26 SES 03 A, School Leadership in Portugal
This study aims to give voice to students and to get know their perceptions and experiences about teacher leadership in challenging circumstances. The questions that guided this investigation were: What are the students’ perceptions about teacher leadership? How do students see teacher leaders? How do students look at the decision making process at school?
This paper draws upon on a 3-year project research ‘Teachers Exercising Leadership’ (TEL) funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (PTDC/CPE-CED/112164/2009) that aims to examine conditions for teacher leadership in challenging circumstances, as it is the Portuguese reality. The research goals are, amongst others: to understand the ways in which teachers construct their professional skills and to develop strategies in order to enhance teacher leadership in schools, assuming that teacher leadership involves not only the leadership of teaching and learning in the classroom, but also the leadership of innovations and the building of professional knowledge within and beyond the classroom and school (Frost, 2012; Danielson, 2006), thus, recognizing both formal and informal dimensions.
In the last decade Portugal has been facing an economic and financial crisis, characterised by high levels of unemployment, salary cuts, and high taxes which affect, among others, the teaching profession. This has led to a number of strikes and public demonstrations against policies including teachers who fight, amongst other issues, against an increase in the workload, the loss of retirement benefits and mobility/requalification policies (Flores et. al., 2013). Notwithstanding, teachers also experienced multiple changes at policy level, such as the emergence of new mechanisms for teacher evaluation. Those policies have increased the pressure on schools and teachers to raise teaching standards and reinforce the attention given internationally to rankings and to international assessments (Flores et. al., 2013).
Teacher leadership has been perceived from different perspectives over time, mainly in the last two decades (Alexandrou & Swaffield, 2012). Leadership is a complex field (Gunter, 2005), where various theories, perspectives and dimensions of influence are mobilised. The understanding of how teachers perceive their profession have been analysed by several authors (Day, 2004; Day & Gu, 2010; Flores, 2011; among others). Teacher leadership literature shows the proliferation of formal approaches, highlighting the formal roles and responsibilities (Fink, 2007; Dimmock, 2005). However, most recent contributions look at teacher leadership beyond the formal roles through innovative designs based on sharing experiences and networking (Danielson, 2006; Frost, 2012; Flores, 2013). In this project, a "non-positional teacher leadership" (Frost, 2011) is advocated. This has also been the catalyst of network projects such as ‘HertsCam Network’ and ‘International Teacher Leadership’ project (ITL), with which the ‘Teachers Exercising Leadership’ project is associated.
Alexandrou, A., & Swaffield, S. (2012). Teacher leadership and professional development: perspectives, connections and prospects, Professional Development in Education, 38:2, 159-167. Danielson, C. (2006). Teacher Leadership: that Strengthens Professional Practice. Alexandria, Virginia USA: Association for supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Day, C. & Gu, Q. (2010). The New Lives of Teachers. New York: Routledge. Day, C. (2004). A Paixão pelo Ensino. Porto: Porto Editora. Dimmock, C. (2005). Leadership in learning-Centred Schools: Cultural Context, Function and Context. In: Brundrett, M.; Burton; N. & Smith, R. (Eds.). Leadership in Education. London: Sage Publications, pp. 3-23. Dimmock, C. & Walker A. (2005). Educational Leadership : culture and diversity. London : Sage Publications. Fink, D. (2007). Leadership for Mortals. Developing and sustaining Leaders of Learning. California: Sage Publications. Flores, M. A.; Fernandes, E.; Forte, Ana; & Flores, M. (2013). Excellence of teachers? Practice, policy, research. A publicar pela Academia Press, Ginkgo-imprint (em publicação). Flores, M. A. (2013). Teacher Leadership in Portugal: Constraints and Possibilities. Available at: https://www.hertscam.org.uk/downloadpublication.php?f=23, consulted at 01.10.13. Flores, M. A. (2011). Perspetivas internacionais sobre trabalho docente e formação de professores. Comunication presented at III Seminário sobre Formação de Professores - Trabalho docente, educação superior, cultural digital, December of 2011, Uberaba, MG, Brasil. Available at: http://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/bitstream/1822/15507/1/Confer%C3%AAncia%20no% 20 Brasil %201%20de%20dezembro%20de%202011.pdf, consulted at 20.01.13. Frost, D. (2012). From professional development to system change: teacher leadership and innovation, Professional Development in Education, 38:2, 205 – 227. Frost, D. (2011). Supporting Teacher Leadership in 15 countries. International Teacher Leadership project, Phase 1, A report. Available at: http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/ centres/lfl/researchanddevelopment/teachers/itl/ITL%20project_Phase%201_A%20Report_Nov2011.pdf, consulted at 20.04.13. Gunter, H. (2005). Teacher Leadership: Prospects and Possibilities. In: Brundrett, Mark; Burton; Neil & Smith, Robert (Eds.). Leadership in Education. London: Sage Publications, pp. 118-131. Krueger, R.. & Casey, M. (2009). Focus Groups a pratical guide for applied research. London: Sage Publications.
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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