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Transformative Leadership Primer


Carolyn M. Shields

Transformative Leadership: A Primer both delivers a complete and engaging overview of transformative leadership and also clearly distinguishes it from other popular approaches to leadership. Hence, this will be the text of choice for many graduate courses in educational leadership. Carolyn M. Shields shows how the tenets of transformative leadership interact with one another, and how they provide a lens for leadership that offers an excellent, inclusive, equitable, and socially just education for all students. Using anecdotes and narratives drawn from empirical research, as well as current data, Dr. Shields establishes how transformative leadership comprises a comprehensive approach to leadership in highly diverse contexts, and how it can empower students who are traditionally marginalized due to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, home language, or religion. Accepting a mandate for educational change, reconstructing knowledge frameworks, and redistributing power in more equitable ways are starting points for transformative leaders. Changing the structures, cultures, curricula, and pedagogies of the school to be more democratic and emancipatory; acknowledging our interconnectedness and interdependence with global neighbors; and accepting responsibility for promoting both public and private good are processes that implement the transformation. Taken together, these changes cannot be accomplished without considerable collaboration, conversation, and moral courage. No leader wanting to promote excellence and equity for all should be without this primer that offers a new way of thinking about all aspects of schooling, from facilities and fiscal issues to academic programs and school policy. Transformative leadership offers a promising and robust theory of change for all situations and contexts.
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Advance praise for Transformative Leadership


Advance praise for

Transformative Leadership

“Transformation has been the goal of many leaders at least since Burns published his classic book Leadership in the 1970s. Carolyn M. Shields, however, asks an important follow-up question: Transformation for what? She critiques the answers found in the education field and distinguishes between the so-called transformational leadership discussed in that literature with an approach she dubs transformative leadership. Transformative leadership puts the promotion of social justice front and center in a leader’s thoughts and actions. Shields’ book, consequently, is more than an exercise in making linguistic distinctions; it provides unique answers to the what-do-I-do-Monday question for leaders intent on transforming schools and classrooms.”

—Robert Donmoyer, Professor, Leadership Studies, University of San Diego

“This is a one-of-a-kind educational leadership book: part scholarly essay, part London Review of Books, part autobiographical experiences, and part leadership theory. Professor Carolyn M. Shields describes the ideas contained in Transformative Leadership: A Primer as both a way of life and a way of re-thinking. It weaves history into current events, illustrating each of the eight tenets of transformative leadership. The theory—originally presented in 2012—calls upon educators to responsibly engage in social change so as to create the pre-conditions for democratic teaching, learning, and leading. With this short text, a primer, Shields has established herself as the first Transformative Public Intellectual in the field of educational leadership. That, of course, is not a title she touts; rather, her humility...

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