Teaching Positive Deskside Manner: How Leadership Skills Promote Positive Classroom Cultures

Date

2020-12

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Abstract

Background: Teachers need a blueprint for how to lead their classrooms to effectively incorporate communication skills and a systematic effort to teaching and learning, resulting in a positive classroom culture wherein teachers practice and model these skills, inculcate positive student-teacher relationships, and motivate students to success. This blueprint must include standardized procedures that incorporate learning science, positive regard, growth mindset, self-regulation—in both students and teachers, coaching, interpersonal skills, adaptability to students’ needs, and a reasoned teaching ethic. Research Questions: The research questions are (1) How does a curated group of professional development programs use cognitive, psychosocial, and interpersonal skills to teach teachers to best lead their classrooms and communicate with their students in a non-coercive, respectful environment to improve student efficacy and student academic outcomes? (2) How do teachers perceive their ability to provide a supportive academic environment wherein both teachers and students benefit? And (3) What, if any, significant differences are there in teachers’ perceptions of leadership based on years of experience? Methods: This research employed a descriptive, exploratory research design combined with a quantitative survey research method. The study's descriptive exploratory arm implemented a comparative analysis of a set of criteria to evaluate how well five curated programs for teacher professional development might improve teacher-student interactions and teachers’ leadership skills in the classroom. The quantitative survey examined teachers’ attitudes toward leadership in the classroom and assessed the extent to which these perceptions impact teacher satisfaction and are impacted by teachers’ experience. The convenience sample for the survey came from an urban school district and included K-12 general education and special education teachers. Results/Findings: All five programs analyzed showed evidence of the criteria required to improve teacher leadership and communication skills in the classroom to improve student efficacy and achievement and teacher self-efficacy and professional satisfaction. The survey results show that while teachers have an idea of the importance of leadership, they do not perceive the full potential to which it could be used. Moreover, teachers understand the importance of role modeling and creating a positive environment for their students, but it is not clear they know how to implement it. Additionally, there were statistically significant relationships between general education teachers’ experience and their perceptions of leadership (rs = .494, p < 0.01) and teacher satisfaction (rs = .419, p < 0.05). Conclusion: This study analyzed a curated set of professional development programs with criteria valuable to producing positive student outcomes; the study determined that all the programs examined met the criteria for teaching teachers’ leadership skills to improve student self-efficacy and achievement and teacher satisfaction. Efforts to determine how teachers felt about leadership in the classroom and the relationship between perceptions of leadership and experience were less forthcoming and suggest a need for further research regarding how teachers feel about leadership in the classroom. Finally, the research suggests that a concentrated effort to teach teachers leadership skills would improve the nature of the profession and increase the self-efficacy of both students and teachers to make student outcomes more durable.

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Keywords

leadership, teacher training, professional development, deskside manner, empathy, self-regulation, positive regard, self-efficacy, learning science, quality

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