Leading 21st century schools : an exploratory case study of leadership practices adopted by principals in rural context.
Maifala, Selaelo Sylvia.
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The aim of this study was to explore the daily leadership practices adopted by principals in the rural context within the 21st century. Using the daily leadership practices, the study sought to explore the extent to which their practices manifest awareness of what is required from principals of the 21st century. Further, the contextual challenges they face as well as how they were addressed were also explored and used to evaluate their awareness of the what is expected from a 21st century principal. Literature relating to school leadership were reviewed and the Complexity Leadership Theory used as a framework for the study. It was conducted within the interpretive paradigm and the qualitative research methodology and design were used. Five principals working in Polokwane District Municipality were sampled to participate in the study. Data was generated using a primary method of semi-structured interviews and a secondary method of non-participative participant observations. The findings revealed some daily leadership practices that correspond with literature on effective 21st century leadership practices namely; performing management tasks, inclusion of teachers in planning and decisions, parents’ involvement and creating a conducive environment for teaching and learning. However, the findings also revealed that although parental involvement is included in the principals’ daily leadership practices, it is not utilised in ways that support 21st support 21st century leadership. Further, the findings revealed that in other areas of the principals’ daily leadership practices such as their harm to instructional time, practices do not manifest awareness of what is required from 21st century principals. The challenges revealed in this study are as follows; insufficient human resources, adequate parental involvement, security and sufficient support from the department. Principals address these challenges through engaging the department, the police and other stakeholders. Revealing awareness that 21st century schools require collaboration of different stakeholders to thrive. It was therefore concluded that principals have some awareness of what is expected of them as school leaders of the 21st century while other areas remain lacking. Based on the findings, recommendations were made to the principals, the department of basic education as well as to other researchers for further study.