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Journal of Research and Reflections in Education December 2014, Vol.8, No.2, pp Assessing Potential for Teacher Leadership: The Case of Prospective Teachers 1 Fareeha
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Journal of Research and Reflections in Education December 2014, Vol.8, No.2, pp Assessing Potential for Teacher Leadership: The Case of Prospective Teachers 1 Fareeha Nudrat, 2 Muhammad Saeed Akhtar 1 PhD Scholar, Institute of Education and Research, University of the Punjab, Lahore 2 Professor, Institute of Education and Research, University of the Punjab, Lahore ( Teachers who view themselves as leaders can improvise teaching-learning practices, manage their classrooms effectively, and lead towards overall school improvement, irrespective of any formal position or designation. Teacher leadership is the way forward as it can bring that dynamism which is essential for shifting the teaching profession from a passive routine to an exciting endeavor. In order for teachers to emerge as leaders, teacher-education institutions have a major role to play. This paper aims to assess prospective teachers as to whether they have potential to become teacher leaders in their professional endeavors. In addition, the study is an attempt to draw a sketch of the abilities and skills essential for prospective teachers to become teacher-leaders of future. This study was conducted at the pioneer and leading teachereducation Institute in Pakistan. The findings of the study indicate that the prospective teachers have the awareness of their strong teacher-leader potential which is the first step on the ladder of teacher leadership. The prospective teachers perceived most strongly on teaching proficiency while somewhat weaker on initiative-taking facet of teacher leadership. It is recommended that similar studies are replicated at different teacher-education institutions, which could lead to a comprehensive profile of abilities/ skills requisite for teacher leaders. Keywords: leadership potential, prospective teacher, teacher leader, teacher education. Introduction Teachers are recognized as educational leaders, who have a vital role in achieving quality educational outcomes. Teachers who view themselves as leaders can improvise teachinglearning practices, manage their classrooms effectively, and lead towards overall school improvement. Education literature emphasizes that the key objective of teacher education is to produce teachers who have the ability to play such leadership roles. Teacher as leader, this notion has assumed a prominent role in the sustainability of post-modern schooling (Hargreaves & Fink, 2006, as cited in Cherubini, 2008, p.81). Krisko (2001) points out that, teachers are potential leaders who can be instrumental in initiating and implementing a major paradigm shift from a traditional school to an effective learning community. (p.4). According to Lambert (2000, p.7), teacher leadership is an enrichment of the teaching profession. Teachers may help to lead the school but in a capacity other than Principal or Vice Principal. (p.7). Ash and Persall (1999) underscore the fact that, there are numerous leadership possibilities and many leaders within the school. Leadership is not role-specific, reserved only for administrators. To Harris (2003), teacher leader implies that leadership is socially constructed and culturally sensitive. It does not imply a leader/ follower divide, neither does it point towards the leadership potential of just one person. (p.314). This is further endorsed by Harris and Lambert (2003) who are of the opinion that, teacher leadership is not a formal role, responsibility or set of tasks, it is more a form of agency where teachers are empowered to lead development work that impacts directly on the quality of teaching and learning. (p.43). Helterbran (2010) explains that, teacher leadership rises from within the teaching ranks and expresses itself in a myriad of ways for the betterment of students, specifically, and school in general. (p.364). Leadership, as advocated by York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, and Montie (2006), is influence and action, not position --- without teacher leaders, the relationships that are essential for successful change will not be activated. (p.252). The above arguments imply that a teacher can act as leader in different spheres of influence and in a variety of ways, irrespective of any formal position/ designation. Conceptual Framework Teacher as Leader According to Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001), teachers who are leaders lead within and Nudrat, Akhtar beyond the classroom, identify with and contribute to a community of teacher learner and leaders, and influence others toward improved educational practice. (p.5). In view of Frost (2010), teacher as leader means taking the initiative to improve practice, acting strategically with colleagues to embed change, gathering and using evidence in collaborative processes, contributing to the creation and dissemination of professional knowledge (p.210). Teacher leaders function in professional learning