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Managing “challenging” teachers

Eliezer Yariv (Gordon College for Education, Haifa, Israel)
Marianne Coleman (School of Educational Foundations and Policy Studies, Institute of Education, London University, London, UK)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the ways in which elementary school principals in Israel deal with teachers who are “challenging” in their behaviour, that is those who are perceived as under‐performing. This is an important and under‐researched area of educational management.


Interviews were carried out with 40 elementary school principals, every fourth school being sampled in the northern district of Haifa. They were asked to recall a particularly difficult teacher and their shortcomings and then asked about the measures they took, in chronological order, to solve the problem.


The findings indicated that the principals preferred supportive measures or making changes to the organization rather than confronting the teachers. More than half the principals had started by ignoring the difficulties. In the end most did discuss the situation with the teacher and that sometimes involved direct criticism. In half of the cases the teacher left the school by the end of the year.

Research implications/limitations

The research findings are limited as they only relate to the views of the principals, leading to the possibility of researcher empathy with the principals. Further research might investigate the teachers perspective.

Practical implications

From a practical point‐of‐view, the current findings indicate that elementary school principals need to be better equipped with knowledge, managerial skills and sources of assistance to solve personnel difficulties.


This paper adds to the limited literature on the subject of under‐performing teachers and reveals the resulting personnel difficulties faced by principals.



Yariv, E. and Coleman, M. (2005), "Managing “challenging” teachers", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 330-346.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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