Future School Leaders’ Perceptions of their Roles in Reading Instruction, 7(5)


  • Nancy Zeller
  • Lynn Bradshaw
  • Sharon Haley


This qualitative study examines participants in a masters’ degree level principal development program in terms of their preparation to be instructional leaders in the area of literacy. Data were collected by means of face-to-face interviews and focus group interviews. During the analysis of the data, we found it helpful to categorize the participants in terms of their own literacy background, what we term their “reading heritage.” The four categories that emerged were “avid reader,” “positive reader,” “utilitarian reader,” and “reluctant reader.” We then looked at the data in terms of the value added by the principal development program, asking whether the “avid” and “positive” readers experienced the program differently than the “utilitarian” and “reluctant” readers. We found that the “avid” and “positive” readers had markedly different experiences and heard very different messages than the “utilitarian” and “reluctant” readers taking the same courses. We conclude that although principal development programs may include courses in instructional supervision and leadership, if there is no consideration of the participants’ literacy background, these courses will not necessarily produce graduates prepared to practice instructional leadership with regard to literacy. We recommend, then, that a course, or at least a module, in the organization and management of reading instruction and/or reading programs be considered as a required component of a principal development program.