10 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
While a number of studies on teacher induction or pedagogical leadership have been conducted, the relationship between the two is an understudied area. Far too little attention has been paid to the role of pedagogical leadership to support new teachers’ growth. The research aims to discover the impact of pedagogical leadership on new teachers’ growth. It particularly focuses on pedagogical leadership at a school level as new teachers’ professional growth can be impacted directly from their workplace. The study is focused on three questions: 1) Are new teachers’ feelings and challenges being understood?; 2) How do new teachers receive support from principals and the school community?; and 3) How does pedagogical leadership impact new teachers’ growth?
According to Lahtero and Kuusilehto-Awale (2015), the term pedagogical leadership has been used in European research to describe leading teaching and learning in school, whereas American research traditionally refers to instructional leadership. Macneill, Cavanagh and Silcox (2005, p. 5) pointed out that pedagogical leadership focuses on students’ learning while teachers’ instruction is the main focus in instructional leadership. They also highlighted that pedagogical leadership deals with building a professional learning community, whereas instructional leadership is more relevant to school management. The theoretical framework of this research identifies multiple dimensions in pedagogical leadership to support new teachers’ growth. Pedagogical leadership for new teachers consists of three main elements: understanding new teachers’ feelings and challenges; establishing a structured support system; and promoting a culture of learning within the school community. The first is to understand the new teachers’ situations and feelings. Understanding new teachers is a key element as it is the basis for providing new teachers with the appropriate guidance and support. The second element is supporting new teachers through a structured system. Building a structured support system for new teachers includes group mentoring, direct class observation by school leaders, general induction, mentoring programmes, peer teaching sessions, and other activities within the school community. Programmes could focus on new teachers to support their growth and smooth transition or they could target all teachers who are new to the school regardless of their experience or even all teachers, whether they are new or not. The third element is cultivating a school culture and climate that promotes learning. A culture of learning and sharing is prevalent in the schools with pedagogical leadership for new teachers. School leaders and experienced teachers are approachable for new teachers in the school community and they openly share about their own experience with the difficulties and give advice. Moreover, schools exercising pedagogical leadership for new teachers play a significant role as anchors for new teachers’ growth by connecting them to other opportunities for professional growth. These opportunities can be provided by teachers’ networks, teacher training institutions, teacher unions, local and government authorities, universities or other schools. In addition to the principal, experienced teachers can share leadership and play a crucial role in supporting new teachers’ development. Along with the theoretical framework on the pedagogical leadership for new teachers, this research provides a comprehensive synthesis of literature on the new teachers’ common challenges as well as an overview of initial teacher preparation system.
This research adopts a case study approach using a qualitative research method. Four schools in Finland were selected as participants, as it is internationally known for its high-quality teachers and teacher education. The principals of each school and their new teachers, with less than three years of experience, participated in the interviews. The researcher of this study visited the four schools for face-to-face interviews. Because they were semi-structured interviews, a set of questions was prepared in advance for principals and new teachers. Interview questions for principals and new teachers are composed of the three sections. In the first section, the participants were asked about new teachers’ situations and challenges. The second section covered the available induction activities, the participation in these programmes, and their impact on new teachers. The last section was regarding pedagogical leadership at school. The same questions were prepared for both principals and new teachers as it could be beneficial for triangulation as well as for comparison. The length of the interviews ranged between 60 and 100 minutes as the interviewer had the flexibility to adapt questions to the particular interviewees depending on their experiences. Among three major approaches to qualitative content analysis, this study applied conventional content analysis and summative content analysis with the former being the primary analysis method used.
School communities participated in the study exhibited an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced by new teachers; however, not every school has support programmes focused exclusively on new teachers. General support for all teachers or informal support was more common. The findings showed that pedagogical leadership for new teachers’ growth encompasses multiple dimensions: understanding new teachers, providing systematic support and fostering a supportive school culture. Pedagogical leadership had a significant impact on new teachers’ professional growth. It helped them to smoothly adapt to the profession, reduce stress and stimulate their motivation. The principals believed that their priority is to promote the learning of students and staff, but regretted having very limited time to support them. The study shows that various dimensions of pedagogical leadership should be equally considered to support new teachers’ growth. The impact of pedagogical leadership for new teachers’ growth can be maximised when it is deeply embedded in a school culture. Also, it should be noted that pedagogical leadership can be exercised by everybody in the school community. New teachers reported that their growth has been supported not only by their principal but also by their colleagues who openly exchange ideas together and discuss day-to-day challenges with them. Furthermore, new teachers’ challenges and solutions to solve them were related to each school’s situation. The size of the school and the class, the proportion of students with multicultural backgrounds or special needs, the existence of experienced teachers in the same subject group and the number of beginning teachers affected new teachers’ problems and solutions. Finally, training for school leaders on how to provide support needs to be enhanced to support new teachers’ growth.
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