The Role of the Principal in Developing a Climate of Academic Optimism in Public Elementary Schools Serving Students from Low-Income Family Households
AuthorLuce, Dondi Lea
AdvisorJohn, Taylor L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study described how principal leadership, consisting of both capacities and practices, advanced a climate of academic optimism among faculty to improve the achievement of all students including those from low-income family households within two public elementary schools in southern Arizona. Participants in the multiple embedded replication case study included one principal, five teachers, and one parent from each school. Semi-structured interviews, school observations, and document analysis were incorporated within the study. Findings revealed that peer observations helped build collective efficacy among teachers and required principal leadership to occur in a systemic manner. Interpretive analysis further demonstrated that principal leadership was valuable in developing academic emphasis within the school. Moreover, the principal was a powerful role model for cultivating trust between teachers and parents. An unexpected finding was that the leadership capacities and practices were not as precisely divided or separated as indicated by the conceptual framework. Rather, the capacities and practices were highly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Based upon the analysis of patterns across cases, it was determined that the principals’ leadership capacities and practices influenced the climate of academic optimism. As a specific example, the principals studied utilized the bureaucracies within their schools to enable the work of teachers. Furthermore, the principals’ capacities of self-awareness and internalized moral perspective guided their vision of schooling. Compelling evidence was found for each capacity and practice detailed within the conceptual framework, and they were demonstrated in unique ways based on the specific circumstances of the site as well as the principal’s individual leadership style. The conceptual generalization from this interpretative qualitative case study suggests that, in terms of principal leadership, both “Who you are, and what you do, matter.”
Degree ProgramGraduate College