Middle School Teachers’ Perceptions of Administrator Influence on Teaching and Learning
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The purpose of this symbolic interaction study was to develop a thick rich description of middle school teachers’ perspectives of the characteristics of administrators that have an impact on teaching and learning. Specifically this research examined the interactions between teachers and administrators and the constructed meanings created by teachers from these encounters. A symbolic interaction theoretical tradition was utilized in this study’s design. Symbolic interaction focuses on the nature of interaction and the notion that people act and react to things based on the interpreted meanings things have for them. People are constantly undergoing change based on social interactions, and society changes through interaction. Based on this premise teachers are constantly evolving because of the constructed meanings created through the interactions they experience. School cultures, whether defined as custom, tradition, norm, value, rules, or such like, are clearly derived from what people do and therefore are being defined and redefined through social interactions. This symbolic interaction study was designed to assist middle school administrators in examining teachers’ constructed perceptions of administrator characteristics that impact teaching and learning and thus reculture their schools into learning organizations. Two middle schools located within a Midwestern suburban school district were chosen for this study. Data were collected from 86 middle school teachers. Teacher questionnaires, principal interviews, internal documents, focus groups, and observations were utilized for data collection and analysis. Central questions for this symbolic interaction study centered on how middle school teachers define instructional leadership, what characteristics of instructional leadership have a positive impact on teaching and learning, and what characteristics of instructional leadership create a barrier or teaching and learning. The major themes that developed from the data collected were culture, high expectations, visibility, and resource awareness. Culture was defined as the administrators’ ability to establish a positive learning environment focused on what is best for every child. High expectations as a theme were interpreted as an administrators’ ability to communicate and establish reachable outcomes. Visibility related to ensuring administration was easily and readily available to teachers. Resource awareness emphasized the administrators’ ability to provide teachers the support needed to excel within the classroom. The commonality that emerged when defining instructional leadership was: an instructional leader is an individual that develops a culture conducive to providing good quality instruction, establishing expectations around a curriculum and instructional focus, while ensuring that all necessary resources are available to teachers.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Illustrations -- Tables -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Findings -- Discussion of the results -- Appendix -- Consent for participation in a research study -- Interview questions -- Observation field notes template -- Open-ended survey questions -- Focus group survey questions -- Code book -- References