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TNLI: Action Research: Policy & Practice: Shared Leadership: Effects on Teacher Practice, Professionalism & Power

BY EMILY SINTZ

“Leadership is not the private reserve of a few, but a process that ordinary people use when they are bringing forth the best from themselves and from others.”

(Kouzes and Posner, 1996)

BACKGROUND/CONTEXT
Today, particularly in New York City and other big-city school districts, there is an increasing need for new principals. This problem is exacerbated in urban areas, in particular, given the lure of higher suburban salaries for administrators, along with the even greater need for new leadership created by the small schools movement.

In response to this need, there has been a growing investment in, and publicity for, such fast-track preparation programs as the Leadership Academy in New York City. The natural targets for these programs are most likely teachers who have taken on leadership roles within their schools. This raises two important concerns. First, while teachers are increasingly taking on (often unacknowledged) leadership responsibilities within their schools, there is a great reluctance among many teachers to leave their classroom and jump on the administration bandwagon. Not only do teachers not want to give up teaching, but given the ever-expanding job description of administrators, many teachers see the job as too stressful or demanding, and consider the compensation insufficient compared to these responsibilities. NYU Professor Gary Anderson and others have noted the paradox that has been created: while the role of principal has been expanded to include all of the characteristics we think a good principal should embody, the result has been that nobody wants to take on the job.

Thus, the demand for traditional principal governance goes unmet or filled by persons lacking educational experience. On the other hand, if these programs are successful in recruiting teachers away from instruction, our school systems, already plagued by significant issues of teacher recruitment and retention, suffer a loss of experienced, effective pedagogues.

Concurrently, there is an increasing trend toward alternative models of school management within which teachers assume various leadership roles while still remaining in the classroom. These options vary greatly in title (“teacher leadership”, “shared decision making”, “distributive leadership”) and even more extensively in definition. Yet, while these models have not necessarily evolved entirely in response to the needs outlined above, they could be viewed as a possible solution to the principal shortage. Thus, I felt it important to examine them more closely, particularly looking at teachers’ perceptions of their effects, both positive and negative, on their own practice and influence within their school settings.

RATIONALE FOR STUDY
As a teacher who has taken on a variety of leadership roles myself, and is continually considering shifting to full-time administration, I understand the dilemma many teachers face – the competing desires of wanting to participate in school leadership while also feeling connected and committed to remaining in the classroom. And I have seen this repeatedly experienced by numerous friends and colleagues who are considered teacher leaders in their schools. Even teachers who have become principals are often the ones to say, “I never thought I’d become a principal” or “I still miss the classroom.”

Given this dilemma, my interest has been in exploring alternative prototypes of leadership, through which teachers could take on administrative roles while still remaining, at least part-time, in the classroom. Thus, I began my initial research with the question of “How can we build effective teacher leadership of schools without sacrificing classroom practice?”

Having worked in two schools with models of shared leadership, I also wanted to investigate teachers’ views of these models, specifically in terms of their own definitions of distributive leadership and its perceived effects on their feelings of efficacy and professionalism. Additionally, I was interested in surveying teachers’ views on the relationship between their leadership roles and issues of power, in order to examine whether current teacher leadership responsibilities translated into real decision-making power. Thus, I expanded my initial inquiry by looking at the following question: “How do teachers view their own leadership roles within the context of a shared leadership model of school governance?”

Ultimately, my objective was to uncover the necessary conditions for cultivating effective alternatives for meeting the leadership demands of schools without forcing teachers to choose between the responsibilities of leadership and classroom practice. In particular, given the dichotomy created by the coexistence of an increasing pool of talented teacher leaders in this country and an unmet demand for principal leadership, I felt that examining both teacher leadership and shared leadership models could shed some important light on new solutions to the issue of school governance.

RESEARCH
My research was prompted by studies focusing on three main areas: (1) teachers’ reluctance to become administrators in light of the growing principal shortage; (2) the increasing shift toward teacher leadership and various models of distributive management of schools; and (3) the effects of teacher leadership on classroom practice, teachers’ feelings of professionalism, and ultimately student performance.

