Are there alternative ways of effective leadership that will improve our schools? Of course, there are some other ways leadership and let’s see if our principals can learn from them. As we know, Ministry of Education of Kazakhstan is aiming to improve education management for developing whole schooling system across country (MOES,2011). I think everyone agrees that excellence in education is closely connected with effective leading. Hence, I would like to propose distributed leadership model that embrace both formal and informal leadership practices which co-operate within one organization (Harris, 2014). In order to understand the essence of distributed leadership I will discuss three key features of it, such as building social capital, professional learning communities and professional collaboration with impact.
Alma Harris (2014) believes that, if school principals use strategies of distributed leadership, it enhances building social capital which means “equitable participation in a joint enterprise” and “collaborative learning” (p.78). In other words, equitable participation occurs among staff members by respecting, showing competence, regarding personal issues as well as by ensuring integrity (Bryk and Schneider as cited in Harris,2014). After building such kind of mutual understanding, teachers within administration should be open for “collaborative learning” that leads to collective improvement, effective practice and positive change of the school environment (Harris,2014). Of course, change does not happen overnight or after conducting couple of seminars for teachers, it happens in the context of continuous professional learning communities that will be discussed next.
Professional learning community occurs in the workplace, where group of professionals collaborate to investigate certain aspects of teaching and learning process. As it operates in one school, professional learning community can corporate group of schools which is larger form of collaboration (Harris, 2014). So what do they do? Answer is learning and sharing experience, teachers are busy by reflecting and sharing their experience for improvement of whole school. Harris (2014) stresses that these sort of learning community is much more effective for betterment of practice rather than effect of temporary workshops for teachers. The short-time seminars might illuminate mind of teachers about certain things but they do not have long-term effects or implications in everyday practice. So, professional learning communities can contribute better and make huge influence on things that people do and the impact of collaboration is the next point of discussion.
Being curios about things that teachers do in daily practice, professional collaboration groups can identify problems, by continuous diagnosis and analysis. After identifying problems, they try to find solutions that will be suitable for their unique cases. These solutions are probed, tested and practiced that eventually build knowledge about certain teaching and learning experience. Thus, this circle of actions and investigations make teachers update their knowledge and to be innovative through hands-on experiences and consultation. Innovative and authentic ideas of teachers will eventually lead for desired outcomes of the school (Harris,2014).
To conclude, my purpose is not to idealize distributed leadership but to examine different practices for opting the most suitable ones for local context and educational culture. I think, if school principals enhance trust and positive personal relationship among teachers they can also come up with innovations which were discussed above. I agree with the author Alma Harris that trust and professional collaboration with clear purposes and shared vision can do lots of positive changes in our schools or across schools. I hope that in this short blog entry I could unpack the notion of distributed leadership by presenting major traits as building social capital, professional learning communitiesa and collaboration with impact. Therefore, it is not just distribution of tasks among workers, but it is developing proactive members of organization that work and sharpen expertise by collaboration.
Harris, A (2014). Distributed leadership matters. Perpectives, practicalities, and potential.