Staff resilience and work practices
A school that works effectively and efficiently must have a stable cohort of resilient staff at the interface, specifically the classroom, where the teaching is being done. Resilience in staff is developed through both empowerment at the ground level where staff have some degree of involvement in decisions that affect their teaching and having a sense of ownership where a teacher is able to either individually or collectively solve problems that matter to them, particularly those which have an impact on their classroom activity and subsequent student engagement.
In a similar way that it is important for the management structures of an organisation to not get in the way or retard desired work practices. Within an educational context the primacy of quality learning and teaching needs to be supported by appropriate leadership and school structures that empower teachers as facilitators of student learning and which do not impede practices.
A concern raised by Fullan (1992) is that micro-management approaches to supervision by a school's leadership can stifle teacher willingness to become more professionally engaged in a culture that is providing empowerment and devolved decision-making. In many respects the micro-management processes mirror some of the controlling and restrictive practices of many system approaches in respect to the school leadership. That same sense of frustration that is felt when school leaders are micro-managed is felt by teachers as well, particularly so when school practices and decision-making is seen as disenfranchising.
The problem is complicated by the paradox that while teachers and their associated pedagogy are the targets of school change (whether renewal or reform) they are also its implementers.
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Where empowerment is fostered, teamwork and collaboration thrive.
A key aspect of the process of engaging staff in reflective practice and pedagogical change is creating a culture that is purposeful and which encourages fellowship, and communities of practice through which teachers are empowered by an increased access to school decision-making. A transformational leadership style encourages an ethos of engagement among teachers. Such a style is underpinned by a leadership disposition that values and encourages the fairness, openness, honesty, loyalty and integrity in relationships across the school.
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8 The pedagogic wars