School Leadership And Professional Development Education Essay

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This study is to examine the role of leadership in teacher professional development in Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Klang Valley. The specific variables that will be investigated include teachers' perceptions of teacher professional development; teachers' expectations as well as the principal's role in facilitating teacher professional development. Developments in leadership will lead to changes in the ways teachers work. These will subsequently increase the need to review teacher professional development. The purpose of this research is to establish how the dual of the principal and the teachers manifests itself in professional development. This research will be significant as it will examine the voices of teachers on how leadership contributes to teacher professional development. The research will be conducted using qualitative methodology. It will be based on a case study of two Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Klang Valley. Data will be collected using questionnaires and follow up interviews which will be administered to elicit responses from principals, deputy principals and teachers in both schools. The findings will reveal the need for teachers in Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Klang Valley to engage more in teacher professional development programmes in order for them to have a better understanding of the concept. This study will also demonstrate if teacher professional development should be the core work of both the principals and teachers in order to create a learning environment in their schools so that both can develop professionally. Based on the results obtained in this study, we will determine if Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Klang Valley need more awareness in teacher professional development and how it will influence the leadership.

Keywords: Leadership, Principals, Teachers, Teacher Professional Development, Teaching and Learning

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Having been a teacher for ten years and now majoring in educational management, I am very much interested in finding out the effects of school leadership on the professional development of the teachers in the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Selangor. Chinese Secondary Independent Schools are solely governed by The United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (UCSCAM) which coordinates the curriculum used in the schools and organizes the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) standardized test. Generally teachers are not employed through the professional teachers training colleges in Malaysia rather they are appointed through individual school administration which is governed by the directors (share holders) of the school as the schools are independent of each other and are free to manage their own affairs.

As a teacher from a Chinese Independent Secondary School, I had been involved in various professional development programmes in school. These programmes were mostly conducted during school hours and often during the school holidays. Thus it is my interest to find out how the school leadership contributes in molding and producing teachers who are as competent as the trained teachers by the Teachers Training Colleges under the Malaysia Education System. This is because this will determine whether the Chinese Secondary Independent Schools are producing individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God, in line with the goals of the Malaysian National Philosophy of Education.

This proposed study will be able to shed some light on various strategies deployed by the school administration in enhancing professional development among teachers of Chinese Secondary Independent Schools in order to stimulate the pupils' potentials holistically in accordance with the Education Philosophy.

As a school administrator, I strongly believe it is the job and the responsibility of the

head teacher to see that the pupils achieve success besides possessing the following qualities :

"knowledgeable, competent, possess high moral standards and are responsible

and capable of achieving a high level of personal well-being as well as

being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, the

society and the nation at large".

(Malaysian National Philosophy of Education, 1996).

This research takes the form of a qualitative study that employs three research instruments: document analysis, questionnaires that are filled in by all the teachers and five semi-structured interview sessions. This research study is guided by four key questions:

What are the leadership styles practiced by school heads?

What is the professional development activities conducted in schools?

How does school head and teachers perceived professional development?

How has the leadership styles affected the professional development in schools?

Therefore, I would very much like to gain an insight into the ways in which the school leadership behaviour and practices affect the teachers overall achievement in professional development in line with the students overall achievement in schools.

2.0 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Teachers are a vital labor force for achieving the Malaysian educational aims in enhancing the education quality and developing the human capital of the nation. The need for professional development for teachers in Malaysia was recognized as early as 1995 by a special committee set up by the Education Ministry to look into teachers' professionalization, professionalism and professional development. Teachers' professional development was recognized as a means to enhance the teaching profession. Some of the recommendations put forward by the committee were:

• Teachers should be encouraged to attend in-service courses

• Teachers should be encouraged to further their education

• Opportunities should be given to teachers for study visits overseas to study current

developments in education

• Induction programmes be given to teachers appointed to new posts and with new

responsibilities

• Management courses be provided to those teachers who have been promoted to head

teachers

• Staff rooms should be subject-based

• Teacher centres should facilitate the professional development of teachers; they should

be built in strategic locations, equipped with modern technology, fully funded and

adequately staffed (as cited in Mohd Sofi Ali, 2002, p. 45).

In line with this agendum the government has made efforts to establish training centres for its teachers. The teacher education division which comes under the MOE and MOHE initiates

both the pre-service and in-service training for the primary and secondary school teachers.

Chinese independent high school is a type of private high school in Malaysia. They provide secondary education in the Chinese language as the continuation of the primary education in Chinese national-type primary schools. The medium of instruction in these schools is Mandarin with simplified Chinese characters writing.

