Challenges and constraints : a case study of three teacher leaders in a township high school.
Many changes have occurred in the South African education field since 1994. New education policies came into existence that were aimed at shifting from the management practices, which have been traditionally top–down and authoritarian, to more democratic and participative styles of leadership and management. However, despite all the policies that have been put in place, relationships in the majority of schools remain hierarchical with very little shared decision–making. Many South African schools in reality are still organised as hierarchies. Despite the introduction of democratic decision making structures such as the School Management Team and the School Governing Bodies, in practice in many schools principals still make all the decisions and hand them down to the rest of the staff. Many principals find it difficult to change from a highly authoritarian, hierarchical way of thinking to one that requires sharing of control with teachers, parents and students. Therefore, the aim of this study was to find out how teacher leadership was enacted by Level one teachers in one township high school and to investigate the factors that either enhanced or hindered this enactment. The whole study was conducted within an interpretive paradigm. I used this paradigm because as a researcher I believe that people define their actions by providing different interpretations of the situations they find themselves in. I also agree with Guba and Lincoln (1989) who state that the “evaluation outcomes are not descriptions of the ways things really are or really work” instead they “represent meaningful constructions that individual actors or groups of actors form to make sense of the situations they find themselves in” (p.8). Case study methodology was used to frame the investigation of the research questions. Quantitative data were collected through a survey questionnaire from all staff members who were my secondary participants. Qualitative data was collected from my three primary participants, through the use of focus and individual group interviews, self reflective journals and observations.