Going beyond perception : a case study of three teacher leaders in a rural secondary school.
Teacher leadership is a relatively new concept in the South African educational research context. It is in line with the expectation of the Department of Education which envisage that schools be managed effectively, professionally and democratically. The issues of democracy and the empowerment of ordinary teachers with leadership skills are postulated in the South African Schools’ Act of (1996) and the Task Team Report on Education Management and Development, 1996. The purpose of the study is to explore how teacher leadership is enacted in a rural secondary school in the deep rural area of Msinga in the Umzinyathi District in KwaZulu-Natal and to find out the enhancing factors and the barriers to this enactment. The research design followed a qualitative approach. A case study methodology was adopted with the case being a school and three teacher leaders as the units of analysis. Data were collected through questionnaires, focus group interviews, school and participant observation as well as a self-reflective journaling process. The research was informed by distributed leadership theory. The findings revealed that in the case study school even though there are challenges like the lack of parental support, the school is conducive to the enactment of teacher leadership. All teacher leaders were found to be free to pursue their respective leadership initiatives. They were involved in leadership in the classroom and beyond (Grant, 2008) which involve zone 1, zone 2, zone 3 and zone 4. TL 1’s activities were centered around organizing academic and non-academic events in the school, which indicated the teacher operating in the zone of the school (z 3). TL 2’s leadership roles were found to be mainly within the classroom as well as in the zone of a teacher’s activities involving continuing to teach and improve one’s own teaching (z 1). TL 3’s main area of operation was found to be in extra-mural activities, wherein his activities were found to be involving the children in the zone of the teacher’s dealing with the children (z 2). The enactment of teacher leadership in a case study school was helped mainly by the School Management Team’s willingness to offer a space for each and every individual teacher to exhibit his / her capabilities. Moreover, there was a sufficient space for all teachers to be part of a decision-making process.