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Educational Management Administration & Leadership Transformational Classroom Leadership: The Fourth Wave of Teacher Leadership?

James S. Pounder Educational Management Administration Leadership 2006; 34; 533 DOI: 10.1177/1741143206068216 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Educational Management Administration & Leadership ISSN 1741-1432 DOI: 10.1177/1741143206068216 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi) Copyright 2006 BELMAS Vol 34(4) 533545; 068216

Transformational Classroom Leadership

The Fourth Wave of Teacher Leadership?

James S. Pounder


The literature on teacher leadership suggests that the notion has developed over time and some have argued that this development comprises three stages or waves that progressively delink the idea from the formal organizational hierarchy. The third wave emphasizes that teacher leadership is a process rather than a positional concept and notes that teacher leaders tend to possess many of the characteristics of transformational leaders. The literature also suggests that third wave teacher leaders are excellent classroom performers. This article explores the relationship between the teacher leadership and transformational leadership concepts and argues that a fourth wave of teacher leadership could include transformational classroom leadership as one of the dening qualities of a teacher leader and could embrace both school and university contexts.
K E Y W O R D S classroom leadership, leadership outcomes, student performance, transformational leadership

The notion of teacher leadership has come to prominence in the educational literature primarily within the last two decades (Little, 2003). The notion owes much of its currency to the school improvement movement that began in the same period and has encompassed nations such as the US, Canada, UK and Australia that have in common, publicly-funded systems of education (Chui et al., 1996). This article examines how the teacher leadership idea has developed over the years and argues that transformational classroom leadership is a logical extension of the teacher leadership construct and that the teacher leadership idea is relevant not only to a school but also to a university setting.

Teacher Leadership
The teacher leadership notion has developed over time and Silva et al. (2000) have argued that this development comprises three stages or waves. The rst
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wave conned teacher leadership within the formal organizational hierarchy and merely placed the concept close to the teaching function. Therefore, in this wave, the department head was the archetypical teacher leader. This was a control model with teacher leaders managing teachers who were viewed as mere implementers of the formers decisions (Frymier, 1987). The second wave of teacher leadership placed more emphasis on the instructional dimension of the teaching function but still vested teacher leadership in formally created organizational positions such as team leader and curriculum developer. Despite moving the concept out of the realm of the conventional organizational hierarchy, the second wave separated out leadership from the teaching function and still emphasized control with curriculum developers and instructional designers creating prepackaged materials for classroom teachers to implement. This approach has been described as the remote controlling of teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1998; Shulman, 1987). The third wave and arguably the current view of teacher leadership integrates the notions of teaching and leadership. It is a process rather than a positional concept and recognizes that teachers, in the process of carrying out their duties, should be given the opportunity to express their leadership capabilities. This conceptualization of teacher leadership is grounded on professionalism and collegiality and is a label reserved for those teachers who improve a schools educational climate by engaging colleagues in various activities designed to enhance the educational process. Wasley (1991), in Silva et al. (2000), for instance, views teacher leaders as those who help redesign schools, mentor their colleagues, engage in problem solving at the school level, and provide professional growth activities for colleagues (p. 5). When teacher leadership is conceived of as a process rather than a positional concept, it is more difcult to articulate because it comprises an array of behaviours and characteristics rather than formalized positional duties. Nevertheless, various attempts have been made to articulate the elements of third wave teacher leadership. For example, Silva et al. (2000) have emphasized the ability of the teacher leader to navigate the structures of schools, nurture relationships, model professional growth, encourage change, and challenge the status quo (p. 22). Sherrill (1999) has argued that the core expectations of a teacher leader are exemplary classroom instruction and sound pedagogical knowledge coupled with an understanding of the theory of learning and of effective classroom practices. Furthermore, according to Sherrill, the teacher leader should possess research-based knowledge about teaching and learning. On the basis of this knowledge and understanding, the teacher leader should then cultivate desired dispositions in colleagues by engaging in reective inquiry. Darling-Hammond et al. (1995) have emphasized that teacher leaders are open to new ways of doing things and are modellers of learning with a view to improving students educational experience. Berry and Ginsburg (1990) have identied the following three components of the role of what they have termed
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lead teachers: 1) mentoring and coaching other teachers; 2) professional development and review of school practice; and 3) school-level decisionmaking. Lieberman and co-authors (1988) identied 18 skills that they felt characterized teacher leaders. They classied these skills as follows: Building trust and rapport Organizational diagnosis Dealing with the process Using resources Managing the work Building skill and condence in others

