But once you’ve done your (field) research, reading, thinking through the chapters, taking notes etc. it really should only take you 6 months to finish the thesis. For PhD students this is referred to as the end of the faffing about/procrastination/reading gawker and people.com daily/existential crisis about the structure of the thesis phase and the start of the “time to suck it up, close the office door, shut off the email, and just f#$@king write” phase.
The purpose of this study was to determine the most appropriate model of leadership in Catholic schools, the ways in which student leadership can be promoted, and the role of the principal in that promotion. The study was done because of the importance of developing leadership potential in young people. The conceptual framework for this study consisted of four constructs: Christian leadership, student leadership, the promotion of student leadership, and the role of the principal in that promotion.
The researchers used the qualitative methods of semiformal interviews and field notes based on observations. Three research questions were identified: What do principals of Catholic schools understand student leadership to be? According to these principals what form should student leadership take and what role do they see for themselves in the promotion of such student leadership? The sample included eight Catholic high school principals, all living and working in Perth, Western Australia. Each interview averaged close to one hour and took place in the field. Principals were purposively selected based on their active engagement in issues of student leadership and the presence of leadership programs in their schools. Sampling variation was maximized by including three coeducational schools as well as two all boys’ schools and two all girls’ schools. Further, half of the principals were male and half female.
The instrument was trialed prior to data collection to increase its quality and consisted of six interview questions. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, checked for validity by the interviewees, coded, and mined for themes. This analysis was consistent with the framework of Miles and Huberman (1994) and consisted of data reduction and display, as well as drawing and verifying conclusions.
Analysis identified four themes from each of the three research questions presented under the categories of student leadership, student leadership in Catholic schools, and the role of the principal. Major findings include: visible identification of student leaders, clear leadership goals, involvement of key staff, the importance of school culture and identity; the primacy of servant leadership, clear vision for student leadership, adequate opportunities for students to lead; the principal as model of leadership, the principal as designer of student leadership opportunities, the principal as chief communicator of school values, and the principal as creator and sustainer of leadership vision. The researchers found that principals went beyond articulating the importance of student leadership and took active roles in the promotion of that leadership. Principals personally mentored both individual students and key staff and consistently used the model of servant leadership in their approach.
The researchers made two recommendations:
principals should create a network of key staff to work directly with student leadership development and Catholic education authorities should actively support student leadership programs.
The researchers did not identify the limitations of their study or identify avenues for future research.
Lavery, Shane D., Hine, Gregory S.C. (2013). Catholic School Principals: Promoting Student Leadership. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 17(1), Article 3
Shuttloffel, M. (2013). Contemplative Leadership Practice: The Influences of Character on Catholic School Leadership. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice. 17(1), 5.
The purpose of the this qualitative study was to extend the researcher’s previous work on contemplative leadership beyond Catholic school in the United States to see if similar forms of leadership exist in other similar Countries: Australia, England, and the Netherlands. The researcher conducted the study in order to determine if contemplative leadership is a distinctively American form of Catholic school leadership or if it could be applied more broadly across national and cultural borders.
Before describing the study, the author described her contemplative model of Catholic school leadership and its theoretical framework. Metacognition (Flavell, 1977; Van Manen, 1977) – thinking about one’s thinking – forms the basis of the model and is explicitly informed by the Catholic principles that emerge from Scripture and Tradition. The model aims at creating a distinctly and overtly Catholic faith-forming community including everyone associated with the school and is explicitly ecclesial in nature.
The study took place between 1999 and 2013, involved thirty schools across three nations, and required seventeen international trips to complete. The researcher used a qualitative method with a hermeneutical phenomenological approach. Data collected came from voluntary participation among directors, school heads, principals, teachers, school board members, diocesan officials, and higher education researchers in ten schools in each country. Along with extensive interviews, books, journal articles, pamphlets, school and diocesan literature, photos, and artifacts were collected, and websites investigated. Data was coded and checked for similarities with contemplative practice in the United States, between the three participating nations, and within each nation.
