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Abstract

In times of great change, complexity, and uncertainty, like the global response to the 2020 pandemic, school leaders are challenged to adapt and navigate their way through the tide of internal and external forces to create the best positive outcome for students and the school community. In this paper we describe the pioneering future oriented principal work of David Loader, and present a model for leadership in uncertain times. We propose that there are seven domains of practice (with underlying capabilities) that will be help school leaders in this period of uncertainty. The domains are: understanding the context, setting direction, developing the organisation, developing people, improving teaching and learning, influencing, and leading self.
Administration
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Volume 48 Number 1 2020
International Studies in
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International Studies in Educational Administration (ISEA)
aims to enhance the effectiveness of educational
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International Studies in Educational Administration
Volume 48, No. 1, 2020
Contents
Editorial Note
DAVID GURR 1
Speak a Different Language: Reimagine the Grammar of Schooling
YONG ZHAO 4
Leadership of Special Schools on the Other Side
BRIAN J. CALDWELL 11
Inclusive Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic: How to Respond Within an Inclusion
Framework
ELAINE FOURNIER, SHELLEYANN SCOTT AND DONALD E. SCOTT 17
Leadership for Challenging Times
DAVID GURR AND LAWRIE DRYSDALE 24
Adaptive Leadership: Leading Through Complexity
RYAN DUNN 31
Leading With Empathy and Humanity: Why Talent-Centred Education Leadership is Especially
Critical Amidst the Pandemic Crisis
HENRY TRAN, SUZY HARDIE AND KATHLEEN M. W. CUNNINGHAM 39
Educational Inequality and the Pandemic in Australia: Time to Shift the Educational Paradigm
TERESA ANGELICO 46
A Policy Maker’s Guide to Practical Courses of Action for Current and Post COVID-19 Effects in
Liberian Schools
BOLUMANI SONDAH 54
Understanding Educational Responses to School Closure During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case for
Equity in Nigeria
IDOWU MARY MOGAJI 59
Home Education as Alternative to Institutional Schooling in Nigeria: Lessons From COVID-19
ADELEKE AYOBAMI GIDEON 66
The Role of Local Authorities in the English School System: Why Did the Coronavirus Pandemic
Subvert 30 Years of Neoliberal Policy?
IAN DEWES 72
Academic Integrity During COVID-19: Reflections From the University of Calgary
SARAH ELAINE EATON 80
Can Ghanaian Universities Still Attract International Students in Spite of COVID-19?
FESTUS NYAME AND EKUA ABEDI-BOAFO 86
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Work of University Administrators in Ghana
GEORGE KWADWO ANANE, PAUL KWADWO ADDO, ABRAHAM ADUSEI AND
CHRISTOPHER ADDO 93
Transitioning to Online Distance Learning in the COVID-19 Era: A Call for Skilled Leadership in
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
DARCIA ROACHE, DINA ROWE-HOLDER AND RICHARD MUSCHETTE 103
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ISEAVolume 48, Number 1, 2020
Leadership for Challenging Times
David Gurr and Lawrie Drysdale
Abstract: In times of great change, complexity, and uncertainty, like the global response to the 2020
pandemic, school leaders are challenged to adapt and navigate their way through the tide of internal
and external forces to create the best positive outcome for students and the school community. In this
paper we describe the pioneering future oriented principal work of David Loader, and present a model
for leadership in uncertain times. We propose that there are seven domains of practice (with underlying
capabilities) that will help school leaders in this period of uncertainty. The domains are: understanding
the context, setting direction, developing the organisation, developing people, improving teaching and
learning, influencing, and leading self.
Keywords: Leadership, capabilities, change, leadership practices
Introduction
In the 1990s, Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) in Melbourne, Australia was a leading school
in the use of digital technology in teaching and learning. It was a ‘next practice’ school with
the adoption of 1:1 technology and associated supporting technologies to allow a more
constructivist and individualised approach to teaching and learning. David Loader was the
principal during this time of intense reform. He wrote about his leadership in a remarkable
book, The Inner Principal. First released in 1997, the book stands out for its candour and deep
reflection upon what it means to be a principal. It is also prescient for the current pandemic
situation in that Loader describes an approach to leadership that is deeply engaged with
futures in ways that few leaders are.