A Shortage of Traditional Leadership
School systems across the country are facing, or are expecting to face, dramatic administrative shortages. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (2002), the number of administrative positions is expected to grow between 10 and 20 percent by the year 2008, in part due to the aging cadre of principals, with 40% of current principals expected to retire during the same time period. Another survey by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (2003) found that 66 percent of current principals said they planned to retire by 2012.

This problem is particularly extensive in urban areas, like New York City and Los Angeles, where annual turnover rates among administrators can be as high as 20 percent (Gates 2003). For example, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (2002), 163 schools in New York City began the 2001-2002 school year with temporary principals. Unsurprisingly, those school districts that are perceived as the most challenging, in terms of having large percentages of impoverished or minority students and being underfunded, are facing the greatest shortages (Wallace Foundation 2003).

In response to this growing problem, many school districts, particularly in large cities, have developed more “grow your own” programs (Wallace Foundation 2003 and Gates 2003). These initiatives, aimed at trying to develop principal leadership, are generally intensive and require enormous expenditures by local governments.

Despite these types of directives, there continues to be a great disinclination among many educators to become principals. According to a study by MetLife, only a small percentage (9%) of teachers report interest in becoming a principal, and this reluctance is consistent across grade levels (Markow and Scheer 2003).

Many studies (Educational Research Service 1998, Groff 1995, Copland 2003) have pointed to the main factor preventing teachers from applying for administrative positions: their perception that the job is unmanageable, draining, and not worth the additional monetary compensation. Principals today are expected to balance everything from issues of business management to politics to instructional leadership to monitoring the cafeteria, while facing escalating accountability demands to raise student achievement. Add to this a climate of increased bureaucratic controls at the district, state and national levels, and continually decreasing resources, and it is not difficult to see why many perceive the job of principal as impossible. A report by the Wallace Foundation (2003) sums it up best: “Never has the resulting need to assure an adequate supply of candidates for school leadership positions been clearer. Yet never have these increasingly challenging and often thankless jobs seemed less enticing, or more difficult to fill.”

As a result, despite huge capital investments, school systems are facing the problem of not having enough qualified leadership applicants, running the risk of having to fill vacancies with lesser-qualified candidates (Gates 2003). Too often, these jobs are filled by people with no educational experience. Clearly, this has huge potential serious effects on school quality.

The Trend Toward Teacher Leadership and Shared Leadership Models
Increased demands on principals, along with a current trend toward rethinking and restructuring models of school organization, have prompted an expansion of leadership roles for others outside of the traditional leadership of schools (Copland 2003). The term “teacher leader” is defined quite differently depending on the context, but generally is used to denote a teacher who works outside of the classroom, either in addition to or in place of his or her regular duties, to assume a leadership role. Lord and Miller (2000) organize the main responsibilities of teacher leaders into four main categories: (1) working with individual teachers to support classroom practice; (2) training groups of teachers in professional development settings; (3) working with various school constituents (teachers, administrators, parents, community members or students) on programs or issues that affect or support learning; and (4) working on the “task du jour.”

Sometimes, teacher leadership happens in isolation, with individual teachers taking on particular roles. Often, but not always, teacher leadership arises within the context of a larger school-wide vision of collective leadership. Copland (2003) and others highlight a trend toward distributive leadership of schools, in which responsibility and accountability for a school’s operation and performance extend beyond the traditional leadership.

The Effects of Teacher Leadership
While there seems to be a lack of hard data on the effects of teacher leadership roles, some research exists noting positive influences of teacher leadership on teachers’ feelings of professionalism and student academic performance. Research by Ladson-Billings (1999) and Dilworth and Imig (1995) among others demonstrates that when professional development is designed and implemented by teachers, rather than directed from above, teachers enjoy increased feelings of being valued and are more willing to adopt new pedagogical techniques. This research also implies potential positive effects of teacher-driven professional development on school restructuring.

Research by Copland (2003) suggests that within schools demonstrating significant improvements in teaching and learning, leadership is not “principal-centric”, but rather distributed among various school constituents. Work by Lord and Miller (2000) indicates the positive effects of teacher leadership on academic achievement, resulting from increased meaningful professional development for teachers, and the fact that teachers have more control over classroom issues, curriculum and resources. Yet they also note that these effects are more notable when teacher leadership exists within a school culture (and district culture) employing a shared vision, collaboratively designed by teachers, administrators, parents and others.

