Chapter 26: How rural principals motivate teacher professional learning in unfavourable environments: a mixed-methods study in China
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Guided by social exchange theory, this study proposes that recognition, support, and appreciation from instructional leadership promote high-quality relationships between principals and teachers, which shape how teachers appraise their exchange relationship with principals and affect their professional learning engagement. We employed a mixed-methods study to collect research data. Based on the survey data from 5,391 teachers, a structural equations model (M-plus) was used for testing the relationship between different dimensions of instructional leadership, leader-member exchange (LMX), and teacher professional learning. The findings show a mediating role of LMX between different dimensions of instructional leadership and teacher professional learning. Then, data from one selected school show how the principal adopts instructional leadership strategies to motivate teacher professional learning in unfavourable environments. These results develop more fine-grained and culturally sensitive theories of instructional leadership and different effects of dimensions of instructional leadership, which contribute to a better understanding of instructional leadership effectiveness.

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