• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

Distributing leadership and creating new leadership roles in the context of school redesign

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Robert F Curtis
Abstract:
Research has pointed to the significant challenge of implementing and sustaining school redesign (McLaughlin and Talbert, 2001) and the importance of distributing leadership (Spillane, 2006). However, there is little research describing how leaders begin to distribute leadership through the creation of new leadership roles in a redesign context. This study examines how a group of leaders work through the initial phases of sorting out the leadership roles and responsibilities required for a redesign initiative focused on creating learning communities for teachers, students and leaders. Data was collected through interviews with ten teacher leaders and administrators from three schools in one district; through observation of leadership meetings; and examination of school artifacts such as meeting notes and agendas. The findings reveal three factors that significantly affect the distribution of leadership: tensions between new roles and traditional roles; ambiguity of new leadership roles, and the need for supports for both teacher leaders and administrators in new leadership roles.

Table of Contents

Cover Page ........................................................................................................................... i

Table of Contents ...............................................................................................................

iii

Abstract

..............................................................................................................................

iv

Acknowledgements

............................................................................................................. v

C hap ter One: Introduction ................................................................................................ .. 1

Overview: Learning Communities and Distributing Leadership

................................ 1

Research Questions

..................................................................................................... 3

Structure of Dissertation

............................................................................................. 4

Chapter Two: Theoretical Framework & Literature Review

.............................................. 5

Distributed Leadership

................................................................................................ 5

School Reform Literature and Challenges of Distributing Leadership .................... 19

Chapter Three: Methods and Procedure ........................................................................... 33

Research Methodology ............................................................................................. 34

Research Participants

................................................................................................ 34

Researcher Positionalit y ............................................................................................ 35

Data Collection Procedures

....................................................................................... 36

Data Analysis

............................................................................................................ 39

Limitations / Delimitations

....................................................................................... 42

Chapter Four: Background of the Schools, District, and Leaders ................................ ... 45

Georgetown Unified School District ........................................................................ 45

Profiles of the Three Schools .................................................................................... 50

Chapter 5: The Roles of School Leaders .......................................................................... 62

Sadie

.......................................................................................................................... 63

Challenges and Conflicts of New and Expanded Roles ............................................ 66

Support and Sustainability of Leadership Roles ....................................................... 75

Chapter 6: Conclusion ....................................................................................................... 90

Implications for Practice, Policy and Future Research

............................................. 90

Generalizability

......................................................................................................... 95

Limitations and Future Research

.............................................................................. 96

Work Cited ........................................................................................................................ 99

Abstract

Robert Curtis Distributing Leadership and Creating Leadership In The Context of School Redesign

Research has pointed to the significant challenge of implementing and sustaining school redesign (McLaughlin and Talbert, 2001) and the importance of distributing leadership (Spillane, 2006). However, there is little research describing how leaders begin to distribute leadership through the creation of new leadership roles in a redesign context. This study examines how a group of leaders work through the initial phases of sorting out the leadership roles and responsibilities required for a redesign initiative focused on creating learning communities for teachers, students and leaders. Data was collected through interviews with ten teacher leaders an d administrators from three schools in one district; through observation of leadership meetings; and examination of school artifacts such as meeting notes and agendas. The findings reveal three factors that significantly affect the distribution of leadership: tensions between new roles and traditional roles; ambiguity of new leadership roles, and the need for supports for both teacher leaders and administrators in new leadership roles.

v

Acknowledgements

This paper was a collaborative effort that relied on many of my colleagues and friends. I could not have carried out or completed this dissertation without the help of so many others. I must thank the many teachers and administrators who I have worked with at the three school sites and district office for their willingness to share their successes and struggles and for the generosity of their time. To Lora Bartlett, my advisor, I appreciate all the time and effort you so generously gave and for your continuous support through this long processes. To the rest of my committee members, June Gordon, Nicholas Meier, and Mark O’Shea I thank you for always being available and for helping me get focused and stay focused. Your support was invaluable and you may never understand how much I appreciated it.

To my wife, editor, and love of my life Sheina Curtis, thanks you for your patience with me and for supporting me in so many ways. Thank you for putting up with all the nights and days that I was reading or writing and for the nights and days you were editing. I could never have done this without you. Thank you for all your sacrifices to make this possible. To my one- year -old daughter Ellie, thank you for letting me sleep on occasion and fo r helping me keep things in perspective. I love you both more than anything in the world. I shall continue on with my ultimate passion of growing into the best dad and husband in the world.