As we write this, it is April/May of 2020, and many people across the world are experiencing
a rapidly contracting physical world as they are confined to their homes to counter the
coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As teachers at all levels are being asked to use
technologies to provide remote learning experiences, we have been drawn to consider how
leadership can help prepare educational organisations to respond well to unanticipated
future events in the short and long-term. We begin with one of Loader’s leadership views,
and then consider a framework that we use in our educational leadership development
programmes.
ISEA Volume 48, Number 1, 2020 |
25
Responsive Direction
Loader had developed many important ideas that helped him to not only run a successful
school, but to also consider what might come next for the school. His use of technology to
enhance student learning was driven from an educational view, a belief that a more student-
controlled, constructivist approach to learning was desirable. In one chapter, The Stumble
Principal, he described the process of arriving at the decision to adopt 1:1 computing, a process
that included four ‘stumbles’. First, there was the stumble that exposed Loader to the idea
that computers could help fulfil the school’s educational philosophy. Second, the idea of
using laptops was developed. Third, a philosophy of personal computing evolved. Fourth,
the conception of the school changed from a teaching institution to that of a learning
organisation. There was a fifth and last stumble that focused on changes that were occurring
in the conception of what a school should be but more on that later. What is clear from
Loader’s description is that this was not uncontrolled planning, but a deliberate process of
venturing forth, stumbling over the unexpected, reflecting upon this, glimpsing new
possibilities, and then taking considered action. Loader’s leadership involved having a
driving vision or purpose, using prior knowledge and recognising the limitations of this
knowledge, having a curious and reflective disposition that sought new possibilities, the
involvement of many in change, and the decisiveness to act when a good idea or approach
appeared. Decisiveness was important for Loader and he identified two types of regret that
school leaders often experience: regret for what has happened, and regret for opportunities
lost. He challenges us: ‘When we next stumble, which of the two regrets will we have?
(Loader 1997: 85).
We think of this as leadership that has a responsive direction orientation to change; others
may use labels like strategic intention. Responsive direction suggests that there is a clear sense
of direction, but one that is flexible enough to cater for changes in the environment. As the
pandemic unfolds, we do not know what the near and more distant future holds, and some,
like Marginson (Global HE as we know it has forever changed, Times Higher Education, March
26 2020) are arguing that there will be impacts that will be enduring and which will cause
fundamental changes in the education landscape. Responsive direction allows for short and
long-term planning, but it also assumes that the direction is likely to change, if not in the
intent, at least in the implementation. Responsive direction promotes a restless planning
scheme that is constantly searching for new ideas and reassessing the intended direction.
Leaders with this leadership orientation would seem to be well placed to deal with the
immediate and long-term impacts of unexpected events, like school closures and mass remote
learning. Loader pushed the boundaries of education further, and in his last years at MLC he
was actively exploring the possibility of students attending a physical school for part of the
week, with remote learning supported by learning technologies for the remainder. This was
too radical at the time for the school, but in 2020 in response to the pandemic and with all
schools in Australia utilising some form of remote learning, it doesn’t seem such a radical
idea.
