The role of the principal and staff development structures: Factors which shape and influence instructional practices of teachers

Diane Theresa Ramos-Kelly, Fordham University


This study addressed the factors associated with the implementation of new instructional practices by examining the role that the school principal plays and organizational structures created for staff development to occur. These factors were considered with respect to their impact on changes in teachers' classroom practices. Literacy learning was the specific practice addressed in the study. Each of the four schools involved in the study embraced new approaches for literacy development through direct and indirect affiliation with writing projects and/or educational initiatives. Teachers at each school worked closely with consultants, staff developers, or teacher leaders in implementing new approaches. Issues related to the themes of continuous improvement through professional growth were considered within a framework that examined leadership and support for teachers as they attempted to make changes in their practices. The qualitative aspects of the study limit the widespread generalizability of the results of the findings. This research supported the literature regarding effective school principals regarding their orchestration of agendas, meetings, grants, schedules, planning sessions, and budgets around the implementation of new practices. The instructional leadership and knowledge base of the principals in the study, combined with their skill in addressing individual and collective professional development needs, were viewed by teachers as important aspects of support for changes. Additionally, the area of teacher leadership was identified by teachers and principals as an area of concern. The study found that the development of a tiered system of staff developers, an expectation for stipends for leadership roles, and the parameters defined by school cultures contributed to certain levels of resistance toward changing leadership roles for teachers. The leadership of building principals and their ability to craft staff development opportunities around new initiatives were viewed by teachers and principals in the study as significant factors in moving changes forward. This study supported the research on change which suggests that continuous improvement is related to supports for change on an individual and organizational level. The findings underscored the importance of the principal's leadership in fostering staff development opportunities that galvanize the school culture around improvements in teaching and learning.

Subject Area

School administration|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Ramos-Kelly, Diane Theresa, "The role of the principal and staff development structures: Factors which shape and influence instructional practices of teachers" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975363.