Teacher leadership: Influences of hierarchical Chinese contexts on the capacity of professional learning communities to empower the classroom teacher
This study will investigate how school type, principals, and teacher dispositions may modify the potential for teacher leadership, and aims to identify how PLCs can mediate these factors to empower the leadership skills of the classroom teacher.
To stay ahead of rapidly changing educational demands, Hong Kong’s schools need effective teacher leadership that can navigate professional hierarchies to improve student learning. Classroom teachers, even those without formal leadership titles, require informal leadership skills or the ability to influence educational decisions on student learning. Arguments have been made that teachers may acquire informal leadership capabilities through professional learning communities (PLCs). However, it is challenging to maximise this capacity of PLCs in highly hierarchical cultures. Studies show that informal teacher leadership eludes Hong Kong schools despite increased collaboration among teachers. This study will investigate how school type, principals, and teacher dispositions may modify the potential for teacher leadership, and aims to identify how PLCs can mediate these factors to empower the leadership skills of the classroom teacher. The mixed-methods study involves: (Phase 1) a quantitative survey of teachers to examine the interrelationship between teacher leadership and moderating factors; (Phase 2) qualitative case studies to explain these links. In Phase 1, schools will be selected to equally represent all school bands to study school differences. Structural equation modelling will analyse the moderating effects of principal leadership and teacher dispositions on teacher leadership outcomes, mediated by the teachers’ PLC participation. In Phase 2, three schools from different school bands will be selected as case studies from survey results. As part of this naturalistic case study design, schools will decide which existing collaborative practices best represent PLCs in their schools, so that principals and researchers may jointly identify suitable observation sites. Observations of teachers-in-action in PLCs will be complemented by first-hand accounts from focus groups with the teachers observed, and from interviews with principals. Qualitative data will be analysed via grounded theory approaches. The analysis will be supported by fieldwork templates and observation protocols to guide coding procedures, and will focus on the role of relationships in structuring teacher leadership outcomes. A theoretical framework will be developed from the synergised analysis of mixed-methods data to explain cultural influences that moderate teacher leadership in PLCs. This study will deepen the understanding of the challenges to empowering informal teacher leadership in highly hierarchical cultural contexts. By identifying moderating factors of teacher leadership, insights are sought regarding cultural influences on teacher leadership, and how existing PLC practices can be improved. The findings will contribute to future studies of how Chinese hierarchical school systems (e.g., self-managed Hong Kong and centralised-control Singapore) compare, building on previous studies.
Building School-Family-Community Partnerships in inclusive education setting: exploring the predictors of the achievements of students with special education needs
Parent-child Book Reading: A Structured Home Context to Stimulate Executive Functions of Kindergarten Children?