26 SES 13 B, Exploring Aspects of Teacher and Middle Leadership Part 2
Paper Session continued from 26 SES 07 B
The role of middle leaders in schools has long been acknowledged as significant in improving and sustaining student performance (Dunham, 1978; Abolghasemi, McCormick, & Conners, 1999; Dinham, 2007). This significance of middle leadership in improving and sustaining student performance is generally seen in acting as the curriculum leader (Nguyen, 2013). In China, their roles in promoting curriculum development is especially important. In line with the trend of educational reform and development worldwide, in China, educational reform and development focuses on curriculum development and school-level changes. TRGs are generally regarded as middle leaders who are responsible for curriculum development, solving practical problems of teachers and organizing teachers to do research in order to improve the quality of education (Guo, 2007). TRGs are the backbone of quality education in the school and promote educational reform and development at school-level. Related research on TRGs and middle leadership has mainly focused on primary and secondary education (e.g., Du, 2013; Paine & Fang, 2006; Wang, 2011). Little is known about the TRGs function for curriculum development and how middle leaders lead curriculum development in ECE. Thus, the aim of this study is to explore how middle leadership for curriculum development is understood and practiced in kindergartens in the Chinese context. Based on the research aim, the research questions are:
1. What are roles and responsibilities of middle leaders for curriculum development through multiple perspectives from principals, curriculum leaders, logistics leaders, and classroom teachers?
2. What are the effective practices of middle leadership for curriculum development as identified by principals, curriculum leaders, logistics leaders, and classroom teachers?
Qualitative research design will be used in this study. Interpretivism empirically focuses on perspectives which are socially constructed and cognitive (Goldkuhl, 2012), therefore, perspectives of concepts and practices of middle leadership will be the empirical focus. Case study will be used. Purposive sampling will be used to select case schools. The criteria for case selection are: 1. whether the kindergarten is a Band One kindergarten; 2. whether the kindergarten can be one public kindergarten and one private kindergarten; 3. whether the kindergarten has more than two tiers in the organizational structure (more than nine classes) and has a leader with formal title for curriculum development; and 4. whether the kindergarten has the four positions: principal, curriculum leader, logistics leader, and classroom teacher. Therefore, two case schools will be chosen among which, there are one public kindergarten and one private kindergarten. Multiple perspectives will be collected from principals, curriculum leaders, logistics leaders and classroom teachers. Data will be collected through multiple sources: metaphors, interviews, observations and documents. Once theoretical saturation has been reached, the data set will be mainly analyzed under the guidelines defined by Miles and Huberman (1994). Both within-case analysis and across-case analysis will be used in this study.
The findings of this study are expected to be in line with previous studies conducted in the Chinese context. The roles of middle leaders may be indicators for teaching, organizers of teaching and research activities, leaders for teacher professional development, communicators between the senior management team and classroom teachers, leaders for research, controller for teaching quality, and teacher managers. Middle leaders should be both professional leaders and administrators. However, there might be some special roles taking by middle leaders in kindergartens. The effective practices of middle leadership for curriculum may drop into the dimensions identified by Leithwood and his colleagues (2006), which are direction settings, developing people, re-organizing the structure, and managing the teaching and learning programmes. For example, in literature review, four dimensions of middle leadership has been identified. They are focusing on curriculum development, assuring teaching quality, creating subcultures, and collegiality. These four dimensions have dropped into the framework identified by Leithwood and his colleagues. That is, focusing on curriculum development and monitoring teachers’ teaching to assurance the quality of teaching links to the setting directions, providing teachers learning opportunities links to developing people, creating the subcultures and building collegiality links to re-organizing the structure, and directly focusing on curriculum development and launching instructional activities link to managing the teaching and learning programme. Though Leithwood and his colleagues’ framework identified from principal’s role, principals are not the only leaders in a school to executive the expectations, responsibilities and privilege go with the role (Gurr, 2008; Gurr & Drysdale, 2013). As principals are on the top of the hierarchical structure of organizations and they hold the power and authorities to be responsible for the whole kindergartens, middle leaders executive the roles and responsibilities through the leadership distributed from the principals.
Abolghasemi, M., McCormick, J., & Conners, R. (1999). The importance of department heads in the development of teacher support for school vision. International Journal of Educational Management, 13(2), 80-87. Dinham, S. (2007). The secondary head of department and the achievement of exceptional student outcomes. Journal of Educational Administration, 45(1), 62-79. Du, F. (2013) Improving the leadership of the leaders of the teaching and research groups. Kecheng yu jiaoxue guanli, 02, 21-22. (In Chinese) Dunham, J. (1978). Change and stress in the head of department's role. Educational Research, 21(1), 44-47. Goldkuhl, G. (2012). Pragmatism vs interpretivism in qualitative information systems research. European Journal of Information Systems, 21(2), 135-146. Guo, C. (2007) Defining the roles of the leaders of teaching-research groups in new curriculum. Contemporary Educational Science, 1, pp. 33-36. Gurr, D. D. (2008). Principal leadership: what does it do, what does it look like, and how might it evolve?. Australian Council for Educational Leaders: Author. Gurr, D., & Drysdale, L. (2013). Middle-level secondary school leaders: Potential, constraints and implications for leadership preparation and development. Journal of Educational Administration, 51(1), 55-71. Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P., Harris, A. and Hopkins, D. (2006). Seven Strong Claims about Successful School Leadership. Nottingham: DfES/NCSL. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis : an expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks : Sage Publications. Nguyen, T. L. H. (2013). Middle-level academic management: A case study on the roles of the heads of department at a Vietnamese university. Tertiary Education and management, 19(1), 1-15. Paine, L. W., & Fang, Y. (2006). Reform as hybrid model of teaching and teacher development in China. International Journal of Educational Research, 45(4), 279-289. Wang, R. (2011) Roles of the leaders of teaching research groups in school transformation and reform. Kecheng yu jiaoxue guanli. 12.pp.40-41.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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