Secondary principals describe excellent teachers

Year: 2002

Author: Vallance, Roger

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports a case study of interviews with school principals. Principals in four Catholic secondary schools in metropolitan Perth were asked to nominate teachers they considered to be excellent. The sample of nineteen teachers nominated comprised a two year longitudinal study: their experiences of classrooms, career aspirations and professional development. The four principals were re-contacted towards the end of the teachers' study. This paper reports the principals' expressions of why they selected particular staff as excellent teachers and what excellence in teaching means to these principals.

The interviews of this study were conducted towards the end of the longitudinal teachers' study. The interviews were semi-structured, conducted in the principal's office and were audio recorded with their explicit permission. These principals had each over twenty five years in education, had been principal of at least one previous school and had been at least four years as principal in their present school. The interviews tapped a depth of tacit knowledge of educational leadership in secondary schools.

This paper explores how principals understand quality education and the personal qualities they associate with good teachers. The conversations reflect on their understanding of what teaching means and the nature of professional teachers. Each of these principals develops a strong model of the professional teacher in a Catholic secondary school.