Repositioning the Leadership in Early Years Contexts: Motivating staff to lead practice developments through practice based research within an Early Years setting.
thesisposted on 08.12.2015, 15:27 by Elizabeth Ellen Klavins
This thesis explores, documents and analyses the actions of a leader, sustained by the belief that developments in Early Years practice are more successfully embedded when practitioners are part of a learning community within which they are able to critically explore, test and apply theories, concepts and strategies. It is based upon the pedagogical observation that those involved in leading the learning need to be active participants in the process, surfacing and collaboratively exploring their tacit knowledge through practice-based research as part of everyday practice. This qualitative, case-study research project examines a leadership approach within a multifunctional Children’s Centre with a multiprofessional team over six and a half years. Action-based research - defined by Reason & Bradbury (2001) as a process in which individuals work co-operatively in order to find solutions for issues pertinent to them - has been used to study the development of Systemic Leadership through engaging practitioners in practice-based research. ‘Practice-based research’ is used in this study to describe practitioners’ engagement as action researchers, engaging with theory and becoming involved in developing theory through actively researching their practice. Leadership is viewed as a continuous process of learning from action based research, and as such it: • explores a commitment to developing and sustaining a learning organisation in which staff are supported to reflect individually and cooperatively about their work with children, families and the community in order to be aware of themselves and their learning capacity as individuals and as part of a team • analyses and documents the experience and learning of a leader in a complex and value-driven organisation, seeking to develop a democratic, systemic leadership model of collaborative practice-based research • explores the complexities of the organisation and the implications of maximising practitioners’ capacities to be curious about their work and open to feedback, using practice-based research groups to explore their inner worlds and review their values and assumptions • analyses individual and organisational shifts in values, self-awareness and self-knowledge, including practitioners’ capacity to theorise and weave theory into practice • assesses the impact of co-operative practice-based research on professional development.