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JSL Vol 25-N3

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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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8 Articles

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Simplicity and Complexity

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Ulrich C. Reitzug—Editor, 1999–2005

Simplicity and Complexity

It was the simplest of times; it was the most complicated of times. Fall 1999. Bill Clinton was president of the United States, having been impeached by the House of Representatives a year ago but acquitted by the Senate a few months previously. George W. Bush was governor in Texas, preparing to declare the first ever “Jesus Day” in the state. Barack Obama was state senator for the 13th District in Illinois, preparing for an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda colleagues, having already bombed U.S. embassies in Africa, were busily preparing for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In education, we were 2 years from the game-changing No Child Left Behind legislation and almost a dozen years from Race to the Top. A simple time, a complex time.

In the editorial offices of the Journal of School Leadership (JSL; aka UNCG Curry 239B or, more simply, “my office”), fall of 1999 found my associate editor and I regularly retrieving thick manila envelopes from the nearby mail room. The envelopes contained the hopes of aspiring and established scholars from throughout the United States and, yes, even the globe. Each envelope held four manuscript copies of the author’s work. Three copies would make their way back out through the mail room in a few days, assigned to members of JSL’s Editorial Review Board and other reviewers for their critiques and publication recommendations. Prior to making it to the mail room, they were reviewed by the JSL associate editor, whiteout stick in hand to ensure that they were truly blind copies. The fourth copy of the manuscript would be stored in the journal’s “highly secure vault” (aka my unlocked desk file drawer) for further consideration once the reviewers’ critiques were received through that same mail room, ideally no more than 4 to 5 weeks in the future. After a few years of this complexity, JSL converted from the tree- and postage-consuming manuscript submission and review process to an all-electronic process. Well before the days of Manuscript Central websites, I was proud that JSL was one of the early journals to go to a simpler, resource-friendly, all-electronic submission-and-review process.

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Principled, Pragmatic, and Purposive Leadership

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Michael E. Dantley

Principled, Pragmatic, and Purposive Leadership

Reimagining Educational Leadership Through Prophetic Spirituality (2003)

ABSTRACT: This article reimagines educational leadership using Cornel West’s notions of prophetic spirituality. Three categories of leadership—principled, pragmatic, and purposive—are proposed. All three are grounded in the components of West’s prophetic spirituality, namely, a deep-seated moralism, an inescapable opportunism, and an aggressive or profound pessimism. The article argues that the transformation of educational leadership necessitates searching for a unique way to alter its construction. Using an African American spiritual frame is suggested as one way to bring about such fundamental change in the field.

Educational leadership is facing a number of challenges that have the potential to transform the basic assumptions, theoretical predispositions, and professional practices that have historically emanated from this field. Certainly the trenchant accountability movement, with all of its academic as well as social justice implications, augments the rhetoric of the discourse currently espoused in educational leadership. That rhetoric is grounded in a Western business model that celebrates productivity, predictability, decreasing costs, hierarchical organizational structures, and a management vernacular. It has rested upon an empiricist foundation where quantitative, rational, and functional measures are used exclusively to gauge the success of schools.

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Shaping the Nature, Focus, and Future Direction of the Journal of School Leadership

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Jay P. Scribner—Editor, 2005–2008

Shaping the Nature, Focus, and Future Direction of the Journal of School Leadership

The Editor’s Challenge

My opportunity to work with others on the Journal of School Leadership (JSL) was generously afforded to me by editors Paula Short and Rick Reitzug. Serving as an associate editor under these mentors gave me invaluable insights into the field of educational leadership. Subsequently serving as editor of JSL from 2005 through 2008 extended those insights even further.

As editor, it is tempting to say that my goal was to take the journal in a new direction, but under the guidance of Drs. Short and Reitzug, JSL was already ahead of its time. In addition to the traditional approaches to research and mainstream questions facing school leadership, JSL has always proactively sought out new or underinvestigated topics and emerging methodological approaches. As such, JSL has always been about moving those manuscripts into publication that represent a growing diversity of topics and methodologies. My goal as editor was to continue this proud tradition by encouraging new lines of inquiry and deepening our understanding of more established bodies of literature.

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The New Instructional Leadership

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Richard Halverson

Jeffrey Grigg

Reid Prichett

Chris Thomas

The New Instructional Leadership

Creating Data-Driven Instructional Systems in School (2007)

ABSTRACT: The recent press for high-stakes accountability has challenged school leaders to use data to guide the practices of teaching and learning. This article considers how local school leaders build data-driven instructional systems to systematically improve student learning. Such systems are presented as a framework involving data acquisition, data reflection, program alignment and integration, program design, formative feedback, and test preparation. The article reviews data collected in a yearlong study of four schools to describe how leaders structure opportunities to engage in data-driven decision making.

