FOR SCHOOL CHANGE: A SOUTH AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE

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Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Proceedings o
f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

1


EDUCATORS’ EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
FOR

SCHOOL
CHANGE: A SOUTH AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE



June Monica Palmer


University of the Free State, South Africa

(
palmerjm@ufs.ac.za)




ABSTRACT


Educators are under considerable pressure to implement unprecedented array

of change initiatives that came
with the advent of the new political dispensation in South Africa

in 1994,

which seriously influences their
emotional well
-
being. The complexities of the change initiatives coupled with the changing dynamics of human
relations during the change process heighten

the advantage of educators who have the ability to acknowledge
and m
anage their emotions at school. This study is an exploration into the
e
motional
i
ntelligence (EI) that
educators should possess and how emotions should be managed in a changing school environment.
A

convergence model
was used
in which both quantitative and

qualitative data were gathered

concurrently in the
Eastern Cape Province and the Gauteng Province

of South Africa. A

structured
questionnaire
was used to collect
data.

T
his article reports the qua
nt
itative data
as a
component

of this study
.
The f
indings

r
eveals that, as a
precursor to change, EI, if aptly managed, is considered an indispensable tool to educators.
Furthermore,
e
ducational change can only be successful if educators perceive themselves and their role positively and feel
that they are valued c
ontributors to the process of change.



KEYWORDS


Leadership
,

s
econdary
s
chool
e
ducators
,

e
motional
i
ntelligence
,

c
hange
i
nitiatives in the
s
chool
e
nvironment
,

e
motional
b
eing.



INTRODUCTORY BACKGROUND


Emotional well
-
being is increasingly recognised as an important predictor of success in
school, family and work life. Mayer and Salovey (as quoted by Morrison, 2002:78) see the
emotionally intelligent person as being skilled in identifying, understanding,
using and
regulating emotions. Caproni (2004:13) contends that the emotionally intelligent manager
who exhibits positive emotions are better able to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of
organisational life, tolerate uncertainty, build employee commitm
ent, motivates others,
communicates effectively, manage conflict, reduce employee’s anxiety and thus enhance
performance. It follows logically then that if educators themselves are stable, calm and
consistent and exhibit positive emotions, then they can o
nly be good role models for learners
in managing their emotions (Palmer and Kocks
-
de Waal, 2010:26).


Change and anxiety are inextricably linked. According to Fullan (1999:25), facing change
means facing the unknown and this inevitably leads to anxiety. Since no one person can
possibly understand the complexities of change in dynamically complex systems,
it follows
that responsibility cannot be left to others. More fundamentally, the conditions for the new
paradigm of change cannot be established by formal leaders working by themselves (Fullan
and Miles (2002:78). Each individual educator has the respons
ibility to help create an
Proceedings o
f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

2


organization capable of individual and collective enquiry and continuous renewal. Educators
in the South African context are no strangers to change, especially with the first introduction
to outcomes
-
based teaching and learning.

This was dealt with differently by most: some have
adopted a fatalistic approach, others wish it away and some reject it without providing an
argument which would justify such a position. Fullan (as quoted by Graham
-
Jolley,
2003:110) states that emotiona
lly intelligent

people acknowledge their anxiety, seek support
form and give help to others, persist in the face of challenges and identify with and are
sustained by a higher goal (moral purpose).


Emanating from the above, it is pertinent to present a l
iterature review on emotional
intelligence for school change. Secondly, the problem will be highlighted in the South
African context. Thirdly, the purpose of this study focuses on the educators’ emotional
intelligence and extends to include a consideration

on how this influences school change.
Lastly, the findings are communicated.


The South African education system faces an inordinate amount of daunting challenges at
every level. For this society to fully indulge in the pleasures of liberation it becomes
increasingly difficult as the majority of the disadvantaged face escalating social deprivation
and poverty (McLoyd, 2001

cited

in Grieve, 2001:333). Clarke (2007:394) mentions that part
of the problem is that change is focused on a desired outcome, and ign
ores what is being left
behind, which is what those involved are used to and in many instances have been trying to
do to the best of their ability. This is one of the big differences between change and
transition. Change focuses on the future, on opening t
he new chapter, while transitions start
by focusing on the past, on closing the old chapter. The author states that change is about
managing the three phases of transition namely an ending ( saying goodbye); a neutral zone
(somewhere between old and new)
and a new beginning (entering a new era) by the people
involved. Post
-
apartheid put educators under considerable pressure to implement the
unprecedented array of change initiatives that came with the advent of the new political
dispensation in South Afric
a, which seriously influences their emotional well
-
being. The
complexities of the change initiatives coupled with the changing dynamics of human relations
during the change process heighten the advantage of educators who have the ability to
acknowledge and

manage their emotions at school.



