ABSTRACT appointed as a school manager due

ABSTRACT

This
study is an attempt to search about how teachers at a public school use
metaphors to represent their beliefs about a school manager. Also, this
research aims to describe their underlying reasons and justifications related
to their choices. Therefore, a qualitative research paradigm is utilised with
an interest in how teachers make sense of their experiences regarding school
managers during their careers. A metaphor elicitation form was administrated to
a convenience sample of 13 teachers at a public school in Sar?çam County of
Adana. Using content analysis, the metaphorical expressions were examined and
grouped into dominant thematic categories for further analysis. Additively,
semi-structured interviews were carried out with an emphasis on participants’
ideas and crucial points they may pay attention 
in case of being a school manager. The results revealed that teachers
generally tend to consider a school manager as a figure of authority and
balance pointing out their effective role in administrating the educational
environment.The most frequent metaphors are cell nucleus, leader, coach of a
football club, cornerstone, foundation of the building. According to results of
interviews, majority of participants don’t want to be appointed as a school
manager due to heavy workload and difficulty in managing different kinds of
people together with possible interpersonal misunderstanding among school
staff. To sum up, metaphors can be accepted as valuable cognitive tools that
can be used by reseachers to throw light on complex issues to describe the
reality in educational areas.

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Key Words:
School manager, metaphoral perceptions, teachers, public schools

 

1. Introduction:

            It is a widely accepted fact that
educational management plays a crucial role in reaching at the desired effect
in a school environment. With this important belief, it becomes more clear that
the quality of the management is a determining factor if schools are expected
to generate the best possible outcomes. Bush (2008) points out that
‘development of a highly skilled workforce’ is a requirement, which leads to
the existence of well-trained and committed teachers with the support of
‘highly effective principals’ (p.1). It shows us the necessity of a
collaborative educational atmosphere promoted by effective leadership
qualities.

            To understand the effect of
management on the school, one initially needs to know what kind of definitions
it includes. According to the Bloom (1999), educational management is an
‘executive function for carrying out agreed policy” (p.194). On the other
hand, Glatter (1979) suggests that studies related to management are linked to
‘internal operation of educational institutions, and also with their
relationships with their environment, that is, the communities in which they are
set, and with the governing bodies to which they are formally responsible”
(p.16). It can be understood that there is a strong correlation between
internal and external factors playing a crucial role on school managers in
terms of leading their institutions. During this process, defining the
organisational goals requires a collaborative participation in the school
environment, which reminds of the fact that there needs to be a mutual
understanding and dedicated work. These goals provide a sense of direction and
harmony. Therefore, the quality of the relationship between the staff and the
school manager is one of the effective variables in a school.

            Bearing all these in mind, it is
crucial to establish a strong foundation to manage the process efficiently in
order to achieve objectives. Therefore, it requires a better grasp of roles and
collaboration in the school. The present study aims to investigate the
conceptual metaphors of teachers on school managers in regard to their role in
creating an effective environment. Reasons behind their perceptions and other
vital issues, which need to be paid attention, are another important issues to
investigate. Thus, the research questions include the following:

1.
What are metaphorical perceptions of teachers in relation to being a school
manager?

2.
What are the underlying reasons for their choices of metaphors?

3.
Which aspects of a school manager are pointed out with the metaphors developed
by teachers?

4.
What are the teachers’ specific ideas about school management as a profession?

5.
What are the crucial points teachers pay attention in case of being a school
manager?

2. Literature Review

               In
our world where knowledge accumulates rapidly, all organizations have made an
effort to adapt to change. Traditional
structures have started to release new constructs that are open to learning
and  renew themselves. Schools , which
consists of a small community, are also affected by this rapid change. Social
and economic developments, as well as technological and political developments
pushed countries to make educational reforms. Existing school structures have
been renewed under the influence of new education policies and new school
searches have already started. It is the school principal who will lead these
changes in schools.