Three positive themes, across national boundaries and congruent with American practices of contemplative leadership, were identified: the role of life experience on leadership practice, educational leadership as a vocation and ministry, and the priority of relationships for leadership. The researcher identified three additional themes that pose challenges: cultural tensions within national boundaries, a deficit in theological and spiritual development, and the reduction of education to rationalized questions and processes. These themes vary in degree across the countries studied.
The study concluded by highlighting its three major successes. First, the study extended current research by providing new comparative understanding across national ad cultural boundaries. Second, the study offered new insights relevant to the complex processes of preparing a new generation of Catholic school leaders. Lastly, the study identified one major shared challenge across the population: significant and meaningful generational differences between the current group of Catholic school leaders and the group who will succeed them.
The researcher did not identify the limits of her study nor did she describe avenues for future research.
Andrews, D., & Crowther, F. (2002). Parallel leadership: A clue to the contents of the “black box” of school reform. The International Journal of Educational Management, 16(4), 152.
The purpose of this study was to extend the previous research on inclusive methods of educational leadership and further develop a conception of “parallel leadership” as a strategy for effective school reform. The researchers conducted the study as an attempt to crack open the so-called “black box” of school reform (Hallinger and Heck, 1996) which asserts that even when leadership can produce measurable improvement, the process or mechanism – the actual behavior of the school leader(s) – remains hidden in a “black box.”
Before turning to their study, the researchers outlined three themes of the past ten years that suggest a need to change our working theories of educational leadership. First, inclusive, shared, or distributed models of leadership have emerged as positional leadership (namely the lone principal as leader) has diminished. Second, evidence for a link between internal school leadership and effective school reform has grown. Third, the role of classroom teachers as school leaders with direct impact on school reform has been established.
The study extended over five years, was ongoing at the point of publication, and research based. The population was limited to schools with observed success at significant school reform. The four distinct phases of the study were guided by three concepts: the role of teacher as leader, the relationship between the principal and teachers, and the means by which principals promoted the leadership of teachers. Phases one and two focused on creating a framework for understanding teachers as leaders. Phase three focused on the dynamic organizational structures of nine schools with documented increases in school achievement directly linked to school-based reforms. Phase four was ongoing at the time of publication of this article and focused on the dynamic processes of parallel leadership.
The researchers identified three major findings. First, the researchers found that
teachers are, in fact, leaders whose actions and behavior, rather than personality, have positive impact on schools.
This finding became clear in phases one and two, but could not be understood without reference to principals. This lead to phase three and the researchers’ second finding: parallelism. This conception of parallel leadership between classroom teachers and principals was found to share three characteristics: confidence in each other, shared goals and purposes, and space for individuality. The third finding indicates that parallelism operates in distinct ways to improve schools. There are at least three school wide mechanisms at work in parallel leadership:
professional development, agreement regarding teaching methods, and the ongoing growth of a distinct institutional culture.
The researchers do not propose any specific avenues for future research.
In “The Courage to Lead” James Heft, S.M. explores the intersection of courage and leadership as it applies to Catholic school leaders with the goal of producing a theologically sound and professionally relevant approach to leadership. The author accomplishes this task using four categories of sources: scripture, theology, leadership theory, and modern culture.
Heft found that in the theological literature, courage is a virtue and cannot stand on its own; it must always be seen in the context of the rest of the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, and temperance, or it risks devolving into either cowardice or rashness.
All of the virtues ultimately take the form of courage and none of the virtues can manifest themselves without it.
Leadership, for Heft, is “the responsibility each of us has to be courageous persons who build the kingdom of God.” He ties this description to the theory of “servant leadership” (Greenleaf 1977) and later to Heifetz (1994) and contrasts it with the popular vision of leadership espoused by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989). Heft finds the central contradiction between the two approaches centers on community.
The servant leader always sees individuals as embedded in communities,
whereas Covey assumes a radical form of individualism.
Heft concludes with his finding that there are two specific challenges Catholic leaders face today requiring the virtue of courage: issues of justice and diversity. Issues of justice include access and affordability to Catholic schools no matter a student’s socio-economic or geographical position and the necessity and difficulty of Catholic schools teaching the social doctrine of the Church in a polarized political environment. Issues of diversity center around the elevation of a false notion of tolerance to the highest virtue in much of modern American culture, a notion that avoids particulars and so can make no judgments about right or wrong, good or evil, and thwarts mature moral thinking and awareness.
