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Teacher Development

This program is a collaborative initiative, where schools that participate in the program are invited to present areas of concern in their contextual environments around constraints to leadership or teaching. From these identified areas of concern, I developed an enriching series of workshops.

In-service teacher and leadership development program


The idea behind this initiative of the UNESCO Chair is to ‘plough back’ research-based teacher and leadership education into schools. This idea is made possible through an ongoing series of consultation sessions where I have conducted workshops with teachers and school leaders across a range of topics.

Each workshop follows a format that integrates research-based knowledge from various papers and articles that can be found on the UNESCO Chair website or from the affiliates of the Chair with the knowledge that the participants bring to the sessions.

All workshops are collaborative in design and based on problem-solving events that are explored through project-based learning initiatives. This is accomplished with teachers and/or school leaders using their own ‘case-study’ examples to identify problems and generate new knowledge. This new knowledge is in the form of concrete solutions to the problems they face and new methods that can be applied directly in their teaching and leading roles.

This ongoing program has been expanded into more schools and enjoys the ongoing support of the UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education for Diversity and Development.

Workshops are presented on a three-weekly rotation basis at the schools that participate.

2024 Workshops
Workshop: Leadership Policy Development – a collaborative professional development initiative

This workshop was presented to school management teams that included the principals, deputy principals, and heads of departments. The coaching session aimed to contextualize internal school policy within the context of the South African Schools Act and the ethics code stipulated by the South African Council for Educators.

The workshop began with an orientation of the South African Schools Act and Department of Basic Education proforma versions of generic internal school policy.

The school's leadership team was divided into three groups. In each group, a team leader was appointed. Each team was provided with a copy of the above-mentioned policies, the school's existing policy handbook, and a case study. Team (1) case study about bullying in schools. Team (2) case study about learner uniform and infringement on human rights. Team (4) case study on CHATGPT use in the school.

Each team analysed their case study using the provided documentation as a ‘tool’ to assist them in drafting a new draft internal policy aimed at addressing related issues that might occur in their school context. The idea behind this process was to ground policy development within the context of ‘lived experiences’ to make policy creation an authentic process.

Each team was asked to create their draft policy and present this to the rest of the team in the form of PowerPoint slides. They also outlined the details of their case study to provide context. One member of the team was allocated to the presentation. The rationale for the PowerPoint presentation was to prepare management teams for when they need to disseminate information to their community. A short ad-hoc session was held to discuss how to create impactful PowerPoint presentations to assist with communication. This was seen as necessary, given that this was a workshop for school leaders, and it was determined that communication was an essential skill and any opportunity presented to improve this was appropriate.  

Following each presentation, the rest of the panel was invited to make comments and suggestions to further improve the internal policy. This was an authentic task, as the newly drafted policies could be presented and circulated within the community for comment and eventually ratified and included in the school's existing policy documentation.   

Servant leadership for school leaders – how to create leadership structures and working environments that consider moral integrity and human dignity

This workshop was conducted with the leadership teams at an independent school in Northern Johannesburg

In this workshop, the school management team was introduced to the idea of ethical leadership and what it meant to be a servant leader within the context of their school and community. The coaching session aimed to discuss the idea of a moral purpose in leadership, where the moral purpose is aligned with the mission of the school and is ‘known’ to all. Central to the idea of ethical leadership is the idea that the moral or ethical purpose is greater than that of the ‘self’, It is about making that purpose known and holding yourself, as the leader, accountable to those ethical standards and moral ideals.
The central objective of this workshop was to focus on the idea that leaders impact their environment and the actions of those they lead by the examples they set and the choices they make. We focus in this workshop on three tenets of a service-orientated ethical leader. (1) autonomy, (2) connectedness, and (3) transcendence.
Autonomy refers to taking ownership of one's actions and acting with a sense of agentic purpose instead of ‘blindly’ following instructions. An ethical leader recognizes the value that people in an organization can bring in both their personal and professional capacity and allows space for people to have self-expression and contribute to the development of the organization.
Connectedness refers to the quality of relationship-building with people. From an ethical perspective, a servant leader actively pursues relationship-building with the guiding premise that all people are unique and have their own ‘qualities’ that they bring to the relationship.  The ethical leader respects diversity and difference and upholds values of social justice and equality. Through connections with people, decisions, policy changes, and plans are co-created, and recognize every person's contribution. This creates an inclusive environment where people do not feel alienated from the community in which they work.  
Transcendence refers to the idea that you and others can make a difference beyond the daily functions or objectives that define us or are expected of us. Being transcendent in your leadership means uplifting the people you lead. This is accomplished by striving for ideals bigger than yourself, that go beyond the ‘circle of control’ and into the ‘circle of influence’. A transcendent leader understands that sometimes the needs of others intrude on your own needs and require you to extend yourself selflessly in the interests of another person.
The qualities of a servant leader.

