Exploring Principal Leadership Behaviors and Their Impact on Teacher Job Satisfaction in Southern Tulare County, California

Secondary Education    Principals/Superintendents

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TITLE Exploring Principal Leadership Behaviors and Their Impact on Teacher Job Satisfaction in Southern Tulare County, California
RESEARCHER Chastity Stoll-Lollis
College of Education and Organizational Leadership
University of La Verne (California)
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: August 2015

The purpose of this study was to explore principal leadership behaviors and their impact on teacher job satisfaction as perceived by principals and teachers in elementary schools in southern Tulare County, California.

The population for the study consisted of all 21 elementary schools within southern Tulare County, California and the 10 that participated served as a purposive sampling of the population. The principal of each school participated as did 10-31 teachers from each school (N=218), representing approximately 93 percent of the teacher population in these schools. Respondents completed the Leadership Practices Inventory (Self and Observer), and job satisfaction was measured using the Purdue Teacher Opinionaire (Bentley & Rempel, 1963), using only the questions linked to the factors of teacher rapport with the principal and satisfaction with teaching.

Enable and Model were the leadership practices most frequently used by principals, followed by Inspire, Challenge, and Encourage, and this same pattern was generally reported by teachers. The differences between principals and teachers were not significantly different for Model, Inspire, Challenge, or Encourage; teachers indicated that the principals engaged in Enable significantly less than that reported by their principals. ANOVA indicated a significant relationship between principal leadership behaviors as perceived by teachers, as well as principals, and overall teacher job satisfaction.

The author notes:

Though much research has centered on the role of the principal and effective leadership behaviors, little research has been done on the topic of teacher job satisfaction, especially in regard to principal leadership behaviors that potentially influence teacher job satisfaction. With a focus on improving student achievement, educators are tasked with determining the most effective strategies that impact student learning. Significant research exists linking teacher effectiveness to student achievement (Haycock, 2001; Leithwood, Jantzi, et al., 2004; Sanders et al., 2005) (p. 102).

In addition, Bentley and Rempel (1967) emphasized the importance of teacher job satisfaction to the teaching and learning relationship. They asserted that there was growing evidence that pointed to the importance of teacher job satisfaction in increasing student productivity and achievement. A more recent study conducted by Johnson et al. (2012) found that there is a direct link between teacher job satisfaction and student achievement (p. 102).

Principals are responsible for leadership decisions that affect the school culture, teacher job satisfaction, instructional practices, and professional development that ultimately impact student achievement (Leithwood, Louis, et al., 2004). School principals who are focused on building relationships with their teachers and creating a work environment that values individuals along with their contributions build a school culture that benefits both the staff and students (Price, 2012) (p. 111).

Effective principal leadership has a direct, significant impact on teacher job satisfaction, positive school culture, and increased student achievement (p. 112)

School administrators, principals, and leaders who are passionate about having a positive impact on student achievement must review the research and findings of this study, as the findings support the theory that principal leadership behaviors strongly influence teacher job satisfaction. Principals who continually look for ways to improve their effectiveness can focus on the leadership practices outlined in this study as a viable action of school reform that improves student learning. Simple practices, such as modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart, can significantly improve school success (p. 121).

Professional development focused on teaching principals how to best implement Kouzes and Posner’s (2012) five leadership practices would be a prudent investment for district administrators who wish to improve student achievement at their school sites. Principals who focus on empowering and encouraging their teachers will then have teachers who are eager to make sure that their students are learning at high levels (pp. 121-122).