Wee, Eng Lee
Principals’ communication style and parents’ involvement in school.
University of Southampton, Southampton Education School,
Communication skills have been recognised as critical to school leadership. The evolution of social culture, the complexity of human relations and the change in today?s schooling systems require school leaders to be highly competent in their communication skills. The aim of the study was to explore the links between principals? communication styles and parents? involvement in Malaysian secondary schools. A comparative qualitative case study was employed. The conversations of three principals and six parents from three different schools were observed and video-recorded. The participants were also interviewed and field notes were taken throughout the fieldwork. Data were analysed using multimodal discourse analysis based on the conceptual definitions and empirical indicators of communicative style adapted from Brandt (1979) and Norton (1978; 1983). Analysis of verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal observations and interview data indicates that all three principals present very similar styles, namely friendly, open, relaxed, attentive and animated. The principals? communication styles are task-oriented and generally shaped by their roles and responsibilities as school leaders. However, the styles present by parents are more varied. They presented at least seven styles, namely friendly, open, relaxed, attentive, animated, dominant and contentious in 35?45 minute conversations with the principal. The parents adopted daily communication styles that are generally shaped by the complex processes of socialisation and tend to show more complex styles of speaking in order to achieve their personal communication goals. The findings show that informal communication is the most effective way to encourage parents to become involved in school. Examination of interview data with the principals and parents also concludes that being friendly, committed, respectful, transparent, appreciative and honest is the most influential way of building a meaningful school?home partnership
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