26 SES 05 B, Communication and Relations
The importance of teachers’ professional learning and knowledge development is described as particularly vital when it comes to contributing to student learning. Hence, there is a requirement for educational leadership that stimulates teachers’ learning (Robinson, 2010). Although many studies focus on the need for leadership by emphasizing how leadership performances should be accomplished for schools to be effective, few studies draw attention to how leadership evolves in school settings and how leadership actions are constructed and played out in situated activities (Spillane, 2006). In addition, whereas much leadership research focuses on principals and teachers as individuals and how their work affects students’ learning, less research sheds light on collective and institutional issues (Little, 2012). To understand the emergence of leadership, one must start from the work that takes place within the school, and pay attention to the dynamics by which differences in perspectives and interpretation are negotiated. This requires an empirical analysis of the interactions and collaboration processes in local school settings (Coburn, 2006).
This paper addresses leadership as relational work, traced in interactions amongst a principal and a group of teachers operating within the context of a school-improvement project in an upper secondary school in Norway. The school project, initiated by teachers, ran for three years (2007–2010), with the purpose of developing the teachers’ knowledge about writing in and across school subjects (Helstad & Lund, 2012). A relational view rests on a sociocultural framework with an emphasis on the dialogical nature of interaction. In this perspective, leadership for professional learning involves interplay of knowledge, relations and actions. Hence, the professional learning processes are intertwined with the context, and the dynamic nature of the community of professionals (Stoll et al, 2006). For school leaders, a key capability seems to be relational agency, which implies a capacity to align one’s thoughts and actions with those of others in order to interpret problems of practice and to respond to those interpretations (Edwards, 2005). A relational perspective views leadership as a process of social construction with a focus on participating in interaction. Leadership exists in relation to other positions, and therefore, is interactive and culturally sensitive. In addition, dialogical processes are central aspects of leadership, and these processes distribute leadership and unfold in collective interactions within the organization (Spillane, 2006).
The paper aims to display how institutional norms and traditions linked to school practices are played out in talk and actions, and to unravel risks and opportunities for educational leadership and leadership for learning in the light of these conditions. Although the focus is on micro-level interactions, the talk is examined in light of macro-level factors, such as traditions for leadership actions and the teachers’ norms and attitudes. For instance, teachers in Norwegian upper secondary schools have a strong tradition of individual autonomy, and instructional leadership has been, largely, the teachers’ responsibility and domain. As such, these traditions effect the conditions for leadership for learning (Møller, 2006).
Coburn, C. E. (2006). Framing the problem of reading instruction: Using frame analysis to uncover the micro processes of policy implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 43, 343–379. Edwards, A. (2005). Relational agency: Learning to be a resourceful practitioner. International Journal of Educational Research, 43, 168–182. Harris, A., & Spillane, J. (2008). Distributed leadership through the looking glass. Management in Education, 22, 31–34. Helstad, K. & Lund, A. (2012). Teachers’ talk on students’ writing: Negotiating students’ texts in interdisciplinary teacher teams. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 599–608. Helstad, K. & Møller, J. (2013). Leadership as Relational Work: Risks and Opportunities. International Journal of Leadership in Education. 16(3), s 245- 262 Jordan, B., & Henderson, A. (1995). Interaction analysis: Foundations and practice. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 4, 39–103. Little, J.W. (2012). Understanding data use practices among teachers: The contribution of micro- process studies. American Journal of Education, 118 (2), s. 143–166. Møller, J. (2006). Democratic schooling in Norway: Implications for leadership in practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 5, 53–69. Robinson, V. (2010). From instructional leadership to leadership capabilities: Empirical findings and methodological challenges. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9, 1–26. Spillane, J. P. (2006). Distributed leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: a review of the literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7, 221-258.
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