Mindful Instructional Leadership Practices of Elementary Principals in Washington State
Peterson, Kevin Jacob
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The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze the mindful instructional leadership of elementary school principals. Specifically, the study addresses the following questions for principals in Washington State: (a) What are their mindful instructional leadership beliefs and practices? (b) How mindful are elementary principals as instructional leaders? and (c) Are there differences in mindful instructional leadership associated with the level of principal experience? The study gathered the self-reported beliefs and practices of elementary principals to determine how mindfulness is integral to instructional leadership. While mindfulness may be a new concept for most principals, understanding how they respond to questions tied to the five cognitive processes of mindfulness provides important clues about the nature and approach to this critical work. It is important to connect mindfulness practices to instructional leadership to help principals pay attention to the components of their leadership in order to improve instruction and increase student outcomes. The study employed a quantitative survey design and was theoretically grounded using two bodies of scholarship. The first conceptual model was derived from the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) Leadership Framework (Kipp et al., 2014). The second body of research that is evident throughout the study comes from high reliability organizations (HRO) with particular attention given to the application of mindfulness practices for educational leaders (Hoy, Gage, & Tarter, 2006). The five constructs of mindfulness include preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and deference to expertise. The study included the design of the Principal Resilience for Educator and Student Success (PRESS) survey instrument to measure mindful instructional leadership practices.Key finding of the study indicate that elementary principals are most mindful in engaging communities and the least mindful in planning with data. The inferential analysis found that there was no significant difference in the relationship between principal experience and mindful instructional leadership. The discussion and findings explore the possible professional development opportunities and future research to examine the relationship of principal experience on factors of instructional leadership.