In search of the middle influence: Case studies of heads of teaching research groups in leading teacher learning through instructional leadership in Chinese primary schools

Jianjing TANG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses

Abstract

Middle-level instructional leaders within schools are increasingly recognized with a growing number of studies showing their potential influence on teacher learning. This study explores the impact of middle-level instructional leaders, specifically the TRG heads, on teacher learning in schools in the context of the Chinese system. Interviews, participant observation, and documents were collected and qualitatively analyzed to categorize the major leadership roles and practices and capture the multi-level influences on middle leadership. The findings revealed four areas where middle leaders can impact teacher learning: (a) nurturing ‘practice embedded’ professional learning; (b) optimizing conditions for teacher engagement; (c) leading teachers’ research-informed practice; and (d) drawing on external resources to develop teachers. The five core roles (i.e., hub, forerunner, role model, peer mentor, and knowledge broker) and the four core areas with 18 specific practices comprise a model of conceptualization of the teacher development dimension of middle-level instructional leadership. It is argued that colearning, participation and brokering are integral to middle leadership, and middle leaders engage in multiple spheres to lead teacher learning. Paternalistic attitudes towards teachers and the use of benevolence and servant leadership are viewed as appropriate middle leadership. Successful middle leadership can be seen in challenging school contexts, and layered instructional leadership advances teacher learning. The manner in which the findings can enable practitioners and scholars internationally to learn from the Chinese experience is discussed. This study contributes to the knowledge base by including different stakeholders’ perspectives to clarify and justify the impact of middle leaders on teachers. It enhances the understanding of how middle leaders support teacher learning in a hierarchical educational context and provides a useful starting point when studying middle leadership for teacher learning. The study also extends the conventional notion of instructional leadership and expands the understanding of how the influencing factors individually and collectively influence middle leadership for teacher learning. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
Supervisors/Advisors
  • BRYANT, Darren Anthony, Supervisor
  • WALKER, Allan David 汪雅量, Supervisor
  • QIAN, Haiyan 錢海燕, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Middle leaders
  • Instructional leadership
  • Teacher learning
  • Model
  • Factors
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2023.

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