               To point out the school improvement, one needs to know about the difference between leadership and management although both of them are interwoven concepts. While Bolam (1994: 194) describes the educational management as ‘ an executive function for carrying out agreed policy’, Sapre (2002: 102) defines that ‘management is a set of activities directed towards efficient and effective utilisation of organisational resources to achieve organisational goals’. In addition to these definitions, Bush (2003) suggests that educational management needs to be mainly concerned with the purposes of education. These goals provide the vital sense of direction which should comprise a basis for the management of educational institutions. It can be understood that management is a maintenance activity and school managers are supposed to provide an efficient school climate to reach at the target educational aims.                When leadership is taken into consideration, it can be regarded as ‘influence’. Morever, Wasserberg (2000) claims that ‘the primary role of any leader is the unification of people around key values’ (p.158). Therefore, it can be grasped that ‘communicating clear sets of personal and educational values which represent their moral purposes for the school’ gains importance (Day et al., 2001, p.53). Vision is another vital component of an effective leadership. Leaders should have a vision for the improvement of their organisations, and this vision needs to be communicated in a way which enables a collaborative commitment among the members of the organisation.

            In many cases, school
principals start their careers as a teacher, which is the case in our country,
Turkey. Also, they go on teaching even after they become principals. This situation
leads to the assumption that only requirements for school leaders are teaching
qualification and experience. However, Kitavi and Van der Westhuizen (1997)
note that ” good teaching abilities are not necessarily an indication that the
person appointed will be a capable educational manager” (p.252). In other
words, being a leader requires having other qualities with an appropriate
training.Therefore, it is necessary to discuss about the necessity of a
specific leadership training if leaders are to operate effectively for the sake
of the whole school community.

            The research shows that there is a
link between the quality of the leadership and students’ and school outcomes.
According to Huber (2004a), ”failure often correlates with inadequate school
leadership” (p.4). It is also suggested that an effective leadership explains
about 5 to 7 percent of the difference in student learning and achievement.
Under the light of a given evidence that leadership makes a difference, another
important issue emerges: a preparation is required to develop leadership
behaviours related to the leading roles.

            Effective leadership is a crucial
necessity of successful organisations. With the results proving that novice
principals experience great difficulty in adapting at the dynamic and demanding
world of leadership, it becomes much more clear that an effective leadership
preparation is urgent and definitely makes a difference. As a result of the
increasing complexity of school contexts related to the rapid change in the educational
world, schools have turned out to be organisations that needs to refresh
themselves by taking both current and future needs into consideration. Crow
(2006) points out the contribution of technological and demographic change to
the necessity of leadership preparation because these factors are highly
related to the changing roles of school leadership. There is also a moral
requirement showing that this kind of preparation contributes to the quality of
leadership, school outcomes and student academic achievement.  All in all, it can be concluded that
principals need to take an active part in a preparation process to go a step
further in their careers and lead their organisations more effectively. 

            Due to
the changes in the education world, school principals need to leave their
traditional point of view and adopt a more contemporary leader role embracing
several skills. School leadership is now turning into an educational leader and
becoming a profession that has its own principles. The transformation of these
principles into specific standards will ensure that educational leaders
evaluate themselves and will shed light on training administrators on the road
to effective school leadership. With this reality in mind, it gains importance
that all stakeholders in a school community need to to develop a better mutual
understanding of each other and contribute to the education.

2.1 Metaphors

            The
word metaphor originates from metapherein that is a Greek word. Meta means
‘among’ and pherein
means ‘to carry’. Many
researchers described metaphors in many different ways. For instance, according
to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), understanding and experiencing one kind of thing
in terms of another is the essence of metaphors. Furthermore, Kliebard (1982)
defined metaphor as ‘a
fundamental vehicle of human thought’ (p. 13). Hornby (2000) also defines
metaphor as ‘a
word or phrase used in an imaginative way to describe somebody or something
else in order to show that the two things have the same qualities and to make
the description more powerful’
(p.803).
Additionally, Lakoff and Johnson (2003) suggested that ‘metaphor is for most
people a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish – a
matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language’ (p.4).

