Teacher leaders as change agents for school development in early childhood education

Choi Wa Dora HO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


In recent years, many governments of East Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong have initiated educational reforms to transform schools for sustainable outcomes. Promoting teacher leadership has been identified as part of the educational reform agenda in global quality discourses. This paper aims to offer insights into the practice of teacher leadership in a Chinese early childhood education context. The central tenet of teacher leadership is change agentry. Like its counterparts in the Asia Pacific Region, early childhood education in Hong Kong has historically been characterized by minimum training and a modified form of apprenticeship. Therefore, preschool teaching is likely to be identified as non-professional occupation. Preschool teachers seldom play a key role in supporting, stimulating, or catalyzing change. After the change of sovereignty from British to China in 1997, the local government has increased investment in early childhood education. Over the past 20 years, upgrading teacher professional qualifications has been used as amain strategy to enhance the quality of ECE. This raise an important question: Can preschool teachers move beyond the role of apprentice and become change agents for school development? Adopting a case study approach, the study reported in this paper is to examine the changing role of teachers in school development. The construct of change agency was examined from the perspectives of various school stakeholders (i.e. preschool principals, key stage coordinators, and classroom teachers). The findings indicated that the key stage coordinators who are teachers holding functional posts acted as teacher leaders to play the role of agents in leading changes beyond classroom in various areas including curriculum and pedagogy, teacher professional development, home-school collaboration, and community-school involvement. Meanwhile, the classroom teachers mainly acted as followers in the change process. The practice of teacher leadership is emerging in early childhood education in Hong Kong. However, the operation of teacher leadership was largely in hierarchical structures was different from the form of teacher leadership can be created within a non-hierarchical collaborative network which is separate from the managerial power as documented in theWestern literature. In otherwords, the distribution of power between key stage coordinators and teachers is asymmetrical. There is implication on the role of principalship in teacher empowerment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


Ho, D. (2017, March). Teacher leaders as change agents for school development in early childhood education. Paper presented at The Asia Leadership Roundtable 2017: Seven years on: The state of the Asian knowledge base?, Hotel Regalees, New Taipei City, Taiwan.


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