Details of Thesis

Title Teacher Leadership in South-East Queensland Anglican Schools
Author Sly, Mark Donald
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2008
Abstract This research study explores the issue of teacher leadership in South-East Queensland Anglican schools. An initial exploration of the context of Anglican education in South-East Queensland confirmed that both nationally and within the Anglican system, hierarchical understandings of school leadership were being challenged amidst a growing expectation of teacher leadership. However, despite this expectation of teacher leadership, there was little in respect to formal policy and resource support for teacher leadership within South-East Queensland Anglican schools. This research study seeks to gain a more informed and sophisticated understanding of teacher leadership, with particular focus on the perspective of classroom teachers. A comprehensive analysis of key literature in educational change, professionalism in education and educational leadership, revealed a number of key insights that informed this study. Significant socio-economic change in recent decades has brought about corresponding educational change. This has resulted in a call for greater professionalism in education and a new paradigm of educational leadership. Within this context, there is new interest in distributing leadership beyond the formal role of the principal and into the hands of teacher leaders. However, a further review of the literature highlighted the lack of a clear conceptualisation of teacher leadership. While teacher leadership is predominantly considered in the literature as the domain of those in formal, positional roles, less is known about informal, in-class teacher leadership. Based on these insights, the researcher identified one major research question: How do teachers, who are recognised as teacher leaders in South-East Queensland Anglican schools, conceptualise teacher leadership? To answer this research question, four research sub-questions were posed: Behaviour of teacher leaders - What do they do? Purpose of teacher leadership - Why do teachers strive for this? Feelings of teacher leaders - How do they feel about what they do? Support for teacher leaders - What do they need? This research study is situated within the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism. As both a perspective and a method, symbolic interactionism is situated within a pragmatic constructivist research paradigm. This research study explored a restricted group of 16 teachers within three South-East Queensland Anglican schools, and employed qualitative research methods including Experience Sampling Method and focus group interviews. The findings of this research study suggest that teacher leaders in South-East Queensland Anglican schools have a confused conceptualisation of teacher leadership, with little common symbolic language to delineate the phenomenon. This study made the following conclusions in relation to teacher leadership in South-East Queensland Anglican schools: The broad understanding of teacher leadership is unrecognised in the field of education. Teacher leadership is a complex phenomenon. Teacher leadership is principled action in support of learning. There is untapped potential for teacher leaders to act as change agents in school revitalisation. Collegial relationships, the provision of time, relevant professional development and administrative support enable teacher leadership There is a need for a role-making policy to support teacher leadership. The development of teacher leadership in South-East Queensland Anglican schools requires support from the Anglican Schools Commission, school principals and the teachers themselves, through deliberate action in developing appropriate policy and practice.
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