To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management - A Blog for Principals and Teachers - School Matters | A Blog for Principals and Teachers – School Matters

 
 

To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management

 
 

 

 

iStock 000003390204XSmall 150x150 To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and ManagementPrincipals are busy people. It is no secret that all principals are required to wear a variety of ‘hats’, assuming the role of manager, social worker, leader, fund raiser, to name just a few. In many instances it is the ability of principals to juggle these ‘hats’ that determines their professional success or failure.

In an interesting activity that I have conducted with school principals, I have asked them to list all the possible roles they play. Each principal was given a page of colored stickers and asked to rate the importance of the roles, with the most important roles marked in red, second marked in blue and third marked in green. On each of the four different occasions the activity has been run, the results have been strikingly similar. The role of leader was washed in a sea of red, easily outdistancing any other role as the primary job description of a school principal.

However, when asked to quantify the time they dedicated to each role, the story was very different. In general, principals felt that they spent precious little time actually engaging in the role of leader, and instead focused almost all their time and energy trying to manage their school buildings, staff issues and the ever-present student crisis.

A paper published by Richard Elmore, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, entitled Building a New Structure for School Leadership, finds the fault in prevalent institutional structures and the role of administrators found in those structures. Describing the current public school structure Elmore writes:

the “technical core” of education—detailed decisions about what should be taught at any given time, how it should be taught, what students should be expected to learn at any given time, how they should be grouped within classrooms for purposes of instruction, what they should be required to do to demonstrate their knowledge, and, perhaps most importantly, how their learning should be evaluated—resides in individual classrooms, not in the organizations that surround them.

Elmore feels that once administration is effectively banished from the classrooms, the only role left for the administrative superstructure of the organization —principals, board members, and administrators—is to “buffer” the weak technical core of teaching from outside inspection, interference, or disruption. Compared to the role of teachers he explains that the role of the principal consists of:

creating structures and procedures around the technical core of teaching that, at the same time, (1) protect teachers from outside intrusions in their highly uncertain and murky work, and (2) create the appearance of rational management of the technical core, so as to allay the uncertainties of the public about the actual quality or legitimacy of what is happening in the technical core…Teachers, working in isolated classrooms, under highly uncertain conditions, manage the technical core. This division of labor has been amazingly constant over the past century.

But the question that must be asked is, in effect, which came first the proverbial chicken or the egg? Were principals pushed out of the classroom or did they contribute to their banishment by forsaking their leadership role? Did teachers reject administrative leadership or simply move in to fill a leadership void? Before bemoaning the current state of school structure, principals must be able to answer the above question and be both ready and able to assume the mantle of the leadership they seek.

Share and Enjoy:
  • twitter To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management
  • linkedin To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management
  • facebook To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management
  • googlebookmark To Lead or not to Lead? School Leadership and Management
 

2 Comments

  1. Ken Timpe says:

    Karmi,

    Here’s my take on leadership vs. management in school, business, or government.

    Leadership begins with Mission, Vision, and Values. What we do, where we’re going, and what we believe in.

    Management deals with Structure, Process, and Culture.

    The mission dictates the structure…The vision drives the process…The values define the culture.

    Let the Principal lead the school, and the Teacher manage the classroom.

    • Karmi says:

      I think your descriptions are for the most part right on. I would somewhat disagree with culture being a function of management, although we may be talking about totally different aspects of culture. Your last line, accurately echoes the sentiments of my article, however, I would add that there are areas in which principals must manage and teachers must lead.

Post a Comment


 

Educators Calendar Events

Featured Posts

Charter Schools – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained?

Charter Schools – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained?

Charter schools are publicly funded institutions which operate independently thus giving the freedom to experiment with educating students in any way which they...

 
Student Wins Gold Medal Using Hertz Furniture Products in Design Plan!

Student Wins Gold Medal Using Hertz Furniture Products in Design Plan!

In an outstanding display of innovative and inspired teaching, Kay-Lynne Schaller guided her student to win a Gold medal in the National Leadership Conference in...

 
Video: Wellness and Health Education

Video: Wellness and Health Education

  Is there a place in our schools for teaching our students wellness and fitness? While physical education classes have always been a part of our education system,...

 
Top 15 Things Teachers Hate Infographic

Top 15 Things Teachers Hate Infographic

  Hertz Furniture presents the Top 15 things Teachers Hate Infographic.  Paperwork, Meetings, Uncomfortable Teacher Chairs and more. The infograhic was compiled...

 
K-12 Class Size And Student Success Infographic

K-12 Class Size And Student Success Infographic

  Hertz Furniture is proud to present the Correlation Between K-12 Class Size And Student Success Infographic.  Are smaller classes more effective?  Does the...

 
Student Data Sharing: Is this “Big Brother Watching”?

Student Data Sharing: Is this “Big Brother Watching”?

Readers be forewarned; I am about to age myself. When I was in school, George Orwell’s “1984” was required reading. We couldn’t imagine then that much of...

 
Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher?  Part II

Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher? Part II

Hertz Furniture is proud to present the What Makes An Effective Teacher? infographic series!  Environmental influences such as classroom resources, appropriate...

 
Does Class Size Really Matter?

Does Class Size Really Matter?

As educators, I believe that most of us would prefer fewer students to teach than a larger amount. We might feel that we can give more personal student attention,...

 
Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher?

Infographic: What Makes An Effective Teacher?

  Hertz Furniture is proud to present the What Makes An Effective Teacher? Infographic!  Teacher Influences such as pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge and...

 
Let’s Improve Reading… Again

Let’s Improve Reading… Again

When I was in first grade, I was taught to read using a system called, “I.T.A.-The Initial Teaching Alphabet”. Never heard of it? No wonder. I.T.A. used a fake,...