The article Towards a theory of leadership practice: a distributed Perspective by Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond (2004), is one of the most interesting articles I have read this semester. School leadership is a topic I am not as familiar with, so it was good to be able to learn more about leadership as it relates to professional development, and continue adding to previous knowledge built up throughout the course. The authors developed a perspective on school leadership and leadership activity. They believe that to understand how leadership is practiced that one must set aside considerations like roles, strategies, and traits of those who are in leadership positions and instead look at “how the practice of leadership is stretched over leaders, followers, and the material and symbolic artifacts in the situation” (Spillane et al., 2004, p. 27). I was a little surprised when they said that the practice of school leadership has been studied very little. Granted, this article is from 2004, but I’m still very surprised when they said that even then, as leaders are so important for schools and I would have figured it would have been studied heavily by 2004.
This article was also one of the most interesting to participate in for annotations. In our course, we use the Hypothesis extension to collaboratively annotate our assigned articles. I could tell just by reading some of the comments that many of my peers who work in K-12 education have had less than stellar experiences involving their school leaders. For example, Spillane et al. (2004) said “leadership is thought critical to innovation in schools” (p.3). An annotation was made by a classmate who commented “Or to kill innovation” – I felt like this was so spot on and a valid point. I had seen this happen just recently with the school a relative works for. The school had a principal at their elementary level for two years, who absolutely killed any goodwill or feeling that any of the teachers could try to innovate, like different ways to deliver content or to provide an intervention to a student over the web, which has a lot of limitations but can be done as long as everyone keeps an open mind and collaborates on ideas on how to get things done. It had a dramatic effect that reverberated throughout the entire school and caused a very low morale. She eventually was fired, and luckily they now have some excellent leaders in who embrace innovation and are all about finding new ways to help students. In a short time, they have seen dramatic improvements across the board and it’s the direct impact from getting good leaders in who care about what is going on and support the teachers who are all about innovation and doing everything they can for the students.
The article, The Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership by Hargreaves and Fink (2004) was another one that I thought was interesting. This was the article I was responsible for leading an annotation discussion for, and I thought that the responses I received for some of my questions I had asked were helpful for me to understand the content, and I hope that it helped others as well. The opening paragraph in this article drew me in, as it discussed some situations involving school leaders that were not fictional, but real-life events that were unveiled during a research study. The study they referred to revealed the following: “This study has shown that one of the key forces influencing change or continuity in the long term is leadership, leadership sustainability and leadership succession. Most processes and practices of school leadership, our study shows, create temporary, localized flurries of change but little lasting or widespread improvement” (Hargreaves & Fink, 2004, p. 2). To me this just made a lot of sense. It seems like schools often do have temporary localized flurries of change that never last. My small city has several elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. It seems like every other year, there are articles written about changes occurring with shuffling the leaders around at the schools. When this happens, it seems as though the school district will move a principal who has done some very good things and move them to another school, and in turn, there is a huge uproar by parents and others who will argue that the principal had “really turned things around” or similar statements. Rinse and repeat…every other year. This article really put things like that into perspective for me. I felt that Hargreaves and Fink really outlined a solid idea for how to create effective leadership and to sustain it.
I also liked how they aligned their ideas with the definition of sustainability in the environmental field. I took a few environmental courses a long time ago so this really made a lot of sense to me. The sustainability principles can be applied to a lot of things and it’s great to see it applied here. Everything about this article was highly engaging to read and should be required reading for individuals going into leadership roles.
These two articles were pretty fun to annotate and I felt like the conversation was especially lively for the Hargreaves and Fink (2004) article. I also feel that I’m able to understand what I am reading when I use this tool, and in fact I used it for my literature review by creating a private group to annotate some of my articles and take notes on things I wanted to include in my literature review. I will continue using it for future courses and other projects too.
Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2004). The seven principles of sustainable leadership. Educational leadership, 61(7). 112.
Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Journal of curriculum studies, 36(1), 3-34