The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition
Edited By Eleanor Blair
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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