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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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3. Power and Community


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Sophie grew up in generational poverty with two parents who were on welfare. She recalls the stigma of being poor, saying she could feel the discrimination when she went to school. On “Welfare Wednesdays,” when her parents had to take her with them to pick up their check because they could not be at the office and back before school was out, she heard people whispering about how inappropriate it was for her to miss school. Indeed, she says she was the “little girl people forgot at the back of the class.”

As time went on, for various reasons, Sophie fell farther and farther behind academically. She did not learn to read. She was told she was too dumb to ever succeed in math. In fact, one year, when she was in high school, due to a temporary family situation, her parents pulled her out of school. The following year, when she re-enrolled in that same school, she found herself in the same math class, with the same teacher with whom she had struggled the previous year. So, her father summoned up his courage, overcame his own ← 75 | 76 → fear of school, and went to see the principal. When he asked for Sophie to be put in a different math class, he was informed, “Your daughter is too stupid to succeed anyway, so it doesn’t matter who her teacher is. All we can do is babysit her.” Sadly, and with no knowledge of how the...

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