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Instances and principles of distributed leadership: a multiple case study of Illinois middle school principals’ leadership practices

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Title: Instances and principles of distributed leadership: a multiple case study of Illinois middle school principals’ leadership practices
Author(s): Grenda, Jon P.
Advisor(s): Hackmann, Donald G.
Contributor(s): Gaffney, Janet S.; Walsh, Daniel J.; Welton, Anjale D.
Department / Program: Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline: Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ed.D.
Genre: Doctoral
Subject(s): Middle School Middle Level School Distributed Leadership Teacher Leadership
Abstract: In today’s era of high-stakes accountability in education, the challenges of leadership for learning may be too great for one leader. Today’s public school principals may benefit from the support of teachers and others to serve as additional instructional leaders. Many schools are adopting a distributed leadership approach to address this issue, and middle level schools may be well suited for the adoption of a distributed form of leadership. This multiple-case study examined how three successful principals of middle schools in Illinois utilized distributed leadership practices within those schools, examining the actions or activities of the principals that helped to facilitate distributed leadership practices, the barriers or challenges encountered when attempting to implement distributed leadership practices and what strategies or practices have been put into place to overcome them, and how the presence of interdisciplinary teaming influenced distributed leadership practices in middle level schools. Three schools were examined, utilizing data from a total of 23 interviews of teachers and principals, observations of building leadership and interdisciplinary team meetings during 9 visits, and document analysis. Findings from this research show that organizational structures have to be developed that permit the schools’ faculty and staff to be engaged in multiple groups, letting tasks be distributed and permitting democratic governance of the school. Findings also demonstrated how the development and communication of a common vision for student learning was important. Teachers were regarded as experts and were engaged as leaders to advance curricular goals, professional development, and building management. Most importantly, distributed leadership appeared to be significantly strengthened by a school’s adherence to the middle school philosophy. In schools in which interdisciplinary teams formed the backbone of the organizational structure, the teams were able to operate as a mechanism for participatory decision making and teacher leadership development. It appears that the highly collaborative nature of teaming, and the middle school philosophy in general, may be a factor contributing to the success of a distributed form of leadership. As distributed forms of leadership are becoming more common in schools, this study provides some insight into the creation and support of this type of leadership in middle schools. The collaborative nature of interdisciplinary teams that is a signature practice of the middle school concept, as well as the trust and relationships necessary to engage in effective teaming, also seem to be factors in the success of developing distributed leadership.
Issue Date: 2012-02-01
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29433
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Jon Patrick Grenda
Date Available in IDEALS: 2014-02-01
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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