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Educational Leadership Paths

Leadership matters in the effective teaching and learning process. In this connection, Hallinger and Lee (2013) gave the indices of principal’s instructional roles in ensuring effective teaching and learning in the school. They maintained that among the roles of the principal, providing instructional leadership is more touching on students’ learning than other roles.  Instructional leadership is a theory that indicates that principal plays a pivotal role in positively influencing the quality of teaching and learning at school (Hallinger & Lee, 2013). Instructional leadership is also referred to as “leadership for learning” (Hallinger & Lee, 2013, p. 307).  The principal performs the role of defining the “school’s mission, managing instructional program, and promoting a positive school learning climate” (Hallinger & Lee, 2013, p. 306). In this process, the principal manages the curriculum and instruction to enhance effective learning for the students (Hallinger & Lee, 2013). The school leaders work with the staff, to ensure that the school has a clear mission that facilitates the academic progress of the students. The principal communicates the mission clearly to the staff and students, to facilitate teaching and learning purposefully (Hallinger & Lee, 2013).

In examining the supervising role of the principal, Hallinger and Lee (2013) maintained that the principals “supervise and evaluate instruction, coordinate the curriculum, monitor students’ progress” (p.307).  Additionally, to ensure a good school climate, the school leader must ensure good use of instructional time, teacher professional development, and provision of incentives for teachers and students to motive them for high performance (Hallinger & Lee, 2013). However, Hallinger and Lee (2013) observed that principals spend less time on the management of curriculum than other functions of leadership. For effectiveness, the school leaders should give more time to the classroom and curriculum management to enhance students’ learning.

In the article by Brophy (2001), the author presents the tenets of classroom management, its developments, and the collaboration of principal and teachers in ensuring effective teaching and learning in the classroom. He sees classroom management as a process of “telling and showing willing but ignorant students what to do, rather than enforcing compliance from students” who want to do the right thing in their own way (Brophy, 2001, p.233). He maintained that theories and research about classroom management are more of controlling students’ behaviour rather than building self-guidance in the students (Brophy, 2001). There are potentials in every child to develop self-guidance which must be encouraged and stimulated by the principal and teachers through socialization (Brophy, 2001). Brophy (2001) believed that class management is a process of giving instruction rather than of discipline and control. The fact still remains that you cannot give instruction when there is no discipline. A controlled class facilitates the teaching and learning process. Kounin (1970) considers effective class manager as one who exhibits withitness, overlapping, signal continuity and momentum, and challenge and variety in assignments (Brophy, 2001). In agreement with Hallinger and Lee (2013) on the use of learning time, Kounin’s position suggests that a teacher is a good classroom manager because such teacher has proper management of learning time, and not because he or she handles disruptive behavior (Brophy, 2001).  Such teacher focuses on establishing classroom where effective learning takes place and good use of learning time.

Furthermore, Evertson and Emmer (1982 cited Brophy, 2001) took Kounin’s principle further by showing how teachers can establish effective classroom by telling and showing the students, class ethics at the beginning of the year with clarity, and sustain its desired results through the year (Brophy, 2001). With class expectation given, both school leader and teachers will demand compliance, and they should do this with a positive approach than threats (Brophy, 2001). This agrees with the view of Glasser (1977) that classroom rules should be developed, and enforce its compliance (Brophy, 2001). Additionally, Good and Brophy (1984) gave concrete ways of building a relationship with difficult students and monitoring their progress to ensure effective learning at school, like counseling them (Brophy, 2001).

The study by Mitchell and Bradshaw (2013) sees the classroom environment as an area of concern for school leader to key into in ensuring effective learning in the classroom. This classroom environment touches on the student-teacher ratio, the disciplinary strategies used in managing the classroom, and the conduciveness of the classroom (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). The principal assist teachers in ensuring discipline in the classroom through implementation of teachers’ recommendations about students (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). Finding indicates that classroom-based strategies that teach and reward positive behaviours have been shown to improve students’ learning (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). Finding further suggests that there is a relationship between classroom management and students’ learning and achievement at school (Mitchell & Bradshaw, 2013). Mitchell and Bradshaw (2013) maintained that teachers need to use positive strategies to enforce discipline and manage the classroom more effectively than using negative strategies like suspension and exclusion from class. In all, school leaders and teachers can combine these approaches to classroom management reviewed so far to improve the classroom environment to improve teaching and learning process.

Environmentally, it has been observed that students experience learning difficulty during the transition from junior to senior school. Consequently, this affects their grades which drop during the transition. Studies have indicated that there is a relationship between transition and student learning and academic success (Benner, 2011; Frey, Ruchkin, Martin, and Schwab-Stone, 2009).  This call for proper supervision of teaching and learning that goes on the classroom, and a thorough curriculum and class management in school by the school leaders. Therefore, this research aims at enhancing the poor learning culture of students during the transition, through the effort of the school leader. It is anticipated that if the principal supervises the teaching and learning process, and with proper management of the classroom, there will be an improvement in learning and performance of the students. Finally, addressing this problem will improve management practice for school leaders and those whose research interest is in school leadership. Examining the principals’ instructional role and its impact on students’ learning will impact positively on principals’ professional practice as school leaders. It will avail school leaders of the opportunity to learn the essential skills in the learning process, and how to facilitate effective learning at school. It will improve the day to day supervision of teaching and learning, which is a fundamental element in school improvement and student achievement.

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