Educators’ constructions of informal teacher leadership in three Mauritian secondary schools
: a phenomenological study

  • Mahend Gungapersad

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This phenomenological study seeks to gain an informed understanding of informal teacher leadership in selected Mauritian secondary schools. Understanding how informal teacher leaders describe themselves, the duties they generally assume, and the way rectors and informal teacher leaders interact mutually provide insights in their contribution to school improvement. Eighteen educators from three secondary schools teaching in the north of the island participated in the research.

    In order to understand the phenomenon under investigation, a constructivist approach was adopted to gather the lived experiences of the participants concerning different aspects of informal teacher leadership. This qualitative study relied upon semi-structured one-to-one and group interviews, as well as participants‘ electronic professional diaries in the collection of the data.

    The research findings indicate that informal teacher leaders emerge notwithstanding the rectors‘ leadership style. Whilst factors such as support from rectors and colleagues, personal intrinsic motivation and positive school culture encourage the emergence of informal teacher leadership, other factors such as jealousy among colleagues, the dictatorial leadership style of some rectors, time constraints and a hostile school culture seriously impede it. The findings support the view that when leadership is judiciously shared and distributed by the rector, it can promote collegiality, reinforce team spirit, and strengthen the schools‘ resilience in facing crises. Mauritian informal teacher leaders currently make valuable contributions in such areas as: organising extra-curricular activities, managing internal exams, monitoring students‘ discipline, handling the parent- teachers‘ association and dealing with crises as and when they occur.

    Its theoretical contributions are in its support, extension, and challenging of the ideas of educational and teacher leadership from a small island perspective. This research also highlights the importance of informal teacher leaders in capacity building and school management. The findings have important policy implications. There is an urgent need to review the whole notion of educational leadership, with rectors encouraged to adopt a more democratic leadership style, replacing a top-bottom management approach with a shared and distributed model which encourages informal teacher leaders to play a more effective role. Rectors should also be encouraged to select informal teacher leaders judiciously based upon their identified leadership qualities in order to ensure or sustain school improvement. Rectors are cautioned to avoid biased and arbitrary selection of informal teacher leaders, especially those lacking in leadership qualities, so as to curtail frustration and demotivation among the deserving ones. The research also recommends for appropriate training be given to informal teacher leaders so that they can effectively provide their contributions in all attempts which are oriented towards school improvement.
    Date of AwardNov 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorDavid Stephens (Supervisor)

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