Teachers' leadership as enabling and limiting in interactions with 'all' children

Year: 2018

Author: Olsson, Maria

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Strong leadership in schools and accountability has become key issues in Swedish schools, influenced by new global managerial ideas. The focus in this study is on teachers' experiences of what leadership means in their daily work with groups of children. The aim of this study is to describe and analyse meanings of teachers' leadership in general, and in relation to children in need of special support in particular. The study was carried out within the tradition of participatory-oriented research, a research circle. The participants included nine teachers, who worked in preschools and compulsory schools, and one researcher. 
The study is based on an understanding of leadership as a relational practice, practiced between people, as teacher and child. Teachers’ leadership can be understood as being practiced in teacher-child relationships and these relationships can be characterized by closeness as well as conflict. Research provides a multifaceted view of leadership, which creates a need to better understand and contribute to the knowledge about teachers’ leadership based on teachers’ experiences.
The following meanings of teachers’ leadership emerge to facilitate learning and discipline and to promote different interests. The teachers have to consider the group of children as a collective in relation to the individual children. Simultaneously the teachers have to consider their intentions versus what happens during the interactions. Finally, the teachers have to consider the individual child’s ‘best interest’ in relation to the requirements of the policy documents. The meanings of leadership were expressed as both enabling and limiting in interactions with children in need of special support.
Results of this study is generated by teachers’ experiences and has been unable to answer how children perceive teachers’ leadership. This is an issue for further research.