I also owe a debt of gratit ude to my friends who all were criti cal supports for me at different periods during this dissertation. Lastly, I want to thank my family who have believed in me, encou ra ged me, and been there for me throughout my life.

1

Chapter One: Introduction

Leadership is not simply a function of what a school principal, or indeed any other individual or group of leaders, knows or does. Rather it is the activities engaged in by leaders, in interaction with others in particular contex ts around specific tasks. (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004)

Overview: Learning Communities and Distributing Leadership Both l earning communities and distributed leadership

have long been

advocated

as effective strategies in school redesign (Gronn, 2003; Hord, 1998; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001; Newmann & Associates, 2001; Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004). However, there is a lack of research detailing the actual implementation of

distributing leadership in the context of learning communities an d school redesign. While research points to the significant challenges of implementing and sustaining these redesigns (Bartlett, 2004; Lieberman, 1988; Little, 2003; McLaughlin and Talbert, 2001), few detailed descriptions have been offered as to of how leaders begin to distribute leadership and more specifically

deal with the challenges of new leadership roles in the context of school redesign initiatives. This study focuses on the negotiations and tensions that resulted from an attempt at collaborative reform based on a case study of three high schools in one Northern California district. All of the schools were engaged in a school redesign initiative. It

2

specifically looks at ten leaders who are in new leadership roles associated with the redesign focused on learning communities In this study we see how both teacher leaders and administrators played significant leadership roles in the school redesign effort to the extent that many new teacher leadership positions were created to guide different aspects of the redesign. Because of this shift in responsibilities and focus, all who were involved in this effort had to continuously negotiate tensions between their traditional roles and their new leadership roles. These tensions were in part attributable to the ambiguous nature of these new leadership roles. The challenges that resulted highlight the need for rethinking conceptions of leadership and ensuring sufficient compensation and support for such collaborative endeavors. The goal of this study is to better understand how leadership is distributed through the creation of new leadership roles in a school redesign process. The study hopes to better understand the challenges involved in creating new leadership roles. As a former teacher leader I often foun d myself having to figure out what my role was with little support or guidance. It was a constant struggle for me to be both an effective leader and teacher at the same time. I struggled in understanding what my role and responsibilities were and what power and decisions I was to be responsible for. In addition, I often found that administrators were not very involved in the actual leadership of the redesign work I was being asked to lead. Without there support and

3

involvement my role seemed like an impo ssible task. Through this study I hope to provide other teacher leaders and administrators with a better understanding of the challenges involved in beginning to distribute leadership. The study proposes that for such an effort to succeed, a range of fact ors should be taken into consideration. First, teachers and administrators will need to take on new expanded leadership roles as part of school redesigns; second, these leadership roles will often be ambiguous and will need to be defined collaboratively in order for their to be understanding across “cultures.” Third, tensions between new and traditional roles will arise and will have to be addressed. And finally, teachers and administrative leaders will need additional support to deal with the challenges of these new roles.

Research Questions

Distributing leadership in the context of school redesign and learning communities requires the creation of new leadership roles. This dissertation examines how ten leaders distribute leadership in the context of a high school redesign initiative. The study’s central research questions are:

When schools and districts distribute leadership by expanding teachers’ and administrators’ roles in the context of school redesign

how do leaders negotiate the tensions between their traditional roles and new roles?

4

o

How does the ambiguous nature of new roles cause tensions and conflicts? o

How do leaders define and redefine roles?

o

How are new leadership roles supported and compensated or not? Structure of Dissertation

Chapter Two d escribes the conceptual framework and literature reviewed for this study. While the main focus is on distributing leadership, it also looks at the research on teacher leaders, administrators, and new leadership roles, as well as learning communities and s chool redesign. Chapter Three describes the study’s methodology. Chapter Four provides the background of the study, the schools, district and leaders. Chapter Five discusses evidence related to the research questions. Chapter Six outlines broader findings and conclusions that can be drawn from the study. It also discusses the generalizability and limitations of the study, as well as the implications for future practice, policy and research.

