Understanding Educational Leadership: People, Power and Culture

By Hugh Busher | Go to book overview

5 The heart of the matter
The moral dilemmas of working
in educational settings

Constructing work-related identities in schools

There is a dearth of humanistic enquiry on the professional lives and histories of leaders (Gunter and Ribbins 2002), especially middle leaders in schools. So this chapter explores how, like other teachers, leaders pursue the project of the self (Giddens 1991) through time, drawing on views and values they have developed historically in a variety of locations through their interactions with others in the workplace and beyond. In doing so it investigates how the histories of teachers holding formal post of responsibility in schools, such as middle leaders, affect the sub-cultures they construct in the departments for which they have been given responsibility. Emerging from this are the sources of the educational and social values that influence leaders' decisions – following the work of Ribbins (1997) – especially when guiding the construction of organizational cultures and subcultures and the perception of these enacted values by other members of the epistemic communities of their schools with whom they work most closely.

As with other teachers, leaders, at whatever level they work in the hierarchy of a school organization from classroom to senior staff board room, develop work-related identities through their interactions with other people, whether staff, students or parents, through time. Middle leaders, such as Key Stage coordinators, or heads of department, perceive themselves primarily as teachers rather than as managers (Busher 2002, 2005a). The terms ‘leader’ and ‘manager’ are used interchangeably here, taking the view that they are essentially two aspects of leadership, the former focusing on developing vision and purpose, the latter on the instrumentality of enacting practice. The term ‘professional identity’ is eschewed in favour of that of ‘work-related identity’ as the linked notions of profession, professionality and professionalism are strongly contested (Hoyle and John 1995) and do not add any extra clarity to the discussion about how teachers

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