PURPOSE

OF
THE
STUDY


This study is an exploration into the emotional intelligence (EI) that educators should possess
and how emotions should be managed in a changing school environment.



RESEARCH METHODOLOGY


Research design:

A convergence model was used in which both quantitative and qualitative
data were gathered concurrently in the Eastern Cape Province and the Gauteng Province of
South Africa. For this study, the quantitative research method was used.


Res
earch instruments:
A structured four point
-
Likert scale questionnaire was used to collect
data. This article reports the quantitative data as a component of this study.


The
questionnaire was an appropriate research instrument since it helped elicit respon
ses
Proceedings o
f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

3


connected to specific attitudes, perspectives or perceptions.

The reliability test of the
educators’ questionnaire was statistically significant and highly reliable (α=0.94).
The
questionnaire was constructed using the
partial agreement statement or qu
estion
described by
Scott and Usher (2000:69) as a questionnaire type where respondents are asked to state their
own degree of agreement or disagreement with a statement or in answer to a question.


Sampling:

The target population comprised of secondary sc
hool educators of all races

in the
Eastern Cape (79%) and Gauteng Provinces (21%) of South Africa.

To achieve the aims of
this study, a representative sample, was purposively selected. Purposive sampling
(N=79)
was used as the researcher intended to iden
tify six schools for an in
-
depth investigation.



RESULTS


Table 1 below indicates the participants’ views regarding emotional intelligence and change
management at school level.


Table 1: EI and change management at a mixed school in the Eastern Cape
Province

Item

Activity


F

%

B65

Educators have a sense of shared
responsibility for supporting and
learning from each other

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

1

12

3

0

0

6

75

19

0

0


Total


16

100

B72

I believe that I have a real
role to play in
shaping how the school is run

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

12

0

0

0

25

75

0

0

0


Total


16

100

B73

The educators at the school are
committed to the change process

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

Missing

5

11

0

0

0

31

69

0

0

0


Total


16

100

B74

There is a need within the school to
change the values, understanding and
actions of educators

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

2

12

2

0

0

12

75

13

0

0


Total


16

100

C78

The principal recognizes educators’
expertise by involving us in leadership

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

12

1

0

1

13

75

6

0

6


Total


16

100

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f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

4


C91

The principal creates a supportive open
climate for all

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

8

2

0

2

25

50

13

0

13


Total


16

100

C93

The school is successful because it has
strong positive leadership

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

5

8

2

0

1

31

50

13

0

6


Total


16

100

C95

The
ultimate success of the school
depends on the quality of the role the
principal plays

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

5

9

1

0

1

31

57

6

0

6


Total


16

100

C100

Management prepares educators to face
the challenges of change

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

8

2

1

2

18

50

13

6

13


Total


16

100

C107

The leadership manages the emotional
responses of educators and learners

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

6

7

1

0

2

37

44

6

0

13


Total


16

100



Results in Table 1 reveal that m
ost of the educators (75%) agreed that they had a shared
responsibility for supporting and learning from each other. While 19% disagreed and 6%
strongly agreed with this statement, 75% of the educators also declared their belief in the role
that they have

to play in shaping how the school is run. However, 25% did not share this
belief. With change being a process that educators have to cope with and manage, only 69%
indicated that they agreed that educators were commited to the change processs, while 25%
i
ndicated that they strongly agreed with this statement. 75% of the participants agreed that
there is a need within the school to change the values, understanding and actions of
educators, while 13% disagreed and 13% strongly agreed with this statement. 7
5% of the
educators agreed that their principal recognises educators’ expertise by involving them in
leadership. Yet 19% strongly agreed and 6% disagreed with this statement.


