Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Collegial Leaders

In my introduction to supervision class, we learned about a leadership continuum within schools: directive, collaborative, and collegial. Directive leaders give orders and except them to be followed. Collaborative leaders work with others to arrive at decisions. Collegial leaders take that collaboration a step further and empower others in the building to make and act on decisions. 

My Frierian roots and recent research (Glickman, 2002) have led me to believe that collegial leadership should be the goal. More stakeholders should be brought into decision making process so that those decisions are carried out with fidelity. However, I think I have assumed that a collegial school requires a principal who thinks and acts collegial at all times. After more discussion in class, however,  I am not sure that this assumption will bear out once I get down to the hard work of leading a school.

I was really moved by Dr. Z’s story of the algebra teacher who said what she really needed was a lesson plan so she could just go home. I’m not sure what I would do in that situation. In the course of this class, I’ve really owned what it means to me to operate as a big picture thinker. I’ve been able to be more gentle with myself as I struggle with administrative tasks at school because I can see the absurdity of being asked to support the social and emotional development of 124 teenagers. By thinking about the big picture, I am able to celebrate my victories rather than beat myself up for not being able to do all of the work I want to do in a deeply flawed system, and I’m able to prioritize tasks based on what will have the most long-term positive effects for my students.

So, I think it might be hard for me to get down into the weeds. Not only have I never taught math, I just don’t know if I’m ready to respond to a teacher in the scenario above with just a lesson. I want to discuss what in her day-to-day work is causing this feeling of being overwhelmed. What can be juggled more efficiently? What can be discarded in favor of mental health and excellent first instruction?

Rather than thinking of my administrative style existing on a continuum between directive and collegial action, I want to start thinking about a particular approach for a particular moment.

I also want to commemorate this chart we worked on in class tonight to remember that it’s about the right style for the situation rather than forcing a situation to fit my preferred style.

Skill building
Partnership building
Capacity building
Leader’s Role
  • Direction
  • Corrective feedback
  • A model
  • Solutions to problems   
  • Ideas, resources
  • Input
  • Influence
  • Ideas/options for decision making
  • Safe place to self-evaluate
  • Data for teacher decision making
  • Focus that moves the teacher along a growth curve   
Teacher’s Role
  • Follow directions
  • Implement strategies with quality
  • Participate as a partner
  • Follow through on negotiated decisions
  • Drive the process
  • Follow through on personal commitments



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