The enactment of teacher leadership: a case study of three schools in the Pinetown District.
Ngcobo, Siphindile Anne-Marry.
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Post 1994, the vision of the South African education policy system was to transform schools into more effective places of teaching and learning. To achieve this vision, educational policies suggest a shift or realignment in management practices from traditional autocratic headship to more participatory leadership practices. This means a call for teacher leadership to accommodate the new shift to a democratic dispensation in South Africa. This is because teacher leadership has the potential to positively influence, nurture and support educational improvement efforts of other teachers. This paradigm shift assumes that effective leadership and management of schools might secure and sustain school improvement. It is evident from this study that a lot needs to be done in South African schools to embrace the concept and practice of teacher leadership in order to address factors that seem to impede the implementation of teacher leadership. Against this backdrop, the purpose of my study was to explore the enactment of teacher leadership in three schools in the Pinetown District. The study explores how teacher leadership is enacted in schools by looking at factors which enhance or inhibit enactment of teacher leadership in schools. My study was conducted within a qualitative interpretive paradigm which adopted a case study strategy in three schools in Pinetown. The study used purposive sampling with two teacher leaders and one HoD per school as the unit of analysis. In this study data was generated using semi-structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews provided me with flexibility in terms of responses, and the freedom to employ follow-up questions in order to obtain clarity and more in-depth feedback. Since the research was qualitative in nature, it resulted in massive transcribed data generated through interviews. Generated data from the research participants during the semi-structured interviews were transcribed into a text. After transcribing data, a process of ‘coding’ was used and each theme was assigned to a specific focus. This means that data was analysed using thematic analysis. The findings of this study indicate that teacher leadership is an unknown concept to teacher leaders but their responses show that teacher leadership was enacted differently at the three school contexts depending on the culture and structure of each school. This study further reveals that teacher leaders who are subject heads seem to deal more with the compliance and regulatory components by ensuring that all is done according to the book. Findings also reveal that teacher leadership is mainly learner and outcomes driven. Furthermore, findings pointed to a number of challenges that negatively impacted on teacher viii leaders’ motivational levels to engage in leadership roles. These challenges included little support from School Management Teams (SMTs) and very little guidance on legal, behavioural guidance and support. The study recommends that teacher leaders should take the initiative in engaging in leadership roles. It also recommends that there should be mediations by the SMT to assist teacher leaders with task performance. This study also recommends that the SMT should recognise and reward teacher leaders for their endless leadership efforts in schools. Lastly, the study recommended that there needs to be role clarification to avoid role conflict and confusion going forward in managing issues around the needs of teacher leaders in schools. The study therefore suggested that there is a necessity to reassign workload and provide time management skills to assist teacher leaders in schools.