26 SES 05 A, Leadership Practices and Identities
The changes in society in the post-war period have resulted in highly frequent reform initiatives in compulsory education in Norway (Karseth, Møller, & Aasen, 2013). In 2020 and onwards the schools are expected to implement a renewed and revised version of the Knowledge Promotion reform which was introduced in 2006. Interdisciplinary subjects and the overall purpose are supposed to be more future-oriented and more engaging to the students, and the school leaders and the teachers are expected to engage in processes of professional and organizational learning. At each school leaders and teachers are expected to engage in local reform work. Implementing reform intentions is complex (Cuban, 1988; Shavinina, 2003). It may take time before the reforms bring about changes in the school organization. There is a need of being more sensitive to how professionals negotiate reform initiatives and how they play out in local contexts (Rasmussen & Ludvigsen, 2009). Scool leaders are expected to take responsibility of professional and organizational learning. To cope with the increasing scope of the many administrative and pedagogical tasks at schools, principals have appointed several middle leaders to help them with such work (Abrahamsen 2018; Helstad & Mausethagen, 2019). This is especially the case in upper secondary schools. Leading change work in schools requires that school leaders have both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in translating policy initiatives into practice. School leaders therefore need efficient tools when leading change processes. In the present innovation project, researchers introduce Change Laboratories (CL) (Engeström, 2001) as a tool for leading reform work in three upper secondary schools in Norway. The innovation implies the introduction of “mirror data” such as videos, interview data and surveys from the schools to trigger professional learning when the the school leaders and researchers are exploring problems and dilemmas when leading reform work. The innovation also implies the introduction of theoretical models and specific questions. The processes in CL are subject to videorecording for research purposes. Engeström (1987) conceptualize this type of intervention as “formative interventions” (Engeström, 2011) because of the attention to the expansive processes. A research review on learning in CL the last 25 years (Engeström & Sannino, 2010) reveals how researchers from universities around the world intervene with CL in workplace organizations. The e method is however to a limited degree used within schools in a Norwegian school context. As such, the main problem statement for the research work is as follows: What kind of potential do Change laboratories represent for the development of leadership practices in a reform context, and what are the constraining factors? The research questions are as follows:
- What characterize the processes project schools are undergoing to develop improved leadership practices in a reform context? (RQ1)
- In what ways do the work with "mirror data" and other tools trigger collective reform work in CL, and what are the constraining factors? (RQ2)
- To what extent do innovate work in the project schools expands to other working contexts? (RQ3)
We combine Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT; Engeström 1987; 1999), with theory on micro-policy making positioned within education policy sociology (Gunnulfsen, 2018; Ball, 2012; Lipsky 1980; Lipsky, 1980). CHAT is selected because of the attention to processes of mediation (Jensen, 2013), and theory on micro-policy making is selected because of the specific attention to tensions and processes of micro-policy making in where actors are using professional discretion. In addition, we use theory on leadership as distributed (Spillane, 2006) and theory on institutional work (Lawrence, Suddaby, and Leca (2009).
Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used The study of the ongoing processes in CL can be described as a qualitative study that studies the phenomenon in a natural setting (Bryman, 2012) consisting of three cases (three schools). The method of the innovation project follows ideal phases of formative interventions as outlined by Engeström (2011). The study has a longitudinal design stretched over four years and can also be conceptualized as a “panel study” since the researchers are collecting data from leadership teams consisting of the same people. The study has ethnographic features (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2010) since the researchers are engaging in the workshops. Data from eight CL are collected in each of the tree cases. The analysis is based on video-data collected from the workshops and can thus be characterized as video ethnography (Heath and Hindmarsh, 2002). The video data constitutes the main data when analyzing what characterizes the processes the schools are undergoing to develop new leadership practices when leading of reform work (RQ1). In addition, material tools being introduced in the team are collected. Contextual interview data (Hultman, 2000) is collected from participants in the CL with questions related to what is being observed from video data to uncover ambiguities. Interviews with the actors in the workshops are collected to answer in what ways work with mirror data and other resources may trigger productive work, and what are the constraining factors? (Research Question 2). To investigate to what extent do innovative work in the project schools expands to other working contexts (R3), survey and interview data are collected. The data is subject to content and interaction analysis.
Expected outcomes: The team will struggle to define the problem-space to be worked on together with researchers. Gradually the leadership teams become aware of the importance of historical and empirical analysis of before trying out new leadership practices, and the value of modelling new practices in advance (the steps in the expansive circle). The processes the project schools are undergoing are characterized as reflective conversations, strongly mediated by mirror data in where tensions, dilemmas and disturbances becomes visible. Seminars across the project schools are welcomed, because it allows the school to associate, contrast and compare. The expectations to intermediate work between the workshops seem to be crucial, likewise, to use theoretical models to mediate theoretical analyses, beyond the empirical analyses.
Jensen, R., & Møller, J. (2013). School data as mediators in professional development. Journal of Educational Change, 14(1), 95-112. Fullan, M. (2006). Leading professional learning. School Administrator, 63(10), 10. Abrahamsen, H. (2018). Redesigning the role of deputy heads in Norwegian schools–tensions between control and autonomy? International Journal of Leadership in Education, 21(3), 327-343. Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., and Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy: Policy enactments in secondary schools. Routledge. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. Oxford University Press. Cuban, L. (1988). A fundamental puzzle of school reform. Phi Delta Kappa, 70(5), 341–344. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit. Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive learning at work: Toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Educationand Work, 14(1), 133–156. Engeström, Y. (2011). Activity theory and learning at work. I M. Malloch, L. Cairns, K. Evans & B. N. O’Connor (red.), TheSAGE handbook of workplace learning. London: SAGE Engeström, Y. & Sannino, A. (2010). Studies of expansive learning: Foundations, findings and future challenges. Educational Research Review, 5(1), 1–24. Gunnulfsen, A. E. (2018). Micro Policy Making in Schools. Use of National Test Results in a Norwegian Context. Doktoravhandling. Heath, C., & Hindmarsh, J. (2002). Analysing interaction: Video, ethnography and situated conduct. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative research in action (pp. 99–121). London: Sage Publications. Helstad, Kristin, and Sølvi Mausethagen, (eds.) Nye lærer-og lederroller i skolen. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2019. Hultman, G. (2001). Leading cultures: a study of ‘acting in context’and the creation of meaning in school leaders' work activities. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(2), 137-148. Karseth, B. & Møller, J. (2014). «Hit eit steg og dit eit steg» – Et institusjonelt blikk på reformarbeid i skolen. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 98(6), 452–468.(pp. 75–88). Oxford University Press. Lawrence, T. B., Suddaby, R., & Leca, B. (Eds.). (2009). Institutional work: Actors and agency in institutional studies of organizations. New York, NY: Cambridge university press. Lipsky, M. (2010). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public service. (30th ed.): Russell Sage Foundation. Rasmussen, I. & Ludvigsen, S. (2009). The hedgehog and the fox: A discussion of the approaches to the analysis of ICT reforms in teacher education of Larry Cuban and Yrjö Engeström. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16(1), 83–104. Shavinina, Larisa V. (red.) (2003). The International handbook on innovation. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
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