            Metaphors are mental tools that help
people relay a message to the audience in a symbolized way and metaphor
analysis has been applied as a research tool in several studies about education.
These studies mostly focused on a wide range of issues such as the pre- and in-service teachers’ attitudes
towards the
classroom practices, educational administration, teacher-student classroom
interaction, and the evolution of the teacher beliefs about teaching and
learning (Nikitina & Furuoka, 2008). The aim is to build bridges between an
idea or concept and the concrete represantation of them. With a more visual way
of message, individuals have the chance to explain their emotions, ideas and
even experiences to facilitate the understanding.

            Lakoff (1993) considers metaphor as
a cognitive tool and adds that ”the locus of the metaphor is not in language
at all, but in the way, we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of
another” (p.1). It can be suggested that metaphor use provides a mapping in
the brain to organize our beliefs and experience about a specific area.
Oberlechner & Mayer- Schönberger (2003) mentions that metaphors helps
people to understand complex and abstract phenomena by creating reality.
According to De Guerrero and Villamil (2001) ”metaphor analysis is a method that
systematically examines elicited or spontaneous metaphors in discourse as a
means for uncovering underlying conceptualizations” (p.1).
Although a
metaphor analysis doesn’t reveal all beliefs, it’s very helpful
to gain deeper insight into teacher’s
thinking and our understanding of teacher’s beliefs, behaviours and actions as
elemental constituents of human cognitive processing. (Karla
& Bajeva, 2012).

            As metaphors reveals people’s conceptions and beliefs,
conducting a metaphor analysis of teacher’s metaphors seems to generate
promising results in relation to the roles of school managers at public schools
in Turkey.The main advantages to use metaphor analysis as a
data collection tool are that the participants can both reveal their perceptions
through metaphorical expressions and they can make reflections about
themselves. At the same time, it increases the awareness of participants about
being a school manager. Besides, since metaphors also reveal social and
cultural conventions, it is possible to gain insight into particular situations
and make comparisons of different metaphor production through content analysis.

 

2.2
Metaphors and School Managers

            A review of the literature shows
that metaphors and metaphorical analysis have been used in the context of
educational practice and research over years. According to Balc? (1999),
metaphor has been used as a powerful tool in the field of education in order to
describe current state of educational practices. Similarly, there are some other studies, which have been
carried out regarding school management. To illustrate, Erden (2016) tried to
explore the perceptions of key stakeholders to identify positive and negative
metaphors of primary school principals and propose a primary school
principalship model with the help of semi-structured interviews.

            In his MA thesis, Yalç?n (2011) found
out the perceptions of students, teachers, parents and school administrators
about school principals through metaphor. For this goal, participants were
asked to produce metaphors about “school principal” concept. Results showed
that in both approaches metaphors with positive perceptions were more than the
ones with negative perceptions. Therefore, it appeared that participants had
positive ideas about school principals.

            Gökalp and Çobano?lu (2015) carried
out a study to uncover metaphoric
perceptions of teacher candidates for school managers they will work together.
The results showed that they considered school principals as managers having
technical knowledge, leaders affecting groups, power element having authority.
As a result, it was found out that the point of view of teacher candidates on
school managers is generally positive. Finally, Kapçak and Akyol (2017) aimed
to  search about pre-service teachers’
perceptions of “administration” and “school principal” reflected through
metaphors. After the content analysis of the data gathered through written
forms, it has been grasped that pre-service students have mostly positive
perceptions of administration and school principal concepts. Moreover,  administration is perceived to have a more
authoritarian status while the concepts of school principal and administration
are considered to be equal in terms of responsibility.

            The current study aims at contributing
to the literature review with a case study, which will be based on teachers’
perceptions at a public school about an ideal school manager with the help of a
metaphor elicitation form. Semi-structured interviews have been carried out to
have a better understanding of their justifications and to link the results
with related leadership style.