Enhancing literacy engagement: A case study of perceptions of administrators, teachers, and parents about the principal’s role in enhancing literacy engagement in a Texas school.
Davis, Robert Sterling
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The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of key stakeholders in an elementary school regarding the school principal’s role in enhancing literacy engagement in the school. Does the principal’s presence in the school drive literacy engagement? More specifically, do the principal’s leadership abilities and leadership qualities drive literacy engagement in the school? Or, can the principal’s perceived knowledge of literacy and subsequent use and/or display of that knowledge garner greater engagement in literacy instruction and activities in the school? The questions guiding this study were designed to examine the perceptions of the principal's role in enhancing literacy engagement as perceived by the school principal, teachers in the school, and parents of students attending the school and begin to determine if the principal’s role is essential to engagement. This study sought to present perceptions in comparison to knowledge principals should possess as presented in the literature. Stake (2010) suggests a qualitative approach for studies where the researcher is attempting to describe the perceptions of participants. Correspondingly, this study employed a descriptive case study research design. The study contains multiple case studies, collected to illustrate the phenomenon in-depth and in natural settings (Johnson & Christensen, 2012; Patton, 2002; Stake, 2005; Yin 2009). The learning environment in schools is becoming increasingly more complicated and complex. School principals must deal with ever changing state and federal mandates and implement local school board requirements, all while making sure students are making the necessary academic gains that will allow them to be successful contributors to society. The findings of this study revealed a positive overall perception of the principal’s role in enhancing literacy engagement in the school. The findings led to the emergence of seven influencer themes that describe ways the school principal’s perceived knowledge and actions affect literacy engagement in the school. The first theme that emerged was Influence of Vision which represents how stakeholders are inspired by the principal’s directional guidance of the school. The second theme was Influence of Opportunity that elaborates on the principal’s willingness and ability to develop instructional practices while attending to the emotional needs of the stakeholders involved. The third theme is Influence of Atmosphere which illustrates the principal’s keenness in understanding the importance of developing a sense of respect and encouragement in the school. The fourth theme, Influence of Purpose, represents the principal’s passion for promoting multiple reasons for engaging in literacy. Influence of Observation is the fifth theme and elaborates on the principal’s insightful abilities to be in touch with the physical, mental, and emotional states of school stakeholders. The sixth theme is Influence of Practice which illustrates the importance of the of the influence the principal’s own actions in direct connection with student engagement. Finally, Influence of Style, the seventh theme, demonstrates how the principal’s managerial style impacts literacy engagement.