There are a total of 60 Chinese independent high schools in the country, including 23 from East Malaysia, and they represent a small number of the high schools in Malaysia. The United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (UCSCAM, the association of Chinese school teachers and trustees, also known as the Dong Jiao Zong, coordinates the curriculum used in the schools and organizes the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) standardized test. Despite this, the schools are independent of each other and are free to manage their own affairs.

Being private schools, Chinese independent high schools do not receive funding from the Malaysian government, unlike their national-type cousins. However, in accordance with their aim of providing affordable education to all in the Chinese language, their school fees are substantially lower than those of most other private schools. The schools are kept alive almost exclusively by donations from the public.

3.0 AIMS AND OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

Basically the proposed study is to look at the leadership focus in the circumstance of the case study of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Selangor. The following are the key aims of this research; What are the leadership styles practiced by school heads in the school vicinity, what is the professional development activities conducted in schools,how does school head and teachers perceived professional development?

Professional development is believed to perk up the excellence of teaching and the quality performance of learners. Knapp (2003:109) believes that every initiative that is geared towards improving teaching and learning in schools should consolidate its efforts chiefly towards high quality teacher professional development and this is perceived as one of the roles attached to principal ship. This provides a basis upon which teachers can improve their instructional competence and pedagogic skills. Another objective for this study is to examine how has the leadership styles affected the professional development in schools?

4.0 PROBLEM STATEMENT

The role of the principal in supporting professional development activities of teachers appears to be crucial to the success of the professional growth of teachers (Berube, W., Gaston, J., & Stepans, J., 2004 citing Stepans, 2001). Therefore it is strongly reckoned that a strong school leadership will enhamce teacher professional development in a more effective manner.

Berube et al (2004) state that, "In addition to performing these organisational and managerial tasks, contemporary principals are expected to be leaders, setting directions for the teaching and learning of students. They also are expected to "coach, teach, and develop teachers in their schools," and perform their tasks as instructional leaders. Generally it depends on the leadership of the school on the various method they would choose to enforce professionalism among teachers in their respective schools.

At the moment the most popular forms of teacher professional development in most Chinese Independent Secondary Schools are workshops and seminars held both within the schools and at the Dong Zhong headquarters. This study hopes to intensify the understanding of the potential role of principals in teacher development. Currently there is insufficient support for teacher professional development which could affect the quality of education that students receive and ultimately impact on their likelihood to pass their final high school external examination and transition into higher education among students of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools

5.0 RESEARCH QUESTION

The proposed research questions for this study seek to answer these questions;

1. What are the leadership styles practiced by school heads?

2. What is the professional development activities conducted in schools?

3. How does school head and teachers perceived professional development?

4. How has the leadership styles affected the professional development in schools?

6.0 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

Generally on the contrary not many studies have examined principal's role and practices in relation to teacher professional development. However, there is a need to develop a better understanding of what principals do and how they facilitate teacher development in order to be able to shape a positive school climate that supports teacher learning (Drago- Severson, 2004). Drago-Severson put forth a learning oriented model of school leadership that includes teaming, engaging in collegial inquiry and mentoring targeted at attaining that relationship to foster educational growth more effectively. "The teachers' perceptions of the way the school leader functions appears to be an important parameter for the appreciation of the contribution of the school to the process of professional development (Clement et al., 2000, p.7).

This study aims to investigate whether teacher professional development is perceived as central to student achievement by school leadership (principals). It also aims specifically to examine the role that principals play to encourage teacher professional development in their schools.

professional support. Activities within the professional training category include; short conferences, courses, workshops both in the schools and outside the schools, for which emphasis is put on enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants and formal certification is not provided. As Bolam further points out, professional education in contrast leads to formal qualifications and relevant certificates. Professional support according to Earley & Bubb (2004) involves "on-the-job" support that is primarily intended to improve teachers‟ experience and performance. Activities in this category may include coaching, mentoring, and induction.

While there is considerable attention given to teacher professional development, there is little known on the perceptions of teachers regarding the various forms of teacher professional development as well as how these variants can be used to manage teaching and learning. The Ministry of Education is concerned that the issue of professional development is not being given adequate attention in the schools in Lesotho. This study is significant in that it intends to add to the existing body of knowledge around school leadership and its role in teacher professional development. This is based on the growing need for principals to shift from their conventional perception of teacher professional development and embrace their „new‟ roles.

3.0 LITERATURE FRAMEWORK

Introduction

This chapter looks at the meaning of teachers' professional development and discusses its significance to the teaching profession and the notion of teacher professionalism. Several themes that emerged from the literature base reviewed such as the changing paradigm of professional development, the impact of professional development on teaching practice, core features of effective professional development, changing teaching practice and teachers' motivation to change are also discussed.

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