5

Chapter Two: Theoretical Framework & Literature Review

This research is situated in the literature on distributed leadership and informed by the school reform literature specific to school redesign and work role implications. These two lines of research ty pically operate as parallel streams with one rarely referencing the other – to the detriment of both. Distributing leadership is held out as a way to reform schools, improve student learning and increase teacher satisfaction, retention and effectiveness. T he distributed leadership research details the varied forms of shared leadership models and the elements of each type. It is relatively silent, however, on the challenges and means of moving from hierarchical to distributed models. Meanwhile the school ref orm literature offers its own version of distributed leadership – the professional learning community. While this line of research also extols the virtues of shared and collaborative leadership – it also highlights the conservative nature of schools as organizations which make them resilient to change, the challenges of shifting institutional roles and offers some insights into the supports needed to make these fundamental changes to organizational structures. Distributed Leadership

Spillane’s (2004) framework on distributed leadership provides the primary theoretical lens to better understand how leadership is distributed and supported in the context of the school redesigns. According to Spillane, Halverson & Diamond (2004),

6

a distributed perspective is pr imarily about leadership practice. The practice is a product of the joint interactions of school leaders, followers and the aspects of their situation such as tools and routines. As Spillane, Halverson, and Diamond (2004) explain:

Leadership is not simply a function of what a school principal, or indeed any other individual or group of leaders, knows or does. Rather it is the activities engaged in by leaders, in interaction with others in particular contexts around specific tasks (p. 5)

Spillane, Halverson & Diamond (2004) identified two key aspects of a distributed framework: the leader -plus aspect and the leadership- practice aspect. The leader - plus aspect is a distributed view of leadership that recognizes that leading requires multiple leaders and is more than just formal leadership by administrators. In this aspect, people in both formal and informal roles take responsibility for leadership activities.

School principals are important for leadership, but they are not the only sources of school leadership. It is important not to compartmentalize school leadership by creating pigeonholes or silos for principal leadership and teacher leadership. Compartmentalization can lead to an incomplete picture of leadership. This incomplete picture is the result of the lack of research on the interrelationships between teacher leadership and administrator leadership. A distributed perspective emphasizes viewing leadership practice as the unit of interest, and therefore pays

7

attention to both teacher leaders and administrators (Spillane, Halverson & Diamond, 2004).

The leadership practice aspect

defines leadership as an activity that allows for leadership from various positions within the organization (Heifertz, 1994). Frameworks for studying

leadership practice are scarce, and they tend to focus on individual actions. This is in contrast to a distributed perspective in which leadership practice takes shape within the interaction of leaders, followers, and their situation (Gronn, 2003; Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001).

In addition, anything a leader does influences, and is influenced by, other leaders. Leadership is a system of practice made up of a collection of interacting components in relationships of interdependence to each other. In this respect, the group has distinct properties over and above the sum total of the characteristics of the individuals who comprise it (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001). The remainder of this section examines the key elements of distributing leadership.

Elements to Distributing Leadership

Spillane, Halverson and Diamond (2004)

identified four key elements related to distributing leadership. These included context, leadership tasks and roles, t ask - enactment, and interactions.

8

Context . Leadersh ip activity is distributed in an interactive web of actors, artifacts, and situation. Therefore, in order to lead effectively, leaders must adapt their behaviors to the characteristics of their staff and context (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004). For example, schools with more mature staffs often have principals with more indirect leadership styles compared to schools with younger and less stable staffs (Dwyer, Lee, Rowan, & Bossert, 1983). A distributed perspective, drawing from activity theory, emphasizes that the situation is not something that is outside, but rather is a key element of leadership activity. There are three key aspects to context that are cited in the literature. These include tools, policies and routines and organizational structur es.

A distributed perspective focuses on understanding how aspects of the context enable and constrain leadership practice and how it also defines the practice. District and school policies are other key artifacts that affect leadership practice. Many of these artifacts are experienced as givens by school leaders and as constraints that afford little room for agency. They are usually perceived as constraints on leadership practice. How leaders perceive these artifacts can impact leadership practice. Do the y see these constraining policies as unchangeable? Or do they see them as opportunities to work collaboratively to change these or work flexibly with these policies? These artifacts can either be an opportunity to build professional community, or can be se en as a wall that cannot be overcome.

9

Organizational structures.

