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Title: Re-imagining novice teachers as leaders and the role they can play in building a community of educational leaders/researchers.


1
Re-imagining novice teachers as leaders and the
role they can play in building a community of
educational leaders/researchers.
  • Presentation by
  • S.Mthiyane C.Grant
  • EMASA Conference 2011, Cape Town- Western Cape

2
Introduction
  • Within every school there is a sleeping giant of
    teacher leadership, which can be a strong
    catalyst for making change. By using the energy
    of teacher leaders as agents of school change,
    the reform of public education will stand a
    better chance of building momentum.

  • Katzenmeyer Moller (2001,p.2)

2
3
Introduction (cont.)
  • Aims to ascertain what potential student
    teachers reflective journals offer for teacher
    leadership development as well as determine
    whether they hold any promise for extending,
    enriching and deepening leadership development
    programmes for serving educators.

3
4
Key questions
  • How, and in what ways, do university student
    teachers engage in the formal process of
    reflective journaling during their teaching
    practice experience?
  • What do these levels of engagement in the process
    of reflective journaling signal about these
    student teachers preparedness to lead when they
    join the teaching profession?
  • How can the process of critical reflective
    journaling be utilised to extend, enrich and
    deepen leadership development programmes for
    novice and serving educators?

5
The case for leadership development
  • There is worldwide recognition that schools need
    effective leaders and managers to provide the
    best possible education for learners (Bush, 2009
    Reppa Lazaridou, 2008 Day, 2005).
  • Such leaders and managers do not arise by
    accident, they have to be developed and hence the
    need for leadership development.
  • Leadership development is defined as expanding
    the collective capacity of organizational members
    to engage effectively in leadership roles and
    processes (McCauley, Moxley and Van Velsor,
    1998).
  • Literature on the importance of reflection for
    professional practice and leadership development
    is well established (Fetherston, 2007 Patterson
    and West-Burnham, 2005).

6
Aims of reflective journals
  • When our university students visit schools for
    teaching practice, they are required to keep a
    weekly reflective journal. Critical reflection on
    the following key issues constitutes the minimum
    requirements for the reflective journal
  • A critical personal account of whether the goals
    that were identified for different lesson
    practices/ activities in the school have been
    accomplished, outlining what led to success or
    not
  • A critical outline of what new activities,
    actions, and plans are being developed how,
    when, where, with whom, why?
  • A critical commentary on professional practice as
    seen when observing peers in the classroom,
    mentor teachers, other professional teachers
  • A critical reflection of the emerging concept of
    the role of a professional teacher in a
    transforming South African context.

7
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development
  • Literature on the importance of reflection for
    professional practice is well established
    (Fetherston, 2007 Patterson and West-Burnham,
    2005 Brubacher, 1994).
  • Gomez (2000) posits that since Schon (1983, 1987)
    pointed out the importance of reflective
    thinking for teaching professionals faced with
    complexities of teaching in a rapidly changing
    society, no one has doubted that to teach
    reflective thinking requires much more than the
    sterile contents of an academic syllabus.

8
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development (cont.)
  • In the last decade there has been a recognition
    that effective principals are those who encourage
    collaborative cultures and emphasise people
    management (and leadership) which is dispersed
    across a broader range of teacher leaders who
    have responsibilities for managing departments,
    particularly subject disciplines, and student
    achievement at key stages in their development
    (Pavlou, 2004).
  • This represents a recognition by principals that
    they cannot do it all themselves (Day and Harris,
    2002).

9
Reflection and teacher leadership development
(cont.)
  • Briefly, when reflecting, an opportunity is
    provided for thinking, contemplation, to talk
    about, to critique, to assess, to write in a
    reflective learning journal and for silent
    reading of texts.
  • Featherstone (2007) defines reflection as the
    process where the cycle of thinking, doing and
    reflecting is often repeated many times and
    results in a new response to a particular
    problem. Featherstone (ibid.) further maintains
    that learning which involves reflection is very
    useful to teachers, especially beginning
    teachers. It leads to an effective teacher who is
    able to reflect critically upon the
    theory-in-action.
  • Reflection is an essential element of learning.
    Given the overwhelming demands of new headship,
    it is unsurprising that the space, time and
    opportunity are provided for reflection which is
    considered the main benefit to professional
    development (Bush, et al. 2003, cited in Cole and
    Southworth, 2005).

