The following are my notes from Maxfield and Flumerfelt’s article entitled “The Empowering Principal: Leadership Behaviors Needed by Effective Principals as Identified by Emerging Leaders and Principals” appearing in the International Journal of Teacher Leadership.

  1. Too often teachers experience isolation and a lack of opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in taking on the difficult work of improving student learning. Ingersoll (2001) cited this as a major factor in the alarming “drop out” rate of early career teachers.
  2. Schools have tended to embrace the traditional stratified view of leadership, which assumes that there is a fundamental divide between the service delivery role of teachers and the leadership role of administrators.
  3. not only will shared leadership enhance the prospects for improving student achievement, but it will also provide important opportunities for individual teachers to experience fulfillment while freeing principals from the sole responsibility for improving student achievement.
  4. Too often teachers are frustrated when their training as leaders is not acknowledged and they are not given opportunities to exert leadership.
  5. today’s schools principals are faced with three options: “Do everything themselves or with a few chosen teachers, sit back and let leadership occur in a chaotic manner, or intentionally plan and facilitate the process of collaborative leadership” 
  6. A principal’s disposition to share leadership with teachers (or others) appears related to personal security. Many of us have observed that the weaker the principal is personally, the less the principal is likely to share leadership. Stronger, more secure principals are more likely to share leadership. It makes sense. 
  7. Effective principals promote collaboration and shared decision-making through the development of professional learning communities supported by encouraging staff 
  8. principals should provide opportunities to lead, listen carefully to the teacher leader and nurture development of authentic professional learning communities.
  9. “One of the most promising strategies a principal can use to support teacher leadership is to build an infrastructure that systematically provides opportunities, space for teacher leaders to emerge.”
  10. Principals felt that it was important to create a climate of trust and confidence in the leadership of others, to promote ownership of vision and goals, and identify potential leaders and get them involved. One principal suggested that empowering principals must “Set the stage for leadership to be shared.”
  11. “Developing a positive/trusting relationship in the building is a must before teachers will risk a leadership role. It’s the adage– Go slow to go fast.”
  12. “Identify all the ways teachers can demonstrate leadership within a building. Try to break through the ‘scarcity’ mentality and show that all should be leaders in various situations.” Another teacher leader advised principals to “abdicate responsibility for certain areas requiring leadership and increase teachers’ capacity by offering scaffold opportunities for leadership. Letting go and supporting.”
  13. Principals were consistent in citing time, peer pressure, and union issues as the strongest barriers encountered by teachers assuming leadership roles. A practicing principal identified, “A sense of separation from teaching colleagues, perception by their peers of being arrogant or seeming superior, perception by peers as being part of the ‘inner circle’ of administration, and favoritism” as barriers. Another principal cited, “The union, the ‘old guard,’ fear of reprisal, and jealousy” as the mitigating barriers to teachers assuming leadership roles.
  14. The notion that leadership stems from personally-based, rather than organizationally-based power is a critical point of learning from this study. For many practicing principals and emerging teacher leaders, this represents a reconceptualization from traditional leadership paradigms. 
  15. While transactional behaviors are needed to operate any school, in terms of empowerment development, transformational actions emerged as a critical theme.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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