Organization structures are more than just arenas for leadership or tools for leadership activity around a particular leadership task. Leadership is also stretched over organizational structures. As discussed previously the prevailing “egg carton” of organization of schools isolates teachers in their classrooms (Lortie, 1975 ). These arrangements are part of leadership practice and cannot simply be viewed as obstacles that leaders must overcome in order to enact a particular task. The “egg carton” structure is an essential constraint on leadership practice and seriously affects how school leaders attempt to engage in leadership tasks. While these organizational structures are constitutive of leadership activities, they are also created and reshaped by leaders and others in the school and district. A challenge for leaders is how to breakdown these existing organizational structures that limit leadership activity and create new structures that su pport the distribution of leadership and contribute to redefining leadership practice. Leadership practice is extended through organizational structures that enable leaders to create or recreate structures that support the sharing of knowledge and leadership in the organization. Research on schools that have created professional learning communities has demonstrated how alternative organizational arrangements can provide opportunities for teachers and leaders to work and lead in new ways (Kruse & Louis, 199 7).

Leadership Tasks and Roles. Spillane’s (2001) perspective on distributed leadership does not focus on the “network of roles” that exist between multiple individuals that make up organizational leadership as Ogawa and Bossert (1995) did

10

in their article

that emphasizes leadership as an organizational quality. Rather, Spillane emphasizes the inter - dependencies between leadership activities or practices rather than focusing chiefly on the social interaction of individuals.

Spillane , Halverson and Diamond (2004) identified several functions that are important for leadership. 1) Constructing and selling a vision; 2) developing and managing a school culture that values trust and collaboration among staff; 3) procuring and distributing resources; 4) supporting teacher growth and development as well as several others. These leadership functions provide part of the framework for how I will analyze leadership tasks of the leaders and leadership teams in this study as they worked to distribute and support le aders.

Interactions Multiple formal and informal leaders are important in understanding the enactment of leadership tasks. Research has consistently shown school leadership extends beyond formal leaders and administrators. The distributed perspective of le adership focuses on how leadership practice is distributed among both formal and informal leaders . Understanding how leaders in a school and district work together, as well as separately, to execute leadership functions and tasks is an important aspect of the social distribution of leadership practice (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004, p. 16).

11

The key foci of the distributive leadership framework (Spillane, Halverson & Diamond, 2004) are the interdependencies among the different elements that mak e up leadership activity. Interdependency emerges when the leadership tasks depend on the interplay of these various elements of leadership activity (leaders, followers, particular tools or artifacts). Distributing leadership and working interdependently depends on multiple leaders working together, each bringing somewhat different resources – skills, knowledge, perspectives – which are needed to accomplish a particular leadership task. In addition, research indicates that interdependency and the pooling of knowledge and expertise will be more valuable and important for some tasks as compared to others. Previous research has emphasized the relational nature of leadership and the fact that leaders both influence and are influenced by the other people they work with (Cuban, 1988).

Types of Shared or Distributed Leadership Recent research helps to frame current and emerging understandings of the roles of school leaders. While the literature is vast, this study concentrates on studies that consider school leaders’ roles in the context of school redesign or reform. In this section, the study will review the literature on conceptions of school leadership. Then, the study will examine the literature on three types of distributed leadership including, instructiona l leadership, teacher leadership and co - leadership.

12

Conceptions of Leadership. Spillane (2004) defines school leadership as “the identification, acquisition, allocation, co-ordination, and use of the social, material, and cultural resources necessary to establish the conditions of teaching and learning” (p. 11). From a distributed perspective, leadership is not just the purview of the superintendant or principal. From a distributed perspective, other individuals throughout the organization, such as teachers or other administrators, are key players in leadership practice, either by design or by default. A recent study (Camburn, Rowan, and Taylor, 2003) found that leadership functions were typically distributed across many individuals in any single school. These positions included principals, assistant principals, program coordinators, subject area coordinators, mentor teachers, and other positions. Leadership was defined as a set of organizational functions and not tied to a particular administrative posit ion . Heller and Firestone (1995) found that teacher leaders were important in performing leadership functions and routines, and that teachers in formal as well as informal leadership positions were important for an array of leadership functions. These fun ctions included sustaining the program vision and helping to monitor implementation of programs. However, other research shows that leadership roles rarely take responsibility for particular leadership functions and that leaders in different roles often p erform various leadership functions with considerable overlap among roles (Heller and Firestone, 1995).

