Week 1 Required reading: 'Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised NZC for School Leaders
Extracts from the case study:
The theoretical framework of this project draws on the work of Gilbert (2005) with reference to the ‘knowledge society’. Gilbert challenged long-held views about education and knowledge, making a distinction between knowledge conceptualised as a noun and a verb. Knowledge conceptualised as a noun tends to enable autocratic and bureaucratic styles of leadership, while knowledge conceptualised as a verb may enable democratic, distributed and transformational styles of leadership, which are necessary for the effective implementation of the NZC,
Beachum and Dentith (2004) identified the structure of the school and school system leadership as the first obstacle that needs to be examined. Therefore, for the qualities of teacher leaders to be cultivated, a shift in leadership practices is also necessary (Wynnem, 2001). Crowther, Kaagan, Fergusson, and Hann (2002) have examined the role of principals in fostering teacher leadership through distributed leadership and collective ownership of visions and processes in schools (Table 1).
The revised NZC required a significant shift for many schools. It required much greater collaboration amongst teachers, leaders, students and parents. I felt strongly that the notion of knowledge as a verb (Gilbert, 2005) could be enacted in robust curriculum leadership that broke disciplinary silos. If the idea of knowledge as a noun is what creates separation between disciplines, seeing knowledge as a verb would imply seeing each discipline as a community of practice (Gilbert, 2005) which could establish links with other communities of practice. This space of linkages would give teachers a perfect opportunity to perform their leadership, to see their disciplines, themselves and their students differently, which would in turn enable more equitable practices.
Distinctions between an understanding of knowledge as a noun or a verb (Table 2).
Focus towards the principles of the revised NZC (Table 3).
The many changes in schools appear to have overwhelmed teachers and leaders and many felt insecure.
A change of culture goes hand in hand with a change of conceptualisations of knowledge and of leadership. Leaders not only need to see their role differently, but engage and relate differently with their day-to-day realities. This transition requires safe spaces for thinking and coming to terms with these new relationships.
Although one cannot change another person, a person may change as a result of something you do. Effecting change in others is an explicit part of the job of an adviser and a leader.
Key goal: improving my ability to effect change (i.e., provoke learning) in others.
A test was: to develop patience and understanding, to think about best way for me to challenge people’s thinking and methods and to interrogate my own views that there was a ‘way’ things should be done.
- The NZC challenges us to think very deeply about core values and beliefs and how these might look in practice.
- There is evidence that distributed leadership is emerging as a desired goal.
- We need to question the long-held views of the centrist role of the principal (Crowther et al., 2002). Principals are trying to do this but they need more support because it involves changing identities for them and teachers (Alsup, 2005; Bendixen, 2010). Such shifts can sometimes conflict with expectations about leadership that emerge from boards of trustees, communities and government agencies. It will be interesting to observe how traditional hierarchies of leadership in schools will be renegotiated in the future.
- Most schools had developed their ‘visions’ for what they wanted graduates to be, but few had gone the next step of asking what those visions meant for programmes and plans in any comprehensive way. The emphasis has been largely on components of NZC.
- While distributed leadership could bring about more cohesive and collaborative curriculum development, existing traditional and hierarchical modes of leadership (supported by accountability processes) create a strong constraint.
- A change of perception in school leadership could help principals and middle leadership to share leadership and ownership of curriculum development.
Reference: CASE STUDY - Towards Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised NZC for School Leaders (Wayne Freeth, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
- As a transformer a school leader should help people grow and encourage them to speak out and share their view.
- School leaders should go beyond the traditional bounds of leadership and understand that dialogue is the key to connecting with others
- Have a 'Growth Mindset' to show colleagues, parents, students and community members that you are always learning.
What hamper us most in life, is the picture in our heads of how it is supposed to be. You do not have to be in a leadership position to lead. In being a role-model you can lead and inspire people from where you are.