According to 50% of the participants, the principal creates a supportive, open

climate for all,
while 25% strongly agreed and 13% disagreed with this statement. 31% of the participants
declared that they strongly agreed that the ultimate success of the school depends on the
quality of the role the principal plays, while 56% agreed
and 6% disagreed with this
statement. Sustained change (is important for the success of any school. The largest
percentage of the educators (50%) agreed that the management of their school prepares
educators to face the challenges of change, while 13% di
sagreed and 19% strongly agreed
with this statement. 44% of the educators agreed that the leadership of the school manages
Proceedings o
f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

5


the emotional responses of educators and learners during the process of change. Moreover,
38% strongly agreed and 6% disagreed with
this statement.


The responses of participants at a mixed school in the Gauteng Province are represented
below.


Table 2: EI and change management at a mixed school in the Gauteng Province

Item

Activity


F

%

B65

Educators have a sense of shared
responsibility for supporting
and learning from each other

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

2

3

0

0

38

25

38

0

0


Total


8

100

B72

I believe that I have a real role to play in shaping how the
school is run

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

5

0

0

0

38

63

0

0

0


Total


8

100

B73

The educators at the school are committed to the change
process

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

4

0

0

0

50

50

0

0

0


Total


8

100

B74

There is a need

within the school to change the values,
understanding and actions of educators

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

3

1

0

1

38

38

12

0

12


Total


8

100

C78

The principal recognizes educators’ expertise by involving us
in
leadership

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

1

3

0

0

50

12

38

0

0


Total


8

100

C91

The principal creates a supportive open climate for all

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

4

0

0

0

50

50

0

0

0


Total


8

100

C93

The school is successful because it has strong positive
leadership

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

4

0

0

0

50

50

0

0

0


Total


8

100

C95

The ultimate success of the school depends on the quality of
the role the
principal plays

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

4

4

0

50

50

0

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f the 3
rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

6


Strongly disagree

Missing

0

0

0

0


Total


8

100

C100

Management prepares educators to face the challenges of
change

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

4

3

0

1

0

50

38

0

12

0


Total


8

100

C107

The leadership manages the emotional responses of educators
and learners

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Missing

3

4

1

0

0

38

50

12

0

0


Total


8

100



Based on the data reflected in Table 2, m
ost of the educators (63%) strongly agreed and
agreed that they have a shared responsibility for supporting and learning from one anther.
However, it is discomforting to note that 38% disagreed with this statement. A probe into the
culture and values of th
e school seems imperative to determine where and how this belief
came about. 63% of the educators also agreed with the role that they have to play in shaping
how the school is run, while 38% strongly agreed with this belief.

With change being a
process
that educators have to cope with and manage, it is comforting to note that 50%
indicated that they agreed that educators are committed to change process, and that 50 %
indicated that they strongly agreed with this statement. 76% of the participants agreed

and
strongly agreed that there is a need within the school to change the values, understanding and
actions of educators. Educators were consistent in voicing their experience of the values of
the school and the need to change the actions and understandin
g of educators, as only 13%
disagreed with this statement. While 62% of the educators agreed that their principal
recognizes educators’expertise by involving them in leadership, a disturbing 38% disagreed
with this statement. It is clear that educators
would like to play a more significant role in
influencing the leadership and the decision
-
making at their school.



CONCLUSION


Findings reveal that, as a precursor to change, EI, if aptly managed, is considered an
indispensable tool to educators. From
the responses gleaned, educators emphasized the

importance of emotions at the workplace. Educators declared that they were able to express
their personal emotions, and confirmed that they allowed learners to express their personal
feelings in the classroom
. All the educators sampled indicated that learners were encouraged
to be open with their educators about how they experience their school life.
Furthermore,
educational change can only be successful if educators perceive themselves and their role
positiv
ely and feel that they are valued contributors to the process of change.

School
leadership (School Governing Bodies and School Management Teams) should provide
assistance to educators to manage

the change efforts adopted at the school and implement
plans f
or change. It therefore seems appropriate to conclude that there is a need for leaders
within the school to assume greater responsibility for effecting change successfully and to
involve learners and educators in the process and to supply actions and str
ategies needed to
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rd

International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2011)

INTI International University, Malaysia

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effect the change.
The leaders should therefore recognize that engaging

educators in
leadership activity could only maximise educator and learner performance, enhance the
emotional climate and lead to the ultimate success of the school.




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