Defining relationships between perceived leader authenticity, staff authenticity and instructional leadership in urban elementary schools

Gettys, Deborah
Major Professor
Gary E. Downs
Committee Member
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Curriculum and Instruction

This study focused on the role of the elementary principal as the building's instructional leader and the teachers' perception of that role as it relates to a curriculum adoption. The Des Moines Independent Community School District of Des Moines, IA approved a districtwide elementary mathematics curriculum, based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards (1989). The adoption represented a major shift in philosophy and approach from past district curricula. Initiatives were launched for staff development, teacher support and parent communication. These district efforts took place in a formal organizational structure of site-based management through shared decision-making (SBM/SDM);Teachers of grades one through five from twenty district elementary schools were surveyed for their input regarding their perceptions of the building principal as an authentic and effective leader. Questions concerning school instructional climate and teacher demographic background were also included. Principals of those twenty buildings were also asked to respond to the same survey;Results of the teachers' surveys indicated a positive correlation between their perception of the building principal as an authentic/effective leader and the teachers' attitude toward the success of the mathematics adoption. A significant difference was found between the teachers' and their respective principals' perceptions as to how well the principal played the role of instructional leader in the building. Only 2% of the teachers surveyed cited the principal as being the individual who had been most helpful to them with the adoption. Several teachers raised questions regarding the relevance of leadership questions to a study of the implementation of the adoption. Based on the conclusion that if instructional leadership does not take place with the principal, it will informally take place with a colleague or other source, the need to re-examine the formal role of principal is stated.