TOOLS
For my research, I utilized three main tools for data collection – (1) formal surveys of teachers; (2) informal interviews and conversations with teachers; and (3) a personal log of reflections and observations pertaining to issues of leadership. For my surveys and interviews, I specifically selected teachers who have worked or are currently working in schools with self-described systems of shared leadership and who have taken on various leadership roles in these schools. I felt that these teachers were more familiar with alternative models of administration and would be more able to comment on them, comparing their theory and practice. For my personal log, I kept detailed notes of teachers’ comments about leadership, whether made in staff meetings, in one-on-one conversations, or in more formal educational gatherings (professional development trainings, conferences).

In total, I surveyed and interviewed 23 teachers. For the formal survey, questions focused on the basics of teacher leadership: the roles that teachers have taken on and the context in which this has happened. In terms of context, I asked teachers what prompted them to take on these roles, whether or not they were formally recognized by the school administration, and whether or not they received training and compensation, in terms of extra time or money, for these duties. As a follow-up to the formal surveys, I expanded on this information, by interviewing teachers about how they define shared leadership and what effects they feel their teacher leadership has had on their classroom practice and feelings of professionalism and commitment. I also questioned them about what conditions they feel are necessary for (or what obstacles they feel prevent) effective alternative models, and whether they feel their leadership roles translate into increased teacher power.

DATA AND ANALYSIS
Teacher Leadership Roles

The first question I asked of teachers was “What leadership roles have you taken on in your school?” The results are based on surveys of 23 teachers. I then compiled teachers’ responses into eight major categories. The categories, examples of teacher roles for each category, and the percent of teachers surveyed involved in these roles are detailed in the chart below:

TEACHER LEADERSHIP ROLES

 

AREA OF LEADERSHIP
EXAMPLES
PERCENT OF TEACHERS
IN THESE ROLES
Curriculum/Instruction
* Designing curriculum or instructional materials for school
* Leading curricular teams
* Developing interdisciplinary projects or instructional plans for school
* Coordinating testing review for students
83%
Assessment
* Testing coordination
* Developing and administering portfolio system
* Designing assessment measures/rubrics for school
61%
Professional Development/
Training of Other Teachers

* Designing and running workshops for other teachers
* Peer coaching and review
* Mentoring new teachers
* Technology training
* Serving on inter-school networks

35%
School Tone/Discipline
* Designing school-wide rules/policies
* Serving as a dean
* Serving on disciplinary committees
78%
Budgeting/Resource Allocation
* Serving on budget planning committees
* Selecting instructional materials for purchase
* Designing school scheduling
43%
Grant Writing
* Raising funds for individual classroom projects
* Raising funds for school-wide programs
22%

Project Management

* Student activities advisor (student government, prom, etc.)
* Developing student guidance groups or workshops (girls’ group, safe sex workshop)
* Internship/community service program coordination
* College advising
* Records/organization

70%

Governance
* Serving on School Leadership Teams
* UFT chairmanship
* Serving on hiring committee
* Meeting facilitation
39%

Teachers most often took on leadership roles in the areas of curriculum and instruction, assessment, setting school tone and discipline, and individual project management, a category I use to encompass a variety of roles revolving around designing and implementing projects for students. These results seem consistent with the research on teacher leadership roles cited earlier, in that these roles most often center around the demands of classroom practice and meeting the needs of students.

The Context of Teacher Leadership

Next, I surveyed teachers about their reasons for taking on leadership roles, whether their roles were recognized or not, and whether or not they received compensation for their increased duties. Again, the results are based on surveys of 23 teachers. As most of the teachers I surveyed have taken on numerous leadership roles, I asked them to answer these questions based on how they would describe the majority of their leadership experiences, so it is important to note that many teachers had a variety of experiences that often fell into different contexts. The results are outlined below:

What most often prompted you to take on these teacher leadership roles?

39% I was specifically asked by the school administration to take on a leadership responsibility.

48% A leadership responsibility was made available by the administration and I volunteered for it.

13% I saw an unfulfilled need for this type of leadership responsibility and took it on myself.

Were your teacher leadership roles generally recognized by the school administration?

70% formally recognized by school administration
30% not formally recognized by school administration


Did you more often receive training or no training for your teacher leadership roles?

