Going the extra mile : a case study of five teacher leaders in a deep rural primary school.
Ngcobo, Sikhulekile General.
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My study is aligned with the school context. In the school context, there is a formal leadership structure which ensures smooth running of the institution. The success of the school is reliant on the management and leadership style of these formal leaders. In addition to this, these formal leaders guide, control and supervise other teachers in the school. There is a great need for co-operation among those who lead and the led. Sour relationships among these two groups in the school make proper functionality in the school impossible. It is for this reason that I wanted to study how can teachers lead schools better to ensure that they are professional places of teaching and learning. As a school Principal, I strongly believe that after this study, I will have an additional understanding of proper and effective leadership and management that will improve my leadership style. Teachers who are teaching in schools are regarded as professionals. I therefore decided to study these teachers’ understanding of professionalism. This will indeed add value to my personal knowledge and my personal leadership style because after this I will be having a clearer understanding of teachers’ understanding of professionalism. The Norms and Standards for Educators (2000) clearly spells out the seven roles of and educator. This helps me to understand if the teachers do align themselves to these roles as encapsulated in the document. Hoyle, (1980) has written about professionalism and my study seeks to understand if the teachers do behave as he proposes they should, as professionals. I also believe that teachers are professional if they engage themselves in teacher leadership roles in the school irrespective of being in formal positions or not. In our South African context, the concept teacher leadership is fairly new. Researchers like Grant (2006), Singh (2007), Ntuzela (2008), Nene (2010) and Mpangase (2010) have found that in the South African schools’ context , teacher leadership is not given attention that it deserves. Therefore in this study, I decided to focus on these two related concepts for the school effectiveness, teacher leadership and professionalism. I then decided to study the factors that hinder or enhance teacher leadership and professionalism in schools. I did this so as to try to address the concern raised by the scholars above which is not getting the necessary attention for teacher leadership to flourish. To get the answers for my research questions, I decided to include teachers in formal leadership positions as well as teachers with no formal leadership positions as my unit of analysis. This enabled me to get views from all parties in the school. I then decided to use various data collection methods to generate data to assure trustworthiness and validity of my findings. This has been a learning process for me as a novice researcher. The major findings were that in order for a school to be a professional place for teaching and learning, both formal leaders and informal leaders should play their roles fully and tirelessly. It also highlighted the point that informal leaders will only play leadership roles if formal leaders open the doors for them to lead. Full findings of the study are discussed in the dissertation. Finally, recommendations have been made for further research in this regard.