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Thursday, 1 December 2016

How's Education Shaped by Leadership Forces?

In speaking about quality school leadership, Sergiovanni (1984) demonstrates that many attributes have direct links to the achievements and overall excellence. How these foundations of learning excellence are encouraged and supported by leaders holds close connection to the overall educational achievements students can expect (Dinham, 2005).

Sergiovanni (1984) proposes competent school leadership supports the need for students to be cultured, educated citizens, able to contribute wholly in society and educated beyond the limited potential of “training workers” (p.6). He suggested that excellent school leaders exceed these expectations and as a result, both teachers and students work harder to accomplish more in the development of these foundations of learning.

Wasserberg (1999, p.158) claims that “the primary role of any leader is the unification of people around key values”. Greenfield & Ribbins (1993) add that the personal values, self-awareness, emotional and moral capability of leaders impact on their organisation as they align themselves with the vision or culture.

School improvement emerges through the combinations of leadership forces (Sergiovanni, 1984); from how tightly or loosely elements are coupled together to create a culture of effectiveness (Peters & Waterman, 1982). While a clear vision is essential, it is equally important to ensure innovations such as coaching, clinical rounds, collaborative planning with teacher independence to create a binding culture. Hollingworth (2016) proposes that a leader needs to convey the purpose and vision of the organisation to encourage followers to work towards these.

In my own context, through the development of the Stage 3 pedagogy underpinning the new facility, my team considered what necessary tools of practice and transformative learning environment were essential in a setting where team teaching and individualised learning were the norm. Therefore, we looked to the vision and learner profile of the school and from this built our principles of practice. In doing so it enhances the culture being built by the school.

With the aim for students to be “engaged and aware global citizens” and “relational and collaborative contributors”, it is essential that we understand and value the idea that students, staff, leaders, researchers, politicians and society have voices that should be heard and shared. Educators can be people at the cusp of new research and thought. They are able to stretch intellectual and technical understanding by building symbolic empathy, as this gives insight into the cause of a group's thoughts or feelings (Sergoivanni, 1984).

Through networks that have been developed, students were able to speak to schools in Nepal the day following earthquakes, interview Australia’s Prime Minister, build toys for students in Uganda and connect with students in real time from around the world. These are examples of human and educational leadership by “harnessing the available social and interpersonal resources” to “derive expert knowledge about education and schooling” (Sergoivanni, 1984, p. 7).

The collective ideas of the group will be more creative and pertinent than that on the individual. Individually, I may have expertise, nevertheless the capability is made stronger through connecting and sharing with others. In developing rules of collaboration my team worked through Tuckman’s (1965) stages of group development. Progressing through we refined broad based statements to specific performance actions that would enhance our communication and solidarity.

As Fullan (2002) and Davies (2003) identified when addressing change theory, we initially had a dip in performance as we individually were coming together as a collaborative team; however, they both identify that as with the Sigmoid Curve this change becomes the catalyst for greater performance growth. This has become one of the cultural essentials of excellence that Sergoivanni (1984) expresses, “collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one school from another” and it is our “constructed reality” which is functional and “connected to the vision of excellence in schooling” (p.11-12).

I find myself blessed to be surrounded by the backdrop of a learning community that strives to challenge each other to become professionally more astute, build capacity and global best practice. This path often has moments of discomfort, failure and opportunities for growth, it also has moments where we see the vista of greatness. It is our attitude towards these that is critical. "Many of life's failures are people who did not relise how close to success when they gave up, I have not failed, I have just found 10000 ways that won't work" Tomas Edison.
Davies, B. (2003). Rethinking strategy and strategic leadership in schools. Educational management & administration31(3), 295-312.
Dinham, S. (2005). Principal leadership for outstanding educational outcomes. Journal of Educational Administration43(4), 338-356.
Fullan, M. (2002). Principals as leaders in a culture of change. Educational leadership59(8), 16-21.
Greenfield, T. & Ribbins, P. (eds.) (1993), Greenfield on Educational Administration: Towards a Humane Science, London, Routledge.
Hollingworth, P. (2016). The Light and Fast Organisation: A New Way of Dealing with Uncertainty. Milton, Wiley.
Peter, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies. New York, Warner Book.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1984). Leadership and excellence in schooling. Educational leadership41(5), 4-13.
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin63(6), 384–399.
Wasserberg, M. (1999), Creating the vision and making it happen, in Tomlinson, H., Gunter, H. & Smith, P. (Eds.), Living Headship: Voices, Values and Vision, London, Paul Chapman.
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