Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective

Citation Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational researcher, 30(3), 23–28. JSTOR. Sidewiki
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@article{spillane2001investigating,
author = {Spillane, James P and Halverson, Richard and Diamond, John B},
date-added = {2016-06-18 23:10:00 -0400},
date-modified = {2016-06-18 23:10:11 -0400},
journal = {Educational researcher},
keywords = {distributed leadership},
number = {3},
pages = {23–28},
publisher = {JSTOR},
title = {Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective},
volume = {30},
year = {2001},
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}

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Highlights

Next we develop our distributedtheoryof leadershiparoundfour ideas: tasksand functions,task leadership enactment,socialdistributionof taskenactment, and situationaldistributionof taskenactment p. 0

Inthese cases,cognitiveactivityis “stretchedover” actorsandartifact p. 0

H.ence,humanactivity is bestunderstoodbyconsideringbothartifactsandactorstogetherthroughcyclesof taskcompletionbecausetheartifactasndactors are essentiallyintertwinedin action contexts(Lave,1988). p. 0

Ourcentralargumentis that school leadershipis best understood asadistributedpractice,stretchedoverthe school'ssocialand situationalcontext p. 0

Theoretical Roots p. 0

action is distributedacrosslanguaget,heoriesof action, and interpretiveschema,providing the”mediationamleans”thatenableand transformintelligentsocialactivity(Brown & Duguid, 1991; Leont'ev,1975, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1991) p. 0

To developourdistributedtheoryof leadershippractice,we appropriateconcepts fromdistributedcognitionandactivitytheory p. 0

ourintentinthispaperistoframeanexplorationofhowleadersthinkandactby developing a distributedperspectiveon leadershipractic p. 0

underscorehowsocialcontextis an integralcomponent, not just a container,forintelligentactivit p. 0

The DistributedLeadershipStudy,a study we are currently conducting in Chicago,usesthe distributedframework outline p. 0

programof researchthatexaminesthe practiceof leadinurban schools ership elementary working to changemathematicss,cience,andliteracyinstructio p. 0

The school improvementliteratur p. 0

identifieseveraflunctionsthatarethough p. 0

essentialfor instructionaleadership,in- p. 0

cludingconstructingandsellinganinstruc p. 0

tionalvision;buildingnormsoftrust,col p. 0

laborationa,ndacademicpress;supporting teacher development; and monitoring instructionand innovation(Firestone& Corbett,1988;Heller& Firestone,1995; Purkey& Smith,1983;Sheppard,1996). p. 0

Leadershipfunctionsandmicrotasksprovide a frameworkfor analyzingpractice thatenablesus to attendto the dailywork ofschoolleaderswithoutlosingsightofthe big picture p. 0

Pursuinga task-centeredapproach,groundedin thefunctionsof leadershipwithin the school, offersa means ofaccessingthedistributionofleadership practice. p. 0

Framing a Study of Leading Practice: A Distributed Perspective p. 0

Macrofunctions,however,becauseof theirrelativelylargegrainsize,limit access to the practiceof leadershi p. 0

EnactingLeadershipTask p. 0

To access leadershippracticewe must identifyand analyzethetasksthatcontributetotheex- p. 0

Leadershipinvolvestheidentificationa,cquisition, allocation,coordination,and use of the social,material,andculturalresources necessaryto establishthe conditionsfor the possibilityof teachingand learning p. 0

Analyzingleadershipracticeinvolvesunderstandinhgow schoolleadersdefine,present, and carryout thesemicrotasks,exploringhow they interactwith othersin theprocess.Ithastodowithwhatschool leadersdo, the movesthey make,as they execute micro tasks in their daily work p. 0

ecutionof macrofunction p. 0

This definitionsupportsa transformationalperspectiveon leadership,defining it as the “abilityto empowerothers”with the purposeof bringingabout a “major changein form,nature,andfunctionof some phenomenon”(Bennis & Nanus, 1985;Burns,1978;Leithwood,Begley,& Cousins,1994). p. 0

.The macrofunctionof buildingnormsof collaborationwithintheschoolmayinvolve microtaskssuchascreatingopportunities in the schooldayforteachersto worktogether,aswellascreatingin-serviceopportunities for teachers(Goldring& Rallis p. 0

m,icrotaskssuchasclass- p. 0

1993) p. 0

roomobservationasnd sumdistinguishing help tion or role.Hence,we siderationof the tasksaroundwhichschool mativeand formativeevaluationcan realizethe macrofunctionsof supporting teacherdevelopmentand monitoringinstruction(Little& Bird,1987). p. 0

By takingleadership practicein a school as the unit of analysis,ratherthanan individualeader, our distributedtheory of leadershipfocusesonhowleadershippracticeisdistributedamongboth positionalandinformal leaders. p. 0

A centralobjectiveof the Distributed LeadershipStudy is to understandthe linksamongthe macrofunctionsandthe microtasksofschoolleadershipandtoexploretheirrelationsto instructionandinstructionaclhang p. 0

howleadershippracticeisdistributedamongboth positionalandinformal leaders. p. 0

Macro Functionsand Tasks p. 0

Our distributedperspectiveon leadership is groundedin activityratherthanin posi- p. 0

tion or role p. 0

we siderationof the tasksaroundwhichschoo p. 0

c,onsidering both the large-scaleorganizationaltasks (macrofunctions)aswellasthe day-to-day work (microtasks)thatareessentia p. 0

suggesting thatan investigationof leadershipractice must involveboth observingpracticeas it unfoldsandaskingpractitionerasboutthe p. 0

macrofunction p. 0

microtask p. 0

observedpractic p. 0

Togaininsightonleadershiprac p. 0

tice,we needto understanda taskasit unfoldsfromthe perspectiveandthroughthe “theoriesinuse”ofthepractitione p. 0

A.nd we needto understandthe knowledge,expertise,andskillsthatthe leadersbringto the executionof the task. p. 0

A DistributedPerspectiveon Leading Practice p. 0

Dependingon the particularleadershiptask, school leaders' knowledgeandexpertisemaybe bestex- p. 0

ploredatthegrouporcollectivelevelrathe p. 0

thanattheindividualeaderlevel. p. 0

LeadershipPracticeand Leadership Tools p. 0

Ratherthantreatingmaterialartifacts, tools (e.g., curricularframeworks, teacherobservationprotocols,etc.), and structuresas for p. 0

leaders p. 0

Leading Practice and Teaching Practice p. 0

Conclusion p. 0

earticulatedadistributed in theperspectiveg,rounded activity and distributed to frame ory cognition, such p. 0

,leaderinvestigations. shippracticeis not simplya functionof an individualeader'sability,skill, charisma, and cognition. p. 0

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