Leading teaching and learning in an overcrowded classroom: experiences of four teachers in two secondary schools.
Biyela, Bonakele Ntombiyomusa.
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The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ experiences of leading teaching and learning in complex conditions of overcrowded classrooms. The study was conducted in two secondary schools in King Cetshwayo District. The study intended to understand teaching practices enacted by teachers leading teaching and learning in overcrowded classrooms. Again, the focus was to explore challenges experienced by teachers leading teaching and learning in overcrowded classrooms. Lastly, the objective was to elicit the strategies applied by teachers to respond to challenges they experience in overcrowded classrooms. In order to understand strategies enacted by teachers in overcrowded classroom conditions, the context responsive and adaptive leadership was adopted as a theoretical framework in this study. Methodologically this study was located within the interpretivist paradigm which views reality as subjective and emanating from peoples’ lives and experiences. In addition, the case study research methodology was adopted to understand the participants’ experiences. Two methods were used to generate data, namely, semi-structured interviews and observation. The interview sessions were recorded using a tape recorder before there were analysed. Thematic analyses method was used to analyse data generated through both interviews and observations. The study found that teachers are not well equipped with skills to enable them to teach in overcrowded classrooms. Teachers lack training and support from District officials and the Department of Basic Education at large. Teachers experience numerous challenges in overcrowded classrooms, including violence (fights in classrooms), high noise levels and cheating among learners emanating from stress caused by seating arrangements and lack of space. The study showed that these teachers do not capitulate to the challenges of overcrowding, but they improvise and discuss strategies between themselves, meet regularly with individual learners to ensure quality teaching. Finally, the study revealed that the schools in which study was conducted assist teachers through intervention by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and school management teams (SMT).
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