|dc.description.abstract||Nearly four in ten state school principals in Queensland are teaching principal. They work alone or with one other teacher in schools. Yet these teaching principals, located in isolated country areas attract limited attention in research into school leadership. They seem absent in theoretical models of educational leadership built from analyses of principals in large urban schools. In effect, smaller schools are viewed as ‘scaled down’ versions of larger schools, underpinning a false assumption that leadership and managerial approaches in small remote schools are similar to those in larger urban schools. Or the problem is dismissed. If there is only one full-time staff member—the teaching principal—is leadership possible and if so, what influences it?
The purpose of this study was to examine teaching principal leadership as a particular phenomenon of school leadership. This was done by exploring the experiential accounts of teaching principals in one-teacher schools in remote rural Queensland settings. Their accounts describe their experiences and perceptions of the leadership practice needed to lead their schools, the influences upon this practice, their reactions to those influences and what constituted success in leadership.
A case study design was used, guided by the theoretical underpinnings of the symbolic interactionist, who argues that meaning is to be found in the interactions between social actors. Qualitative data were derived from six beginning teaching principals’ perceptions of experiences related to practice. Data were analysed using grounded theory methods, especially with the use of constant comparison. A cross case comparison showed a number of consistent influences on leadership.
Findings from the study extend recent reconceptualisations of school leadership particularly, understanding the importance of relationship building. Relationship building in the remote rural settings studied occurred at various levels: professional, school-based, personal, and community-wide. Principals who understand the importance of relationship building—especially its personal and community-wide facets—who take the initiative in establishing and nurturing relationships and improving them through reflection over time, are more successful at motivating, inspiring, and aligning country people to facilitate change. The acquisition of supportive relationships is presented as a possible precursor to school leadership in small remote rural school settings.||