Riveros A., Newton P., Costa J., (2013) From Teachers to Teacher-Leaders: A Case Study, Fall, 2013, Volume 4, Number 1, ISSN: 1934-9726
Research Area and Research Questions
The paper From Teachers to Teacher-Leaders: A Case Study by Riveros A. et. al.(2013) focuses on teacher leadership in Alberta, Canada. It seeks to establish the experiences of teachers in a provincial teacher leader program between 1997 and 2007. The research also seeks to understand the impact of the initiative on the participants view of teacher leadership. Teacher leadership has been given value as a key factor in change and improvement of the education sector. The research questions narrow to: What does it mean to become and be a teacher leader? What is the role of teacher leadership in educational improvement? It further gets to demystify the experiences teachers have with the leadership initiative and their perspective on the research question.
The paper analyses the teacher leadership program that was started under the brand TELUS Learning Connection (TLC). The education partners involved in the program include the Alberta School Boards Association, Alberta Education, the Alberta Teachers Association and College of Alberta School Superintendents. The 2Learn.ca Society was the key party in implementing the program. The initiative instituted more than 250 teacher leaders.
The research seeks to establish whether teacher leadership has caused an improvement in education or not. The hypothesis seems to have been a substantive hypothesis that the initiative is indeed invaluable in the improvement of education. The independent variable in the research is teacher leadership, and the effect investigated that forms the independent variable and its role in advancing the improvement on the education sector.
The main methodology used to collect data was semi-structured interviews. The questions administered in the research sought for information on a teachers role in leadership, how the effect on their career aspirations and understanding of leadership, their experience and the outcome when they ceased being involved on the initiative. They sought to reveal the former experience participants have with teacher leadership. They paid close attention in getting a completely unfolded understanding on how the initiative led to the growth of teachers as educational leaders.
An iterative-inductive research approach was used to gather the collected data. The resulting data patterns also influenced modification of the data collection methods to help get the targeted areas of focus. The themes brought out through the data patterns were (1) the reason behind emergence of teacher leaders; (2) impact of the initiative on teachers understanding of leadership; (3) impact of teachers professional interests and motivations in teacher leadership and (4) the organizational set-up that has made it possible to make it with the initiative.
Reputational sampling was used to select 21 former participants of the initiative. The 2Learn.ca society nominated those who were to participate in the study through a criterion designed by the researchers. The criterion attempted to form a perfect representation of the form participants, but the resulting inferences are not accurate for generalization. The interviews were recorded digitally and transcribed. The recording lasted for 60 to 90 minutes. The aspect that could not be recorded like facial expressions and gestures were noted in the course of the interviews.
3. Findings and Discussion
After analysis of the research, the finding was as follows
In schools districts, the emergence of teacher leadership is through informal processes. It was the view of one of the respondents that leadership should be an issue of great concern for education systems. Respondents highlighted that both formal and informal teacher leadership enhance the development of invaluable skills of teachers. The initiative was observed to have emphasized on the formalization of teacher leadership as recorded by the researcher. The researcher explains that a clear line of distinction was not drawn between roles of informal and formal teacher leadership.
The researcher also notes that teacher leadership has a more diversified understanding of educational leadership in its full range. The participants agreed to the point that the initiative was a huge step towards development and self-identity as teacher leaders. The researcher notes that it was confirmed that the respondents saw a great improvement in their perception as teachers to be not just a classroom profession. Professional interests and passions were highlighted as determinants of the level of leadership roles assigned to teachers. Leadership roles also improved trust and collegiality between teachers.
An examination of the feelings of various teacher leaders on the impact of the initiative to promote leadership revealed that the initiative led to the transformation of the curriculum and advancement of the profession of the participants. The skills the garnered through the Teacher-Leader model increased their aspirations to implement formal leadership roles. The initiative as explained by the researcher not only improved the entire teaching and learning atmosphere but also helped teachers move beyond the confines of the classroom atmosphere. This helps teachers explore more and develop more teaching contexts and understanding their role to discharge duties. In conclusion, the researcher shows that teacher leadership has a great contribution to the development of education and change.
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