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Teacher Leadership

The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition


Edited By Eleanor Blair

Teacher leadership as a dimension of teachers’ work has never been more important. This topic has emerged as a major component of both state and national standards, and as such, it is included in most contemporary teacher education programs. Three decades of research have focused on teacher leadership as an essential element of school improvement, but its relationship to the potential transformation of the teaching profession remains unexplored. This revised edition of Teacher Leadership: The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education provides an overview of the scholarship being done in the field and a framework for questions and discussions regarding the sustainability of teacher leadership efforts. In this edition, each of the five sections is accompanied by an introduction and reflection questions on the various issues related to teachers acting as leaders in classrooms, schools and communities. The book opens with a completely new section that presents scholarship related to teacher leadership and social justice, where the role of ideology in the work of teacher leaders is considered. This book includes the work of over thirty authors and is an essential tool for guiding dialogue regarding the various facets of teacher leadership and its impact on school culture, student learning and professional learning communities within the context of twenty-first century school reform. Teacher Leadership: The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader is intended for undergraduate and graduate education students.
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6. Helping Teachers Participate Competently in School Leadership


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Helping Teachers Participate Competently in School Leadership

Lystra M. Richardson

Traditionally, schools have been large, impersonal systems with decision making centralized at the highest levels. Today, with collaborative leadership, teachers are being asked to engage as leaders.

Distributive leadership (Firestone 1996; Heller and Firestone 1995; Ogawa and Bossert 1995; Spillane, Halverson, and Diamond 2001) stresses the importance of leadership that is distributed and performed by several people including the formal leader. The Institute for Educational Leadership (2001) points out that teacher leadership is becoming increasingly present and that it can contribute to improving school health and performance.

In this article I will examine the expectation for teachers to participate in school leadership and, based on results of a recent study, draw conclusions and make recommendations regarding the kinds of professional development that would engender competent and effective involvement of teachers in the leadership of schools. Because this decision-making role is new and somewhat uncomfortable for many teachers (Conley 1999), the expectation for teacher participation should be accompanied by empowerment through knowledge and skill acquisition.

Expectations for Participation

Several questions come to mind regarding teachers’ preparedness and ability to participate competently in leadership: Where do they learn the skills necessary for leadership? When and how do teachers gain an understanding of schools as complex systems? Who helps them understand the nature of leadership? Are teachers really prepared to provide effective...

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