International Handbook of Leadership for Learning: 25 (Springer International Handbooks of Education)
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Through this introduction section, it is possible to move beyond geographical borders to see whether a common core can be identified. All the articles are dealing with school-related leadership. But the question is whether it is just leading within the same kind of important frames that is the core or whether it is an aspect of the leadership as practice. From a large research project that examined the effects of leadership at multiple levels on student learning, four interrelated conclusions are discussed.
The first conclusion regards the need for integrative leadership and what is meant by the expression: no silos. Integrative leaders link elements within the school or between the school and community agencies, bridging differences. The core thought is that all actors are to be connected for the same purpose. The second result concerns the fact that teachers tend to work alone, although the magic is rather in the professional community, consisting of such things as shared norms and values, collective focus on students learning in reflective dialogues, and collaboration.
A third result points to the importance of shaping productive school cultures, which in practice means that principals engage in everyday work and use staff meetings to talk about equity and instruction. This is again relating to the collective focus interlinked to organisational learning.
In this kind of professional communities teachers search for improvement and discuss their work. Finally, as indicated earlier, the school is not isolated from the local context, which in this case includes local education authorities who can play critical integrative leadership roles.
All the conclusions point to the importance of coherence. They are now to become leaders of learning, a transition resulting in a possible identity crisis among principals, according to role transformation. The presented study explores the impact of principal leadership on school capacity and student learning in 32 Hong Kong primary schools. They argue that these actions also must be understood in terms of particular contexts, such as the Asian one.
The study focuses more narrowly on leadership for learning in a Hong Kong accountability context. Empirically, the study uses a quantitative approach examining seven dimensions of leadership practices. Principals appear to be more focused on survival and compliance instead of fulfilling their role as leaders for learning. According to previous work of Hallinger Hallinger P.
Leadership for learning: Lessons from 40 years of empirical research. Journal of Educational Administration. Altogether, they argue that both perspectives would benefit from a closer dialogue. The article wants to contribute new perspectives regarding the intersection where societal interest transforms into educational content and how professional groups within societal institutions working at different levels cooperate for school development. Writing towards a general theoretical framework, they ask two questions: How does an educational leadership theory explain the relation between individuals in terms of pedagogical influence?
They have the school leader in focus, although they argue that the school leader must be understood as acting within a larger context. This means in turn that schools as well as school leaders can be seen as global phenomena existing within political and national contexts, which frame their activities more specifically. This contextual aspect is also important for the third text, which uses a more theoretical approach, challenging the empirical tradition of school leadership research.
What is interesting, however, is that all of them recognise that leading for learning, in school settings, includes a multilevel leadership. All of them also express a need to focus more on context. Linking school leadership to a larger system of interrelated actions and pointing to coherence, awareness and collective reflection include lifting the perspective from the individual leader to the interlinked actions of many.
Here, the two introducing articles point to the importance of putting school leadership into a local district context, while the third article has, in a way, context as a starting point. A key question is how these collective actions and phenomena can be understood. Does this, for example, mean that educational leadership needs to be placed within some kind of larger theoretical approach, like curriculum theory? This means asking questions about what schools, knowledge, learning and teaching are really about and not taking them for granted. Is the core the education of coming generations?
Or can educational leadership be leading towards learning in general? To this can be added what knowledge or competence that the learning should develop — the knowledge of a whole school practice or the knowledge of a student?
In somewhat different ways, they all see that the educational leadership connects various related leading activities to each other. School leaders lead for one thing: enhanced student learning through others learning.
Educational Leadership in Transition
This finally raises questions about the knowledge relating to learning. Can educational leadership include not only learning processes but also knowledge processes as well? If so, educational leadership is indeed a pedagogical activity. The last section examines this further. We continue, however, by focusing on educational leadership as system-related activities. When context is activated as a variable, there is necessarily a shift from a focus on individuals in given settings to questions about the system in which the individual exists and acts.
Within this section, the two articles deal with how local school leadership is affected by, and relates to, larger system actions, such as national school inspections and government bills creating new leadership positions. Inspection work is defined not merely as the activities performed by others coming to the school to scrutinise it. This includes activities before, during and after the visits, where the local school leader has a choice of how to use the time the school, or the local context, spends on being inspected.
Using Jacobsson's conceptions of different governing activities regulative, inquisitive and meditative , Lindgren shows that each step of the process includes situations where leaders can be active using the inspection for local learning purposes. The leaders need to learn how to perform inspections individually as well as collectively. This also includes how to lead municipalities or schools to transform what can be identified as systematic deficiencies. Summative models of supervisions can in this way be transformed to productive formative processes.
They all use different strategies to make meaning out of national policy reforms. The question is what happens when these new positions are to be understood and lived within existing systems of leadership? To begin with, some municipalities build differentiated organisations where these new leaders work on different levels.
Others install them in a decentralised way in schools.
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In all cases, these new positions, according to the author, make it relevant to work with an added theoretical concept — distributed leadership. They also see themselves as important to collegial learning and fostering professional development. From a principal's perspective, they can catalyse as well as challenge the traditional understanding of how educational leadership is to be performed. This in turn challenges the existing understanding of if and how educational leadership in schools can be shared.
Before leaving this section, we can conclude that these two articles in various ways illuminate challenges related to local school leadership. Since schools exist within larger governing systems, such changes are regularly initiated on levels other than those where they are to be realised. That is, the reforms are to be understood and transformed into lived activities by leaders acting in different local subsystems.
Over time, the relations between these different levels change, including that although the responsibility for the daily work is local, one of the main functions of the national level is to make the lower ones perform equally. Educational Theory 49 4 , Radical intersubjectivity. Reflections on the "different" foundation of education. Studies in Philosohpy and Education, 18 4 , The right to philosophy of education.
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Urbana-Champaign: Philosophy of Education Society. Educational Theory 48 4 , Studies in Philosophy and Education 17 , Deconstruction, justice and the question of education. Pedagogy without humanism. Foucault and the subject of education. Interchange 29 1 , Laird Ed. Dewey in Europa. Paradoxen van modernisering in de onderwijsvernieuwing: een case study. Paradoxes of modernisation in the renewal of education: A case study. Education, not initiation. Margonis ed. Urbana, Ill. Onmogelijke opvoeding. Kanttekeningen bij de pedagogische overdrachtsmetafoor. Reflections on the idea of education as transmission.
Gezin en moraal: Gezinsopvoeding als het morele fundament van de samenleving? De toekomst van de historische pedagogiek.
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