2003; Can, 2009a; Cranston, 2000; Frost & Durant, 2003; Frost & Harris, 2003; Harris, 2003, 2005; Harris & Muijs, 2003; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009; Leithwood & Jantzi, 1999, 2000; Little, 2003; Mangin, 2007; Zinn, 1997). Katzenmeyer and Moller (2009) claim that the idea of fostering teachers' professional development, which plays a crucial role in improving and sustaining school change and student learning, is among the critical factors that have made the notion of teacher leadership popular. Camburn et al. (2003) suggest that educational reform initiatives, such as site-based management, mentor teacher programs and teacher career ladders, foster debate on different sources of leadership practised by teachers.

Teacher leaders can serve as facilitators of learning and teaching, mentors for their colleagues and experts in their fields. They can also contribute to school improvement by participating actively in decision-making processes, leading teams and making good use of opportunities for taking initiatives (Muijs & Harris, 2007). Fullan (1994) remarks that teacher leaders may play a significant role in building positive relationships among colleagues, facilitating professional learning for both themselves and others and leading change and improvement processes in schools. Katzenmeyer and Moller (2009) further assert that teachers' perceptions of themselves as leaders inspire them to discover their own potential to influence student learning, put less blame on students or external factors for failures, become less resistant to schoolwide change, make better use of opportunities to expand their influence, improve their own teaching and practices in their classrooms and influence others to improve their teaching.

A critical question on that point for researchers is what factors might facilitate the development of teacher leadership in schools operated with traditional hierarchical structures. …

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