Conceptions of leadership roles are derived in the minds of leaders in interactions with others; in official job descriptions, hiring expectations, and ongoing

13

formal supervision; in leadership standards that offer a picture of desirable practice; in any criteria or instruments that assess performance; in preparation or certification requirements or curriculum; and in the division of labor between levels of the system (e.g., districts and schools; states and districts) that are set up by governance structures (Portin, Alejano, Knapp & Marxolf, 2006). Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) found that the key responsibilities of leaders were setting directions and redesigning the organization. Knapp, Copland, and Talbert’s (2003) list of responsibilities include establishing a focus on learning, acting strategically and sharing leadership, building professional communities and creating coherence. They also indicated that another key responsibility of leaders is helping others develop their leadership skills. This list is not exhaustive and does not likely cover the wide array of complex responsibilities that school leaders must learn. Instructional leadership is a concept that has multiple and ambiguous meanings (Berry & Ginsberg, 1990; Greenfield, 1987). Yet, teacher leaders and principals must define this concept if they are to successfully develop their new working relationships. This is a challenging task

because of the traditional differences in role focus, expertise and issues of power and authority (Smylie & Brownless- Conyers, 1992). Teacher leaders may possess more knowledge about issues around classroom instruction whereas principals may have more exp erience in dealing with issues

14

related to the district or community. Some researchers have found that instructional leadership is the primary task of teacher leaders in most contexts (Rallis, 1990). The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP, 2001) frames instructional leadership in terms of “leading learning communities.” NAESP states that instructional leaders have six roles: making student and adult learning a priority; setting high expectations for performance; gearing content and instruction to standards; creating a culture of continuous learning for adults; using multiple sources of data to assess learning; and activating the community’s support for school success. However, we know little about how to actually carry out these roles and functions on a daily basis (Spillane, 2000). Attention has shifted from teaching to learning, and some now prefer the term learning leader over instructional leader (Dufour, 2005).

Co -Leadership. An alternative approach to the new interactions and relationships between teacher leaders and administrators is a model called co - leadership (Hennan & Bennis, 1999). Co - leadership, according to Hee nan and Bennis (1999), happens when “power and responsibility are dispersed [among]… co- leaders wit h shared values and aspirations, all of whom work together toward common goals” (p.5). In a co -leadership model, leaders perform a leadership function or routine in a collaborated fashion (Gronn, 2003). Working together, formally designated leaders, teache rs and outside consultants perform leadership routines or execute leadership functions (Heller and Firestone, 1995; Gronn, 2003). This model

15

of co -leadership is different from what Spillane would call distributed leadership. From a distributed perspective, leaders may or may not have common goals and may actually be working in opposing directions, yet leadership may still be considered distributed. Therefore, not all distributed leadership is co-leadership. Teacher Leadership . Research has suggested that leadership is not only practiced by the school principal but that teacher leaders and others also play important roles in leadership (Smylie and Denny, 1990; Heller and Firestone, 1995, as cited in Spillane , Halverson & Diamond, 2004, p. 6). If leadership is found throughout an organization (Pitner, 1988; Ogawa & Bossert, 1995), then studies that focus on the role of only individual formal leaders, such as principals or administrators, are unlikely to give a complete understanding of the actual practice o f school leadership which likely includes the actions of others, such as teacher leaders. Teacher leaders often assume leadership roles distinct from those of positional or formal leaders. These roles are often performed and developed collaboratively wit h other leaders at the school or district.

Patterson and Patterson (2004) defined a teacher leader as “someone who works with colleagues for the purpose of improving teaching and learning, whether in a formal or informal capacity” (p.74). Crowther, Kaagan, Ferguson, and Hann (2002) indicated, “Ultimately teacher leadership is about action that transforms teaching and learning in school” (p. xvii). It is also about “continuous improvement of teaching

16

and learning in our nation’s schools, with the result bei ng increased achievement for every student” (York-Barr & Duke, 2004. P. 255). Formal teacher leaders are those given familiar titles, and the positions are generally identified by the principal and compensated either by additional salary or in exchange for

a lighter teaching load. Informal teacher leaders are:

Recognized by their peers and administrators as those staff members who are always volunteering to head new projects, mentoring and supporting other teachers, accepting responsibility for their own professional growth, introducing new ideas, and promoting the mission of the school. (Wasley, 1991, p. 112)

Teacher leadership has become a key element in school redesign and restructuring (B erry & Ginsburg, 1990; Darling-Hammond & Berry, 1988). Opportunit ies for teacher leadership have come from many different sources (e.g., Rallis, 1990). One key area these opportunities have emerged from has been the formation of school improvement or leadership teams that consist of teachers and administrators. They ha ve come from administrator’s efforts to share and decentralize decision making related to staff development, as well as restructuring efforts associated with school redesign (Smylie and Brownlee-Conyers, 1992). Teacher leadership is not a new phenomenon. Its informal use has been long been recognized (Cuban, 1983; Jackson, 1968; Lortie, 1975; Waller, 1932). Teachers have also traditionally assumed limited formal leadership roles in schools and school districts such as union leaders and department ch airs as well as others. However,