Heft concludes without suggesting further avenues of research.
In “Why We Should Seek Substitutes for Leadership (1992), Thomas Sergiovanni argues that schools focus too heavily on “direct leadership” and should focus more on “substitutes for leadership,” i.e. characteristics and practices of a school’s culture that promote and sustain “self- management.” These substitutes allow school leaders to focus on “issues of substance” as opposed to command and control management tasks. A leader’s capacity to accept substitutes for leadership depends on their “leadership mindscape” revealed by answering two questions:
Should schools be understood as formal organizations or as communities? What is most important when it comes to motivating and inspiring commitment and performance?
Sergiovanni accepts that conceiving of schools as organizations and as communities both ring true depending on context, but whichever proves dominant in practice “makes a world of difference.” Schools may be said to have organizational components, but for Sergiovanni they are fundamentally communities:
Organizations use rules and regulations, monitoring and supervising, and evaluation systems to maintain control over teachers. Leadership in organizations, then, is inevitably control driven. . . Communities are not defined by instrumental purposes, rationally conceived work systems, evaluation schemes designed to monitor compliance, or skillfully contrived positive interpersonal climates. Communities are defined by their centers . . . repositories of values, sentiments, and beliefs that provide the needed cement for uniting people in a common cause.
These communities and their norms prove the source of substitutes for leadership. In organizations people must be managed but in communities people manage themselves in a culture of shared and indirect leadership. “Centers of shared values” are created as schools cease being organizations and become communities. This process results in employees acting according to the logic of intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic compliance.
These community cultures are tested when the leader of the school leaves. Do the “norms and core values of the community center . . . continue” or do they fall apart and disappear upon the leader’s departure? Sergiovanni argues that a community’s center endures only when professionalism is emphasized so less leadership is needed. But, Sergiovanni warns, professionalism is not equal to mere competence, but is competence plus virtue. Organizations can rely upon competence alone, but communities demand virtue in all its four dimensions:
a commitment to practice in an exemplary way; a commitment to practice toward valued social ends; a commitment not only to one’s own practice but to the practice itself; a commitment to the ethic of caring.
These, with the community metaphor, provide the greatest source of substitutes for leadership. But one additional component remains: collegiality. Collegiality, more than teachers working together or getting along, is a professional virtue that fulfills “obligations toward the teaching profession and toward the school as community” and manifests itself as a “professional attitude or orientation.” Collegiality serves as a substitute for leadership because it promotes a communal understanding of self-governance – I manage myself and we manage ourselves.
Lastly, Sergiovanni deals with his second mindscape question about drive. He argues that extrinsic, carrot and stick, motivation strategies produce teachers dependent upon rewards and keeps schools at the level of organizations. This strategy also relies upon a reductionist anthropology that ties human behavior exclusively to self-interest. This both contradicts the research (Csikszentmihaly 1990) and prevents organizations from becoming communities by creating a culture and context inhospitable to substitutes for leadership. So it is that Sergiovanni provides a formula for these substitutes: conceive of schools as communities rather than organizations, foster centers of shared values and norms, encourage the virtue of professionalism, promote a collegial culture, and rely upon intrinsic motivation.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (1992). Why we should seek substitutes for leadership. Educational Leadership, 49(5), 41.
I’ve had to take a bit of time off from this blog while I got back into to the school year teaching a new course (Science and Religion, which is going really well!) and taking 2 doctoral course as USF: Research Methods (I’m learning a LOT, but TOO MUCH STATS!) and Leadership & Educational Administration (great course where we get to explore leadership theory and practice from a very practical, on-the-ground, perspective). Needless to say, the schedule has been full! But . . . I’m back!
Before posting more specifically about my dissertation topic, I’m going to post some article and research critiques . . . I’ve been spending a lot of time in my current classes getting used to APA style and formatting (sooo awkward, btw) and these are some of the results.
I’ve also gathered a LOT of materials regarding the p-p model and other Catholic educational leadership topics and hope to begin working through them and posting info, insights, questions, frustrations, etc. at least once a week. Stay tuned . . .