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Jsl Vol 15-N5

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The Journal of School Leadership is broadening the conversation about schools and leadership and is currently accepting manuscripts. We welcome manuscripts based on cutting-edge research from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological orientations. The editorial team is particularly interested in working with international authors, authors from traditionally marginalized populations, and in work that is relevant to practitioners around the world. Growing numbers of educators and professors look to the six bimonthly issues to: deal with problems directly related to contemporary school leadership practice teach courses on school leadership and policy use as a quality reference in writing articles about school leadership and improvement.

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5 Articles

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Across the Void: Preparing Thoughtful Educational Leaders for Today’s Schools

ePub

CARL GLICKMAN

ABSTRACT: In this article, I examine my attempts as an instructor in a university-based school leadership program to cross the generational divide with my students by using democracy as the central concept for understanding what is meant by a quality American education for all children. I guide the course according to the democratic learning principles that my colleagues and I use in working with public schools on educational renewal and school improvement efforts. I try to be responsive to my graduate students in the same manner that I wish them to be responsive to each other and to me by asking them to painstakingly argue the opposite of what they believe about education and leadership. Educational assumptions are challenged through provocative research examples and case studies. At the end of the course, I must painfully evaluate myself on how successfully I have fairly judged the intellectual and imaginative quality of student work regardless of whether it agrees with my own vision and values of leadership.

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The Power of Critical Spirituality to Act and to Reform

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MICHAEL E.DANTLEY

ABSTRACT: The field of educational leadership is currently in flux and transition. Scholars and practitioners are being compelled to engage concepts and frames of thinking that are substantively different from the traditional paradigm that has served as the foundation for educational leadership for some time. Included in this new way of perceiving educational leadership is critical spirituality. The inclusion of critical spirituality in the leadership conversation will help to provide a space for the engagement of other voices that have been somewhat dissonant to the traditional educational leadership discourse. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to delineate the four components of critical spirituality and propose how each can serve educational leaders to bring about radical democratic reform of schools.

Educational leadership has been historically grounded in a Newtonian, scientific management motif that celebrates predictability, empiricism, and positivist/rational ways of perceiving organizations. Maxcy (1995) argues that this scientific framework, labeled positivism, prefers what he calls “sanitized language and logical rigor,” which augments the traditional paradigm’s penchant for value-free interpretations of organizations and their purpose. The field of educational leadership however is currently in flux and transition. Scholars and practitioners are being compelled to engage concepts and frames of thinking such as chaos theory (Maxcy, 1995; Wheatley, 1999; Zohar, 1990, 1997); critical and critical-race theory (Carlson & Apple, 1998; Delgado, 1995; Freire, 1998, 2000; Giroux, 1996, 1997, 2001; Wing, 1997); feminist/womanist (Hill-Collins, 1998, 2000; hooks, 2000); and caring perspectives (Noddings, 1992; Valenzuela, 1999). Concomitantly, a spiritual grammar is being added to the educational leadership discourse. It is this spiritual verbiage that for many creates the most problems and apprehensions. That is because leadership has been defined in a context where those who hold positions of hierarchical authority are demanded to engage persons in the organization from a values-neutral, objective, and mechanical perspective. Leaders, according to this traditional model, become purposely truncated in demonstration of their complete selves in that only their intellectual identities are legitimated in the workspace. And yet it is the inclusion of the spiritual parlance into the leadership conversation that will help to provide a space for the engagement of other voices that have been somewhat dissonant to the traditional educational leadership discourse.

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Building Bridges, Building Community: Transformational Leadership in a Challenging Urban Context

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CORRIE GILES
LAURI JOHNSON
SHARON BROOKS
STEPHEN L. JACOBSON

ABSTRACT: Few empirical studies have been undertaken concerning successful leadership practices within challenging urban schools. Given that much of the school leadership literature relies on principals as the source of evidence for school improvement, this article explores, through multiperspective case study methodology, how one failing urban elementary school has become successful, largely as a result of the transformative leadership of the principal. Our findings support more recent school-derived iterations of transformational leadership theory, in which principals stress support, care, trust, participation, facilitation, and the building of consensus. However, our data also draw attention to how this particular successful principal transcends the administrative immediacy of short-term innovation, by paying considerable attention to longer term, socially transformative, and morally grounded principles, rooted in democracy, equity, and social justice.

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Meeting the Needs of All Students: Contributions of Effective School Leaders

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KATHARINE SHEPHERD FURNEY
JUDITH AIKEN
SUSAN HASAZI
KELLY CLARK/KEEFE

ABSTRACT: A policy implementation study1 was undertaken in 65 schools in order to explore practices and outcomes related to state policies requiring schools to establish comprehensive educational support systems and teams. The purpose of these systems and teams was to enhance the capacity of schools to support students with diverse needs in general education classrooms to the greatest extent possible. A focus of the study related to the ways in which school principals played a role in facilitating the development of effective support systems and teams. The following four themes related to school leadership emerged in schools identified as the most highly developed in their efforts to support all students: (1) fostering shared vision, planning, and decision-making processes; (2) creating collaborative structures and processes; (3) using data to make decisions about curriculum and instruction; and (4) understanding and utilizing policy to create comprehensive school and districtwide systems. Each of these themes points to potential implications for the content and approaches used in leadership preparation programs.

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Organizational Learning Mechanisms: Exploring a Conceptual Framework for Organizational Learning in Schools

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CHEN SCHECHTER

ABSTRACT: In light of the complexity and wealth of information in societies today, the notion of organizational learning has become the forerunner of school change discourse. However, organizational learning is still characterized by mystical and amorphous rhetoric, understood well neither by researchers nor by practitioners. Therefore, this article is an attempt to explore the notion of organizational learning through the concept of organizational learning mechanisms (OLMs) and the culture in which they are embedded. A case study in a large school, comprised of middle and secondary grades, provided the context for studying OLMs and the learning values (culture) influencing their productivity. The study strengthens the ability to empirically research learning by schools through the structural and cultural framework. Lessons drawn from the study and future research, which may contribute to the field of organizational learning, are discussed

Learning is imperative to survival and competitiveness in dynamic, complex, and uncertain environments (Garvin, 1993; Nonaka, 1991; Senge, 1990). Although it is widely acknowledged that effective change and adaptation, especially in turbulent times, occur when learning takes place throughout the organization (West, 1994), the notion of organizational learning (OL) remains obscure and difficult to comprehend (Garvin, 1993). Despite the voluminous literature on OL, encompassing large territory in the management literature (Edmondson & Moingeon, 1998) and almost every dimension of organizational change (Cohen & Sproull, 1991), there is no agreement and even profound confusion about what OL is and the feasibility of this phenomenon (Argyris & Schon, 1996; Easterby-Smith, 1997; Rifkin & Fulop, 1997; Schechter, 2004a). With this said, OL should be demystified from the excessively broad, frequently mysterious, terminology and nonobservable terms that characterize this field of inquiry in order to serve as a conducive prototype for effective change.

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