10
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development (cont.)
  • leadership, like energy, is not finite, not
    restricted by formal authority and power it
    permeates a healthy school culture and is
    undertaken by whoever sees a need or an
    opportunity (Lambert, 1995, p.43).
  • Understood in this way, it can be seen that all
    people have the potential to lead and the
    practice of leadership must therefore be
    conceptualised as a shared process which
    involves working with all stakeholders in a
    collegial and creative ways to seek out the
    untapped leadership potential of people and
    develop this potential in a supportive
    environment for the betterment of the school
    (Grant, 2008, p. 85).
  • Theorising leadership in this manner creates the
    space for the emergence of teacher leadership in
    an educational organisation such as a school.

11
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development (cont.)
  • Crowther, Ferguson and Hann (2009) convincingly
    argue that a new paradigm of the teaching
    profession is needed, one that recognises both
    the capacity of the profession to provide
    desperately needed school revitalization and the
    striking potential of teachers to provide new
    forms of leadership in schools and communities.
  • Teacher leadership has emerged as a rapidly
    growing focus of research activity over the past
    few decades (Wasley, 1991 Katzenmeyer and
    Moller, 2001 Muijs and Harris, 2003 Gunter,
    2005 Crowther, 2009).

11
12
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development (cont.)
  • In its simplest form, teacher leadership can be
    described as the capacity for teachers to
    exercise leadership for teaching and learning
    within and beyond the classroom (Harris and
    Muijs, 2005, p. 9). It has also been referred to
    as a form of agency where teachers are empowered
    to lead development work that impacts directly on
    the quality of teaching and learning (Harris and
    Lambert, 2003, p.43).
  • This notion of the change agency role of teacher
    leaders, either in the classroom or beyond, is
    central to many of the definitions of teacher
    leadership (Grant, 2010) and as Crowther,
    Ferguson Hann (2009) argue, teacher leadership
    is not solely about pedagogical expertise,
    professionalism, enthusiasm, passion, commitment
    and enthusiasm.

13
Literature on reflection and teacher leadership
development (cont.)
  • Viewing ones practice through the lens of
    reflection is important for leadership
    development. The value of reflection on learning
    is incisively pointed out by Dewey (cited in
    Johnson, Mims-Cox and Doyle-Nichols, 2006 p.37)
    when he states we dont learn from experience -
    we learn from reflecting on experience.
  • Densten and Gray (2001) assert that in leadership
    learning deep reflection requires aspirant
    leaders to consider the underlying dynamics of
    power and to question basic assumptions and
    practices. They caution that when reflection is
    absent there is the constant risk of making poor
    decisions and bad judgements.
  • Without reflection, leaders may be convinced by
    past successes of their invincibility and fail to
    consider other viewpoints with the possibility of
    disastrous consequences.

14
Method
  • Qualitative study.
  • Documents review (reflective journals)
  • Sampling
  • 1 university (Faculty of Education students)
  • 20 students (2nd, 3rd, 4th years and PGCE
    students)
  • Purposive
  • This selection offered us heterogeneity in terms
    of gender, race and practice teaching experience.

15
Method (cont.)
  • In analysing the students reflective journals,
    we employed a multi-layered approach, commencing
    from a manifest to a more in-depth or latent
    interrogation of the evidence in the journal. The
    first layer of analysis thus involved a perusal
    of the sampled reflective journals in order to
    ascertain exactly what they contained. Most
    reflective journals simply involved a description
    of what had happened at school.

16
Method (cont.)
  • In trying to delve deeper into the journals, the
    second layer of analysis involved linking the
    evidence of the journals to the minimum
    requirements for the reflective journal in order
    to determine the extent to which the evidence
    reflects competence in critical reflection.
  • In noting that students had to compile a
    reflective journal, the final layer of analysis
    involved an assessment of the quality of
    reflection on lesson presentation and other
    classroom and school management and leadership
    tasks.

17
Method (cont.)
  • Hatton and Smiths (1994) framework on the
    different types of reflective writing was used as
    an analytical tool. They identified four levels
    of reflective writing.
  • The first level is descriptive writing comprising
    a description of events which in essence is not
    reflection at all.
  • The second level is descriptive reflection which
    entails providing reasons based on personal
    judgement.
  • The third level comprises dialogic reflection.
    Dialogic reflection is a form of discourse with
    the self. It involves asking questions, making
    judgments, advancing alternative explanations and
    hypotheses.
  • The fourth level comprises critical reflection
    which involves furnishing reasons for decisions
    or events which take into account the broader
    historical and socio-political contexts.

