Posted by: eheino | August 19, 2013

ETL504 Assignment 1 Blog Post: My thoughts on leadership thus far

Looking back on my first thoughts on leadership at the beginning of the semester, I am actually surprised by how sound my understanding has proven to be. Before having done much reading on the subject, I already believed that an excellent leader creates an organisational culture conducive to the sharing of ideas and opinions amongst colleagues and equips them with the confidence to implement new initiatives (Heino, 2013). I got this impression from having observed both excellent and poor leaders in various schools I have worked in. The difference in atmosphere between these schools was astounding, and really demonstrated how important it is for leaders to do more than tell others what to do and how to do it.

It is for that reason that both transformational and sustainable leadership theories really appealed to me. Both these theories emphasise the importance of staff feeling comfortable and the creation of a positive atmosphere where everyone is on the same page. Transformational leadership begins with the development of a whole school vision. This vision needs to be agreed upon by all members of staff, students, and the school community (Leithwood, 1994). It covers not only the agreed-upon direction for the school, but also the creation of a learning community built on shared values and ideas (Sergiovanni, 2005). Sustainable leadership links in here too, through its emphasis on valuing staff experience and its call for distributed leadership. If leadership is well-distributed, the school vision outlasts the staff members who originally created it (Hargreaves, 2007). I have observed many schools where this is the case; ‘school pride’ drives the students in them to try harder and achieve better results, not only for themselves, but for their school as well. It also tends to be these schools that students and their parents remember fondly.

A shared, positive vision for the future of the school also helps immensely where staff are working in smaller collaborative groups, such as information literacy teams, that teacher-librarians often lead. Establishing a small team on this foundation strengthens the bonds of trust and collegiality as well as heightening the opportunities for inter-group learning, both of which are premised on effective leadership (Aguilar, 2012). A teacher-librarian in this role needs to exhibit transformational, sustainable leadership by learning from the diversity of teaching and learning experiences of all group members, creating positive cohesion between these disparate experiences and ideas (Hargreaves, 2007), and encouraging the re-conceptualisation of old problems in new ways (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005).

Teacher-librarians and their libraries also need to become part of the bigger picture in the school. Effective communication between the teacher-librarian and the school community (such as a regular spot in the newsletter, a library webpage, speaking on assembly etc) will help ensure it is integrated into all aspects of the school’s culture. The library needs to be seen as an all-encompassing information hub, and this can only happen if the library is a distinct part of the school’s vision.

So far this course has built on my solid foundation of understanding of excellent school leadership. I am sure as the semester continues, my understanding will grow, and how I can best execute the leadership expectations of the teacher-librarian will become more clear. I am excited to find out!

Reference List:

Aguilar, E. (2012). Effective teams: The key to transforming schools? In Edutopia [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar

Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable leadership and development in education: Creating the future, conserving the past. European Journal of Education, 42(2), 223-233.

Heino, E. (2013) What is leadership?. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/

Leithwood, K. (1994). Leadership for school restructuring. Educational Administration Quarterly, 30(4), 498-518. DOI: 10.1177/0013161X94030004006

Marzano, R., Waters, T. & McNulty, B. (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Moorabbin, Victoria: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Sergiovanni, T. (2005). The virtues of leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(2), 112-123.

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