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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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2. Critique, Challenge, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction


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Gabriel lived with his four siblings in relative comfort in Managua, Nicaragua, until the Sandinista regime targeted his family, killing two uncles and confiscating everything his parents had worked so hard to build. Ultimately the decision was made for his father to give up his engineering job, his mother to sacrifice her hair salon, and for the family to seek refuge in Florida. Gabriel recalls, “We escaped on foot; I remember my dad holding me so tightly as he carried me across the river.” After weeks on the road, they finally arrived in Miami, Florida, to join relatives who had immigrated previously. He explains, “My father worked three jobs, mostly washing dishes, because that was the only work he could find. He never slept, I mean he worked so hard just to put food on the table; we were so poor. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment, all of us slept in one room. But, somehow, my mom and dad always found a way to provide for us.”

Gabriel entered primary school as an English language learner. Due to his lack of English proficiency, ← 41 | 42 → he was soon tracked into a self-contained learning disabled (LD) classroom, where he languished unceremoniously for nearly a decade. He explained, “I didn’t really think school was that hard; the teachers didn’t really care about giving us much homework; they all thought we were LD and couldn’t learn anyway. I didn’t have to try that hard, I mean the...

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