01 SES 01 A, The Professional Learning and Development of Leaders: International perspectives on learning to lead - Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 01 SES 02 A
This double symposium brings together perspectives on the professional learning and development of leaders from seven different countries: Italy, England, Lithuania, Ireland, Finland, USA and Chile.
Across Europe, and the world, educational leadership is a key issue. The development of professional learning is important for the establishment of meaningful and effective forms of leadership in schools (Pedwell et al., 2011). Initially borrowed from organisational theory, transformational leadership in education has its own features (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2009). For instance, we can speak in terms of “Leadership for learning”, and also of “Learning to lead” (Portin & Knapp, 2011). Learning to lead is tied to the current trends towards structuring schools as authentic professional learning communities. In this panorama, pupils’ learning remains the main task of school, but other forms of learning accompany it. In fact, learning is a general feature of human behaviour: for instance, while teaching every teacher learns somewhat; when faced with some problems a principal develops some kind of learning. Clearly, a more structured, deliberate and lifewide organization of the various kinds of learning happening inside the school (Heikkinen, Jokinen & Tynjälä, 2012) can be more beneficial than informal learning.
Leadership training and education is linked to the idea of lifelong learning. In today’s fast-changing society, we are faced frequently with new phenomena. There is therefore a need to give valid and educationally sound answers to these emerging phenomena, that are direct expression of the present era of risk, through innovative forms of leadership. The idea of a core of leadership knowledge, to be complemented during the professional career is today out of date. Beyond basic skills, there is indeed a clear need to be able to develop innovative leadership competencies while new phenomena are emerging. It should be stressed that this implies the ability to unlearn.
In the first part of the double symposium, we hear about the impact of training programmes for educational leaders in Finland. We learn about a two-year induction period for a group of new heads in England and, in particular, the impact that having an assigned mentor has on personal as well as professional development. From Chile, we learn about the creation and use and impact of simulations from real work situations experienced by principals. From Lithuania, we learn about a national programme of professional learning of school leaders by growing professional capital of teachers.
This symposium will provide an opportunity to discuss various issues in the field of leadership learning, going from the development of human, social and decisional capital (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012), to the support of leadership development in early career teachers in schools through communities of practice focused on participatory action learning and research (Zuber-Skerrit & Passfield, 2016). It ranges from the creation of blended (virtual and in-person) professional development systems to develop instructional leaders to the training of educational leaders in collaborative leadership; to the practice of mentoring and coaching new principals, to the use of a formative and self-reflective assessment tool for principals, aiming at the improvement of their professional performance (Parylo, Zepeda & Bengtson, 2012).
Hargreaves, A., Fullan, M. (2012). Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press. Heikkinen, H., Jokinen, H., Tynjälä, P. (2012). Teacher education and development as lifelong and lifewide learning. In Peer-group mentoring for teacher development (pp. 19-46). London: Routledge. Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D. (2009). Transformational leadership. In B. Davies (ed.) The essentials of school leadership. Los Angeles: Sage MacBeath, J., Townsend, T. (2011). Leadership and learning: Paradox, paradigms and principles. In International handbook of leadership for learning (pp. 1-25). Dordrecht: Springer. Parylo, O., Zepeda, S., Bengtson, E. (2012). Principals’ experiences of being evaluated: A phenomenological study. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 24(3), 215-238. Pedwell, L., Levin, B., Pervin, B., Gallagher, M., Connor, M., Beck, H. (2011). Building leadership capacity across 5,000 schools. In International Handbook of Leadership for Learning (pp. 603-617). Dordrecht: Springer. Portin, B., Knapp, M. (2011). Expanding learning-focused leadership in US urban schools. In International handbook of leadership for learning (pp. 503-527). Springer, Dordrecht. Zuber-Skerrit, O., Passfield, R. (2016) ‘History and culture of ALARA – the Action Learning and Action Research Association’, Educational Action Research, 24(1), pp. 65-76.
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