More recently, the third wave of teacher leadership has been articulated by Alma Harris and co-authors as the exercise of leadership by teachers regardless of position or designation (Frost and Harris, 2003: 482) with a focus upon improving learning (Harris and Muijs, 2003: 40) based upon a type of leadership that stems from professional collaboration, development and growth (p. 40). For Harris and Muijs, teacher leadership involves:
the leadership of other teachers through coaching, mentoring, leading working groups; the leadership of developmental tasks that are central to improving learning and teaching; and the leadership of pedagogy through the development and modeling of effective forms of teaching. (p. 40)

Despite attempts at articulating the characteristics of teacher leadership, few studies have attempted to place the teacher leadership notion within the framework of current theories of leadership. One exception is Crowthers (1997) study of teacher leadership in a socially disadvantaged setting. Crowther describes teacher leaders as individuals acclaimed not only for their pedagogical excellence, but also for their inuence in stimulating change and creating improvement in the schools and socio-economically disadvantaged communities in which they work (p. 6). His criteria for selecting participants in his study convey his particular conceptualization of teacher leadership as it is manifested in a situation of socio-economic deprivation. The criteria are: Concrete evidence of a signicant contribution to an aspect of social justice in the school or school community; Highly esteemed in the community, particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals and groups; Recognized by colleagues as very inuential in school decision-making processes; Accorded a high level of school-based responsibility by colleagues and the school administration.
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Crowthers study indicated that his teacher leader subjects displayed leadership qualities that are broadly transformational in nature (Bass, 1985). Transformational leadership is described below.

