9 Dec 2015

Structures of Distributive Leadership

Structures of Distributive Leadership

Distributive leadership is embedded in pockets within schools and districts across the country.  Many of these pockets of distributive leadership models were organically developed out of need to leverage the collective efforts and talents of the team.  With the vast myriad of new initiatives, high stakes outcomes and microscopic accountability- formal structures of distributive leadership are necessary for sustainable and impactful education reform.

The following is taken from an article posted in ASCD that outlines how Distributive Leadership practices and processes can be successfully implemented in US schools. The article outlines the structures of Distributive Leadership that would need to be considered for widespread implementation.

The democratic and distributed leadership model would need the following supports to work in a U.S. setting:

  • Some districts would need to implement the model for study purposes. Scientific observation and assessment of the model’s processes and effects in a U.S. context would address many doubts and encourage teachers and administrators to embrace the model.
  • Districts and principals must demonstrate honest willingness to give decision-making authority to teachers. As Lambert (2005) asserts, “principals need to hand decisions and problem solving back to the teachers, coaching and leading for teacher efficacy while refusing to hold tight to authority and power” (p. 65). Although principals relinquish some control in this model, its strict accountability measures promote good teaching and learning. In addition, the model successfully addresses such pressing issues as teacher and principal burnout and principal effectiveness.
  • Districts and principals must create the structures necessary to sustain the new form of leadership, make resources available to all, and give the model enough time to flourish. Teachers’ schedules must allow not only for teaching and planning but also for administrative duties and teacher assembly meetings, which need to take place at least twice each month. Indeed, a four-day teaching week would fit the model. The faculty could devote the one nonteaching day of the week to meetings or to exchanges with the public, district, community organizations, and so forth. Students could spend the day working on independent projects, library research, community service, or internships in various businesses that have partnered with the school.
  • Principals should work as chief coordinators of all actions and as evaluators of the efficacy of all actors. The fact that the model is democratic does not mean that it is not results oriented and concerned with quality and efficiency. However, principals must be equal participants in the decision-making process. They must not override teachers’ decision making by misusing the power they exercise as coordinators and evaluators. Although this is a challenging role, it is the key factor for the success of the model.


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