School principals as instructional leaders : the case of four schools in the Umlazi District.
The purpose of this study was to explore school principals’ understandings of their roles as instructional leaders and the challenges that they experienced as they enacted their roles as instructional leaders. The study further aimed to investigate the organisational structures that principals had instituted in their schools to promote effective teaching and learning. The global preoccupation with learner outcomes and how principals influence these outcomes is the cornerstone of the construct that is instructional leadership. Literature is divided on how principals should influence teaching and learning. One school of thought proposes that the principal should be hands-on and knee-deep in pedagogical matters whilst another suggests that effective principals are excellent organisational managers thereby influencing learner outcomes indirectly. Thus this study used Weber’s (1996) model of instructional leadership and Horng and Loeb’s (2010) organisational management theory. This study is located in the interpretive paradigm and is a qualitative study within a case study design. Two primary schools and two secondary schools, on the outskirts of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, were purposively sampled because of convenience, with four principals and eight teachers serving as participants. The findings of this research pointed to principals viewing their roles as many and varied. Another finding to emerge from the study was that other principals were shackled by many factors that prevented them from enacting their instructional leadership roles. Further to this the primary schools in this study seemed to evidence more organisational structures than the secondary schools in promoting teaching and learning. Another finding to emerge from this study was that the principals approached instituting organisations structures in their schools differently. Further to this, schools in this study did not have any formal assessment programmes to gauge the effectiveness of their organisational structures. The challenges that these principals faced in their roles as instructional leaders were many and varied. It was also found that the principals dealt with these challenges differently. The final finding to emerge from this study was that the principals thought that in order to improve teaching and learning they should model excellent lessons, create teams, identify areas of weaknesses for teacher development and sustaining and improving the vision of the school. Some of the recommendations proposed in this study were that principals should be teaching in their schools; that principals should co-opt teachers onto the SMT and that PLCs should become the norm rather than the exception.