Developing a Transformational Leadership Professional Development and the Impact of Such Professional Development in School Leaders’ Behaviors in Title 1 Middle Schools: A Community-Engaged Research Study

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As school principals continue to be the most crucial change agents in school reform, they aspire to exhibit and practice leadership behaviors that will develop and grow teachers who will perform to their full potential to provide the best instruction to their students. Transformational leadership fosters common goals, models desired behavior, provides individual support, supports staff, provides recognition, and focuses on professional growth. Although leadership professional development is essential, it is imperative that professional development on leadership be designed according to the school district’s beliefs and values rather than implementing a top-down, ready-made professional development. Not much is known about what it is like to design leadership training in partnership with school districts to target the needs of school leaders. This case study incorporated a community-engaged research approach to investigate the aspects that must be considered when designing professional development in collaboration with a district stakeholder. This study also investigated the impact of this professional development on the leadership behaviors of school leaders. The study, designed in partnership with a school district, examined school leaders’ behaviors in Title 1 middle schools. Participants included three principals and eight assistant principals from three Title 1 middle schools in the West Texas School District. The data sources included a reflective journal, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, goal setting documents, and coaching session transcripts. The 11 participants completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, an instrument that assessed transformational leadership behaviors. During the subsequent professional development, participants learned about transformational leadership, analyzed their Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire data, and developed a SMART goal with an action plan to improve one transformational leadership attribute of their choice. Two follow-up coaching sessions provided additional support to participants and were used to determine the impact of transformational leadership behaviors. The findings indicated that researchers should consider trust, district alignment, flexibility, and feedback when designing professional development in partnership with school districts. Findings also indicated that trust and district alignment were successfully established, whereas flexibility in scheduling and time was a challenge. During the study, school leaders experienced the following successes as they implemented their transformational leadership attributes in their middle schools: collaboration, change, positive culture, empowerment, and awareness. However, school leaders also expressed authenticity, time, change, and control as challenges. These findings were shared with several district administrators. The study provides a deeper understanding of how designing transformational leadership professional development can impact school leaders’ leadership behaviors in Title 1 middle schools. Furthermore, this study guides school districts as they develop local systems for maintaining and sustaining mentor programs, networks, and customized professional learning.

Embargo status: Restricted until 01/2027. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.

Transformational leadership, school leaders, leadership behaviors