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Minds and hearts : exploring the teacher's role as a leader of pupils in a class.

This study is concerned with the particular role of the teacher as a leader of pupils in a class,
a legislated requirement for teachers in South Africa since 1996.
Literature and research have focussed attention regarding leadership in education on the
principal, school governing body and school management team, and more recently distributed
leadership in schools. This study, in contrast, seeks to concentrate on the leadership of
teachers as they teach classes of pupils.
A review of the current leadership literature applicable, in my view, to the practice of
leadership in schools, provided the opportunity for the development of a theoretical framing
for the study around the categories of leaders knowing, doing, being and relating.
Teachers from eight Section 21 (state-aided, previously advantaged and currently well-resourced)
schools in the greater Ethekweni region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were
selected for the study. They were observed in their teaching and interviewed to interrogate
their understanding and performance as leaders, and to establish how and why leadership
occurred or did not occur. Sampling for the four teachers who were observed in their teaching
was purposive to establish levels of understanding, and enactment of leadership amongst
advantaged teachers teaching in well resourced schools. These teachers were recommended
for selection for this study by their principals, as teachers who had previously – in the opinion
of the principals, evidenced leadership in their teaching. Forty three other teachers were
interviewed in focus groups and film stimulus focus groups to view, consider and comment
on teacher leadership behaviours in selected feature films – providing a vehicle for
identifying how leadership occurs in teachers’ classes and what it is that teachers understand
about leadership.
Insights into the reason for teachers exercising leadership in a class were gained from
consideration of the character and the competence of teachers, the circumstances under which
leadership occurs and the nature of ‘called’ leaders with a sense of identity.
The occurrences that caused the teachers to lead without any apparent training for leadership
are examined in the light of the fact that these were selected teachers from well resourced
schools who had all enjoyed growing and educational advantage. Their learning about
leadership had been a largely unconscious occurrence in their lives. They did not know that
they knew about leadership in teaching.
The study firstly provides explanation of the phenomenon of leadership occurrence and
understanding by teachers, who deny training in leadership and are not even aware of policy
dictating that role for teachers insight and secondly, a new understanding of the relevant
nature of the leadership practised by the teachers observed, and finally presents argument on
the symbiotic nature of teaching and leading. This develops the thesis of the study; when
teachers teach, they lead – to teach is to lead.
It is recognised that the majority of teachers in South Africa will not have enjoyed the
advantaged developmental experiences of the fortunate teachers in this study. Using the
insights gained from this study, development of leadership in all teachers becomes a
possibility. / Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2010.
Date January 2010
CreatorsForde, Reginald Dudley.
ContributorsChikoko, Vitallis.
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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