An investigation into the connection between middle level leadership and learning: leading teachers to learn to self-assess their professional growth using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Holmes, Belinda Tanya (2018) An investigation into the connection between middle level leadership and learning: leading teachers to learn to self-assess their professional growth using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

This study explores the problem that teachers, in the Junior School of a P-12 College in Australia, faced in demonstrating their professional growth by using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The teachers had undertaken a professional development opportunity (PDO) and sought to include their growth in their portfolios for their Annual Review. The researcher sought to explore: How can a middle level leader lead teachers to learn to self-assess their professional growth using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers? This thesis reports on the interactions with teachers in the self-assessment process as well as the researcher’s own journey of self-discovery as a leader of learning. The leadership in this study went beyond coaching or mentoring, it was about developing a professional trusted relationship which enabled people to learn about themselves, how they learn, and how they grow professionally, challenging their predispositions, their assumptions and beliefs.

This study was conducted within the interpretivist/constructivist research paradigm and the researcher adopted the role of participant observer from the insider position. A three-phased exploratory qualitative case study was conducted to explore the research question. During each phase the researcher, led the participants through the process of self-assessment using a reflection tool based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Phase One involved a Focus Group of ten voluntary teachers from the Junior School of the P-12 College at which the researcher held a middle level leadership position. Phase Two involved three individual interviews with four voluntary teachers, one of whom was a member of the focus group from Phase One. Phase Three provided the researcher with an unexpected opportunity to pursue the study further as two of the participants from Phase Two expressed the desire to undergo the process of self-assessment of professional growth once again. Phase Three involved two individual interviews with each of the two participants.

Two frameworks were developed from the findings of this study: Leading Teachers to Self-Assess their Professional Growth; and Building Capacity for Quality Teaching and Leadership for Learning. In the first of the frameworks self-assessment of professional growth entailed collaborative knowledge building with a trusted other, utilising the reflection tool. Two processes were identified as necessary to the self-assessment process: Open the door and Enlightenment. Through dialogic interaction, utilising reflection and questioning, the middle level leader and the teacher Opened the door to greater understanding of a professional development opportunity (PDO. Through the process of Enlightenment, using the reflection tool, and guided by the middle leader, knowledge gained from the PDO was understood and interpreted by the teachers in terms of their professional growth.

The second of the frameworks, Building Capacity for Quality Teaching and Leadership for Learning, comprises three components: Leaders of learning; Collaborative learning and knowledge creation; and Sharing new knowledge and reflection-on-action. The first component focuses on harnessing the power and potential influence of all leaders within a school as leaders of learning. The Leading Teachers to Self-Assess their Professional Growth framework is embedded within the second component, as leaders of learning lead each member of a group of teachers to self-assess their professional growth, building a culture of relational trust through collaborative leadership. The third component, Sharing new knowledge and reflection-on-action, suggests that principals and leaders of learning work collaboratively to develop a shared sense of accountability for building capacity for quality teaching and leading for learning. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers purport to promote quality teaching and professionalism, leading to improvements in student outcomes. When used as the criteria for self-assessment of professional growth, leaders of learning can influence improvements to the quality of teaching within schools.

Whilst this is a small-scale study in that it was conducted within one school within Australia, and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers were used as the criteria for self-assessment of professional growth, the general findings and recommendations have significance for junior and senior schools within Australia and Internationally. Consideration and implementation of the two frameworks, developed from the findings from this study, have the potential to build capacity for school improvement to the quality of teaching and leadership development.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Supervisors: Andrews, Dorothy; Conway, Joan; Zhou, Hong
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2018 02:00
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 05:11
Uncontrolled Keywords: leading learning; teacher self-assessment; professional growth; middle leaders; teaching standards; building capacity; Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/5c076945baf8d
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34390

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