Dr. Travis Burns, Ed.D.

Connect. Engage. Inspire.

A Few Words on the Importance of Organizational Justice in Schools

School principals may influence learning outcomes by shaping and fostering a school culture that promotes justice. This occurs through the principal’s interactions with teachers, fair application and enforcement of policies and procedures, and through the development of school practices that support teacher task performance. When teachers have favorable opinions of justice they may be more apt to engage in non-mandatory task performance such as volunteering to serve on a school improvement committee, providing advance notice prior to taking personal leave, or giving up planning time or staying after school hours to tutor students.  In the aggregate these “extra role” professional behaviors may serve to enhance student achievement.

School leaders who ignore the implications of developing and sustaining a culture of justice do so at their own peril.  Teachers who perceive incongruence between their efforts and recognition and/or awards received for their efforts may be more likely to hold a cynical view of justice.  Cynical perceptions of justice may lead to undesirable work behaviors such as sabotage, lateness behavior, and minimal work effort.  In turn, student achievement as measured by standardized performance measures may significantly wane.

Below is a list of helpful tips principals may use to promote justice in their respectful schools.  These tips are summarized and adapted from the work of Hoy & Tarter, 2004.*

  1. Be equitable in celebrating individual and group successes.
  2. Be perceived as fair in the assignment of duties (examples: lunch duty, bus duty, etc.).
  3. Allow teachers to have a voice.  Maintain an “open door” policy.
  4. Be open and sensitive to the needs of teachers when communicating bad/negative information.
  5. Strike a balance between consistency and flexibility in the application of procedures and rules.  Be mindful of how often you say “no” and how often you say “yes.”
  6. Put the mission of the school first (self-interest should be subordinated to the good of the whole).
  7. Take responsibility for mistakes and correct them.
  8. Base decisions on data as opposed to rumor and innuendo.
  9. Actively seek the opinions of staff members.
  10. Be honest, open, sincere, trustworthy, and impartial in all your actions.

*Hoy, W. K. & Tarter, C. J. (2004). Organizational justice in schools: No justice without trust. International Journal of Educational Management, 18, 250-259.


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This entry was posted on September 30, 2012 by and tagged , , , , .

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