26 SES 06 A, Leading Schools Successfully: Stories from the Field
The International Successful School Principalship Project has for the last decade sought to understand the characteristics, dispositions and qualities of successful principals in successful schools. It has done this across more than 20 countries, through more than 100 multiple perspective case studies, and a leadership survey administered successfully in three countries. More than 80 journal papers, four project books, three country specific books, and five special issues of journals have documented the findings. This symposium brings together several research groups from the ISSPP that have been involved in documenting stories of successful school leadership for the fourth project book of the ISSPP.
The first project book of the ISSPP (Leithwood & Day, 2007) comprised of country reports from the initial group of seven countries. It confirmed core dimensions of setting direction, developing people, developing the school and managing the instructional program, and provided evidence for additional practices such as strategic problem solving, articulating core values, building trust and being visible in the school, building a safe and secure environment, introducing productive forms of instruction to staff, and coalition building. The second and third project books saw a move to cross-national analysis, with book two exploring instructional leadership, organizational learning and culturally responsive practices across countries (Ylimaki & Jacobson, 2011), and book three the sustainability of successful leadership (Moos, Johansson & Day, 2011).
The fourth book, Leading Schools Successfully: Stories from the field (Day & Gurr, 2013) is a special contribution to the work of the ISSPP and provides 15 stories of successful school leadership from 13 countries. This book marks a special contribution to the work of the ISSPP. For the first time, a collection of the stories behind the research is presented, told by the principals themselves through a series of conversations with ISSPP researchers. It tries to capture the exhilaration, privilege, opportunity, and some of the issues and concerns that go with the principal role. It is a celebration (without being a valorization) of the work of principals throughout the world; and what we find is not only illustrations of their values, qualities, skills and practices but also their sheer, sustained hard work over time, the hope they bring for better education for children and young people, the constancy of their commitment, and their continuing palpable passion.
In this symposium Gurr and Day will provide an overall synthesis of the 15 cases through discussion of the themes that emerged. A panel of ISSPP researchers will present illustrations of these findings by drawing on the examples of successful school leadership they have written about in the book. There will be sufficient time allocated to allow for audience questions and discussion with the symposium presenters.
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