Page 69 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

Journal of K-12 Educational Research 67 teachers. One teacher said, “it can be time consuming as a new teacher to get all your questions answered when you have to seek out many different people. Whatever my question, my coach would answer or quickly find the answer for me. I wish I had realized this sooner.” Strong communication and the impact the communication has on saving teachers time came up over and over in participant interviews but not once in the document analysis. The leadership development group did not explicitly discuss or build norms around working on communication or saving time for teachers, but both outcomes were a result of the efforts of the instructional coaches based on the participants’ perceptions. Strong PLC Culture The instructional coach participants of the leadership development group all led their PLCs as part of their instructional coaching responsibilities, and as a result, a large focus of the leadership development group was on PLCs. Every participant made reference to PLCs in at least one of their interview questions. The role that instructional coaches played in their PLCs was overwhelmingly seen by participants as a way to strengthen the campus culture and climate. As one teacher stated, “the school is better when teachers are doing great work and are able to feel great at work.” Relationship Building Relationships were overwhelmingly the most mentioned factor in all participant interviews, both the instructional coaches and the teachers. Every participant mentioned the importance of building relationships and saw the relationships as the single most impactful factor in instructional coaches impacting campus culture and climate. The relationship focus of the interview transcripts is supported by the 36 times in the document analysis that relationships were mentioned, and the focus of the campus and leadership development group were aligned in the importance of relationship building. Conclusions Shared leadership in schools, especially leadership shared with teachers, is a vital part of this nation’s school systems. The art of growing teacher leaders must be an intentional act (Searby & Shadix, 2008). School administrators are stretched further than ever, and the success of a school cannot be dependent on one school leader (Ballek et al., 2005). Shared leadership can move campuses forward and establish a culture that outlasts changes in initiatives or leadership. The teacher participants’ perceptions showed that the relationships established with them by instructional coaches were part of what led to greater workplace satisfaction overall and a strong campus climate and culture. The art of teaching is difficult. Developing this art requires many elements—the most important of which include time, coaching, and a positive school culture and climate. When teachers like what they are doing, feel supported and safe in doing their work, are growing as professionals, and experience a positive climate and culture in their workplace, they are more likely to enjoy coming to work. Most importantly, when teachers have what they need to grow and be successful, students benefit. In this study, instructional coaches recognized that they did not yet have the tools they needed to be the kinds of leaders they wanted to be. They reached out and asked for help and their growth began out of necessity and a desire to better serve their teaching colleagues. Today their work continues as the one remaining instructional coach works to grow in their leadership and pour into teachers in order to move the work of the campus forward. Teacher leadership and instructional coaching are necessary for successful schools where everyone is working toward a shared vision, and both of those require administrators willing to devote time and love to building leadership capacity in others. It is no longer beneficial to our students or teachers for one person to make unilateral decisions for an entire campus when experienced and capable individuals are ready and willing to serve.