17

recent initiatives to develop teacher leadership represent a significant departure from the more traditional roles. These new roles and responsibilities can lead to new types of interactions and relationships between teach ers and administrators (Hart, 1990 ; Johnson, 1989; Little, 1990). Purposes for Teacher Leadership. One purpose of teacher leadership is to develop a collaborative culture aimed at enhancing student and school outcomes as a result of new leadership conceptualizations (Hart, 1995). A second purpose for implementing teacher leadership structures is to draw on teachers’ expertise and experience as a school resource (Heller & Firestone, 1995). By providing teachers with more power and voice in matters related to teaching and learning, schools can tap and underutilized resource. Work design and incentives are the focus of a third purpose of teacher leadership opportunities (Hart, 1995). It is argued that in order to recruit, retain, and motivate the best teachers that teachers must have career opportunities beyond the traditionally flat character of teachers’ careers (Hart, 1995). An acknowledged need for instructional and curriculum reform is the key aspect of the fourth purpose for teacher leadership. Also, some contend teachers’ leadership can redesign schools to be successful and persist (Heller & Firestone, 1995). Lastly teacher leadership structures seek to promote a more professional work place and a healthier workplace environment relies on teachers s haring leadership and authority with administrators (Little, 1995).

18

Teacher leadership has also played an essential role in many school reforms or redesigns. Educational reform has an influence on the concept of teacher leadership in schools. It has been a hallmark of many reform policies for decades (Smylie & Denny, 1990). Research often states the benefits of teacher leadership, but there is little written from the perspective of teacher leaders themselves. Therefore, even though the concept of teacher leadership now seems to be common knowledge, the actual practice in many schools does not seem all that common. Barth (2001) asserted that the possibilities for school reform reside in teachers’ hands. He indicates that rank in the hierarchy has little re levance when it comes to school- based reform. Additional literature has clearly addressed the important role of teacher leadership in schools and how the existing system is ready for teachers to take on a more extensive leadership role (Lieberman, Saxl, & Miles, 1988; Livingston, 1992). Schmoker (1999) also discussed the importance of teacher leadership. He indicated that principals cannot accomplish their goals in regards to school improvement without the help of teacher leaders. He states that:

Change has a much better chance of going forward when principals team up with teachers who help to translate and negotiate new practices with the faculty. The combination of principals and teacher leaders is a potent combination, as so many schools demonstrate. (p. 116)

19

School Reform Literature and Challenges of Distributing Leadership

Leaders face many tensions and challenges as leadership is distributed and new leadership roles are created. This section examines school reform research on the various challenges to making change in schools – including the challenges of distributing leadership. It looks at the reform literature conception of distributed

leadership, the challenge of the ambiguous nature of new or expanded roles and the particular challenges that tea cher leaders and administrators must negotiate in these leadership roles. Learning Communities as Distributed L eadership

Professional learning communities can be seen as conglomerate form of distributed leadership. While the professional learning communit y literature doesn’t call it distributed leadership – it shares many of the same elements. As defined by Hord (1998), professional learning communities share and support leadership. Hord conceptualized this collaborative culture as a vehicle to promote continuous learning and engage the educational system in school improvement. This leadership style emphasizes administrators working collaboratively with teachers by sharing power and authority, inviting input into decision-making, and by promoting and nurtur ing leadership among staff. Indeed this joint action of teacher leaders and administrators, which characterizes learning communities, has been described by some as distributed

Full document contains 115 pages
Abstract: Research has pointed to the significant challenge of implementing and sustaining school redesign (McLaughlin and Talbert, 2001) and the importance of distributing leadership (Spillane, 2006). However, there is little research describing how leaders begin to distribute leadership through the creation of new leadership roles in a redesign context. This study examines how a group of leaders work through the initial phases of sorting out the leadership roles and responsibilities required for a redesign initiative focused on creating learning communities for teachers, students and leaders. Data was collected through interviews with ten teacher leaders and administrators from three schools in one district; through observation of leadership meetings; and examination of school artifacts such as meeting notes and agendas. The findings reveal three factors that significantly affect the distribution of leadership: tensions between new roles and traditional roles; ambiguity of new leadership roles, and the need for supports for both teacher leaders and administrators in new leadership roles.