communities to affect student learning; contribute to school improvement; inspire excellence in practice; and empower stakeholders to participate in educational improvement (SERVE, 1999, as cited in Childs- Bowen, Moller, & Scrivner, 2000, p.28). Based on research, MacGilchrist, Myers, and Reed (2004) reflect that teachers must take the responsibility of change agents. This concept of teachers as the driving force to foster change corroborates with Frost et al. (2000) who emphasized on teacher-led school improvement which enables teachers to make more of a difference in their schools by making a greater contribution to development work which will result in improved learning outcomes for their students. (p.154). Capturing the essence of teacher leadership, Helterbran (2010) expresses that, [it] involves those informal aspects of leadership, where a teacher sees a need or identifies a problem and takes the reins to address it within his or her means. (p.365). In terms of benefits for teachers who act as leaders, Barth (2001) draws attention to some of these: They experience a reduction in isolation; the personal and professional satisfaction that comes from improving their schools: a sense of instrumentality, investment, and membership in the school community; and new learning about schools, about the process of change, and about themselves. And all of these positive experiences spill over into their classroom teaching. These teachers become owners and investors in the school, rather than mere tenants. They become professionals. (p.449) Teachers can contribute as leaders by taking on diverse roles and functions in different domains. As noted by Lieberman (2006), leadership roles for teachers are proliferating alongside prescriptions for change. A research by Hewitt-Gervais (1996, as cited in Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001, p.11) identified 182 leadership roles for teachers. Danielson (2007) suggests Schoolwide Policies and Programs (e.g. work with colleagues towards a better class-schedule, suggest ways to reduce drop-out rate), Teaching and Learning (e.g. conduct action research to improvise teaching-learning, suggest alternative forms of assessment), and Communication and Community Relations (e.g. arrange and participate in parent-teacher meetings) as three kinds of functions of teacher leaders. Teacher leadership, according to Youitt (2007), can be classified into four areas: (a) leading of learning (e.g. using emerging technologies in the classroom for improved teaching-learning practices, adopting new approaches in pedagogy); (b) sharing and collaboration (e.g. sharing and reflecting upon teaching and learning strategies, support teachers who find it difficult to have good discipline in the classroom); (c) building of a sense of community (e.g. strengthen the teaching community); and (d) improving effectiveness (e.g. planning for a better school climate). In view of Harris and Lambert (2003, p.44), teacher as leader can function in three areas i.e. leadership of other teachers (e.g. coach other teachers on the use of computer and internet for effective teaching); leadership of operational tasks; and leadership of pedagogy by developing and modeling effective forms of teaching. Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001) suggest three leadership areas for teachers (pp ): Leadership of Students or Other Teachers: Teachers may function as facilitator and counselor to the students. Beyond the classroom, teachers may serve as mentors, teacher facilitators, or simply as willing listeners. They may initiate collegial study groups or invite colleagues to observe their lessons. Leadership of Operational Tasks: Towards effective management of school tasks. Teacher leaders may serve in formal roles such as department head or member of committees. An important activity is action research in collaboration with colleagues. Other functions might include teacher leaders as writers, project managers, or technology experts. Leadership through Decision Making or Partnerships: Teachers can become members of school improvement team, school advisory councils, or steering committees. Teachers also act as leaders through their partnerships with educational foundations, parentteacher organizations, and community action groups. 106 JRRE Vol.8, No.2, 2014 Teacher-Leader Development: The Role of Teacher-Education Institutions In order for teachers to emerge as leaders, universities and colleges of teacher-education have a major role to play. These institutions need to take lead in encouraging change in content and pedagogy in light of emerging educational trends and issues. The teacher preparation programs must be designed in a way so that leadership skills are seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of teaching instead of looking at teaching and leadership as two separate entities or roles. Smyser (1995, as cited in Murphy, 2007) signifies the need for this redesign: With a great need for leadership from teachers, and with lack of training a major obstacle in establishing this leadership, it would seem obvious that there is a need for teacher education programs that specifically