01 SES 03 C, Distributed Leadership and Schools as Learning Organizations – Conceptual Issues in Crossing National Boundaries While Linking Practice to Theory
Distributed leadership, especially the conceptual framework developed by Spillane and colleagues (2001; 2004), is widely used to promote better school functioning and enhance the development of teachers and administrators in their professional capacities. With roots in Wengers’ communities of practice(Wenger, 1999), various scholars have attempted to articulate a conceptual model that can enhance the effectiveness of leaders, promote teacher communities of practice and re-organize schools as learning communities. However, significant issues arise when crossing national boundaries – differences in school work culture, leadership structures and the understanding of distributed leadership itself. There is an ongoing debate about how distributed leadership as a theory aligns (or is in different from) other theories such as teacher leadership, socially distributed leadership or shared leadership. In assessment and evaluation literature, these and other terms, are often incorrectly used interchangeably. In crossing national boundaries, scholars and practitioners have to account for different organizational cultures of leadership in schools if there is to be a systematic advancement of our understanding of the concept and its potential to reform schools.
In this symposium we provide four papers that analyze different conceptual issues in applying distributed leadership within the public school contexts of Denmark, Japan and the U.S. In particular, we are concerned with connecting theories of distributed leadership with equitable leadership and the incorporation of teachers (and others) in holistic ways. There has been little work done to explicate connection between intentional efforts to lead collaboratively (and understanding leadership through interactions) and equity-minded practice. Use of this theory could sustain a deeper reform promoting schools as learning organizations, particularly with regard to the integration of teacher leadership and the promotion of strong communities of practice and learning within schools.
Bennett (Bennett, Wise, Woods, & Harvey, 2003) have already identified the theoretically fragmented nature of the literature on distributed leadership. Of particular interest to European discussions are the difficulties that arise in trying to articulate comparative studies when “There are few clear definitions of distributed …leadership” Bennett et al, 2003, p. 6. Additionally, as distributed leadership originally linked to communities of practice, we note that, the fact that the influential “Greenpaper” on Teacher Education (Buchberger, Campos, Kallos, & Stephenson, 2000) fails to mention this theory, is further evidence that the concept itself is not sufficiently articulated to allow a systematic, cross-national accumulation of evidence. Since Spillane et al’s construct draws heavily on activity theory and distributed cognition, it explicitly sets aside (some might say ignores) perspectives from organizational theory and new institutionalism, along with an embedded framework to trace the locations of power within an organization and more critical frameworks for how power is manifested to work in and through organizations.
The goal of the symposium (and the discussant’s role) is to highlight how essential conceptualizations of distributing expertise need to be clarified in order to sustain meaningful international dialog and research. Some specific aspects we will address are:
- Issues in conceptualizing teacher leadership practice as distributed leadership and socially distributed leadership respectively
- Highlighting conflict that exists between the ways in which we conceptualize distributed leadership in literature and the ways in which it is practiced in three distinct national contexts
- Examining how organizational norms and work affect how distributed leadership and socially distributed leadership practice can be instantiated
- Explicating ways that teacher leadership as a distributed practice (issues of power, authority, influence in schools) is/can be a demonstration of equitable leadership/equity-minded leadership practice
Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P., & Harvey, J. (2003). Distributed Leadership: A Review of Literature. Retrieved from Buchberger, F., Campos, B. P., Kallos, D., & Stephenson, J. (2000). Green Paper on Teacher Education in Europe. Retrieved from Umeå Sweden: Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational researcher, 30(3), 23-28. Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Journal of curriculum studies, 36(1), 3-3 Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, And Identity (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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