The role of school principals as instructional leaders in establishing professional learning communities in schools.
This exploration study focused on the roles of the school principals as instructional leaders in establishing professional learning communities in schools. A case study was conducted with four school principals that included two principals from the primary schools and two from the secondary schools in the Pinetown District. The study explored the understandings of the schools principals in supporting teaching and learning at schools; how they collaborate with others to support teaching and learning, the challenges that school principals’ experience from teachers, learners, parents, Department of Education and teachers’ unions as they enact their roles and the strategies used to overcome the challenges experienced. This qualitative study was located in an interpretive paradigm. The methods used to generate data were both semi-structured interviews and documents review. The frameworks underpinned the study were instructional leadership theory and distributed leadership theory. Local, continental and international literature was utilised to analyse the data and literature provided insights on the extent of research in this field. The analysis and the discussion of the generated data produced the findings that to a certain extent corroborated the understandings of the school principals of their roles. Succinctly, principals’ roles include the creation of academic vision and communicating it to the stakeholders for improved schools’ performances. Collaboration, networking, staff development and roping in of various organisations were essential roles. Weber’s (1996) model of instructional leadership theory dominated the study. This model propounds five dimensions that underpin the roles of principals in successful schools. The generated data yielded findings which in turn produced conclusions. Principals create vision and share it with teachers. Learners are put at the centre because every attempt school principals make is aimed at improving and enhancing learners’ performance. However, it transpired that principals are faced with challenges as they strive to enhance learners’ achievement. Learners as central stakeholders contribute in thwarting efforts of school principals. Pregnancy and the drugs /substances abuse are the contributory factors in learners’ indiscipline and poor academic performance. Recommendations were crafted informed by the conclusions. These recommendations were presented to suggest possible strategies to curb challenges impinging on the efforts principals make in the management of schools performance.