01 SES 09 A, Making Sense of PL: Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders Within Professional Learning
This study focuses on a city's efforts to manage a coordinated primary and secondary school curriculum to reduce the anxiety felt by primary school students as they move from primary schools to secondary school and to enrich their learning in secondary school.
The purpose of this study is to identify the professional knowledge on the setting of the content and methods of teacher professional learning, the work of leaders in creating an environment and culture that causes teacher agency and student agency in the school, in the organization and management of a coordinated curriculum between primary and secondary school.
City A has 15 secondary school districts and has been engaged in primary and secondary school co-operation for more than 10 years. City A announced as its educational policy shifting education through co-operation between primary and secondary schools to a unified school that can provide education with a consistent curriculum for primary and secondary schools in 2017. It has begun deploying integrated education for primary and secondary schools throughout the city since 2018. It established one 9-year compulsory education school in 2018 using its own assets.
To put this education policy into practice, the board of education in City A gathered and explained it to all the principals of the city in June 2017. The board of education then requested the principals of primary schools and secondary schools in one school district to cooperate in explaining to teachers and thinking about what kind of integrated primary and secondary school education should be provided. The board of education provided professional training for principals to think about integrated primary and secondary schools education twice a year and three times for teachers in charge of integrated school education. The teacher who received the training explained to the other teachers about the integrated school education in co-operation with the school principal. They were responsible for promoting the integrated school education. At this point, schools and teachers were in a structure that followed the ‘the hierarchist’ way led by the local board of education.
Therefore, there was not much opposition from teachers. However, after two years, differences were found in the results of their efforts and the awareness of teachers in the 15 junior high school districts in the city.
For instance, a principal considered the leadership of teachers and tried to create opportunities for teachers to think about various things. However, teachers wanted to be guided by the strong leadership of the principal. There was a gap there, and there were cases where the efforts did not proceed. In addition, although the teachers made efforts, there were cases in which primary school children became more anxious about going to secondary school, which means that the children did not appreciate the efforts of the teachers. Efforts planned solely by the teachers were often unacceptable to the children.
However, the atmosphere of the A and B school's efforts changed from ‘the hierarchist way’ to ‘the egalitarian way’ as the principal paid attention to the agency of teachers and children and provided them with the opportunity and information to bring them out. In addition, the teachers in charge of integrated A and B schools gathered information from other schools with the support of the principal. They built a network to connect with teachers from other schools and received support from outside the school for the school's efforts.
In this study, we use questionnaires and interviews to identify the attitudes and behaviours of principals, middle leaders, teachers and children in these transformative initiatives in school districts, and how they interacted with each other in response to the initiatives.
In this study, we focus on teacher agency and student agency in order to analyse how each school district works voluntarily and actively in response to top-down requests from the government. For this purpose, we refer to previous studies as a theoretical framework for the development of questionnaire items and interview items. In particular, in order to see how teachers changed during the two years of their professional training, the ecological approach model was used in the analysis. We investigate elementary school children's anxiety about going to secondary school and their interest in and satisfaction with their efforts for integrated school education. We also investigate how teachers felt about such efforts for integrated school education, and how they felt about teacher professional training for that purpose. We then compare and analyse the secondary school districts where the voices of the children and the voices of the teachers matched and the school districts that are out of alignment. The first year of investigations by questionnaires were implemented following a preparatory period of 1 year and at December of 2018. A second survey was carried out in December 2019. Students (approximately 4,500 fifth- and sixth-year primary-students; approximately 3,900 first- and second-year secondary-students) were surveyed about their opinions and attitudes towards efforts for integrated school education. The primary- and secondary-school students were asked the questions Q1 to Q18. They were asked to answer each question using a four-point scale. A total of 823 primary school teachers and 405 secondary school teachers completed the questionnaire at December of 2018 and 2019. The primary- and secondary-school teachers were asked the questions Q1 to Q12. They were asked to answer each question using a four-point scale. Two visits were made to each of three schools selected according to school size over a two-year period, and group interviews were conducted with teachers. We interpret them as values on an interval scale, acquired averages and standard deviations, and endeavoured to investigate any changes in the children’s opinions and attitudes of the over the two years spanning from the preparatory period through the first year of measures. After each of the six training sessions over the two-year period, middle leaders were asked to indicate in open-ended responses what challenges they faced in their schools in promoting this initiative. Principals were also interviewed twice over a two-year period about the management of their schools in the form of open-ended responses.
The teachers were themselves less aware of the efforts and the student's evaluations of teachers were also low in school districts where the principal, teachers in charge of integrated school education, and teachers could not cooperate. In the A secondary school district, several key teachers guided the practise and created a professional learning community. The principal recommended that a lot of information be obtained from teachers at other schools. B secondary school district did not have a central lead teacher. However, many teachers participated in discussions and think about opportunities, which created a professional learning community. Through interviews with the teachers, it became clear that teachers in the C secondary school district have many teachers outside of school that they can consult with, and many were obtaining information from them. The above A ,B and C secondary school districts initially followed the lead of the local board of education. However, the atmosphere of the school's efforts changed from ‘the hierarchist way’ to ‘the egalitarian way’ as the principal paid attention to the agency of teachers and children and provided them with the opportunity and information to bring them out. In addition, the teachers in charge of integrated schools gathered information from other schools with the support of the principal. They built a network to connect with teachers from other schools and received support from outside the school for the school's efforts. The teachers and schools in City A have used evidence-informed teaching practice to show teachers in other secondary school districts their creative efforts in integrated school education. In other words, they conducted the evidence-informed teaching practice while conscious that they will receive comments from other schools and create lessons with each other in order to generate ideas for better practise, rather than the consciousness of verifying the effects.
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