Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Pollock, Katina


With a proverbial finger pointing to principals as the school leaders responsible for overall student success, there is some increase in the accountability measures leadership provides. There is then more emphasis placed on principals’ capacity to take charge of the teaching and learning processes at the school level. The practices associated with the planning and guiding of the learning within schools is classified as instructional leadership. As part of their work. Principals are expected to be instructional leaders. This study explores how elementary principals in Ontario schools approach instructional leadership work especially since there is much ambiguity that exists about the phenomenon. Instructional leadership has been understood and carried out in many different ways according to current literature which makes it interesting to find out how principals respond to being instructional leaders. By examining how they understand instructional leadership, looking at the strategies incorporated in their practice, the supports they use as well as inspect the challenges they encounter, this study brings to light the clarity with how principals do the work. Using a general qualitative approach as the methodology, 12 principals were interviewed and their experiences documented. The analysis of their expressed personal practices assisted in explaining the phenomenon of instructional leadership work using a combined perspective of Hallinger and Murphy (1985; 2013), Dwyer (1984) and Kurg (1992) behaviours of principals as instructional leaders. The common components included vision and mission, management, positive environment as well as staffing and resources. The findings determined that principals in the study practiced much of the components outlined as instructional leadership behaviours while their varied understandings determined their actions. Some principals understood instructional leadership as a systematic way of leading schools, incorporating all component behaviours as a leadership style (i.e. a progressive view). On the other hand, some principals saw instructional leadership as completing tasks needed as an agent of change associated with the job (i.e. the traditional view). With an awareness of this variation in approach, system leaders can determine the best approach based on context and provide the necessary resources as well as the clarity needed about instructional leadership. This study provides the medium to restart a discussion about the understanding principals have about the role and the work they are expected to do as instructional leaders.

DOC052815-05282015151949-0008.pdf (309 kB)
Copy of Ethical Approval for Appendix A