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Title:The influence of literacy leadership on teaching and learning in Illinois elementary schools: a multiple case study
Author(s):Gorr, Mary Kalogeropoulos
Director of Research:Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Alexander, Kern; Dressman, Mark; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literacy Leadership
Distributed Leadership
Abstract:In the current climate of high-stakes educational accountability, school leaders are charged with not only ensuring sustainable school improvement but also addressing and rectifying achievement gaps that exist across student subgroups, fully complying with national and state educational mandates, and successfully overseeing all managerial aspects of their positions. The challenging demands associated with creating a learning-focused school culture demand a paradigm shift away from traditional authoritative leadership models that conceptualized the principal as the sole heroic leader whose charisma and vision, alone, could elevate school improvement to a leadership model that presents leadership in terms of activities and interactions that are distributed across multiple people and situations. The purpose of this comparative study was to critically examine the leadership practices of two Illinois elementary school principals who functioned as exemplary literacy leaders within their buildings, exploring the actions and activities of these principals to build their staffs' professional capacities, positively influence student learning, as well as the challenges and barriers they encountered when attempting to act as a literacy leader and the strategies or practices employed to overcome them. Data were collected through 12 interviews of principals, district administrators, assistant principals and teachers, observations of building leadership during eight visits, and document analysis. The participants included two principals; each interviewed on three different occasions; two central office supervisors; two assistant principals; and 13 teachers, including classroom teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, and a fine arts teacher. Observations of building leadership during data meetings and staff meetings and information from document analysis also provided relevant data for this study. Findings demonstrated that the two literacy leader principals engaged in various practices and behaviors to ensure that high impact literacy teaching and learning occurred within their schools. In addition to establishing a strong culture of learning in general and literacy learning in particular, the principals developed strong systems and structures to proactively monitor students' literacy achievement, engaged in ongoing collaboration with and professional development for teachers to expand their literacy leadership and instructional capacities, and strategically allocated resources such as prioritizing uninterrupted instructional time for literacy, providing curricular materials and funding for staff development, and maximizing human resources within the organization to advance the literacy mission of their schools. The principals also were skilled at purposefully distributing leadership to engage multiple stakeholders to apply their leadership skills and expertise toward making a substantive contribution to the organization’s literacy mission, which in turn increased the leadership density of the school. The findings from this study also suggested that literacy leader principals' efforts to build organizational capacity were strengthened by their purposeful efforts at fostering school climates that engender high levels of trust and respect.
Issue Date:2016-03-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Mary Gorr
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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