Transformational Leadership
Basss conceptualization of transformational leadership contains the following characteristics: (a) Idealized Inuence or Charisma: The leader provides vision and a sense of mission, instills pride, gains respect, trust and increases optimism. Such a leader excites and inspires subordinates. This dimension is a measure of the extent of followers admiration and respect for the leader. (b) Inspirational Motivation: The leader acts as a model for subordinates, communicates a vision and uses symbols to focus efforts. This dimension is a measure of the leaders ability to engender condence in the leaders vision and values. (c) Individual Consideration: The leader coaches and mentors, provides continuous feedback and links organizational members needs to the organizations mission. Individual consideration is a measure of the extent to which the leader cares about the individual followers concerns and developmental needs. (d) Intellectual Stimulation: The leader stimulates followers to rethink old ways of doing things and to reassess their old values and beliefs. This dimension is concerned with the degree to which followers are provided with interesting and challenging tasks and encouraged to solve problems in their own way (Den Hartog et al., 1997; Hinkin and Tracey, 1999). Transformational leadership is linked with transactional leadership to form the two aspects of a broader full range leadership conceptualization (Bass and Avolio, 1994). The following are the transactional dimensions: (a) Contingent Reinforcement or Contingent Reward: The leaders rewards to followers are contingent on them achieving specied performance levels. (b) Active Management by Exception: The leader actively seeks out deviations from desired performance on the part of subordinates with a view to taking corrective action. (c) Passive Management by Exception: The leader does not seek out deviations from desired performance and only takes action when problems present themselves. (d) Laissez-faire Leadership: Conceptually distinct from passive management by exception because passive management by exception guards the
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status quo by exception whilst laissez faire leadership amounts to an abrogation of leadership responsibility (Bass, 1985; Bass and Avolio, 1989; Den Hartog et al., 1997; Hater and Bass, 1988). The general argument is that effective leaders are those that display more of the active (primarily transformational) and less of the more passive (primarily transactional) leadership behaviours (Sosik et al., 2002). This is evident when one considered that in contrast with the largely inspirational transformational leadership characteristics, laissez-faire leadership is equivalent to an absence of leadership. Whilst Crowther (1997) makes the point that teacher leaders may not be consciously aware of their transformational qualities, their behaviour has much in common with aspects of the leadership notion described above. For example, their deep commitment to a set of core values that they were prepared to communicate openly resonates with the idealized inuence and inspirational motivation dimensions of transformational leadership. Similarly, these same two leadership dimensions are reected in Crowthers description of teacher leaders as displaying an enthusiasm that was contagious, and having an ability to inspire others and raise their expectations. A review of other attempts to dene teacher leadership also indicates an afnity with transformational leadership. Thus, Silva and co-authors (2000) description of teacher leaders as nurturers of relationships and models of professional growth echo aspects of the individual consideration dimension. Equally, their account of teacher leaders as encouragers of change, and challengers of the status quo, reects the spirit of the intellectual stimulation dimension. Similarly, the teacher leader qualities emphasized by Darling-Hammond et al. (1995) such as openness to new ways of doing things and the modelling of learning reect aspects of the intellectual stimulation and individual consideration transformational leadership dimensions. Furthermore, the mentoring, coaching and developmental aspects of Berry and Ginsburgs (1990) view of teacher leaders are totally consistent with the transformational leadership characteristics. A more recent study of teacher leadership in the USA carried out by Beachum and Dentith (2004) led its authors to associate teacher leadership with leadership theories that emphasize the inspiration and facilitation of others, that focus on the embodiment of others vision, values and beliefs and the organization of mutually agreed upon goals, and that guide others in their self-development. These theories are echoed in all four of transformational leadership dimensions. Finally, York-Barr and Duke (2004) have described the characteristics and abilities of teacher leaders based on a comprehensive review of two decades of teacher leadership scholarship. Amongst the qualities identied, their description highlights the ability of the teacher leader to build trust and rapport with colleagues, promote their growth, and be a good communicator and listener, all qualities that are reected particularly in the idealized inuence, inspirational motivation and individual consideration aspects of transformational leadership.
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In summary, third wave teacher leaders inuence colleagues without the formal trappings of leadership but by qualities, characteristics and approaches that are reminiscent of the transformational leadership construct (Bass, 1985). In view of Sherrills (1999) argument that one of the core expectations of a teacher leader is exemplary classroom instruction, Crowthers (1997) reference to the pedagogical excellence of teacher leaders, descriptions of teacher leaders as modelers of learning (Darling-Hammond et al., 1995) and as developers and modelers of effective forms of teaching (Harris and Muijs, 2003), an examination of teacher leaders qualities in the classroom would appear to be a valid extension of teacher leadership research that could prove fruitful. This is because one possible explanation of the connection between the characteristics of teacher leaders described above and their exemplary classroom instruction is that teacher leaders display their transformational leadership characteristics in the classroom and this gives rise to excellent classroom performance. There is certainly little doubt that in the teacher leadership notion, teaching and leadership are inexorably intertwined. Literature spanning 20 years reviewed by York-Barr and Duke (2004) suggests that the respect afforded teacher leaders in their leadership roles is grounded solidly on their reputations as excellent classroom performers. Arguably, it is this respect that creates the environment conducive to teacher leaders exercise of their transformational qualities. In this context, examination of teacher leaders classroom behaviours using transformational leadership as a frame of reference could go some way to explaining why excellent teachers tend to become teacher leaders (Snell and Swanson, 2000) and, conversely, why teacher leaders are generally excellent teachers. It is possible that these individuals possess transformational leadership qualities that lend themselves to effective performance in both the teaching and leadership areas. Should this prove to be the case, the examination should indicate a possible avenue for developing a fourth wave conceptualization of teacher leadership. A review of the literature on the effects of leadership style/behaviours in the classroom and the outcomes of transformational leadership both in an instructional environment and generally provides evidence that teacher leaders transformational classroom leadership characteristics may account for their perceived pedagogical excellence (Crowther, 1997: 6).

