A study of the facilitative role of the teacher in the implementation of gifted education in schools
When an educational change such as gifted child education is introduced into a school one of the key actors in its implementation on the micro-level is the teacher, whose attitude toward the change may be crucial as he is the ultimate user of that change. However, a teacher's workload is often heavy and this leaves him with little time or inclination to cope with the complexities of implementing a gifted child programme such as learning new skills and knowledge required by the programme. Implementation - the process of putting into practice an educational change or activity new to those expected to change - should occur in a supportive environment, and assistance and training should be provided by change agents both external and internal to the school. These change facilitators though, are often remote from the practical problems and concerns which may be experienced by teachers during the process of implementation. It is also unlikely that they will make the day-to-day interventions which are targeted directly at teachers. Consequently, a teacher who is in close contact with other teachers, who has knowledge and experience of their problems and who can gain easy access to their classrooms appears to be in a viable position to act as a facilitator during implementation. The literature indicates that a teacher regarded as a charismatic, credible leader by his peers may assume the role of teacher representative/facilitator, thereby enhancing the process of implementation. He may emerge as a 'second change facilitator' who complements the facilitative activities of the principal. He can also compensate for what the principal does not do. There is little formal recognition or training for this role - an experienced teacher with the potential for becoming a change facilitator may assume this role. He may then respond to the concerns of his colleagues, function as a representative/role model, consult with teachers and reinforce their implementation efforts, coach and train them, provide opportunities for discussion and problem-solving and provide feedback on a day-to-day basis. Unlike those of other change agents, his interventions may be targeted directly at teachers. The teacher's role as possible change facilitator during the process of implementation may be subject to limitations since it appears from this investigation that the degree to which he can make interventions is influenced by the change facilitative style of the principal. Principals, who emerge as key figures during the process of implementation, have been identified as managers, responders or initiators. The principal's style influences the type of interventions a teacher facilitator may make and the roles he can assume. From this study however it appears that the role of teacher-facilitator is a viable and an important one especially in the phase of teacher use. He is able to maintain close personal contact with his colleagues, he is always available for consul tat ion, he can provide direct, personal aid and he is able to target coaching and training activities directly at teachers. By providing a supportive environment and assistance at the classroom level a teacher can facilitate the implementation of a gifted child programme in a school.
- Education