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The aim of this research was to determine educators’ perceptions of and readiness for teacher leadership. A total of 283 educators in the Eden and Central Karoo Education District in the Western Cape participated in the study. The participants included district officials, principals, and members of school management teams, as well as veteran, middle, and novice educators. A series of instruments was used to determine educators’ perspectives, perceptions and readiness for teacher leadership, including the Teacher Leadership Readiness Instrument (TLRI). The results indicated that educators held positive assumptions about teacher leadership. Educators’ preliminary leadership perceptions, assumptions about and readiness for teacher leadership proved that the majority of educators are ready for a more distributed, deep democratic leadership practice in schools. Educators acknowledged the need for continuous professional development in the area of teacher leadership. It was also found that as preliminary leadership perceptions of educators improve or strengthen, readiness for teacher leadership is also likely to improve or strengthen. These findings have significant implications for leadership practices, collaboration, capacity-building and improvement in schools, educators’ self-esteem, motivation and productivity, as well as student outcomes.
Keywords: distributed leadership; educators’ assumptions; educators’ perceptions; educators’ readiness; parallel leadership; professional development; teacher leadership