Short Title

Building Leadership Capacity


building capacity, continuous improvement, instructional leadership, leadership behavior, professional learning


Effective school leaders focus on identifying the changes needed to improve student learning. However, school improvement is often reduced to a checklist of compliance activities, and, consequently, achievement gaps continue to stay the status quo, or even widen. This paper reports on a qualitative case study analyzing how professional learning was implemented by 17 school leaders within a northern Michigan intermediate school district. From 2016-2020, the authors conducted semi-structured interviews, administered a participant needs survey, and analyzed artifacts from a professional learning series for principals. The series, Building Leadership Capacity, was framed using Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, as well as current educational leadership standards. We found that the principals failed to implement strategies that could have stimulated instructional growth for teachers and students in their schools. We illuminate three challenges principals face when implementing such strategies: 1) leadership capacity, 2) support from district office, and 3) transiency. Overall, results of this study accentuate the role school superintendents play in ensuring principals engage in intentional learning, collaboration with peers, and job-embedded coaching.



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