01 SES 16 B, Teacher Leadership and Professional Agency
The current Portuguese educational policy has broken down with more than 30 years of collegial and democratic management, in which a model based on unipersonality emerges, as stated in Decree-Law nº 75/2008. While boards of directors and executive councils were incorporated into collegiality after April 25, 1974, the figure of the director assumes a configuration that is confused with "a contracted manager because, although the obligation of being a career teacher, with at least five years of service, remains, he/she is exempt from all academic activity, which attests to the valorization attributed to the technical profile of this formal leader, which also finds justification in the growing complexity and requirement of the current management units” (Carvalho, 2017, p.89). Moreover, we must not forget the importance given to training in School Administration and Educational Administration, inasmuch as the current Decree-Law nº 137/2012 of July 2 is peremptory when it recognizes that those who “hold qualifications specifically for this purpose” make it unfeasible for candidates who only present a profile corresponding to experience in the exercise of positions and relevant curriculum in the area of school administration and management (Carvalho, 2017).
Thus, once the director’s role has been regained as a corollary of the reinforcement of public school leaderships and, consequently, of more and better organizational effectiveness, the truth is that now he/she becomes the "face of the school", the “primarily responsible” person who can be “held to account”. Moreover, he/she is also the person who has legal competence to develop the educational project of the school and to carry out the educational policies locally (Leal & Carvalho, 2013).
This change in the management of schools cannot be understood in the margin of the managerial canon if we think, specifically, about the centralization of the decision-making processes, the reinforcement of vertical structures and the reinforcement of the leader’s power, as well as the search for efficiency. "These assumptions corroborate the idea that the leader, and in the case of Portuguese public school, its director, makes a difference in the areas of teaching and learning quality, job satisfaction and the commitment of all educational actors for improvement "(Carvalho, 2012, pp. 201-202).
In this context, it seemed pertinent to respond to the concern caused by Decree-Law nº 75/2008 regarding the importance of the management and leadership dimensions for the development of a more autonomous and quality school. In this sense, it was our objective to verify whether the representations and practices of leadership of this organ of management comply with the decreed characteristics of the "reinforcement of leadership" with respect to the favoring of school results and student behavior.
Our work comprised a qualitative methodological option on 5 non-grouped schools/ school groups located in the Alto Douro region, and data collection was performed between 2016 and 2018. Documentary analysis was used, which focused on the structuring documents, Educational Project, Internal Regulation, and Intervention Project of the Director, which allowed the creation of an understanding about the reality under study, since they include a certain normative orientation and, in this context, influence the operation and management practices of the school group; semi-structured interviews (Sousa, 2005) conducted with some interlocutors. The semi-structured interviews, which totaled 20, conducted with the directors, members of the General Council, the Pedagogical Council and teachers holding no position, were another instrument considered to allow oral and direct interaction between interviewee and interviewer, which favors the production of information that cannot be found in written documentary sources. It also has the advantage of adaptability and of providing the exploration of some ideas, perceptions, interpretations or experiences that the interviewee provides in his/her own language (Quivy, Campenhoudt: 1998). What was imposed as a determinant for the investigation was the construction of the integral meaning of the representations of our privileged interlocutors, a task that would be carried out through the chain of information gathered by the different research techniques that we used throughout this study. Therefore, our choice was the analysis of content associated with the use of MAXQDA, a software for the analysis of unstructured qualitative data. In our case, it should be noted that we took into account the constancy of text units grouped by categories that gave rise to a classification code through which a system of meanings can be assigned to the records (Bardin, 1995). It is worth noting, however, that the system of categorization and its codification are not the mechanical result of rules deduced theoretically from anticipated laws, because the content of a text is richer and more unpredictable than can be determined a priori, but the result of a theoretical orientation that is applied as the contents of the documents and interviews are analyzed.With the two systems of categories/ subcategories, we have a multidimensional space of analysis consisting of qualitative indicators, in which we intended to find privileged associations between these indicators and their categories, with the purpose of exploring representations/ meanings included in the written records and in the speeches. This led us to opt for Multiple Correspondence Analysis.
The current entry into force of Decree-Law nº 75/2008 in the school organizations under study seems to have not found a propitious ground to justify itself, when in question is greater autonomy, better leadership and more and better democracy. In spite of the failed attempt that the narrative of the preamble of said decree makes when displaying what does not seem to exist, the truth is that it was verified that, in the AEAS, this norm was able to convey few "novelties". The complex organizational reality of school limits the consideration of what strong and good leaderships are. The educational actors acknowledged that the existence of a single-member body and the mode of electing the director were the aspects that configured the most democratic rupture with the past. However, in the organizations under study, this did not establish an effective rupture, since it is recognized that the person who occupies the position is the one who does it, which is why they did not find any differences between the former collegiate body and the current single-member body. Generally speaking, it is clear that the force of the decrees is not sufficient to determine behaviors at the level of being and doing, which reveals the importance of those who, on a daily basis, create the dynamics of school organization. Decrees are not everything. We are apologists for the idea that the strength of leadership does not have a causal relationship with the composition of the management body. Moreover, it is important to recognize that many individuals can do more than a single individual, which is why in our work it was possible to verify that neither indiscipline has diminished, nor have the results of the students improved due to the solipsistic action of the director of the school.
Bardin, L. (1995). Análise de conteúdo. Lisboa: Edições 70. Carvalho, M. J. (2012). A modalidade de escolha do diretor na escola pública portuguesa. Revista Lusófona de Educação. 22/22, pp. 103-12 Leal, M & Carvalho, M. J. (2013). Do percurso ao modo de ser da unipessoalidade na gestão das escolas. Revista Praxis Educacional. Brasil, v. 9, nº 15, pp. 13-38. Carvalho, M. J. (2017). O perfil do gestor da escola pública portuguesa. Revista Espaço do Currículo, 10 (1), 82-91. Quivy, R. Campenhoudt, L. V. (1998). Manual de Investigação em Ciências Sociais. Lisboa: Editora Gradiva. Sousa, A. B. (2005). Investigação em Educação. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte. Law references Decreto-Lei n.º 75/2008, de 22 de abril Decreto-Lei n.º 137/2012, de 2 de julho
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