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A view from the field: the process of improving equitable systems leadership

Jessica Rigby (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Emily Donaldson Walsh (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Shelley Boten (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Allison Deno (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
M. Scott Harrison (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Rodrick Merrell (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Sarah Pritchett (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Scott Seaman (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 25 June 2019

645

Abstract

Purpose

Research on principal supervisors (PSs) is an emerging field, and principal supervision for racial equity has not yet been studied or theorized. Conducted in partnership with practicing district leaders, the purpose of this paper is to examine current PS leadership in three districts at various points of engagement in equitable leadership practices and set forth a framework for conceptualizing systems equitable leadership practice.

Design/methodology/approach

This collaborative study emerged from an EdD course project in which groups of practitioner–scholars identified and collected qualitative interview, survey and artifact data about problems of practice in their districts. University researchers supported data collection and conducted analyses across settings, building on Ishimaru and Galloway’s (2014) equitable leadership practices framework.

Findings

Equitable PS leadership practices were variable. No district engaged with “proficiency” across all drivers of equitable leadership practice, but the district that engaged in equitable PS practices most deeply framed the work of schooling as a race-explicit endeavor, suggesting that framing is a fundamental driver.

Research limitations/implications

This paper builds on PS and equity-focused leadership research by adding a systems-level equity focus.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that districts should focus on equity framing as the foundation for principal support and development.

Originality/value

This researcher/practitioner–scholar collaboration shows how practitioner–scholars provide focus and expertise to the field unavailable to traditional researchers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the L4L6 cohort for their support, challenge, and friendship. The authors would also like to thank Ann Ishimaru and Anthony Craig for their thoughts and insight on drafts of the manuscript, and the leaders in the three districts whose experiences and ideas shaped this project.

Citation

Rigby, J., Donaldson Walsh, E., Boten, S., Deno, A., Harrison, M.S., Merrell, R., Pritchett, S. and Seaman, S. (2019), "A view from the field: the process of improving equitable systems leadership", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 57 No. 5, pp. 484-500. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-09-2018-0181

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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