train teachers to take on leadership roles. (p.694) The Task Force on Teacher Leadership, however, presents a challenging scenario by reporting that teachers are entering the profession as unevenly prepared products of teacher preparation institutions that constitute a largely change-resistant system. (IEL, 2001, p.10). Fullen (1993) points out that, on the one hand, schools are expected to engage in continuous renewal, and change expectations are constantly swirling around them. On the other hand, the way teachers are trained, the way schools are organized, the way the educational hierarchy operates, and the way political decision makers treat educators, results in a system that is more likely to retain the status quo. (p.12). Zimpher and Howey (1992, as cited in Sherrill, 1999, p.56) argue that teachers are expected to assume leadership roles with little or no preparation. In such scenario, Fullen (1993) rightly emphasizes that, teacher education institutions themselves must take responsibility for their current reputation as laggards rather than leaders of educational reform. (p.14). Teacher education institutions should take the lead by developing and implementing credible and workable models of teacher leadership in their own environment so that prospective teachers can understand and adopt elements of teacher leadership like collaboration, continuous learning, proactive attitude, and collegiality. For teachers to be leaders, Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001) highlight the crucial role of teacher preparation institutions by saying that: The role of the colleges and universities in preparing teacher leaders is significant in the continuum of teacher development. --- Development of knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes about teacher leadership begins with the university or college preparation programs for future teachers. --- The leadership skills are as important in these programs as the curriculum and instruction content. After the teacher leaves the university, the goal should be to encourage that teacher to be a leader. (p.16) The Present Study It emerges from the above discussion that there is a growing impression to shift from conventional teacher-training courses and programs towards a more leadership-oriented teacher-education aimed at developing leadership abilities among prospective teachers so as to enable them not only to improvise teachinglearning practices and manage their classrooms effectively, but more importantly to play an active lead role for school development and improvement. In advanced countries, teacher leadership programs and initiatives have grown significantly (Harris, 2003). In Pakistan, the universities both in public and private sectors offering teacher-education programs concentrate on educational leadership and management either as compulsory course or as area of specialization or a full-fledged degree. The faculties of education in Pakistan are now in a continuous process of curriculum reforms to better inculcate leadership qualities in prospective teachers. The universities offering teacher education programs are in competition with each other in developing quality teacher education programs in national context and on the basis of global benchmarking with special reference to leadership. As the concept of teacher as leader is recognized increasingly by educationists, there is a need to assess whether or not teacher-education institutes focus on leadership facet of teaching in order to groom future teacher leaders; and to appraise prospective teachers as to whether they are eager, confident, and well-prepared to take the responsibility of teacher leaders. As asserted by Helterbran (2010), teachers can not act as leaders unless and until [they] recognize their own leadership potential (p.365). Aim of the Study 107 Nudrat, Akhtar This paper aims to emphasize the significance of leadership potential of prospective teachers, and the essential role of teachereducation institution in the development of their leadership capacity. It is based on a quantitative study of prospective teachers perceptions of their own leadership potential. Based on the related literature, this paper explores seven dimensions that shape the teachers leadership potential: Leader Ethic, Emotional Stability, Interpersonal Skills, Teaching Proficiency, Learning Prowess, Collaboration, and Initiative-taking. It is hoped, the findings will be useful for prospective teachers for developing their leadership abilities and skills; instrumental in improving the scheme of studies of teacher-education programs particularly in the area of educational leadership; helpful in recommending the leadership abilities for school teachers; and useful for the curriculum planners of teacher-education programs. Method Site and Participants The sampled institute of a leading public sector university is the pioneer and most prestigious teacher-education institution at the post-graduate level in Pakistan. The Institute has so far produced thousands of graduates who have been working in variety of professional domains, mostly in teaching, research, and educational administration. The