9% training
91% no training

Were you more often compensated or not compensated with extra time (release time) for your additional duties?

17% compensated with extra time
83% not compensated with extra time

Were you more often compensated or not compensated with extra pay for your additional duties?

13% compensated with extra pay
87% not compensated with extra pay

As you can see, most often, these opportunities were made available and were formally recognized by the school administration. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that this study is limited to teachers working within shared leadership environments, as results might be strikingly different in other contexts.

Not surprisingly, teachers rarely received training or compensation in terms of time or money for taking on these responsibilities. In terms of training, the only exception seemed to be when teachers participated in some type of professional development outside of the school and then took on the responsibility of sharing their training with other teachers within their own school. In terms of money, the main exceptions seemed to be when teachers took on roles as part of a formalized after-school program.

In terms of time, while teachers were often provided common meeting time within the school day to plan collaboratively, they felt this was not sufficient. In order to use this common meeting time effectively, teachers had to devote significant time outside of the school day to planning agendas and materials for these in-school meetings. Only three of the teachers I surveyed ever received any kind of release time in exchange for taking on additional duties, meaning teachers carried out all of these responsibilities in addition to their full-time teaching loads.

As a final note, of the teachers I surveyed, only four (17%) expressed interest in becoming a school principal. While this result is slightly higher than the research cited earlier, it still struck me as a low percentage, especially given the wide range of tremendous responsibilities being taken on by these teachers.

Teachers’ Notions of Shared Leadership

When asked to define “teacher leadership” and “shared leadership”, teachers responded in a variety of ways. Thus, in accordance with the research, it is clear that there is no single definition for either term. Ideas about “teacher leadership” and “shared leadership” depend greatly on the context in which they exist. Yet, I was able to delineate teachers’ notions of these two terms into four main categories:

Distributed Duties

Several teachers seem to define “teacher leadership” in terms of distributed duties. This first became apparent in teachers’ responses to the question “What leadership roles have you taken on in your school?” Responses ranged anywhere from designing professional development to organizing a school dance. For most teachers, “teacher leadership” means teachers taking on almost any additional responsibility outside of their classroom.
Furthermore, many teachers automatically equate “teacher leadership” with “shared leadership.” When asked how they would define “shared leadership”, several teachers defined it similarly to “teacher leadership.” As one teacher wrote about shared leadership, “Teachers in our school take on numerous responsibilities outside of the classroom as delegated by the principal.”

Since the traditional domain of teachers is the classroom, having teachers take on any other responsibilities outside of it (particularly duties that might be considered customary parts of an administrator’s job) seems to be inherently considered “shared leadership.”

Distributed Power

Other teachers seem to take the above framework a step further and define “teacher leadership” within the context of a political model. Teachers who seem to make this jump use phrases such as “teachers’ voice in decision-making”, “shared power”, “democratic models of schooling” and “consensus” when describing shared leadership. Gary Anderson characterizes this delineation as the difference between “distributive” and “democratic” leadership. As one teacher noted, “Our staff meets on a regular basis to discuss issues that are important to the school – curricular issues, school tone issues, and operations/management issues.” To these teachers, “shared leadership” requires teachers to have a say in important school decisions and, ultimately, the power to formulate school policy.

It is important to note, however, that several teachers questioned whether their opinions were incorporated in decision-making. While they acknowledged the existence of various structures in their schools that allowed their voices to be heard (meetings, open discussions with principals), they questioned whether decision-making was truly democratic. As one teacher wrote, “We meet all the time, but the principal still makes all the final decisions. So is this shared leadership?”

Hence, there appears to exist some type of middle ground between “distributed duties” and “distributed power” – a framework in which school issues are discussed collaboratively, and the principal might look to teachers for their input in deciding how to solve a specific problem, but final decisions still remain within the hands of the formal leadership.

Change from the Ordinary

Some teachers seem to associate “shared leadership” with diversion from traditional standards. In describing what shared leadership in her school looks like, one teacher responded, “We are a small school, with lots of meeting time, so people’s voices are heard more. I can also go to my principal freely when I have a problem or suggestion.” Another teacher wrote, “Teachers in our school get to design their own curriculum and assessment measures.”

