How Experiences Influence and Inform School Principals’ Actions to Further Develop Teachers’ Instructional Practice Open Access
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Previous research illustrated how principals effectively facilitate the development of teachers’ instructional practice through actions such as differentiating professional development, providing continuous professional development, establishing learning communities and using supervision/evaluations to help modify instruction; however, what is missing from that research is how personal/professional experiences influence specific principal behavior and actions in regards to facilitating the development of teachers’ instructional practice. The idea of school principal as teacher-educator is supported within the requirements to become a principal (ISSLC Standards, 2015) as well as within daily necessities of school leaders (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Fullan, 2012, 2014; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2013). Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, believes the best way to get strong teachers is to adopt a “fundamentally different way of looking at teachers, how we recruit, train and support them and give them the latitude and tools and conditions to do their jobs” [emphasis added] (Layton, 2015). The question that remains is how specific experiences influence the actions of principals to focus on the development of teaches’ instructional practice. Potential influential personal or professional practices might include: principals’ teacher and administrative training and experiences, mandates from central administration vs. local needs, the context and community of school and/or the personal life experiences of the principals. Hence, it is imperative to take a closer look into what experiences influence principal actions to facilitate the development of teachers’ instructional practices. This study employed narrative inquiry methodology and analysis to examine personal and professional experiences of three selected principals who have been identified as outstanding in their field. Findings provide detailed insight into how personal and/or professional experiences influence their actions in regards to the development of teachers’ instructional practice. The results of this study unpack the journey these individuals took in becoming learning leaders of their school community. Additionally, the results are informative to the field of educational leadership.