The Effect of Classroom Leadership Style

Chengs (1994) study, conducted in Hong Kong and involving a sample of 678 classrooms in 190 primary schools, employed a task (initiating structure) versus maintenance (consideration) conceptualization of classroom leadership. Cheng worked on the premise that a classroom is a small social organization with teacher as leader and students as followers, a premise supported by Luechauer and Shulman (2002). He also categorized teachers as high task-low maintenance, low task-low maintenance, high task-high maintenance and low task-high
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maintenance based on student responses to an adapted version of the Leader Behaviour Description Questionnaire (Halpin, 1966; Ho, 1989). Cheng related classroom leadership to classroom social climate, a notion based on the work of Moos and Tricket (1974) that includes the following factors: involvement, afliation, teacher support, task orientation, competition, order and organization, rule clarity, teacher control and innovation. He also examined the inuence of classroom leadership on students affective performance that includes such dimensions as self-concept, attitude to peers, attitude to the school, attitude to teachers and self-efcacy of learning. Chengs overall ndings are quite detailed but the nding that is especially pertinent to this article is that leadership style has a strong and positive effect on classroom social climate and student affective performance. Similarly, in the context of science education in Australian schools, Rickards and Fisher (1996) employed the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI) (Wubbels and Levy, 1993; Wubbels et al., 1991) to examine, amongst other things, the effect of students perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour on student achievement and attitude to class. The QTI contains seven dimensions, one of which is leadership conceived of as the ability to convey enthusiasm for the subject matter, to display condence, hold attention and to know what is happening in the classroom. Rickards and Fisher (1996) found that students achievement and attitude to class were signicantly and positively correlated with teachers classroom leadership as dened in the QTI. Other dimensions of the QTI that were positively correlated with student attitude and achievement were teachers helpful/friendly and understanding behaviours. Wubbels and colleagues (1997), who collected data from over 50,000 students, also noted that according to students, the best teachers are strong classroom leaders who are also friendly and understanding. Similarly, in the UK context, the Hay McBer Report (2000) on teaching effectiveness in schools identied the following three factors that signicantly inuenced pupil progress: teaching skills, professional characteristics and classroom climate. The professional characteristics factor in particular revolves around teachers leadership behaviours such as challenging and supporting pupils, exhibiting self-condence, consistency and fairness, respect for others, setting targets that stretch performance and holding pupils accountable for performance. The Hay McBer Report demonstrated that good performers in the above three factors positively impacted classroom climate which, in turn, strongly correlated with student academic progress. In sum, the Hay McBer ndings indicated that the classroom leadership behaviours described in the report as professional characteristics were one of the signicant factors inuencing student academic performance. Thus, the limited research on the inuence of leadership in the classroom generally indicates that effective classroom leadership can have a positive inuence on student attitude in class and student achievement. Studies that have focused specically on transformational classroom leadership have generally taken place in a university setting. Ojode and colleagues
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(1999) and Walumbwa and Ojode (2000) examined the effects of transformational-transactional leadership in the university classroom. The former study (Ojode et al., 1999) employed a version of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) (Bass and Avolio, 1995) modied slightly for a classroom setting. Thus, for example, the term leader was changes to read instructor, and the term group to read class. Using a small sample of graduate students (57) in a US university, the study indicated that, generally, the transformational leadership dimensions and one of the transactional leadership dimensions, namely Contingent Reward, were positively and signicantly correlated with the outcome variables in the MLQ: student willingness to put in extra effort, classroom leadership effectiveness and student satisfaction with classroom leadership. The follow up investigation (Walumbwa and Ojode, 2000) used a larger sample (429) and included graduate and undergraduate students. The major focus of this study was the effect of student gender on perceptions of transformational-transactional leadership. In the course of the investigation, the study conrmed the results of the 1999 research. A more recent study conducted in Hong Kong also afrmed the benecial effects of transformational leadership in the university classroom (Pounder, 2005). The Hong Kong study employed a version of the MLQ (Bass and Avolio, 2000) tailored to a classroom environment and was carried out in the Business School of one of Hong Kongs eight accredited universities. The study, involving ve university teachers and over 400 students, indicated that there was a strong and positive association between the transformational leadership style in the classroom and leadership outcomes measured as the ability of the teacher to generate extra study effort on the part of the students, students perception of their teachers classroom leadership effectiveness, and students satisfaction with their teacher. Taken together, the three studies indicate that certainly in a university environment, there is an association between transformational leadership displayed in the classroom and exemplary classroom performance, to coin Sherrills (1999) term used in a teacher leader context.

