MA in Educational Leadership (Teach First) Module: Improving Urban Schools Session 2: Seven strong claims about successful school leadership Led by Justine Mercer and Janet Harvey
Activity 1: Feedback on Tony Bush’s Lecture • In small groups, discuss your reactions to the guest lecture. Use the following questions as a guide: • Which parts of the talk resonated with your own experience? Try to be as specific as possible. • Which parts surprised you? • How far did the questions you wrote about the pre-reading get answered in the talk? • What more, if anything, would you still like to know about leadership for learning?
Activity 2: Leadership versus Management? 1) Make a list of words you associate with management 2) Make a list of words you associate with leadership 3) How much overlap is there between these two concepts? 4) Which is more important in a school context, leadership or management?
Leadership: • doing the right things Management: • doing things right
Leadership Vision Inspiration Values and culture Outward-looking The Future Strategic planning and decision-making Examples from your experience? Management Monitoring and controlling activities Allocating resources Inward-looking Current organisation & implementation Tactical planning and decision-making Operational factors Examples from your experience?
Bush (2003) Management Theories: Formal, Collegial, Political, Subjective, Ambiguity, Cultural Leadership Theories: Managerial, Participative, Transformational, Distributed, Transactional, Post-modern, Moral, Instructional, Contingency
“Leadership and management are not synonymous terms. One can be a leader without being a manager. One can, for example, fulfil many of the symbolic, inspirational, educational and normative functions of a leader and thus represent what an organisation stands for without carrying out any of the formal burdens of management. Conversely, one can manage without leading. An individual can monitor and control organisational activities, make decisions, and allocate resources, without fulfilling the symbolic, normative, inspirational, educational functions of leadership.” (Schon1984:36) Useful distinction
“Organisations which are over managed but under led eventually lose all sense of spirit or purpose. Poorly managed organisations with strong charismatic leaders may soar temporarily only to crash shortly thereafter. The challenge of modern organisations requires the objective perspective of the manager as well as the brilliant flashes of vision and commitment wise leadership provides.” (Bolman and Deal 1991: xiii-xiv) Both are necessary
Both are necessary “It is not enough for leaders to have the vision, sell it and then move on, leaving others to translate it into action. Implementation of the strategic plan needs continual monitoring and evaluation by those with the creative ability to understand where diversions may be appropriate and how obstacles can be surmounted. Strategic plans should, after all, be liberating, and not constraining.” (Hall 1998:145)
“Methods … [are] as important as knowledge, understanding and value orientations … Erecting this kind of dichotomy between something pure called ‘leadership’ and something dirty called ‘management’, or between values and purposes on the one hand and methods and skills on the other, would be disastrous.” (Glatter1997:189) Both are necessary
Fullan (1992:19) “The current emphasis on vision in leadership can be misleading. Vision can blind leaders in a number of ways ... The high-powered, charismatic principal who ‘radically transforms the school’ in four or five years can ... be blinding and misleading as a role model ... my hypothesis would be that most such schools decline after the leader leaves ... Principals are blinded by their own vision when they feel they must manipulate the teachers and the school culture to conform to it.”
Activity 3: Leaders Inside and Outside Education Think of someone you regard as a successful leader in an organisation outside the field of education: 1) List their personal characteristics and attributes 2) List their practices and behaviours 3) How and why do you think they became admirable leaders (journey to leadership)? Now do the same for someone who works in education To what extent are your answers different for the two people? How far, if at all, are educational leaders different to leaders in other fields?
Early Leadership Theories • Great Man Theories Examples? • Trait Theories Examples? • Situational Theories Examples? • Management Theories- focus on the role of supervision, organisation and group performance - transactional • Relationship Theories – focus on connections between leaders and followers - transformational but power imbalance remains • Participative Theories – encourages participation and contribution from others – interactive and distributed leadership
Transactional/Transformational Leadership • Transactional leadership – followers agree to work towards organisational goals and leaders agree to ensure good working conditions (associated with school effectiveness) Examples? • Transformational leadership – leaders and followers are united in pursuit of higher level goals (often associated with school improvement) Examples?
Transactional Leadership • Based on a “transaction” or simple “exchange” – like buying and selling a car. • Focus on task/outcome, not process • Followers agree to work toward organisational goals and leaders agree to ensure good working conditions. • Extrinsic motivation – “I’ll do what the boss tells me because I want to keep my job.” And “My employees obey me because I pay their wages.” • No shared values or long-term commitment. • In what circumstances might transactional leadership be effective?
Transformational Leadership (Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005) • Focus on process as well as outcome • Leader “transforms” their followers – they become different people, more skilful, more confident, perhaps more motivated/committed • Both leaders and followers are united in pursuit of higher level goals. • Still relies on “charisma” and “heroic individuals”. • May not be genuinely empowering. • In what circumstances might transformational leadership be effective?
An alternative view • Move from hierarchical to shared leadership • Leadership can come from anywhere in a school • Leadership must come from everywhere in a school • Shared and distributed leadership is necessary for improving schools
Activity 4: Leadership Practices (Leithwood et al. 2008: 31-32) • Four core educational leadership practices, namely: • Building vision and setting directions; • Understanding and developing people; • Redesigning the organisation; • Managing the teaching and learning programme.
Think about the educational leader you described in the previous activity. To what extent do they do the four things listed above? • Now think about the head of your school. To what extent do they do the fours things listed above? • Finally think about your immediate boss (head of department, subject co-ordinator, head of year, or whatever). To what extent do they do the fours things listed above? • To what extent can these four practices be learnt? And if so, how?
Activity 5: Leadership Traits (Leithwood et al. 2008: 36) • Open-minded • Ready to learn from others • Flexible but with a system of core values • Persistent (in pursuit of high expectations) • Resilient • Optimistic • To what extent does the educational leader you chose have these traits? What about your head? What about your immediate boss?
Activity 6: Influences on Staff Motivation, Commitment and Working Conditions (Leithwood et al. 2008: 32-34) To what extent have leaders at your school (from the head downwards) affected your motivation, commitment and working conditions? Now make a list of all the things that have helped your classroom performance improve. Divide your list into human and non-human factors. Of the people involved, how many had a leadership position within the school hierarchy and a degree of authority?
Activity 7: Critiquing the literature What is the evidence-base underpinning the Leithwood et al. (2008) paper? On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least robust and 10 being the most), where would you place the findings of this paper and why? Would you take issue with any of Leithwood et al.’s conclusions, and if so, why?