Distributed and Shared Leadership
Creating and sustaining student-centered schools is too much work for one leader to manage, and if directed by one person will not produce the levels of commitment required by everyone to truly meet students’ needs. Leadership needs to be shared and distributed so that all stakeholders take responsibility for the governing of the school and a representative group of those stakeholders have real decision-making power. In student-centered schools, the decision making process is transparent, inclusive, and perhaps most importantly, dictated by the needs of the students. Essential to this model of leadership is that those with the most intimate knowledge of students, closest to the classrooms, are the ones making decisions that affect student opportunity. Distributed leadership requires the traditional principal role to change as well; as they let go of some decision-making power, teachers are provided with ample time and support to make decisions in the best interests of students.
Questions to reflect on:
1) How do you ensure that decisions are aligned to the mission of the school and to student rather than adult needs?
2) How are decisions made at your school? Is a consensus model used? What happens when there is no consensus? How transparent is the process?
3) What decision-making structures are in place in your school? How representative are the teachers participating in these decision-making structures (across grade levels, departments, gender, ethnicity, years of experience)?
4) Are systems in place for all educators to be represented by someone in the position of leadership?
5) How is decision making kept close to the classroom?
6) What kinds of issues do teachers get to make decisions about? Do administrators honor teachers’ decisions even if they disagree with them?
7) What kinds of decisions do students, parents, and community members provide input on? How do you ensure that they are representative of your school community?
8) Does leadership consider the input of teachers, parents, and students when implementing a school policy?
9) How do the school leaders respond to needs of the students and staff?