26 SES 12 B, Pedagogical Leadership
Introduction: Research in several countries consistently points to the critical role of education system and school infrastructure in efforts to lead and manage improvement in teaching (Cohen & Spillane, 1992). This presentation reports on a theory building, hypotheses generating study of one local education system’s efforts to redesign its infrastructure for leading and managing mathematics teaching by building organizational routines, creating teacher leadership positions and investing in their professional development, and adopting a new inquiry-oriented mathematics curriculum.
Research Questions: Our main research questions are: 1) How do education system and school infrastructure redesign influence the practice of leading and managing instruction in schools? 2) How do changes in school leadership and management practice influence teachers' beliefs about mathematics teaching and their teaching practice?
Conceptual Framework: The research reported here is framed using a distributed perspective on leadership and managment that involves two core dimensions (Spillane, 2006). First, to understand the work of leading and managing we need to move beyond an exclusive focus on the school principal and consider other formally designated school leaders, both administrators (e.g., deputy principals) and specialists (e.g., coaches, mentor teachers, literacy coordinators) (Harris, 2005; Leithwood et al., 2007; MacBeath, Oduro, & Waterhouse, 2004). Further, individuals with no formal leadership position as well as school district personnel and external consultants can also take responsibility for leadership and management work (Heller & Firestone, 1995; Timperley, 2005). Second, a distributed perspective foregrounds the practice of leading and managing and frames that practice in a particular way: Rather than equating practice with the actions of an individual leader, from a distributed perspective practice takes shape in the interactions among school staff as framed and focused by aspects of their situation. In this framing, the situation takes on an important position as a constituting or defining aspect of practice (Spillane, 2006).
This distributed perspective framed the research in several ways including a) attending to all system and school actors, not just those who had formal leadership positions in order to understand leadership for instruction; b) examining interactions among school and system actors; c) investigating how aspects of the situation (e.g., formal positions, organizational routines, which we term infrastructure, defined interacitons among actors.
Significance: The work reported here extends empirical and theoretical work on school leadership and management and its relation to instruction by showing how changes to aspects of the situation or infrastructure transform the practice of leading and managing instruction inside schools. Further, it illustrates the central role of infrastructure design and redesign in transforming leadership and managing practice in order to support change in classroom teaching. Finally, it explores relations between school leadership and management practice and teachers' beliefs about instruction and their teaching practice.
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