Monday, 23 September 2013

WHAT IS MEANT BY LEADERSHIP?



Leadership is the ability to influence the activities of an individual or group toward the achievement of a goal. The definition has evolved from the idea of a leader being a born leader or simply "one who leads" to a more complex view of how a person exerts influence.
For example, leaders can be influential as task-oriented leaders or relationship-oriented leaders. The task-oriented leader excels at establishing well-defined patterns of organization, channels of communication, and ways of getting tasks accomplished. The relationship-oriented leader, on the other hand, leads by maintaining personal relationships between members of the group by opening up communication, providing emotional support and using facilitating behaviors.
Both task-oriented and relationship-oriented leaders are necessary for effective group functioning, but the leadership abilities of either one of these leaders may go unnoticed if the definition of leadership used by the schools is too one-dimensional.
Another helpful dichotomy for identifying and nurturing leadership abilities of gifted and talented students is that of the active versus the reflective leader. The active leader exerts influence over the group through the force of his or her personality. Political, community, or student council leaders are examples of active leaders.
The reflective leader, on the other hand, is influential through the force of his or her ideas. Thus, while Einstein may never have campaigned for office, he is a leader because of the influence of his ideas. Students gifted in any of the talent areas have the potential to lead by contributing influential ideas to their chosen fields.
While no single best definition of leadership exists, teachers working with gifted and talented students may use these broadened notions of leadership to identify the strengths and weaknesses of students as the framework for an intervention program. As with creativity and thinking abilities, leadership skills can be developed and honed through training programs.
DEFINING TEACHER LEADERSHIP
Most of the researchers involved in exploring the concept of teachers as leaders agree that it is distinctly different from administrative or managerial concepts of leadership. Various studies indicate that effective teacher leadership involves a move away from top-down, hierarchical modes of functioning and a move toward shared decision-making, teamwork, and community building (Alvaredo, 1997; Coyle, 1997). 
Several models have emerged for developing teacher leaders. For example, the National Writing Project (NWP) promotes a leadership model of teachers growing professionally by sharing their best practices with peers and with diverse audiences at professional conferences, through journal publications, and through the design of teacher workshops and institutes. A similar program, IMPACT II, funded by the MetLife Foundation, awards grants for exemplary teacher projects and creates networking opportunities. 
The majority seem to agree that teacher leaders: 
* Demonstrate expertise in their instruction and share that knowledge with other professionals, 
* Are consistently on a professional learning curve, 
* Frequently reflect on their work to stay on the cutting edge of what's best for children, 
* Engage in continuous action research projects that examine their effectiveness, 
* Collaborate with their peers, parents, and communities, engaging them in dialogues of open inquiry/action/assessment models of change, 
* Become socially conscious and politically involved, 
* Mentor new teachers, 
* Become more involved at universities in the preparation of pre-service teachers, and 
* Are risk-takers who participate in school decisions. 
In addition, several studies indicate that one of the most significant developmental skills is for teachers to become active researchers in their classrooms and schools. For all of these qualities to be sustained, however, many argue that a shift in governance needs to take hold, embracing the idea of teachers as equal partners in leadership. Researchers insist that teachers are too often left out of the loop of leadership in their schools; and, all too often, if given leadership roles, lack the skills that will make them successful as leaders (Sherrill, 1999; Zimpher and Howey, 1992). Many teachers need encouragement from administrators and colleagues to shift from their perception of isolation into recognition of themselves as active contributors in a larger context, outside classroom walls.
HOW TEACHERS LEAD
There have long been formal leadership roles for teachers as department chairs, team leaders, and a variety of other positions, but titles are less important than actually functioning as effective change-agents. Teachers participating in a National Teacher Forum (Paulu, 1998) characterized teachers as exhibiting leadership by:
1. Participating in professional teacher organizations, including holding positions of influence.
2. Taking part in school decisions, including working on teams with administrators to plan school improvements.
3. Defining what students need to know and be able to do, including developing standards for curriculum and assessments.
4. Sharing ideas with colleagues, including leading professional development programs for colleagues.
5. Being a mentor to new teachers.
6. Helping to make personnel decisions, including the hiring of new teachers and administrators
7. Improving facilities and technology.
8. Working with parents, including the development of better links between schools and homes.
9. Creating partnerships with the community, including working with communities to improve the schools.
10. Creating partnerships with business and organizations, taking the lead in forming partnerships.
11. Creating partnerships with colleges and universities to prepare future teachers.
12. Becoming leaders in the community.
13. Becoming politically involved, including running for elected to offices, testifying before state legislatures, working on political campaigns, or serving on education advisory boards that report to the governor or the state department of education.
14. Leading efforts to make teachers more visible and communicate positive information.
This is a rather long list of specific ways that teachers exhibit leadership, but is there a more succinct way of characterizing the essential nature of leadership in education? After interviewing 43 educational leaders, Goldberg (2001) reported five commonalities that stood out among those he interviewed:
1. A bedrock belief that what they are doing is good and important.
2. The courage to swim upstream, persevering in their beliefs in the face of resistance or criticism.
3. A social conscience, particularly on issues of racism and poverty.
4. A seriousness of purpose, holding high standards and devoting years of sustained involvement in their causes.
5. Situational mastery, the happy marriage of personal skills and accomplishment.
This last characteristic is one that makes it impossible to specify a generic set of skills or understandings that one needs to become a leader in education. Leadership in education is very situational, and those who would lead must develop their leadership style to match the context of their sphere of influence.

WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM?
A comprehensive leadership development program can be developed around the following components:
--Knowledge: historical study of leaders, qualities of leaders, theories of leadership, leadership styles
--Skills: organization and delegation, problem solving, shared leadership, communication, futuristic thinking, decision making, conflict resolution, goal setting, group dynamics, divergent thinking, time management
--Attitudes: self-confidence as a leader, flexibility, social and moral responsibility, sensitivity to others, enthusiasm, sense of commitment
Profiles of individual student strengths and weaknesses in these areas can help the teacher in refining the focus of the intervention program. Leadership training typically occurs in a group context, but gifted and talented students benefit from setting and developing individual goals related to leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes
Developing Teachers' Leadership Skills
There have long been teacher leaders in schools. They have traditionally accepted positions as department chairs, team and grade leaders, curriculum committee chairs, and more. With the advent of school and teacher education restructuring efforts, new leadership roles are emerging (Lieberman & Miller, 1990). Whether taking on traditional or emerging roles, a major characteristic of teacher leaders is that they often teach full- or part-time and then assume other responsibilities (Howey, 1988). An additional characteristic is that they have generally learned the new role just by doing it. 
A more systematic approach to developing the requisite skills for assuming leadership roles may be helpful. Whether or not a teacher takes on a formal leadership position, the acquisition of these skills may serve to enhance performance in the classroom. 
EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEADERSHIP
Beginning Teacher Assistance Programs 
Programs such as those developed in Ohio (Zimpher, 1988) and in California require the identification of experienced master teachers to work with beginners. These "mentors" must be able to provide not only good role modeling, but also offer the kinds of help necessary to establish the beginners as competent professionals. They must know about teaching children AND about teaching adults; they must have a level of expertise that goes beyond being a comforter and a source of practical information. 
School-Centered Decision Making 
School-centered decision making, also known as site-based management, has been variously interpreted (Sirotnik & Clark, 1988), but in its most authentic form it requires strong teacher involvement in decisions about structures and programs in their schools. School districts that have moved to decentralize decision making have discovered that teachers with conflict resolution and communications skills are more effective. Also helpful is an understanding of the school district's organization and knowledge of the state and federal education scene. 
Professional Development Schools (PDS) 
Professional development schools call for an array of new teacher leader roles. These PDSs, jointly created by schools and universities (Holmes, 1990), propose to serve as the locus for teacher preparation, career-long professional development, and school innovation and inquiry. Teacher leaders will be called on to demonstrate skills required in mentoring programs and school-based management, as well as skills related to a wide array of peer helping approaches, inquiry methods, innovation leadership, and school-university collaboration. 
LEARNING LEADERSHIP SKILLS
In the past, teacher leaders' successes or failures were due more to context, previous experience, and personal characteristics than to any formal effort to provide them with appropriate leadership skills. Teachers have been expected to have the necessary skills on entry into leadership positions, or to develop them on the job. 
Lieberman, Saxl, and Miles (1988), in hopes of offering guidance for formal program development for teacher leaders, described in detail the kinds of on-the-job learning of teacher leaders they studied. The teacher leaders reported that they had had to develop competence in several areas including: rapport building, organizational diagnosis, dealing with the change process, finding and using resources, managing the leadership work, and building skills and confidence in others. 
Devaney (1987) offered an inclusive list of leadership areas that teachers might be called on to exercise in emerging school organizations. The six roles she identified can provide an organizer for the descriptive reports on the formal programs to develop leadership skills: 
Continuing To Teach and Improve One's Own Teaching 
This is the largest category of staff development programs for teacher leadership. Teaching expertise, including subject matter knowledge, seems critical because it is basic to other leadership roles, including in-service education, advising and assisting individual teachers, and peer support. Maeroff (1988) described several programs for enhancing teachers' power by increasing their knowledge of their subject matter. He claimed that the sessions were designed to get teachers accustomed to acting and being perceived as professionals and required them to set the agenda for their own learning. 
Organizing and Leading Peer Reviews of School Practice 
Programs for the development of teachers' ability to examine school practices must include preparation in doing a form of practical research. Pine (1986) suggested that action research be seen as an ongoing aspect of staff development and that teachers be prepared accordingly. Action research methods have proven useful to teachers in the Puget Sound Educational Consortium who are seeking to enhance their leadership capacities within their individual schools, their districts, and the consortium. 
Providing Curriculum Development Knowledge 
Curriculum development knowledge may also be seen as requisite to leading peer review of school practice. Klein (1985), for example, discussed the master teacher as a curriculum leader. Perhaps because curriculum development knowledge is seen as a prerequisite to teacher leadership, there are no readily apparent descriptions of programs to develop this knowledge among teacher leaders. Perhaps, too, this is an area where undergraduate and graduate courses are assumed to provide sufficient preparation; such an assumption may be unwarranted. 