  1. Creates a culture of trust by striving to be consistent and deliver on promises made.
  2. Understands succession and builds leadership qualities in others. thinks long term.
  3. Has a strong relational disposition and values the ‘whole person’ not only what they bring to the role they occupy. Is not afraid to assist others with life issues.
  4. Encourages people and is sensitive to power dynamics – rather encourages action over giving commands.
  5. Considers what is beneficial to all individual pursuits.
  6. Acts with humility and values critical reflection.

Workshop activity: in pairs, the participants consider a case study of authoritarian leadership, where people's autonomy, diversity, or input are not valued. In this case study the leadership style foregrounds efficiency and adherence to procedure above all else. Considering the ideas of autonomy, connectedness, transcendence, and the qualities of a servant leader use these to describe a different leadership reality for the school.
These changes are considered from a theoretical and a praxis perspective. The outcome of the workshop is for each participant to have a theoretical understanding of what constitutes servant leadership, driven by morals and ethics, while also considering the practical application of this in real settings.
The workshop ended with a reflective session on what was learned concerning the concept of servant leadership and how applicable this could be in their school environment and leadership strategies.

2023 Workshops: First and Second Quarter
Workshop one: Inclusive education strategies

Mediation of the teaching ideas and the ideals behind the Universal Design for Learning to improve inclusive teaching.

The teachers at the school identified that they were interested in exploring ideas of inclusive education and classroom-based teaching strategies that could improve their teaching to learners with a range of different learning needs.

The UDL is an approach to teaching that sets out to create flexible learning environments where teachers present information in lessons in a variety of different ways to make learning accessible to all children. The focus is on a social model that recognizes that teachers move away from the ideas of bell curve thinking and assessment where most children are taught at the expense of some. This workshop presented the teachers with the ideas and theory of the UDL and teaching practices associated with the strategies for differentiated teaching and peer-on-peer instruction.

Teachers collaborated in groups after receiving information on the UDL. They were encouraged to bring their ideas and experiences to bear where they developed a series of teaching methods that could be applied in all classrooms. Each group presented their inclusive teaching ideas to the cohort.

From this initiative, the teachers decided to have bi-weekly collaborative meetings where they would continue to evaluate the teaching strategies that they decided to incorporate into their lessons.

Workshop two: instructional leadership strategies to improve teaching and learning

The school’s senior leadership team and mid-level school managers attended a workshop to develop strategies to enhance the quality of teaching through reflection and peer-on-peer learning among the professional teaching community.

The presenter mediated to the school leaders the concept of ‘occupational rounds’ where observation lessons are formally structured into the teaching timetable. Through occupational rounds, all members of the teaching cohort are required to observe their colleagues teach every week. They are encouraged to observe best practices for curriculum content delivery. Newly qualified teachers are encouraged to observe more experienced teachers.

After the presentation of the concept of ‘occupational rounds’ for teachers, the school leaders collaborate in a focused conversation where they outline how occupational rounds will be incorporated into the timetable, what the specific outcomes will be that are contextually based on the challenges of the school and how feedback and monitoring of the program will be coordinated.

It was decided that this collaborative teaching initiative would be ‘rolled out’ at the beginning of the next term. The leadership group intended to meet with the teachers to gain their ideas on how to implement this and what the outcomes would be.

Workshop three: Teenage depression and anxiety

It was reported that the teachers were concerned about issues of teenage depression, anxiety and associated emotional problems.

