Navigating the leadership tensions in creating collective responsibility
Journal of Professional Capital and Community
Article publication date: 28 September 2020
Issue publication date: 22 June 2021
The purpose of this research is to use a collective responsibility theoretical lens to examine the work of three school principals as they focussed on school-wide goal-setting processes to achieve valued student achievement goals. The tensions principals face in creating collective responsibility are examined so that these might be intentionally navigated.
Qualitative case studies of three New Zealand schools include data from interviews with principals, middle leaders and teachers. An inductive and deductive thematic analysis approach was employed.
Principals face four key tensions: (1) whether to promote self or centrally directed and voluntary or mandatory professional learning; (2) how to balance a top-down versus a middle-up process for accountability; (3) ways to integrate both educator and student voice and (4) the complexity of both challenging teachers' beliefs and providing support. These challenges seemed inherent in the work of developing collective responsibility and leaders tended to move along response continuum.
This research highlights the importance of being intentional and transparent with staff members about both the nature of these tensions and their navigation, and opens up further questions in relation to leader, and teacher perceptions of tensions in creating collective responsibility for achieving school-improvement goals.
An understanding of the tensions that need to be navigated can help leaders and other educators to take effective action, scrutinize the reasoning behind decisions, and understand the inherent challenges faced.
Leadership tensions in creating collective responsibility are explored and implications for leadership practice and learning considered.
Funding: This research was funded by the New Zealand Government Teaching and Learning Research Initiative.
Le Fevre, D., Meyer, F. and Bendikson, L. (2021), "Navigating the leadership tensions in creating collective responsibility", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 253-266. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-03-2020-0014
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