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Leadership Practices of a Principal in a High School with a High Teacher Retention Rate

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TITLE: Leadership Practices of a Principal in a High School with a High Teacher Retention Rate
 
RESEARCHER: Ronald A. Branch II
College of Education and Human Services
West Virginia University
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: January 2013

OBJECTIVE
The purpose of the study was to uncover emerging themes regarding the leadership practices and cultural elements that are in a place in a school that has a high retention rate of teachers.

METHODOLOGY
This was a case study of a selected West Virginia high school in the eastern panhandle of the state with the highest teacher retention rate among other high schools in the county. The Leadership Practices Inventory was completed by the principal, superintendent, and the faculty (including five assistant principals and 67% of the teachers). Sixteen teachers were randomly selected for interviews. On average these teachers had 15 years of work experience, a little bit more than 12 years at this selected high school.

KEY FINDINGS
The major themes from the interviews substantiated the five leadership dimensions: (1) the principal allows teacher input on school-based decisions (Enable); (2) a family atmosphere exists among the staff, the principal gives recognition through announcements and faculty meetings, and the staff builds community through faculty gatherings (Encourage); (3) the staff has a student-centered vision , and the principal uses a variety of communication techniques (Inspire); (4) the principal encourages innovative instructional strategies (Challenge); and, (5) the principal exhibits productive work habits (Model).

The document review followed similar themes: (1) the principal and staff have an academic focus, and they teach students to be successful in and outside of school (Inspire); (2) the principal and staff give student recognition, the principal gives teacher recognition (Encourage); (3) the principal communicates expectations (Model); (4) the principal continually strives for improvement, and encourage innovative instructional strategies (Challenge); and, (5) the principal allows teacher input on school-based decisions (Enable).

The open-ended interviews and document review corroborated the LPI results which “indicated that the principal communicates well with the staff, and inspires a school-wide vision and academic focus” (p. 107). The researcher notes that

there are many aspects of the principal’s leadership style which make teachers want to work at this school. The principal demonstrates an understanding that everything he does includes this culture of teacher retention. It is evident that the principal as initiated and promoted a culture in which the students’ interests are core. He sets the tone, communicates expectations, and models behaviors that he believes are essential to the field of education. His personal sacrifice and extended involvement in the school and community reveals an attitude of servant leadership that the teachers recognize and appreciate (p. 112).
The author concludes that “the principal’s leadership practices and familial culture in the school offer ideals that may be transferable to other schools that are struggling to maintain staff members: (p. 124).


 

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