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Entrepreneurial leadership skills in education
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2015 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Interest in education in entrepreneurship has increased in Sweden as well as in the rest of the European countries and the Western Countries. The importance of good leadership for teaching and learning is highlighted in practice as well as in research (e.g. Hynes, 1996; Harris & Muijs, 2005; Jones & Iredale, 2010), but there are few studies which explicit focus on entrepreneurial leadership skills in education. The model of teachers’ leadership, means according to Harris and Muijs (2005),”creating the conditions in which people work together and learn together, where they construct and refine meaning, leading to a shared purpose or set of goals” (p. 17).  This study highlights central aspects and characteristics of entrepreneurial teachers.  One central area in today’s debate on school is what students learn or not learn in school. How well they are suited for a life in a changing society and how education can be supportive. International as well as in in the European Union and on a national Swedish basis, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning is promoted as a way to arm our young people. Never the less there are challenges for teachers (as well as principals) in implementing an educational strategy based on central concepts in entrepreneurial teacher leadership.The entrepreneurial teacher is often equated with an enthusiastic individual who is not afraid of breaking old habitual patterns and is a driving force for change (Johannisson & Madsén, 1997; Røe Ødegård, 2012). The entrepreneurial teacher acts as a guide more than a director and has the courage to give their students freedom that is required for them to be able to develop their entrepreneurial skills. OECD (1989) points out the importance of “shift of power”, in teachers’ relationship to the students, which means that the teacher should give free rein and has more trust to the students’ willingness and ability to use their own capacity. The interaction between teachers and students highlight problems of how to make creative questions to help students to develop entrepreneurial skills such as identifying possibilities and to make students able to think by themes selves and use more learning arenas than the classroom. The teaching and learning culture will then contain a culture with many questions and answers instead of a focus on the “right answer”. It is also of importance that the teacher visualizes and assesses the leaning processes (Falk-Lundqvist, Hallberg, Leffler, & Svedberg, 2011).  It is in many ways about teachers own learning about learning (cf Timperley, 2012).  However, entrepreneurial teachers are also in some studies described as “enthusiastic individuals”.  They are known as people with a strong driving force but also as individuals who are used to go their own ways (Leffler, 2006). On policy level, entrepreneurial teachers are described in the report Entrepreneurship Education - Enabling Teachers as a Critical Success Factor (European Commission, 2011) with a lot of skills, such as positive attitude, passionate about what they are doing and confident in their teaching. They are also able to listen attentively and can pick up and put to use new ideas.   These qualities are according to the European Commission unlikely to be found in one individual alone. Rather it is more realistic to expect to find such qualities distributed across a range of individuals. Is it possible to identify teachers with certain skills and attribute, and identify them as entrepreneurial teachers?  If, so, what can we learn from these teachers as leaders in the classroom?

Methodology This study is a part of a Swedish three year school improvement programme Entrepreneurial Learning, funded by Ifous (Innovation, research and development in school) and Umeå University, involving 27 schools in secondary and upper secondary school and is limited to schools in public as well as in independent schools (Other results from the  improvement program see, Leffler & Näsström, 2014).  The study is based on a survey, which aim is to measure emotional intelligence among leaders, Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) and was conducted by an external partner, Kandidata AB.   The sample is based on selected teachers, a total of 90, from secondary and upper secondary schools. Principals were asked to make a selection of eight teachers with entrepreneurial skills, four theoretical and four practical/ aesthetic teachers. (Skilled teachers as a sample are used in other research projects, e.g. Nordänger, 2010).  To give the principals a similar starting point, they got the outline “The entrepreneurial teacher” from the report Entrepreneurship Education: Enabling Teachers as a Crititcal Success Factor (European Commission, 2011).  The selected group of teachers went through a web based EQ-i test which aim is to create successful leadership profiles, in this case entrepreneurial teachers. One reason for using the EQ-i test is that there are studies which show that emotional intelligence is important in private as well as in professional life (Stein & Book, 2005). The teachers as a group were in focus and the results were analysed and categorised in SPSS (a software package used for statistical analysis). The results were categorised in five skill areas: Self-perception, Self-expression, Interpersonal, Decision making and Stress management.

Conclusions The results give a picture of a group of teachers with good self-perception. It's about teachers who can make use of their emotions and are confident in themselves. That means that they are able to listen to their own feelings and use them in their expressions. They are also relationship-oriented and sensitive to other people and have the ability to take in others' perspectives in their decisions. A further characteristic is that they are socially responsible and have a strong motivation for their actions. They are also characterized by a relatively low impulse control, which means that they dare to think and go outside "the box". However, they have a certain impatience and restlessness which means that they have difficulties to wait for others.  When compared to the European Commission’s (2011) view of entrepreneurial teachers, this study emphasizes the importance of social and relational abilities (cf Nieto, 2007). It also highlights, as other studies about teacher leadership, the importance of working as a group and not as individuals and to learn from each other (cf Harris & Muijs, 2005). There were no significant differences between theoretical and practical/aesthetic teachers. This study will be followed up with observations in classrooms and interviews with teachers.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
teacher leadership, entrepreneurial skills, school improvement, policy guidlines
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-115181OAI: diva2:899144
European Conference for Educational Research (ECER), Corvinus University of Budapest, 7-11 September 2015
Available from: 2016-02-01 Created: 2016-01-30 Last updated: 2016-06-13Bibliographically approved

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