'The need to behave as professionals' : a case study of five teacher leaders in an urban primary school in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
South Africa is a complex country that has undergone fundamental changes in the last sixteen years. One of the major areas that have been greatly affected by these changes is education. Due to these drastic changes, schools are being placed under tremendous pressure to deal effectively with this reformation. In addition, the strike action in (2007) and the recent strike action in (2010) that occurred in our country, brought the teaching profession once again in dispute. The broader public has therefore become very curious in their quest to find out if teachers are promoting effective teaching and learning in their schools. In light of this, this dissertation works from the premise that these teachers play an important role as leaders in their schools. The need to act as professionals is crucial, if teachers are to be positive role models to their learner. The aim of this study is to discover how teachers understand professionalism, and to investigate some of the obstacles or challenges they face in leading their schools to be professional places for teaching and learning. The study was designed as a case study which was conducted within the interpretive paradigm and was mainly qualitative in nature. Data was gathered by means of survey questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, a focus group interview, documents and observations. The case study was an urban primary school in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Data was predominantly qualitative and was analysed using thematic content analysis. Findings of the study indicate that teachers understand professionalism to mean training for a specific period of time with the necessary skills and knowledge to impart into our learners. Also it is a specific code of ethics. The main barriers to teacher leadership and professionalism were a lack of empowerment by management and an overemphasis on control by the principal, the lack of parental involvement with regards to teaching and learning and the behaviour portrayed by some teachers that of frequent absenteeism became a barrier in performing their duties professionally. The enhancing factors were that teachers worked collaboratively with each other.