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THE ROLE OF School management teams IN FACILITATING TEACHER DEVELOPMENT: Evidence from selected schools in KwaZulu-Natal Dr. TT Bhengu Education Management Association of South Africa 12th International Conference 11-13 March 2011 Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Introduction & Background • This paper explores the roles that principals and school management teams (SMTs) are playing in selected schools in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. • Political changes in South Africa have had implications for how schools and other public institutions operate in the new dispensation. • Principals and SMTs were entrusted with the responsibility of leading, managing & facilitating education transformation at school level (Department of Education, 1996) • Fullan (1993) and Lashway (1998) maintain that principals should be engaged as initiators of continuous improvement in schools. • In 1999 a small scale study was conducted in 10 schools (primary & secondary) in a district around Durban to explore the existence of staff development programmes & the role played by principals in supporting staff development. • The findings indicated that no staff development existed & absence of guidelines did not help.
Background-Cont • Two of the policies are relevant in this discussion, i.e. national Policy Framework for teacher Education and development (NPFTED) and Integrated Quality management System (IQMS). • Theoretically IQMS provides information and feedback to teachers regarding their identified growth needs while NPFTED charges teachers as individuals and as a collective with the responsibility for engaging in professional development. • Drawing from a study on continuing professional teacher development (CPTD) done in 2008, the paper demonstrates that there are more difficulties than possibilities in facilitating and supporting CPTD
Theoretical framework • Instructional leadership (IL) focuses on what goes on in the classroom. • IL is not static but is linked to organisational structures (Ruff & Shoho, 2005). • As changes occurred so were metaphors describing IL have been shifting. • Value brokers (1920s}, scientific manager (1930s), bureaucratic executives (1960s), instructional leaders (1980s) (Reitzug & West, 2008). • IL has continued to dominate in the 1990s (Monroe, 2002). • Shift in focus from traditional inspection to focus on facilitating teacher professional growth has been observed. • Inspection to collaborative inquiry; creating opportunities for reflections, professional growth & development of professional learning communities (Murphy, 1990; Marks & Pristy, 2003) . • Most important task for principals & SMTs is the improvement of instruction & development of strategies which enable him or her to achieve organisational objectives.
Methodology • This was a qualitative research which used both quantitative and qualitative research methods • Survey questionnaires and school profile instruments were used in 13 schools in KZN, comprising 13 principals; 13 HODs and 26 Educators. • In-depth face-to-face interviews were held in 4 schools drawn from the 13 schools mentioned above. Interviews were held with 4 principals; 4 HODs and 8 educators • In-depth interviews also held with 4 Education district officials responsible for teacher development • Research questions: • What is the scope, quality and relevance of the existing teacher development activities? • What is the role played by principals & SMTs in facilitating teachers’ professional development? • In what ways are the existing teacher development activities linked to teachers’ identified growth needs?
Findings Of the 13 schools 7 (53.8%) belonged to the poor schools category (Quintiles 1 to 3). Findings show that sampled schools had some basic infrastructure, such as a power source and computers. Nevertheless, it is important to note that research did not establish the conditions of some of the infrastructure. The majority of the teachers and principals surveyed i.e. scope of PD activities covered mainly four broad areas, i.e. curriculum, management and HR, enrichment programmes and policy areas. However, very few of these activities indicated were in any way related to strategies for curriculum delivery in the classroom. This raises questions about the appropriateness of PD activities provided to the teachers, particularly in relation to notions of interplay between quality and school improvement, individual and institutional requirements. An overwhelming majority of educators, including HODs (84% of 39 respondents) in the 13 schools claimed that they had PGPs.
Findings • Principals & SMTs played a limited role in facilitating teacher development, i.e. sending them to workshops organised by Dept (provincially or nationally). • Participating teachers indicated that some of the programmes attended did not address their specific needs although relevant in terms of the focus of the programme. • The role that is played by principals was limited to only providing information to the teaching staff about when and where workshops, which in many instances are organised or provided by the DoE. • Prior to the introduction of NPFTED to guide teacher development, IQMS was the only mechanism, and this policy does not specify the role that principals should or can play. When teachers develop PGPs they work closely with development support group (DSGs) which comprises a peer and immediate senior person. • The IQMS is currently being reviewed as the NPFTED is being refined after the resolutions of the Teacher Development Summit that was held in June-July 2009.
Findings • The data indicates that there has been no link between teachers’ identified growth needs and the type of PD activities that are organised for teachers. • This could be associated with the fact that most of TD activities are not provided by schools concerned & had no influence in deciding the nature or the content of PD activities. • This study has shown that despite the implementation of policy framework (IQMS and NPFTED), disjuncture between individual needs and external expectations and support programmes provided are still not informed by individual needs. • While education department officials claim that PD training they provide is based on IQMS processes and needs at schools level, there is no evidence of this from the perspectives of school-based informants. • The data generated from in-depth interviews from the 4 schools indicates that there is a potential for SMT playing an active facilitative role in PD programmes.
Findings • This can happen when principals & SMTs create an organisational culture that encourages betterment of both individuals and institutions. • Research done in SA has shown that a number of school-based models for teacher development have the potential to build capacities in schools in a sustainable manner. • It is also evident that capacities of schools to engage in equipping teachers with needed knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to educate learners more effectively was limited. • The socio-economic context has always been a major factor in the creation of the conditions suitable for internal or school-based PD activities.