18
Ethical issues
  • Informed consent
  • Confidentiality
  • Anonymity

19
Findings
  • Journals sampled were voluminous and contained a
    wealth of information about the students
    teaching and classroom tasks.
  • Further, using Hatton and Smiths (1994)
    framework on the four different types of
    reflective writing, we determined that of the 20
    student journals we interrogated, 15 operated
    across the first two levels of descriptive
    writing and descriptive reflection.

20
Findings (cont.)
  • An example of the first level of descriptive
    writing is as follows Today I taught all my
    lessons and spent my free period observing other
    student teachers. Another first level entry
    from a journal was The teachers had to go to a
    Teacher Union meeting at 11 oclock which lasted
    the whole day. Teachers were not in a spirit to
    teach because they knew they would leave early.
    This, to us, is first level reflection because it
    merely describes events which occurred without
    explaining or giving her/his insights or reasons
    why they occurred or their impact. In essence
    this is not reflection at all.

20
21
Findings (cont.)
  • An example of the second level of descriptive
    reflection is as follows This lesson taught me
    that students hold grudges against you. A pupil
    whom I had previously reprimanded refused to give
    her input in this class.
  • Another example of a descriptive entry is Being
    at a high school for the first time was a totally
    new experience for me. I learnt that from the
    beginning I need to be firm otherwise I will
    never gain their respect and confidence and it
    would be very hard to keep control and discipline
    in the classroom. I feel that this is something I
    will have to work hard on. This is descriptive
    writing which entails providing reasons based on
    personal judgement why an event/s occurred.

22
Findings (cont.)
  • Only three students operated at the level of
    dialogic reflection, as the following extract
    illustrates Here you have learners whose
    everyday life is a struggle yet they persevere
    and come to school so that their future will be
    better and that of their children. Another
    example of dialogical reflection is the following
    entry I want to apply my knowledge of teaching
    and learning I can also share my knowledge with
    my peers. Dialogic reflection is a form of
    discourse with the self. It involves asking
    questions, making judgments, advancing
    alternative explanations and hypotheses.

23
Findings (cont.)
  • The final level of critical reflection was only
    evident in two student journalsLearners are
    future leaders and doctors therefore, as a
    teacher- in- the- making, I must make sure that I
    am punctual all the time even when I enter the
    field of the teaching profession, I can make a
    difference.
  • Another example of the critical level of
    reflection is as follows I want to be a teacher
    to inspire our youth in achieving their dreams. I
    want to be a person that can change a student
    from being unmotivated into discovering the
    wonderful challenges yet rewarding experience of
    learning. I want to be remembered for evoking
    passion and fun among my students. I also want to
    learn from my students. I remember three teachers
    in my schooling who continue to inspire me
    because they could personalize every lesson.

24
Findings (cont.)
  • This quote clearly indicates that these student
    teachers are reflecting critically on their
    practice and are acutely aware of their change
    agency role, even though they are novice
    teachers. Critical reflection involves furnishing
    reasons for decisions or events which take into
    account the broader historical and
    socio-political contexts.
  • The data revealed that students were strong at
    describing what had happened in the classrooms
    and schools but were less able to reflect on and
    provide reasons why some things may have
    happened. Very few students engaged in a
    discourse with themselves or grappled with a
    possibility of alternative explanations. Neither
    did many locate their reflections within the
    broader socio-political context.

25
Findings
  • However, from the trends that have emerged from
    the data, reflective journals have an important
    role to play in leadership learning especially
    for novice teacher leaders.
  • They allow potential leaders to reflect on
    their teaching and other classroom and school
    leadership tasks which have a bearing on
    leadership learning over a period of time.

26
Conclusion
  • Conceptualised within a distributed teacher
    leadership framework, this paper has argued that
    novice teachers are often an untapped leadership
    source as they are not viewed as potential agents
    of change.
  • We contend that, in order to build a community
    of educational leaders/researchers, these novice
    teachers need to be re-imagined as teacher
    leaders and educated about their valuable change
    agency role in the schooling context.
  • Furthermore, it is imperative that the degree for
    which they are registered engages with what it
    means for novice teachers to enact leadership and
    support them in theorising and developing
    critical reflective practice skills. In this way,
    there is likelihood that novice teachers will be
    able to take-up their leadership roles as they
    embark on a process of action research in their
    first teaching posts.
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