01 SES 03 C, Distributed Leadership and Schools as Learning Organizations – Conceptual Issues in Crossing National Boundaries While Linking Practice to Theory
Purpose: Principal leadership is widely recognized as tremendous responsibility for just one person, and sitting principals face unmanageable demands as part of their daily leadership practice (Spillane & Mertz, 2015). Using social distribution as a lens for leadership requires focus on interactions, collaboration, dialogue, and communication (Scribner, Sawyer, Watson & Meyers, 2007) between members of the school community. Thus, leadership that is practiced in social distribution across the school, serves to balance the work of the school leader/principal with duties and responsibilities that are spread across the school to other members of the community (Spillane, 2005). Teacher leaders, serving in key roles, are central to successful distribution of leadership in this way (Wenner & Campbell, 2017). Further, there has been little research to establish equitable leadership, or leadership practice prioritizing both excellence and issues of equity (Galloway & Ishimaru, 2015; Theoharis, 2007) as a product of leadership that is effectively distributed and efficiently practiced within a given school. This research seeks to conceptualize teacher leadership practice as socially distributed leadership and also as equitable leadership practice. Research Design: Seeking to achieve “magnitude of effect,” meta-analysis, which is commonly recognized as the preferred method for synthesizing research (Cheung & Vijayakamar, 2016, p. 122), was selected to initiate deeper understanding of ways various forms of leadership, explored here, contribute school leadership that is both equitable and highly effective. Literature was gathered to explore intersections between various types of leadership in education including teacher leadership, distributed leadership, socially distributed leadership, and equitable leadership, as well as in principal leadership practice as a measure for understanding the scope of building leadership practice in general. Findings: Establishing teacher leadership both as a socially distributed practice and also as an equitable leadership practice, this study contributes to the field of education with two theories that are limited, if represented at all, in empirical literature. Specifically, this research underlines conflict that exists between the ways in which we conceptualize distributed leadership in literature and the ways in which it manifests in US K-12 leadership practice. Implications: This research may serve to inform higher education programs for preparing teacher leaders for practice, especially in the design and implementation of courses that better prepare leaders, in various roles (district, building, and teacher level) for socially distributed practice.
Cheung, M. W.-L., & Vijayakumar, R. (2016). A guide to conducting a meta-analysis. Neuropsychology Review, 26, 121–128. Ishimaru, A. M., & Galloway, M. K. (2014). Beyond individual effectiveness: Conceptualizing organizational leadership for equity. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 13(1), 93. Militello,M., & Janson, C. (2007). Socially focused, situationally driven practice: A study of distributed leadership among school principals and counselors. Journal of School Leadership, 17, 409–442. Scribner, J., Sawyer, R., Watson, S., & Myers, V. (2007). Teacher teams and distributed leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(67), 67-100. Spillane, J. P. & Mertz, K. 2015. Distributed leadership. Retrieved from: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756810/obo-9780199756810-0123.xml. Theoharis, G. (2007). Social justice educational leaders and resistance: Toward a theory of social justice leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43, 221-258. doi:10.1177/0013161X06293717
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