An investigation into the factors that help or hinder teacher leadership : case studies of three urban primary schools in the Pietermaritzburg region.
Rajagopaul, Shavitha Mathuri.
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This study was done in order to determine whether teachers are taking on leadership roles in their schools. The following questions were posed: What factors exist in schools that help or hinder teacher leadership? What structures need to be in place for teachers to be leaders? How does the culture of the school support or creates barriers to teacher leadership? And, finally , what personal factors enhance or inhibit teacher leadership? This dissertation takes the form of case studies of three urban primary schools in the Pietermaritzburg region. The study is qualitative in nature and examines the leadership roles that teachers are undertaking, with the intention of identifying and exploring the factors that help or hinder teacher leadership. To ascertain the responses of teachers, a questionnaire, as well as semi-structured interviews were used. The principals who participated in the study were also interviewed to ascertain their views on teacher leadership. South Africa is a relatively new democracy with a host of new policies. The one that is of relevance to this study is the Norms and Standards for Educators (2000). This policy prescribes that teachers are required to undertake seven roles . Of these seven roles , the one that is of particular relevance to this study, is the role of leader, administrator and manager. This role, as prescribed by policy, implies that teachers are expected to undertake leadership roles , both in and out of the classroom. What is of interest, however, is whether and to what extent, this policy prescription is implemented in the school. The findings revealed that schools in the study were characterized by structures that were 'top-down' , and that leadership roles in these schools were delegated, rather than distributed. Findings also pointed to a number of barriers to teachers taking on leadership roles . These included time constraints, rigid attitudes of principals and school management team members as well as the impact of taking on additional roles and responsibilities, on the personal lives of teachers. Some recommendations in order for leadership to succeed in South Africa would be, firstly , that steps should to be taken to implement and encourage teacher leadership. This would entail a change in mindset on the part of principals in particular, many of whom would have to radically revise their views of what constitutes leadership and who should lead. Secondly, there should be a movement away from delegated leadership towards a more distributed form of leadership. Thirdly, it is also the recommendation of this study that the creation of a collaborative culture in schools will create an enabling environment for teacher leadership to flourish.