While this notion of “shared leadership” could serve as a basis for positive change, it also seems to carry with it a detrimental assumption - that because a school diverts from one traditional model, it can automatically be described as encompassing alternative leadership. In this respect, some school members seem to operate under the false notion that a school, simply by fact of being alternative (i.e., being small or using alternative assessment), employs a shared leadership model. Thus, it is important to note that while restructuring (i.e., establishing collaborative meeting time) might be a necessary condition for encouraging shared leadership, alone it does not equal shared leadership.

Professional Learning Communities

A few teachers noted a connection between shared leadership models and their own continued professional development and growth. As one teacher wrote in describing shared leadership in his school, “There is a clear plan for staff development in our school this year. Teachers outline and reflect on their own professional goals for the year. Part of our meeting time is devoted to developing strategies for working with particular students.”

This description of shared leadership seems most in line with the notions of “instructional coaching” and of schools as “professional communities of practice” (King 2004). Within this framework, school constituents examine their own practice reflectively. School-wide professional development focuses on developing leadership skills, intellectual development, and providing support and training for teachers to reflect and improve on their practice, with the overarching goal always being improved student learning (Lyons and Pinnell 2001). This association seems most amenable to incorporating teacher action research, reflection and intellectual development into a vision of collective leadership and might be described as an “inquiry-based approach” (Copland 2003). As another teacher wrote, “Effective shared leadership requires a leader who can encourage teachers to work on their weakness areas, while also allowing them opportunities to use and continue to develop their strengths.”

A Response to Weakness

Finally, while most teachers see “teacher leadership” and “shared leadership” emerging from a strong administration, some note that it also materializes in situations with weak leadership, as the need for teachers to step forward is even greater to ensure the effective operation of a school. One teacher, reflecting on the leadership of her school, noted, “Shared leadership came about in our school from the teachers. Our principal was ineffective, so we took on his responsibilities. Otherwise, the school would have fallen apart.” While “teacher leadership” has historically been viewed as a means of “filling the gaps” (WestEd 2003), this situation illustrates perhaps a most extreme example of it.

Effects of Teacher Leadership on Teacher Practice and Professionalism

Teachers’ reactions to their own leadership roles and experiences with models of shared decision making are unsurprisingly mixed. Almost unanimously, teachers attribute increased feelings of professionalism and a perception that their opinions are respected to taking on leadership roles within their schools. Of the 23 teachers I surveyed, 87% felt that their voices were heard more than they might be in a more traditional leadership setting. As one teacher commented, “I feel taking on these responsibilities is an important part of my job as a teacher, as a professional, and is a way of having my input valued and validated.”

Teacher leaders enjoy more freedom to make decisions about things directly affecting themselves and their students. Of the teachers I surveyed, 78% identified at least one way in which their role as a teacher leader benefited their own classroom practice, most significantly, by allowing them to design curriculum, assessment, professional development and school policies that have a direct impact on their classroom. One teacher wrote, “Shared leadership has allowed me more control over my classroom and the opportunity to design my own curriculum.” Thus, teachers feel that their leadership roles have some possible positive influence on their classroom practice in that they have more freedom to design curriculum and assessment (though this seems to be diminishing in light of increased standardized testing requirements) and that they get to work more closely with other colleagues.

At the same time, teachers almost across the board (87% of those surveyed) feel that their leadership roles in some ways hinder their classroom practice because they have less time to focus on planning, assessment, etc. Along with these new roles for teachers come problems and challenges. Teachers often feel resentful of these roles, as they are time-consuming and educators are often not compensated in time or money for their additional work. Moreover, taking on these roles provides a challenge for teachers in terms of balancing these responsibilities with those of teaching. One teacher commented, “While I wouldn’t want to work in a different environment, I know that taking on all these additional responsibilities sometimes hurts my teaching. It’s like with all these other things to take care of, planning my curriculum and grading become the last things I get around to doing.”

Many teachers feel some resentment over the lack of time or monetary compensation for taking on leadership roles. Some also feel additional resentment toward their colleagues who don’t take on similar duties and toward the fact that the same few teachers always seem to take on a majority of the responsibilities. This was a situation mentioned by several teachers, and is commonly referred to as “the curse of the competent.” As one teacher described it, “The more I do, the more I am asked to do.” Another wrote, “I can’t help but be upset when I see other teachers not stepping up to the plate and taking on a job when I, and others, are doing so much.”

