Teachers' preferences, and their expectations of principals' support, for involvement in school-based decision making: 'If [only] time or involvement was recognised as part of my workload'
Gardner, C and Williamson, J, Teachers' preferences, and their expectations of principals' support, for involvement in school-based decision making: 'If [only] time or involvement was recognised as part of my workload', Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 27 November - 1 December 2011, Hobart, Tasmania, pp. 1-9. ISSN 1324-9320 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]
It is generally agreed that teachers are central to improving the quality of education for school-age learners (see for example Hattie, 2003) and that their actual work lives demonstrate increased intensification (Galton & MacBeath, 2008; Gardner & Williamson, 2004; Williamson & Myhill, 2008). Paradoxically, in this context teachers simultaneously face increased calls for 'professionalism' and, on the other hand, are required to implement many more externally imposed policies relating to curricula, assessment and reporting (Hoyle & Wallace, 2007; Ingersoll, 2006; Williamson & Myhill, 2008). A series of linked international studies conducted under the auspices of the Consortium for Cross-Cultural Research in Education (CCCRE) reported that while teachers in 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, England, Hungary, Singapore, South Africa, and the US, reported major changes in their work lives and restricted professionalism, the one factor that appeared to lessen the effect of the external policy turbulence was involvement in school-based decision making; that is, teachers who participated in their school's decision making were more likely to be less negative toward the external polices than teachers who had no involvement (Poppleton & Williamson, 2004). This paper extends significantly the earlier research of the CCCRE by focusing on teachers' perspectives of responsibility taking. Four indices were created and validated prior to use as a structure for gathering and analysing data: administration and coordination, human relations, teacher support and classroom learning. Specific questions addressed, and reported in this paper, centred on the order of index means, the size of the index means, and comparisons between perspectives held by the Australian teachers and combined international results. Data were gathered from 105 teachers in Tasmania. Each participant completed a 20-item survey questionnaire that employed a Likert scale. Fifteen teachers provided comments about their responses during subsequent individual telephone interviews.
Australian teachers sought more involvement in school decision-making than their colleagues represented by the 10-country means in each of the four indices and in the combined mean. With respect to three means administration and coordination, human relations and teacher support the Australian teachers estimated less principal support for teacher involvement than their international colleagues. The classroom learning index was the exception. These results, and those from the entire study, offer opportunities' to enhance understanding of principals and teachers with respect to teacher responsibility taking in school change.