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ISEAVolume 48, Number 1, 2020
Leadership in Uncertain Times Model
To provide further guidance for your own leadership in turbulent times, we now consider
the model described in Drysdale and Gurr (2017) see Figure 1. Centred on student outcomes
as a worthwhile and moral purpose for schools to focus on, it highlights seven leadership
domains. Four of these setting direction, developing people, developing the organisation
and improving teaching and learning come from a line of well-established research
championed by Leithwood and colleagues (e.g. Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins 2020;
Leithwood & Riehl 2003; Leithwood & Sun 2012) and confirmed in other research such as that
of the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) (e.g. Day & Gurr 2014;
Day & Leithwood 2007; Ylimaki & Jacobson 2011). Successful educational leaders tend to have
a long-term view of education, and they have the skills to bring a school community together
to establish an agreed direction. They are able to articulate a vision for 10 or more years, and
make sense of this so that school communities not only understand what is happening in the
present, but also how this fits with the future progress of the school. These leaders are people-
centred, and are particularly focused on developing the staff. They are good at leading change
and putting in place the organisational aspects that will lead to sustained success. Successful
educational leaders know about good curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, and how to
help improve teaching and learning. To these four areas of practice there are at least three
other areas that help promote success. Successful educational leaders understand that
ultimately they are responsible for their own professional development, and they are
proactive in their development and restless for new ideas. They also understand that
leadership is about influencing the behaviours of others in a deliberate process that leads to
behaviour change. Finally, they understand the multiple contexts in which their school exists,
and they are able to respond to, and often influence, these contexts. They become storytellers
and sense makers to help others understand the place of a school in a complicated set of
contexts.
The paper we wrote, Drysdale and Gurr (2017), was attempting to encourage educational
leaders to develop capabilities that would help them lead their organisations successfully in
times of uncertainty. For each of these areas we described important capabilities. We don’t
have space in this paper to address all seven domains, however the full paper is readily
accessible through the Researchgate and Academia share sites. However, we can briefly
consider the domains of understanding the context and setting direction, as these align well with
the story of David Loader.
ISEA Volume 48, Number 1, 2020 |
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Figure 1: Leadership in Uncertain Times Domains and Capabilities Framework
Understanding the Context
Good leaders are able to make sense of ambiguous situations. With all the forces impacting
on education, leaders need to decide what is important, and to know what trends are
fundamentally reshaping education. One way to do this is to consider what we know and
don’t know in order to cut through the clutter. The Johari Window, articulated by Luft and
Ingham (1955), helps. Luft and Ingham proposed that we have aspects which are known and
unknown in relation to self and others (such as the school community). If you are leading a
school consider what the school now stands for (known by you and known by the school
community), how the students and community view the school (unknown to you, but known
by the community), what ideas you have about the school (known to you, but unknown to
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ISEAVolume 48, Number 1, 2020
others), and whether there might be disruptive innovations or context changes that could
impact on the school (unknown to all, such as the current pandemic). Thinking about these
and how unknown information can be obtained and/or shared can help with setting
directions and responding to contextual changes. Sometimes school leaders find themselves
in difficult contexts, such as the pandemic of 2020. As a leader there is a choice to be
overwhelmed by the context, or to try and shape the context to promote organisational
success. Bennis (2015) argued that good leaders conquer their context no matter how chaotic
and disruptive. They find their way around the circumstances, or alter their circumstances,
much as educators are now doing in attempting to provide quality remote learning
experiences.
Setting Direction
Leadership is about setting direction and often it requires the courage to take strategic risks.
We cannot move forward without taking risks or challenging the status quo, and yet there
needs to be a balance between seeking and avoiding risk. While we need to push the
boundaries and reimage the future, in education we also need wisdom and intelligence to
minimise any risk that might endanger our students’ futures. Leaders need to take decisions
based on available evidence, seek new information, look for unintended consequences, and
have contingency plans to change direction if necessary, and all the while without
jeopardising student outcomes; much like Loader did with the transformation of MLC. A firm
moral foundation for decision making will help with this risk approach. Covey, Merrill and
Merrill (1994: 19) used the metaphor of the compass to help point us in a worthwhile direction,
to help us understand where we have been and where we are; the compass is ‘our vision,
values, principles, mission, conscience, direction what we feel is important and how we lead
our lives.’ Universal values such as social inclusion, social justice, equality of outcomes,
opportunities for all, helping students to stretch for and reach their potential, and developing
responsible students who meaningfully contribute to society, can serve as a base-line for
setting direction. As we plan new directions, scenario planning can help imagine futures and
help us to prepare for potential disruptions (OECD 2001). We can try to forecast the future
and follow trends, but we know that events can rapidly change. For example, disruptive
technology is a known unknown – we know it is there and will change the way we do things,
but we are not sure how (Christensen, Horn & Johnson 2008). Constructing future scenarios
(e.g. Loader imagining a school that only has in-person classes for part of the week) helps
with: long-term planning; helps identify opportunities and threats; tests decision maker
assumptions; provides leaders with a broader perspective through different points of view;
supports organisations to preserve options; provides a future orientation through envisioning
a preferred future; and helps prepare for unforeseeable events. Indeed, one of Australia’s top
tier Australian Rules football clubs conducted a scenario planning exercise in February 2020
in which they imagined what would happen if there was a sudden and gigantic crash in
membership and finances and how long could they survive without any money (G. Baum,
ISEA Volume 48, Number 1, 2020 |
29
Richmond prepared for a crisis ... then it happened, The Age, May 25, 2020). As a result of the
closure of the football season for two months, and the absence of spectators for most of 2020,
the club is anticipating losing 20 percent of its revenue. ‘It wasn't quite the case that the Tigers
were ahead of the game again, but it meant that they were on top of their game when the
coronavirus struck (G. Baum, Richmond prepared for a crisis ... then it happened, The Age,
May 25, 2020 para. 2).
