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Investigating the leadership practices of the level three classroom teacher in Western Australia

Stout, Rosana (2012) Investigating the leadership practices of the level three classroom teacher in Western Australia. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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Increasingly, schools are urged to rethink leadership based on positional authority and move towards more participative styles of governance, embracing teachers as leaders (Andrews & Lewis, 2004; Crowther, Kaagan, Ferguson & Hann, 2007; Frost & Harris, 2003). This study examines the enactment of teacher leadership in the context of the West Australian Level Three Classroom Teacher classification, an initiative that recognizes and promotes the leadership of expert classroom teachers. The researcher investigated the extent to which the initiative engenders teacher leadership and, the nature and scope of the leadership. Competing discourses of accountability and empowerment that promote and constrain teacher leadership were examined to interrogate the extent to which the Level Three Classroom Teacher program, in creating another space at the leadership table, provides a genuine opportunity for teachers to lead.

Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to interrogate Level Three Classroom Teachers’ survey responses and Department of Education policy to identify the binaries or slippage between the rhetoric of policy and the practice of teacher leadership in schools. In recognition of the centrality of language, discourse analysis and narrative deconstruction informed by Mockler’s (2004) and Boje’s (2001) frameworks were employed to map leadership practices and the cultural narrative of the Level Three Classroom Teacher.

Highlighted in this research is the importance of emotions. The study affirmed that motivation to lead is bound up in teacher identity, self-efficacy and collegiality. The creation of categories of teachers such as expert and non-expert or leader and noniii leader in policy discourse and school practices resulted in a form of othering that could be deemed counter-productive to participative leadership. An implication of these findings is the need for further study to examine how policy may constrain teacher leadership. If more teachers are to seize this leadership opportunity and make a real difference to how schools are led, there is also a need for professional learning that explicitly targets teacher leadership. Such learning also needs to acknowledge the complexity of emotions and the micro politics of schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Cumming-Potvin, Wendy and Wildly, H.
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