Principals' Support for Teacher Leaders at Elementary Schools in a Large Suburban School District in Virginia
The role of teacher leaders in schools is becoming more prevalent as educators examine ways to insure systemic change. It is based on the assumption that education will improve when those closest to the situation are included and encouraged to not only participate in the decision-making process, but also to initiate change. The purpose of this study was to describe the principals' support of teacher leaders in elementary schools in one school system.
This study collected data from all public elementary school principals in a large suburban school district in Virginia and from selected elementary level teachers in order to answer the following four research questions:
- Do elementary principals and/or teachers perceive they support the development of teacher leaders?
- Do elementary principals and/or teachers perceive teacher leaders serve as a vehicle for shared decision-making?
- Do elementary principals and/or teachers perceive teacher leaders as instrumental in expanding the focus of shared decision-making to include instructional decisions?
- Do teachers and/or principals receive preparation at the college/university level to assume teacher leadership positions or as principals to guide teachers to assume leadership positions?
The findings of this study indicated that elementary principals and teacher leaders perceive there is support for teacher leaders in their school. There is also agreement that teachers should participate in shared decision-making structures. There is disagreement between the two groups as to the level of participation in such areas as finances, personnel and implementation of new school programs. Finally, the principals do not believe that course work at the university/college level assisted them in promoting and supporting teacher leadership in their school.