From a study involving 500 school leaders considering the idea of the future focused school,
Caldwell and Loader (2010) provide a suitable conclusion to this setting direction section.
They encourage school leaders to dream of possible and preferred futures, whilst being
cognisant and respectful of the past, securing the present, and being responsive to the many
challenges faced by schools. For them, it is not sufficient for school leaders to just manage the
present; they need to be future oriented, and to do this requires knowing and articulating
internal values, hopes and goals, analysing trends, and visioning preferred futures. Having a
future oriented leadership approach can help all leaders navigate turbulent times.
Reflection
We don’t claim that our leadership framework is the answer for navigating these difficult
times, but we do know that leaders who have a deep understanding of leadership and change
are more likely to lead their organisations successfully through uncertain times. We offer our
view to help you in your leadership work.
References
Baum, G. (2020, May 25). Richmond Prepared for a Crisis ... Then it Happened, The Age (retrieved from
https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/richmond-prepared-for-a-crisis-then-it-happened-20200525-p54w
ah.html).
Bennis, W. (2015). Managing the dream: Leadership in the 21st century. The Antioch Review, 73(2), 364-
370.
Caldwell, B. J., & Loader, D. N. (2010) Our School Our Future: Shaping the future of Australian schools.
Melbourne, Australia: Education Services Australia.
Christensen, C. M., Horn, M. B., & Johnson, C. W. (2008). Disrupting Class: How disruptive innovation will
change the way the world learns. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Covey, S. R., Merrill, A. R., & Merrill, R. R. (1994). First Things First: To live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Day, C., & Gurr, D. (Eds.) (2014). Leading Schools Successfully: Stories from the field. London, UK: Routledge.
Day, C., & Leithwood, K. (Eds.) (2007). Successful School Leadership in Times of Change. Dordrecht,
Netherlands: Springer-Kluwer.
Drysdale, L., & Gurr, D. (2017) Leadership in uncertain times. International Studies in Educational
Administration, 45(2), 131-159.
Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2020). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership
revisited. School Leadership and Management, 40(1), 1-18.
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Leithwood, K. A., & Riehl, C. (2003). What We Know about Successful School Leadership. Philadelphia, PA:
Laboratory for Student Success, Temple University.
Leithwood, K., & Sun, J. (2012). The nature and effects of transformational school leadership: A meta-
analytic review of unpublished research. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(3), 387-423.
Loader, D. (1997). The Inner Principal. London, UK: Falmer Press.
Luft, J., & Ingham, H. (1955). The Johari Window, a Graphic Model of Interpersonal Awareness. Proceedings of
the western training laboratory in group development, Los Angeles, CA: University of California.
Marginson, S. (2020, March 26). Global HE As We Know It Has Forever Changed (retrieved from
https://www.brookings.edu/research/summer-learning-loss-what-is-it-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/).
OECD (2001). Scenarios for the Future of School ing. What Schools for the Future. Schooling for Tomorrow.