In June 2005, the New York City Public Schools announced that fifth grade test scores had made impressive gains across the city—15.2 percentage points in math (for students testing proficient and above) and nearly 20.0 percentage points in reading. Some of the most impoverished, lowest-achieving schools were responsible for the largest gains. Although politicians and policymakers wrangled to claim credit or question the legitimacy of the results, school leaders, teachers, parents, and students offered a simpler explanation: hard work. But what did they mean by hard work? Leaders and teachers emphasized “a relentless focus on literacy and math” and a “ceaseless scrutinizing of tests, quizzes and writing samples” to understand what students did not know (Herszenhorn & Saulny, 2005). Others highlighted after-school tutoring and preparation, improved attendance, prekindergarten, smaller classes, fear of grade retention, community outreach, and intense political pressure to succeed. However, leaders, teachers, and parents could not “agree on any one primary reason for the gains.”

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Expanding Focus and Learning Lessons

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Jeffrey S. Brooks—Editor, 2008–2013

Expanding Focus and Learning Lessons

Observations and Reflections on My Tenure as Editor of the Journal of School Leadership

I am pleased to have the chance to reflect on my time as editor of the Journal of School Leadership (JSL) for this 25th anniversary issue. It is a singular opportunity to share some observations on what was a period of growth for me and for the journal. When I was asked to serve as editor for the JSL, it was both a great shock and an honor. JSL had been my favorite journal in graduate school, and I had two experiences as an author early in my career as an assistant professor that taught me lessons about the unpredictable nature of academic writing and the importance of persistence. The first article that I published in JSL was titled “Teacher Leadership in the Context of Whole-School Reform,” with coauthors Jay P. Scribner and Jite Eferahorho, and it was accepted upon initial submission with minor revisions. This gave me the false notion that it was easy to publish in peer-reviewed journals—it gave me both hope and more confidence than I deserved as an early-career scholar. If that first article was quick and painless, the second brought me crashing back to Earth with a thud. The article that would eventually become “Tinkering Toward Utopia or Stuck in a Rut? School Reform Implementation at Wintervalley High” went through four major revisions and was under review for more than 2 years.

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Collective Learning From Success as Perceived by School Superintendents (2011)

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Chen Schechter

Collective Learning From Success as Perceived by School Superintendents (2011)

ABSTRACT: School superintendents’ role has shifted from the traditional emphasis on managerial aspects to one on instructional leadership (on teaching and learning issues) achieved by generating collaborative learning opportunities at the both school and district levels. Whereas collaborative learning processes in schools have generally been associated with problem finding and solving as well as overcoming failures, this study explores superintendents’ perceptions (mindscapes) about the determinants of collective learning from successful practices. This exploratory study employed a qualitative topic-oriented methodology, collecting data via face-to-face interviews with 61 superintendents. Data analysis of interviews revealed determinants of collective learning from success at the superintendency level, school building level, and national level. As a leadership strategy to foster collective learning, superintendents’ role should be examined in designing a districtwide framework of collective learning from success.

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Looking Back and Pushing Forward to the Next 25 Years

ePub

Gaëtane Jean-Marie—Editor, 2013–Present

Looking Back and Pushing Forward to the Next 25 Years

Over the past 25 years, the Journal of School Leadership (JSL) has published articles and special issues on educational policy and politics, organizational theory, school–community relations, school renewal and reform, localized and globalized leadership and learning, teacher leadership, university-based and alternative preparation programs, teacher and principal evaluation, diversity issues with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer), learning style, technology integration, and so on, which have informed cutting-edge contemporary work and future scholarship. Our authors include senior and emerging scholars, as well as practitioners with a broad range of expertise, to disentangle the challenges that districts and schools encounter in bringing about school and community reform and informing not only leadership preparation programs but also policies and practices. While the journal is committed to empirical research, authors accentuate the value of application to practice, address implication for policy, and identify new areas to build on for research. The broad issues covered in JSL are valuable resources for professors to use in their classes and for district and building-level leaders to use for professional development; such topics also introduce scholars and practitioners to nuanced ideas in the literature in an engaging manner.

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Catalysts of Change

ePub

Sarah L. Woulfin

Catalysts of Change

An Examination of Coaches’ Leadership Practices in Framing a Reading Reform (2015)

ABSTRACT: Using framing theory to analyze reading coaches’ leadership practices, this article surfaces the competency of framing reform. It presents findings from a qualitative case study of coaches’ work in the implementation of a reading reform in an urban school district. As instructional leaders, coaches engaged in framing to catalyze change. The three focal coaches advanced frames with the aim to motivate teachers to enact aspects of the district’s reading reform. Coaches employed four socially skilled tactics to increase the resonance of their frames. Coaches’ professional learning community, schools’ collaboration routines, teachers’ dispositions, and coaches’ previous work experiences affected when and under what conditions each coach deployed various tactics. This article advances our understanding of how school leaders strategically communicate with teachers about reform’s ideas.

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