When the sleeping giant awakes: the lived experiences of teacher leaders and implications for schools and education systems

PhD Thesis


Petersen, Shauna Lea. 2016. When the sleeping giant awakes: the lived experiences of teacher leaders and implications for schools and education systems. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

When the sleeping giant awakes: the lived experiences of teacher leaders and implications for schools and
education systems

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorPetersen, Shauna Lea
SupervisorAndrews, Dorothy
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages313
Year2016
Abstract

At the very heart of our schools lies a potentially powerful resource that often remains untapped – our teacher leaders. Within them resides the power to make a difference in schools and communities in their contribution to the capacity of the education system and the profession. Researchers worldwide have acknowledged that the key to successful school reform lies with teachers, yet the visibility of teacher leadership as an organisational resource is not overtly apparent. In view of a recent global focus on the current challenges facing leaders in schools, a renewed focus on teacher leadership appears very timely. Media reports cite teacher
burnout and stress as teachers struggle to face the demands of external drivers for reform. Capacity is in danger of being lost to the profession as a whole generation of teachers and principals are approaching retirement, while the need to develop leadership capacity in the next generation of teachers is a challenge that must be
addressed. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) flagged that developing the next generation of school leaders remains a challenge for all OECD countries, including Australia. This study was designed to interpret the lived experiences of teacher leaders
following their school improvement journey in the Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievements in Schools (IDEAS) project to: (1) develop images of teacher leaders
once they had been through a process of school improvement; (2) understand what contributed to that image in their post-school improvement context; and (3) consider
the implications for schools and education systems. Data collection involved two phases: Phase One, a written questionnaire survey; and Phase Two, semi-structured interviews. Purposive sampling was used for Phases One and Two to select IDEAS teacher leaders cross-sector and cross-system Australia wide. The Phase One survey was used to gather data from 25 teacher leaders. These data were used to narrow the field using criteria to select 10 participants for Phase Two semi-structured interviews and biographical interpretive analysis. Biographical interpretive methodology was employed to analyse the data. In the analysis, five images or categories of teacher leaders emerged from the data. While some of the categories of teacher leaders were empowered in their current contexts and others were not, the empowered categories illuminated very clearly the conditions for the development of teacher leader capacity within an organisational context. A Teacher Leader Capacity Building Model was developed as an outcome of this study and additionally provides the conditions for growing capacity for teacher leaders to be lead teachers or move into formal leadership roles. Teacher leader capacity is developed within a generative, organisational community context, which
comprises three dimensions – the personal dimension, the collaborative dimension and the collective intelligence dimension. When all three dimensions are given
priority, teacher leader capacity is sustained and organisational capacity is more likely to be enhanced. This led to a new metaphor for situating teacher leadership
within an educational organisation, and proposal for further research: Leadership for organisation as community. Finally, this study has made a significant contribution to the research methodology literature in the use of mind mapping and concept mapping as methods of biographical interpretive data analysis in the accounts of the lived experiences of the teacher leaders.

ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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