participants of the study were finalyear female students (N=161) of MA Education program (2-year 66 credit hours), who, except for the thesis, had completed the entire course requirement including teaching practice. Instrumentation The review of literature on teacher leadership presented a variety of themes regarding the requisite abilities and skills for teacher leaders as advocated by various authors. Based on the review of related literature, seven aspects of leadership were recognized that shape the making of an effective teacher leader. The seven categories were: Leader Ethic, Emotional Stability, Interpersonal Skills, Teaching Proficiency, Learning Prowess, Collaboration, and Initiativetaking. Three of the categories viz. Leader Ethic, Emotional Stability, Interpersonal Skills represent more generic areas of leadership, while the other four dimensions viz. Teaching proficiency, Learning Prowess, Collaboration, and Initiativetaking can be described as the four pillars of teacher leadership. The identified leadership dimensions along with associated abilities/ skills are described below in connection to the related literature: Leader Ethic: Open-minded and respectful of others' views (Danielson, 2007); responsibility, high self-esteem, integrity, honesty (Krisko, 2001); persevering in the face of obstacles (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1995); responds to situation with openmindedness and flexibility; welcomes the perspectives of others (Harris & Lambert, 2003); fair-minded (Cruz, 2003); caring (Wilmore, 2007). Emotional Stability: Emotional stability will lead to better teacher leaders (Jackson et al., 2010); display optimism and enthusiasm (Danielson, 2007); ability to regulate emotional responses (Frost, 2010); willingness to accept difference and tolerance (Frost, 2010); shows resilience; remains positive even with negative criticism/ lack of support (Youitt, 2007); exercising patience (Boyd-Dimock and McGree, 1995); confidence and self-awareness (Krisko, 2001). Interpersonal Skills: To be a teacher leader, an essential ability is to build positive interpersonal relationships (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001); mutual collegial working relationships are valuable in strengthening teacher leadership (Lieberman, 1996 as cited in Krisko, 2001); building trust and rapport with colleagues (Lieberman et al., 2000 as cited in Harris & Muijs, 2003); become socially involved (Sledge et al., 2007); building skills and confidence in others (Lieberman et al., 2000 as cited in Harris & Muijs, 2003); providing support and encouragement (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1995); emphasis upon collegial ways of working (Harris & Muijs, 2003). Teaching Proficiency: The first step on the road to teacher leadership is being recognized as a capable teacher (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001); expertise in their fields (Danielson, 2007); demonstrate expertise in instruction (Sledge et al., 2007); competent in the classroom by facilitating students learning (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001). Learning Power: As a lifelong learner, a teacher leader is resourceful and uses the resourcefulness of others to remain open to learning (Krisko, 2001); powerful relationship exists between learning and leading (Barth, 2001); continual professional learning and innovation (Helterbran, 2010); consistently on a professional learning curve (Sledge et al., 2007); cooperative learners (Krisko, 2001); works with others to construct knowledge (Harris & Lambert, 2003); teacher leaders are consummate learners who pay attention to their own development and model continuous learning (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 108 JRRE Vol.8, No.2, ); contribute to the construction and diffusion of professional knowledge (Frost, 2010). Collaboration: Collaboration is the essence of teacher leadership (Harris & Muijs, 2003); Influencing/ motivating colleagues toward improved educational practice (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001); smart listener; ability to promote dialogue for improvement (Youitt, 2007); collaborating meaningfully with colleagues (Helterbran, 2010); collaborate with peers (Sledge et al., 2007); able to get the task done (Youitt, 2007); building a team spirit (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1995); recognizing accomplishments of colleagues ---- willing listeners (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001). Initiative-taking: Teachers taking on a proactive role for their own continuous improvement (Helterbran, 2010); take initiative to reflect on the latest pedagogical trends (Sledge et al., 2007); taking the initiative to improve practice (Frost, 2010); respond proactively (Macdonald, 2011); take the initiative to address a problem (Danielson, 2007); take initiative for group (Njerve, 2005); teacher leader as an ideas person; reflect creatively (Youitt, 2007); taking initiative (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1995). Item Development, Content Validity and Reliability As the
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