Superintendents' perceptions of their instructional leadership in the Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (TLCS)
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The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine superintendent instructional leadership in the context of the Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (TLCS). The study included interviews of 15 Iowa superintendents who were involved in the application and initial implementation of the Iowa TLCS in their districts. Interviews were designed to collect superintendents’ perceptions related to three areas of their instructional leadership practice: (1) perceived opportunities of TLCS; (2) perceived challenges of TLCS; and (3) perceived influence of TLCS implementation on superintendents’ role as instructional leaders. The study utilized sensemaking as an analytical framework to examine how superintendents responded to events related to the TLCS implementation process. The research findings identified superintendents’ perceived opportunities to build cohesive district systems, develop individual and collective capacity of staff, and enhance district climate and culture. Superintendents identified challenges to meet the teacher leader participation requirements, define teacher leaders’ roles, and concerns for program sustainability. In the context of TLCS implementation, superintendents expressed a desire to engage in instructional leadership, but noted other job demands that prohibited them from doing so. They attempted to prioritize communication, empowering others, and personal engagement, and facilitating a vision for teaching and learning as part of TLCS implementation. This study found that perceptions resulting from personal engagement in the TLCS application and implementation process influenced how participants thought about and conceptualized instructional leadership in the superintendency.