Engaging Staff in the Development of Distributed Leadership
Street, Gary Wayne
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During the 2010-11 school-year at Scootney Springs Elementary, an action research project with 8 teachers was initiated to create a culture of distributed leadership in the school building. Throughout phase 1 of the study, we collected data from interviews, surveys, checklists, meeting minutes, observations, and documented discussions with the action research team and outside educators. Additionally, we reviewed literature on leadership. Data were coded and analyzed by the team throughout phase 2 of the research. After thorough analysis of the data, the team concluded that a shared and distributed leadership model had not developed at Scootney. Four themes emerged that may help explain this: (a) commitment; (b) fear; (c) strong beliefs; and (d) ambiguity.Based on the conclusions from data, four action plans were created by the action research team. The first action plan is to define leadership. In order for leadership to be "all encompassing" in a school, teachers need to know and agree upon, what leadership and leading means. The second action plan is to promote teacher leadership. In order to create teams of teacher leaders who work with the principal in achieving, managing, organizing, and sustaining building-level instructional goals and practices in our school, teachers need to know the advantages and disadvantages of taking on leadership. The third action plan is to establish a culture of teacher leadership. In order to establish a culture of teacher leadership, a set of key values, assumptions, understandings, and norms must be in place, shared and continually reviewed by members of the school. The last action plan is to provide support for teacher leaders. In order to expand teacher leadership, teachers need support in strengthening leadership skills as related to school improvement and team building. Positive changes in the school have occurred since the beginning of the 2010-11 school-year when the action research team initiated research on distributed leadership. Although the changes cannot be directly attributed to the action research the team undertook, an abundance of literature supports positive changes in schools that embrace distributed models of leadership.
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