Academic journal article International Education Studies

In Principle, It Is Not Only the Principal! Teacher Leadership Architecture in Schools

Academic journal article International Education Studies

In Principle, It Is Not Only the Principal! Teacher Leadership Architecture in Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to lay the foundations of a conceptual model of the role dimensions of teacher leaders within the Lebanese private school context. Besides, the study aimed at distinguishing the prime architects of teacher leadership in such a context, highlighting the critical issues confronting its nourishment and development. The study was conducted in 59 schools in Beirut, Lebanon (approximately 60% of the city schools). Data was derived using a questionnaire completed by 2950 teachers, where its quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS 18.0 and its qualitative data was treated with the help of NVivo 7.0. Findings indicate that subject leaders' role is far more critical than that of school principals in inaugurating and cultivating teacher leadership. Another finding proposes that the roles attributed to teacher leaders within the Lebanese private school context match the international listing, yet additional roles are also suggested. Finally, evidence gathered indicate that teachers considered finding 'time' to practice leadership is the most crucial element for teacher leadership development in schools. This is besides securing a culture of trust and respect and where effective professional development is secured.

Keywords: teacher leadership, school culture, subject leadership, school improvement

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Restructuring, changing governance structures, responding to community influences, becoming more accountable, raising the standards for content knowledge and performance, promoting educational reform, and emphasizing efficiency in student learning are among the several titles that appear in the literature. Such titles call schools to change in order to be able to face challenges confronting them and hence meet societal demands.

According to Lambert (1998), confronting such challenges may not be realized unless schools become able to lead themselves. Gray (2000), in line with this, attributes serious weaknesses of particular schools to the authoritarian forms of leadership dominating them. The hierarchal, top-down approach should give way to a process of shared decision-making if schools are to succeed in meeting those challenges (OECD, 2009). Ghamrawi (2010) asserts that a redesign of leadership roles is needed in schools to respond to societal demands. Leadership is not supposed to be localized in a single person in the school (Harris, 2002) and teacher leadership is a promising form of leadership that should prevail in schools (Spillane, 2006; Mulford, 2008; Ghamrawi, 2010). As such, teaching must not be the core of what teachers do in schools and leading must not be the core of what principals do in schools. Teachers should be able to influence decision-making not only at the level of the subjects that they teach but also at the whole school level. The rationale behind teacher leadership springs from the fact that teachers are in the best positions to take meaningful and critical decisions as they are in daily-contacts with learners, curricula, assessment and instruction.

When teachers act as leaders they tend to work in ways that support a sense of ownership over the tasks they are performing, make a difference to the learning and motivation of students and hence promote change in their settings (Elmore et al., 1996; Neumann, 2000). In fact, teacher leadership has been considered as a tools for breaking down the isolation of teachers in classrooms (Hatch et al., 2005), promoting collaborative risk-taking (Ghamrawi, 2011), enhancing organizational learning (OECD, 2009) and hence catalyzing school improvement (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Harris and Townsend, 2007; OECD, 2009; Ghamrawi, 2011).

However, the decision that teachers should get empowered and hence participate in school decisions and plans, emanates primarily from the occupants of formal leadership roles. In other words, principals (Buckner & MacDowelle, 2000; Childs-Bowen et al. …

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