Center for Educational Research and Innovation, Schooling for Tomorrow Knowledge Bank (retrieved
from www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/futuresthinking/scenarios/whatarescen
arios.htm).
Ylimaki, R., & Jacobson, S. (Eds.) (2011). US and Cross-National Policies, Practices and Preparation:
Implications for successful instructional leadership, organizational learning, and culturally responsive practices.
Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer-Kluwer.
Author Details
David Gurr
Melbourne Graduate School of Education
The University of Melbourne
Email: d.gurr@unimelb.edu.au
Lawrie Drysdale
Melbourne Graduate School of Education
The University of Melbourne
Email: drysdale@unimelb.edu.au
... School leadership through the crisis has been considered by a range of researchers often by applying previously collected empirical findings or conceptual models to leadership through COVID-19 disruptions (e.g. Gurr and Drysdale, 2020;Stone-Johnson and Miles Weiner, 2020) or providing viewpoints, commentary or editorials on school leadership for this unprecedented time (e.g. Harris and Jones, 2020;Netolicky, 2020). ...
... In understanding the prior capacity and worldview that school leaders bring to their response to change, ambiguity and uncertainty, Gurr and Drysdale (2020) propose the concept of responsive direction orientation to change. Informed by Loader's (2010) description of his own leadership as 'stumbling' through a significant change process, Gurr and Drysdale interpreted that 'what is clear from Loader's description is that this was not uncontrolled planning, but a deliberate process of venturing forth, stumbling over the unexpected, reflecting upon this, glimpsing new possibilities, and then taking considered action ' (2020: 25). ...
... In these unusual times a range of literature has emerged that has varying connections to empirical evidence gathered from actual practice as schools responded to pandemic conditions. Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to undertake a deep review or critique of this body of literature, it is of note that those authors reviewed for this paper who had published early (Gurr and Drysdale, 2020;Harris and Jones, 2020;Netolicky, 2020;Stone-Johnson and Miles Weiner, 2020) provided insights that were borne out in the findings of this study. For example, these early works predicted a focus on community and well-being. ...
This paper examines the ways that Australian school leaders made sense of and responded to situations of crisis and uncertainty that resulted from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The paper draws on a qualitative study of the subjective experiences of eight school leaders and uses a sensemaking theoretical approach applied to crisis leadership to contribute to understanding leadership in unprecedented situations. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews undertaken in the middle of 2020. At that time participants were working through significant changes resulting from community lockdowns that required their schools to move to remote provision of education. The findings revealed these school leaders engaged in rapid processes of sensemaking and change implementation. They assessed and managed risks, relationships and resourcing in environments where usual processes of change leadership were not available to them. They reported that their attention was predominantly directed to the well-being of their communities. They noted an increase in the community leadership aspect of their role and the requirement of effective, timely and honest communication. They also demonstrated prospective sensemaking orientations in their capacity to reconfigure for a positive and productive future that could emerge from these disruptive experiences.
... The Leadership in Uncertain Times Domains and Capabilities Framework developed by Gurr and Drysdale (2020) is adopted as the theoretical framework for this paper. The framework proposes seven domains to guide educational leaders and institutions during crises as they plan to ensure the attainment of learning outcomes. ...
