Pandaram’s Research Gives Glimpse into Teachers’ Lived Experiences
Ms Desiree Sangeetha Pandaram received her Master’s degree in Education cum laude. She dedicated the degree to her mom who became ill in the midst of her study and passed away. ‘This was completely devastating. The hardest part was getting back on track. Losing your mother is the biggest loss one can ever suffer. I was gutted to the core.’
She recently returned to South Africa after spending 12 years as an English advisor in the United Arab Emirates. This sparked her interest in teacher leadership in Abu Dhabi and the day-to-day experiences of English subject co-ordinators in public schools.
According to Pandaram, the practice of teacher leadership in Abu Dhabi has blossomed. As it becomes embedded in the educational arena, it is beginning to manifest in schools as a form of distributed or shared leadership.
‘One of my key findings was that school principals need to be aware of the many advantages of teacher leadership and its positive effects on the future of students. Another important finding was that the role performed by English subject co-ordinators in Abu Dhabi encompasses an integral part of teacher leadership, and teacher leaders form a vital component within the school structure,’ said Pandaram.
She believes that her research will impact perceptions of teacher leadership and enable education stakeholders to appreciate teachers’ influence on educational systems, especially in terms of their power to impact not just learning but overall leadership within schools.
One of the study’s important recommendations is that the principals of Abu Dhabi public schools need to create a professional milieu to enable teacher leadership to flourish.
Pandaram thanked her family, friends and supervisor Professor Inbanathan Naicker for their support and encouragement: ‘Their ability to motivate me formed a huge part of my emotional and mental support.’
Her daughter Duanna said, ‘She never fails to make us proud,’ while her sister Sagree and brother Selvan noted that her achievement is testimony to her ‘dedication, diligence and skill in her craft’.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal