Exploring the role of leadership and management in school-based teacher-professional development.
This study explored the role of leadership and management in school-based teacher professional development (SBTPD) in one primary school in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The rationale for doing this research was that generic teacher development initiatives in South Africa do not seem to have yielded the intended results. Greater emphasis on SBTPD seems to be the way forward. However, while all South African public schools are expected to run SBTPD, most of them do not seem to succeed in this regard. This study proposed that the quality of leadership and management in a school has a strong influence on the success or failure of SBTPD. However, there is currently lack of knowledge as to what leadership and management practices are associated with successful SBTPD. The literature reviewed revealed a gap in the leadership and management practices that enable SBTPD. In light of these gaps in literature, a detailed case study of one school with a focus on the role of leadership and management in SBTPD was conducted. The theory of the school as a learning organisation was employed as the guiding theoretical lens through which this study was undertaken. As such, this study explored how a school expands its capacity to create its future. The theoretical framework illuminated that creating a learning organisation requires a deep rethinking of the leader’s role in order for schools develop the capacity to carry out their mission. In the context of this background and within a qualitative interpretive paradigm, the study drew on the experiences of teachers, the School Management Team and the Staff Development Team in one school. For the purpose of data generation, semi-structured interviews, were conducted which allowed participants to discuss their experiences and interpretations of the role of leadership and management in SBTPD and to express how they interpreted situations from their own point of view. Data generated from the documents reviewed and observations conducted were scrutinised alongside the data generated from the interviews. The study shows that teachers in being prepared for development opportunities were enthusiastic about either receiving or leading SBTPD. The provisions of such school-based teacher professional development opportunities are largely dependent on the creativity and efficiency of the leadership at the school. Such creativity and efficiency of leadership emerged as SBTPD hallmarks that are associated with Malachi Primary School, the research site. Fostering collegial relationships and communication, individual learning, enabling teamwork and collaboration, celebrating and utilising teachers' excellence, 'aha' moments in leadership, a focus on learning, non-positional leadership and an emerging professional learning community through the provision of varied forms of teacher professional development emerged as the hallmarks of SBTPD. The hallmarks revealed that leadership in practising the five learning disciplines: Systems Thinking; Personal Mastery; Mental Models; Building Shared Vision and Team Learning in concert (Senge, 2006) were able to tap into the commitment, proficiencies, initiative and willingness of teachers to learn and develop holistically with the focus on ongoing improvement in learner achievement.