Several teachers also express surprise in the fact that they so quickly became leaders in their schools, often within the first year or two of becoming a teacher. One teacher commented, “After my first year of teaching, I was asked to be our curricular team leader. Like I was ready?” Being so quickly considered an “expert” by their colleagues or administration seems to create discomfort among several teachers, especially given the fact that few teachers receive any kind of professional training before assuming their leadership roles.

In a variety of ways, teachers seem to view their additional responsibilities as a “double-edged sword.” On the one hand, teachers value these roles because they in turn make themselves feel valued. They also see the positive effects on their school, and ultimately their students. On the other hand, they feel the negative effects in terms of time taken away from their classroom and resentment of the unfair burden these duties often carry. These feelings seem to exist simultaneously within most of the teachers with whom I spoke. As feelings of professionalism and voice increased, burnout seemed to increase as well.

While most teachers consider their duties “above and beyond” their classroom roles (70% of those surveyed), some teachers express the feeling that these leadership roles are a natural part of their jobs. One teacher noted, “While it would be nice to be paid for a lot of the work that I do, that’s not why I do it. I know that what I am doing is an essential part of my job and of having the school run smoothly and is needed to service our kids. That’s why I do it.” In these cases, the teachers seem to have bought into a school vision of shared leadership from the beginning, so the additional responsibilities are not unexpected.

At the same time, some teachers question whether their roles translate into real increased power within their schools. A few teachers point out that, while they have taken on leadership roles and have a say in some decisions, they continue to be excluded from several of the most important decisions affecting the school. As one teacher commented, “Many of the decisions we make as a staff seem superficial. Maybe that’s too strong a word. They’re important decisions – like about what books to order or what our homework policy should be – but all the juicy decisions about personnel and budgeting and larger school policies seem to still be made by the powers that be.”

Ultimately, despite both the positive and negative effects of teacher leadership on their practice and feelings of professionalism, teachers again and again say the main reason they take on these roles is to benefit their students. One teacher summed it up this way: “Bottom line – I do all that I do for the students. Maybe I’m a sucker for taking on all these extra jobs, but somebody has to. If not, our students won’t get what they need and deserve.”

CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

Recommendations based on this research fall into two categories: (1) changes necessary for increasing and cultivating teacher leadership and (2) strategies for promoting effective shared leadership capacity in schools.

Cultivating Teacher Leadership
Teacher leaders need additional compensation in terms of money and/or release time in order to successfully fulfill their roles. Also, while shared leadership, in particular, requires teachers to meet together, collaborative time is needed, preferably within the school day.

Teacher leaders also need more flexible options. Keeping in mind that many teachers are reluctant to relinquish their practice full-time, as well as the opportunity costs of removing qualified teachers from their classrooms, we must seek out ways of encouraging teacher leadership without significant compromises.

The Lead Teacher CC9 Program piloted this year in the Bronx is just one example of how redefining teacher roles can encourage teacher leadership while also allowing superior teachers to remain in the classroom. Within this program, lead teachers open their classrooms as “laboratories” for other teachers to visit and learn from, while also leading professional development activities for other teachers. These lead teachers are in the classroom half-time, spending the other half of their time providing leadership support for other teachers.

Teacher leaders need training and continual support. As Lord and Miller (2000) point out, administrators and policy makers often make the assumption that expert teachers are automatically expert teacher leaders. This assumption is often false. Preparing classroom teachers to become effective leaders takes focused professional development and a clearly defined system of accountability. Without these, teacher leaders run the risk of suffering the same isolation in their new duties as many teachers do within their traditional classroom roles.

Promoting Shared Leadership
Shared leadership requires a strong shared vision, exemplified by the formal school leadership, that teachers buy into from the beginning. While individual decisions can be negotiated, this overall vision cannot be constantly negotiated or compromised. Strong continual formal leadership is needed to build this vision and keep it at the forefront of what everyone is doing. This design also requires leadership to identify and develop people’s strengths.

This idea connects to what Sergiovanni (1992) describes as the difference between “power over” and “power to”. While “power over” exists in an environment of rules and control, “power to” exists in one that shares a common goal, in which power is conceived of as a means of achieving a shared purpose. Thus, in this framework, shared vision is a necessary condition for shared leadership.