The workshop began with teachers sharing their experiences and concerns about the emotional issues that students that they were facing in class. The teachers were presented with literature on Adolescent Depression Awareness Programs (ADAP). This literature served as a precursor to discussion and collaboration events on identification strategies for ‘at risk’ children that could be rolled out by teachers.

The teachers also spent some time planning how to work with parents and the wider community to address issues of teenage depression. The school’s life orientation teachers assisted in the presentation and shared their lesson planning that is linked to the Curriculum content on depression and anxiety. It was decided that the teacher cohort would meet monthly to assess the plans that were agreed upon in this meeting.

Workshop four: Pedagogical content knowledge for STEM teachers

The course presenter introduced the STEM teachers to the ideas of PCK or pedagogical content knowledge. The focus of this workshop was not to make it ‘lecture centred’ where instructional strategies and techniques were presented to teachers in the form of videos of  ‘subject experts’ or master teachers. The idea was that PCK is a complex process that has to be contextually, situationally, and personally bound within the specific teaching and learning environments of the participants. Taking this into consideration, the teachers were firstly presented with the theory of PCK, secondly, they worked in collaborative groups to design specific teaching strategies around various topics in the biology, physics, and chemistry curricula.

A focus of this workshop was to mediate to the teachers the value of reflection on their teaching as they work to develop innovative instructional practices.

Workshop five: Blended teaching and leveraging technology to improve inclusive teaching and improve flexibility in lesson delivery

During the pandemic, the teachers at this school made significant gains in the use of technology in the classroom. This included the use of MS Teams as a teaching and learning program, online collaboration, voice-over on PowerPoint slides, online assessment, and many other teaching strategies. The research showed that the use of technology can enhance learning opportunities and access for learners with different learning needs.

The workshop presentation began with a review of the relevant literature on how teachers can leverage technology to enhance their teaching. From here, the teachers were purposively grouped into teams that had ‘technology experts’, experienced teachers, and newly qualified teachers. During these interactions, the teachers in their respective groups developed strategies and techniques that could be shared with others. Each team presented their ideas.

It was decided that the teachers would remain in their teams and meet on a bi-weekly basis to offer support to one another on how they were progressing with technology integration into their teaching. A group leader would feedback to the deputy principal who was tasked with enhancing the use of technology in the classroom.

Workshop six: Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and the associated tools of Activity Systems triangles

In this workshop, presented to the school’s senior leadership team, the participants were shown the research of Engestrom, which was conducted in hospitals in Helsinki, where activity systems models were applied to identify constraints to medical care.

Teachers were able to apply the ideas of the interactions and interconnectedness between and within components in school systems in groups. This was done after the Engestroms systems theories were mediated to teachers.

The collaborative component of this workshop saw the teachers work in teams of four to identify constraints to teaching and learning. Through this process, the teachers were able to suggest interventions that could resolve these contradictions. It was decided that the activity systems models would be used as a framework in management meetings going forward to consider problems that arise.

Workshop seven: Case studies used to enhance Geography teaching.

This workshop was presented to the FET phase (senior phase of high school) Geography teachers to add more options to how they teach the prescribed course material. The geography syllabus is broad and covers a variety of different areas that range from geomorphology and hydrology to climatology and population dynamics. This presents the teacher with time constraint issues and other challenges when it comes to covering the syllabus. The two biggest concerns raised by the teachers were firstly the issue of integrating information between the topics and secondly the lack of contextual knowledge of the learners. By using case studies as a contextually bound (semantic gravity) mechanism to frame the curriculum knowledge (semantic density), teachers can link new knowledge to existing knowledge. This makes the presentation of the syllabus content interesting and relevant to real-world issues.

In addition, when syllabus content is presented through a case study there is an opportunity to ‘bridge’ between the different areas of the syllabus. For example, if you are exploring ‘slope processes’ from the geomorphology section, and you use an example of deadly mudslides in urban spaces in Brazil for example, you are integrating the geomorphology and the content of slope action together with overpopulation issues associated with poverty and a lack of resources.

During the geography workshop, this example was used to demonstrate to the teachers how case studies can enhance their teaching. In the second part of the study, we looked at where to find relevant case studies using Google Scholar and media sources. In the final activity of the workshop, the teachers were asked to develop their own mock lessons showing how they used a case study to contextualize syllabus content and link between topics.