Participating in School-Level Decision Making 
Many articles may be found espousing the importance of teachers' involvement in decision making in their school, but the impression is given that one learns decision making primarily by doing it. The Pittsburgh Public School District is one exception (Johnston, Bickel, & Wallace, 1990). In-house facilitators of organization development are trained to lead problem solving and to conduct process observations in each participating school. 
Leading In-Service Education and Assisting Other Teachers 
As early as 1982, Joyce and Showers offered guidance to program creation for teachers in peer coaching. Little, Galagaran, and O'Neal (1984) later offered directions for training of teachers for teacher assistance responsibilities, based on the California experiences in mentor teacher programs and teacher advisor projects. Raney and Robbins (1989) have given a good overview of the cognitive coaching program offered in Sonoma County, California. Hilton, Kuehnle, School, and Zimpher (1988) described an induction program for "invigorating the new and experienced" teachers in Ohio, while Anderson, Asbury, Grossman, Howey, Rentel, and Zimpher (1988) described a peer assistance program, also in Ohio. These latter two efforts have led to the creation of a graduate program in professional development through the Ohio State University. 
Participating in the Performance Evaluation of Teachers 
The Ohio teacher leader program described by Anderson et al. (1988) prepared teachers not only for assistance roles, but also for performance review of peers. Descriptions have also been given of the Schenley High School Teacher Center and the preparation for teacher assistance and performance review of the Pittsburgh teachers who participate in it (Johnston et al., 1990). 
As we enter the 21st century, we wonder who will provide the instructional leadership to bring substance to our vision of literacy in science and mathematics. Though some hold designated roles as school leaders, we have known for some time that school principals are generally not perceived as instructional leaders, and that instructional leadership in the most effective schools is a shared responsibility (Pellicer, Anderson, Keefe, Kelley, & McCleary, 1990). Lambert (1998) said, in fact, that we often make the mistake of viewing leadership as being synonymous with assigned or formal roles. More recently, it has been acknowledged that "teachers are the best and most abundant source of leadership--for our schools" (Pellicer & Anderson, 2001) and that "if schools are to be restructured successfully, teachers must assume a variety of important instructional leadership responsibilities" (p. 14).
BRINGING FOCUS TO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
There have been a variety of formal approaches to cultivating leadership among science and mathematics teachers (Nesbit, Wallace, Pugalee, Miller, & Dibiase, 2001), and no one approach has emerged as the most effective in all situations. Indeed, in a study of 15 two-year lead teacher professional development programs in science and mathematics, six identifiable leadership models were noted (Wallace, Nesbit, & Miller, 1999). Examples of teacher leaders were found to span the spectrum from classroom teachers who demonstrate and model new techniques within their own classrooms to highly proactive "change agents" who challenge, inspire, and motivate colleagues to initiate school wide change. Is there a way of bringing focus to the identification and cultivation of teacher leaders in science and mathematics?
In their study of 354 teacher leaders participating in 15 two-year professional development programs, Nesbit, DiBiase, Miller, and Wallace (2001) analyzed evaluation reports and conducted interviews. They found three broad categories of factors to be most influential in supporting the development of leadership roles:
1. Factors related to knowledge of content and pedagogy, including learning in-depth content through hands-on activities, learning instructional strategies, and learning about curriculum resources.
2. Factors related to the modes of professional development, from receiving curriculum materials to observing teaching and leadership techniques, receiving ongoing support from a professional development staff, and analyzing a school's strengths and weaknesses.
3. Factors related to the development of leadership skills, both through learning about leadership skills (i.e. presentation skills, team-building skills) and concepts (i.e. the change process, adult development), and through planning and practicing leadership skills. This could include working with other teacher leaders on instruction, resolving leadership challenges, becoming familiar with school improvement plans, or role playing.
The authors noted that the first two broad categories are typically addressed in professional development programs, and their importance is well supported by the literature in the field. The unique contribution of this study is the clear identification of explicit development of leadership skills as being a key component in cultivating teacher leaders in science and mathematics. There is little research identifying the essential elements of this component, however, and it is often neglected in teacher leader development programs.
In stating some of the core expectations of teacher leaders, Sherrill (1999, p.60) identified dimensions for leadership skill development. Teacher leaders are expected to:
* Demonstrate exemplary classroom instruction and knowledge of effective strategies for teaching and learning.
* Understand theories of adult development.
* Demonstrate knowledge of clinical supervision models and procedures that promote effective classroom practices.
* Cultivate desired dispositions among teachers.
* Guide colleagues through reflective and inquiry-oriented techniques.
* Possess research-based knowledge about teaching and learning.
DiRanna and Loucks-Horsley (2001) also stated that "teacher leaders must develop expertise in organization design, change theory, adult learning, management skills, decision making, public relations, and handholding." To these basic skills, Pugalee, Frykholm, and Shaka (2001) would add the need for teacher leaders to embrace issues of equity and assist in the development of technology plans for schools and districts. Following are some resources that will help professional development teams cultivate the growth of teacher leaders.

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