... There must be constant and mandatory capacity building and training for both teaching and non-teaching staff and students at the universities on the use of their online teaching and learning platforms, and other areas such as the psychosocial effects of online teaching and learning. The Leadership in Uncertain Times model by Gurr and Drysdale (2020) may be adopted and adapted to guide training programmes. Facilitators must be sensitised on the need to ensure that transferring course materials meant for delivery in the traditional faceto-face mode to e-learning platforms have all the relevant information about the subject, so that no part would be left out. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world with severe impacts on all spheres of human life. In the higher education sector, the pandemic distorted academic calendars and upended many activities such as examinations and graduation ceremonies. This chapter examines various institutional risk management strategies for teaching and learning that were adopted by public universities in Ghana in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using qualitative data involving secondary data and interviews, the chapter solicits experiences and opinions of key officers in ten public universities about strategies that were used to respond to risks posed to teaching and learning by the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter reveals that public universities adopted different but somewhat similar risk management strategies for teaching and learning depending on prior institutional risk management policies, government directives, and resource availability as explicated later in the chapter. The chapter recommends the development and implementation of risk policies and management strategies which involve building the capacity of university leadership to better manage risks that affect teaching and learning in the future. Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, crisis management, remote teaching, Ghana
... Further Ch6 (Ensuring Distributive Leadership) with the percentage of 60.98 was identified as a remarkable challenge for school leadership. Distributed leadership practices are vital in this time of crises (Gurr and Drysdale, 2020). Distributive leadership is the capability to initiate strategic transformation in an institution as demanded by the crisis situation. ...
Article
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Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is triggering a public health emergency and crisis on a large scale, with far-reaching effects and severe damage to all aspects of politics, economy, cultural and social life, and health. Consecutive outbreaks over the past nearly 2 years of "living with COVID-19" have forced most schools to physically close, resulting in the largest educational disruption in human history. In turbulent times of the COVID-19 crisis, school leaders are facing numerous major challenges germane to school governance and leadership. The key objective of the study is to fully explore the prospective challenges principals are encountering in public schools in times of COVID-19. To fulfill the research purpose, a systematic literature review (SLR) was carried out to investigate the leadership challenges. As a result, a total of 24 challenges were explored through SLR approach. Frequency analysis approach was initially applied to figure out the most significant challenges. Accordingly, seven challenges were found statistically significant as showing frequency ≥ 50 each. Irrevocably, the study works as a contribution to K-12 school leadership by providing guidance for current and future leaders in crisis based on practical investigation, experiences, and recommendations. Policy makers can leverage these findings to make necessary adjustments to school policy to better prepare school leaders for crisis. Additionally, the findings of the current study are believed to have profound implications for future research. These findings expand our current understanding on school leadership in time of crisis that needs further investigation. Subsequent studies can quantitatively and/or qualitatively validate these leadership challenges findings regarding a particular school context.
... As the country dealt with a wide range of losses on multiple levels, schools also had to deal with their own "losses" due to the COVID-19 virus (Gurr and Drysdale, 2020). As schools closed across the country to prevent the spread of the disease, student lives were radically upended as schooling rapidly shifted to the home and delivered via online platforms. ...
Article
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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, everyday life was fundamentally transformed. Schools and small businesses were forced to shut down. Individuals were encouraged to wear masks in public settings, “shelter-in-place” orders were implemented across several cities and states, and social distancing became a routine practice. Some lost their jobs and livelihood, while others lost the day-to-day physical connection with colleagues and friends, as their “work-life” had shifted to home. To be certain, the variety of losses that people individually and collectively experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is quite vast—ranging from small, seemingly inconsequential losses (like the freedom to get a haircut) to more considerable and painful losses (like the loss of life). It is important to note that these losses overlapped with other crises that were fomenting across the nation at the same time—for example, the rise of the white supremacist movement, Black Lives Matter, anti-Asian racism, and draconian immigration enforcement, amongst others. These other pandemics also produced losses, such as the loss of civil rights, crackdowns on civic participation, and fundamental violations of basic human rights and civil liberties. In this paper, we discuss the “losses” we are currently experiencing as a nation and the need for school leaders to pay attention to the range of losses people are experiencing in their daily lives. We draw particular attention to those losses compounded by intersecting historical oppressions that disproportionately impact historically marginalized students, families, and communities. We also (re)imagine the transformation of schools to sites of collective healing that work to humanize the collective experience by anchoring actions in resistance, love, collective well-being, hope, and solidarity with and alongside teachers, students, families, and communities.
