Teachers as leaders: Leadership from the classroom in Scottish schools

Harris, Linda and Gallagher, H.G. and Connelly, Graham (2009) Teachers as leaders: Leadership from the classroom in Scottish schools. In: European Conference on Educational Research, 2009-09-28 - 2009-09-30. (Unpublished)

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This paper describes the final outcome of a mixed quantitative and qualitative research study designed to determine the degree to which experienced classroom teachers in Scotland are finding leadership roles in schools as a result of having undertaken professional development through the Chartered Teacher Programme. The standards-based Chartered Teacher development in Scotland resonates very clearly with a range of current European and worldwide conceptualisations of how and why teachers may find leadership roles in schools. The development of such roles is intended to have a major influence on the improvement of school students' learning experiences, (Smylie & Denny 1990) and that this will generate increased achievement for all (Yorke-Barr & Duke 2004). In addition, Fullan (2002) and Hargreaves (2003) argue powerfully that transformation in the learning cultures of schools is rooted in effective leadership and emphasise the centrality of improving students' learning in any such transformation. Fullan's focus on developing conditions which value learning as an individual and collective good, chimes equally clearly with the conceptual framework underpinning the Chartered Teacher development as does Hargreaves's contention that only distributed and shared leadership is likely to be a sustainable model for delivering these aspirations. In the Scottish context, Connelly and McMahon (2007) have already suggested that Chartered Teachers are beginning to appreciate the ways in which they were deriving professional benefit from their experiences but have acknowledged a weak evidence base for any impact beyond their own classrooms. While there had been clear expectations that such an impact would be evident, that is unlikely to occur without the support and nurturance of teachers who have leadership and/or management roles in their schools (Liebermann and Miller 2005). In addressing the key issue described above, the following Research Questions were posed: In what kinds of leadership do Chartered Teachers engage? What frameworks and mechanisms exist for developing leadership roles in schools for Chartered Teachers? What conflicting factors encourage and inhibit Chartered teachers from taking on such roles? The paper provides a detailed analysis of the ways in which this evolving model is supporting teachers as leaders with a view to assisting practitioners and researchers to focus on worthwhile areas of development and further enquiry. The findings indicate both positive and negative teacher experiences and may have potential relevance for practising teachers, school managers and researchers as this particular model, already attracting interest world-wide, evolves in Scotland.