The Outcomes of Transformational Leadership

The benecial effects of transformational leadership in the classroom discussed above are consistent with the ndings generally on the outcomes of transformational leadership. Thus, research in the general leadership literature conrms the classroom ndings that transformational leadership has a positive inuence on subordinates effort and satisfaction (Bass and Avolio, 1990; Bycio et al., 1995; Howell and Frost, 1989; Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1996; Parry, 2000). This positive inuence has been observed in a variety of contexts (see, for example, Gellis, 2001; Hoover, 1991; Podsakoff et al., 1990; Yammarino and Bass, 1990). In addition to conrming the results of the classroom studies, leadership studies generally have indicated some further benets of prima facie relevance
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to education. Hence, Slater and Narver (1995), Farrel (2000) and Coad and Berry (1999) have pointed to enhanced learning resulting from transformational leadership whilst Howell and Higgins (1990), Sosik (1997) and Al-Beraidi and Rickards (2003) have found empirical support for the benecial effects of transformational leadership on innovation and creativity. Finally, the research of Atwater et al. (1991), and Parry and Proctor-Thomson (2002) appears to conrm the Carlson and Perrewe (1995) assertion that transformational leadership is viewed as the best approach for instilling ethical behaviour in organizations (p. 5). The implications for the teacher leadership notion are immense if, in addition to the benets observed in the classroom studies discussed above, transformational teacher leaders are also able to enhance student learning, creativity and ethical behaviour as indicated in the ndings of the general leadership literature.

The literature drawn upon for this article lends support to a tentative hypothesis that teacher leaders employ transformational leadership qualities in the classroom that lead to the perception that they are exemplary teachers. Certainly research on transformational leadership generally and specically in the university classroom indicates that such a style is well received and generates a high degree of satisfaction among those being led (i.e. in the classroom context, students). Aside from the positive reaction on the part of students to the transformational style in the classroom, it seems that this style may also attract specic educational benets. For example, one tangible benet revealed by the recent Hong Kong study (Pounder, 2005) is that transformational classroom leadership enlists extra effort on the part of students and a number of studies have linked student effort with academic performance (Carbonaro, 2005; Eskew and Faley, 1989; Johnson et al., 2002; Michaels and Miethe, 1989; Naser and Peel, 1998; Williams and Clark, 2002). General leadership literature also hints at the possibility that transformational classroom leadership enlists enhanced learning, creativity and ethical behaviour. Whilst much of what is concluded here is rather speculative and certainly more empirical studies are required to conrm these conclusions, in this authors view, there appears to be sufcient grounds to justify such studies. Two assumptions in particular merit further investigation. The rst concerns the extent to which a classroom may be considered akin to a small social organization as proposed by Cheng (1994) and Luechauer and Shulman (2002) because the argument on the transferability of transformational leadership benets from the largely commercial to the classroom context rests on this premise. The studies of Ojode and colleagues (1999), Walumbwa and Ojode (2000) and Pounder (2005) support the assumption given that the kind of transformational leadership outcomes observed in studies of more traditional organizational settings appear to be replicated in a classroom context. More
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studies of the effects of transformational leadership in the classroom are needed before solid conclusions can be reached on the validity of this assumption. Second, additional studies are required to establish a rm link between the teacher leadership and transformational classroom leadership notions. Teacher leadership is a concept squarely embedded in the school context and there appears to be no obviously equivalent notion in a higher educational setting. However, studies of transformational classroom leadership have generally emanated from a university context. In this authors view, the absence of the teacher leadership idea in a university setting is an omission because most of us who have spent a substantial portion of our working lives in higher education have come across colleagues who t the bill of teacher leaders. Amongst their many qualities, such colleagues are usually excellent teachers, eager to share best practice, dedicated to student learning and committed to curriculum enhancement. They are often found in programme or course leadership roles. However, university teacher leaders tend to have a lower prole than their school counterparts due to the pressure on universities for research output, a pressure that is absent in the case of schools. In sum, the research agenda in universities tends to deect the spotlight away from teacher leadership which could explain the neglect of the concept in a higher education context. Therefore, examining the transferability of the teacher leadership notion to a higher education context seems to be a potentially rich area for further study. Specically, this article argues for further study of the link between teacher leadership and transformational classroom leadership, either in a school or university context but ideally in both contexts. Should further studies reveal that teacher leaders display transformational leadership qualities both in the classroom and in the school/university in general, the teacher leadership notion has been advanced to a fourth wave. This fourth wave will be broader than previous conceptualizations in two ways: rst, it will include teacher leaders transformational classroom leadership qualities and second, it will hopefully embrace both school and university contexts. References
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Biographical note
JA M E S S . P O U N D E R

is currently Dean of Business at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates. He holds doctorates in both management and education and has published in both areas. He research interests include leadership and organizational effectiveness in higher education.

Correspondence to:
JA M E S S . P O U N D E R ,

Dean of Business Programmes, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. [email:]

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