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This article analyzes the personal leadership resources utilized by a sample of school principals in Catalonia (Spain) during the confinement and post-confinement periods due to the COVID-19 crisis. A questionnaire was designed, validated, and provided to the principals from Primary Education schools to carry out the study. The questionnaire analyzed personal leadership resources used by the principals during the confinement and post-confinement periods, compared to a former ¨normal situation¨. The data analysis results confirmed that the role of the principals was crucial in redirecting the situation and completing the academic course satisfactorily. The principals scored their leadership resources remarkably high in the former normality and maintained proactivity at a similar level during the crisis. However, other resources scored lower during the same period. As a direct result, there was a high degree of adaptation to this situation from the principals. The results indicate that principals do not lead in the same manner in times of crisis as in normal times. Age, experience, and type of school influence the results only in former normal situations but not in times of crisis.
Chapter
Events such as 9/11, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear accident, Deepwater Horizon Oil disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Ebola outbreak in West Africa, 2003 US/Canada Blackout, global financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic all contain the hallmarks of a crisis event. Weick and Sutcliffe (Managing the unexpected: resilient performance in an age of uncertainty. Wiley, San Francisco, 2007 [1]) argue that ‘unexpected events often audit our resilience. Everything that was left unprepared becomes a complex problem’. Leadership plays a pivotal role in managing such crisis (whether they emerge as a black swan event (Taleb in The black swan: the impact of the highly improbable. Penguin Books Ltd, London, 2007 [2]), the ‘elephant in the room’ or as a ‘creeping crisis’ (Boin et al. in Risk Hazards Crisis Public Policy 11(2), 2020c [3]). The Covid-19 pandemic for example has resulted in considerable impact on global health security, human security and the global economy. As described in (OECD in A systemic resilience approach to dealing with Covid-19 and future shocks New Approaches to Economic Challenges, 2020 [4]), ‘…the pandemic has reminded us bluntly of the fragility of some of our most basic human-made systems. Shortages of masks, tests, ventilators and other essential items have left frontline workers and the general population dangerously exposed to the disease itself. At a wider level, we have witnessed the cascading collapse of entire production, financial, and transportation systems, due to a vicious combination of supply and demand shocks’. This highlights the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) conditions that shape the crisis landscape and its effect on inherent vulnerabilities that exist within our systems. By drawing upon recent disaster events and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, this chapter examines sensemaking within the context of crisis leadership and presents a crisis leadership framework focused on absorptive, adaptive and generative capacities (Castillo and Trinh in J Organ Change Manage 32(3), 2019 [5]) to support problem framing, solution navigation and innovation.
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In times of great change, complexity, and uncertainty school leaders are challenged to adapt and navigate their way through the tide of internal and external forces to create the best positive outcome for students and the school community. While this is essentially a conceptual paper, it is framed as a research informed analysis of key capabilities that leaders will need to draw on in times of uncertainty. It draws on both the business and education literature as well as our own observations from our research. We propose that there are domains of practice that will remain key for school leaders into the foreseeable future. Seven domains are outlined: setting direction, understanding the context, building the organisation, building people, focus on teaching and learning, influencing, and self-leadership. To accommodate to the multitude of changes, we suggest that school leaders should review and adapt the underlying capabilities that shape each domain. While the paper cannot explore all the capabilities that may exist, we identify numerous key capabilities that are likely to lead to a positive outcome for the students and the school.
Article
Background: Using meta-analytic review techniques, this study synthesized the results of 79 unpublished studies about the nature of transformational school leadership (TSL) and its impact on the school organization, teachers, and students. This corpus of research associates TSL with 11 specific leadership practices. These practices, as a whole, have moderate positive effects on a wide range of consequential school conditions. They also have moderately strong and positive effects on individual teachers’ internal states, followed by their influence on teacher behaviors and collective teachers’ internal states. TSL has small but significant positive effects on student achievement. Research Design: This synthesis of unpublished research results is accomplished by a systematic series of meta-correlations and is compared with the results of earlier systematic reviews of published TSL research. Findings: Among the conclusions arising from the study is that several of the most widely advocated models of effective educational leadership actually include many of the same practices. Conclusions: More attention by researchers, practitioners, and researchers needs to be devoted to the impact of specific leadership practices and less to leadership models.
Richmond Prepared for a Crisis
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