Teachers and school administrations, however, must also understand the limits of shared leadership. Not all decisions can be made collaboratively; attempting to do so prevents the effective operation of a school. The school constituents must decide from the beginning which decisions will be left up to the teachers, which to the administration, and which will be made collaboratively. Open discussions are needed to build trust and prevent micromanagement.

School systems should also be allowed to explore alternative options of official leadership. One example of this might be having a school run by co-directors, where each leader also held part-time instructional responsibilities.

Notions of leadership must also be expanded to include constituents beyond traditional administration and teachers. One weakness in most models of distributive leadership seems to be that power stays in the hands of the “professionals” – not the community members, parents and students. Thus we must expand our ideas of “shared leadership” to encourage what Sergiovanni (1994) refers to as a “community of leaders”, viewing leadership as a “dynamic exercise of influence in pursuit of shared goals” exercised communally, rather than as just one position of power.

Finally, school administrations must be open to true power sharing. There is a real difference between “shared duties” and “shared power”. In setting up democratic models of administration, it is useful to think of how we set up our classrooms. If we do not want our classrooms to be “teacher-centered”, but rather allowing and encouraging the participation of all, why would we want our schools to be “principal-centered?”

Thus, leadership must be reciprocal; in exchange for taking on increased responsibilities, teachers must be allowed to have a true say in school policymaking, and to set the priorities for shared governance. Otherwise the notion of “shared leadership” becomes a false construct. Denying teachers a real voice in school-wide decisions simply flattens the idea of “shared leadership” to a delegation of responsibilities.

Finally, as the work of Lord and Miller (2000) suggests, in viewing governance within this different framework, we may come to no longer view teacher leadership roles as “above and beyond”, or as simply a means for increasing the number of people to share the administrative workload. Rather, leadership could begin to be conceived as an essential and valued part of a teacher’s role, and as a necessary part of school restructuring.

WORKS CITED
Copland, M.A. 2003. “Distributed Leadership for Instructional Improvement: The Principal’s Role.” The LSS Review, 2 (4): 22-23.

Dilworth, M.E. and D.G. Imig. 1995. “Professional Teacher Development.” The ERIC Review, 3(3): 5-11.

Donaldson, G. 2001. Cultivating Leadership in Schools: Connecting People, Purpose and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Educational Research Service. 1998. Is There a Shortage of Qualified Candidates for Openings in the Principalship? An Exploratory Study. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.

Gates, S. et. al. 2003. Who is Leading Our Schools? An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Education

Groff, F. 2005. Who Will Lead? The Principal Shortage. Washington DC: National Conference of State Legislatures.

King, D. et. al. 2004. Instructional Coaching: Professional Development Strategies That Improve Instruction. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute for Education Reform.

Kouzes, J.M. and B.Z. Posner. 1996. “Seven Lessons for Leading the Voyage to the Future.” In F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith and R. Beckhard (eds.) The Leader of the Future. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Ladson-Billings, G. 1999. “Preparing Teachers for Diversity: Historical Perspectives, Current Trends, and Future Directions.” In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (eds.), Teaching as the Learning Profession: Handbook of Policy and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lyons, C. and G. Pinnell. 2001. Systems for Change in Literacy Education: A Guide to Professional Development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lord, B. and B. Miller. 2000. Teacher Leadership: An Appealing and Inescapable Force in School Reform? Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Markow, D. and M. Scheer (project directors). 2003. The MetLife Survey of The American Teacher: An Examination of School Leadership. New York: Harris Interactive Inc.

National Association of Elementary School Principals. 2003. NAESP Fact Sheet on the Principal Shortage. Available online at naesp.org.

National Conference of State Legislatures. 2002. Candidate Pool and Recruitment. An issue brief by the NCSL Task Force on School Leadership.

Sergiovanni, T.J. 1994. Building Community in Schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Sergiovanni, T.J. 1992. Moral Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Wallace Foundation. 2003. Beyond the Pipeline: Getting the Principals We Need, Where They Are Needed Most. Available online at wallacefoundation.org.

Western Regional Educational Laboratory (WestEd). 2003. “Leadership Development: Enhancing the Role of Teachers.” in R & D Alert, 4 (3): 1-8. Available online at wested.org.

 

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