The accountability associated with the No Child Left Behind legislation has increased principals' responsibilities and affected principals' use of time. This study examines strategies principals use to manage their time so as to maintain a focus on instruction when time is in short supply, priorities compete, and there are multiple expectations. Specifically, the researcher was interested in discovering how principals maintain a focus on instruction while mediating multiple expectations. A review of three categories of representative literature was made: the principal's evolving role in instruction, conceptions of time, and the instructional leader acting in the best interest of learning and the learner.
The first research question investigated the ways Pennsylvania elementary public school principals think about and speak of time. Time in the principalship is spent in meetings, discussions with teachers, dealing with students with special needs, observations, student's arrival and dismissal, and announcements as well as on budget areas, discipline issues, environment checks, classroom visits, paperwork, parent organizations, assessment results, unexpected situations, and e-mail. Principals' view of time has changed based on experience as a principal, change in position, No Child Left Behind legislation, and not having enough time. Principals defined time by using metaphors, a clock, and body time perspective, as well as in geometric terms. The second research question looked at strategies principals employed to manage their time. Principals managed their time by using a calendar or scheduled events, prioritization, their secretary, extra hours put in, technology, lists and notes, color coding, paperwork management, delegation of responsibilities, and literature. The third research question looked at what principals considered the most important and least important uses of their time. The most important uses of time involved people, curriculum and instruction, and having a presence in the school. The least important uses of time involved dealing with parents, paperwork, meetings, and email.
The fourth research question looked at how principals define instructional leadership and how the context of accountability changed the definition. Principals defined instructional leadership based on the learner, learning, and professional development.
The fifth and sixth research questions looked at the extent to which and the ways principals perceived the availability or absence of time as having an impact on their professional practices as an instructional leader and the contextual forces and influences facilitating or hindering their use of time specific to instruction, student learning, and achievement.
Findings from this study show there are specific implications for practice and future research within the areas of time, instructional leadership, and leadership. Related to time, future research might examine how ethnicity or geographic location affects an individual's definition and use of time. Related to instructional leadership, future research needs to confirm the instructional leadership definition developed through review of the literature and research. The study provides practitioners with a list of 10 areas of advice for new principals and 10 time management strategies for practicing administrators. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)