Just thinking of different notions of leadership in education. One of the models is top-down, with leadership emanating from the apex of a triangle down to various designated people who then lead "the masses." Another view is quite different: leadership does not necessarily "reside" in a particular person, or emanate from "recognized positions," but ebbs and flows as a function of relationships in the school.
Gordon A. Donaldson Jr wrote in the article "What Do Teachers Bring to Leadership", "An alternative to the hierarchical model of school leadership is the relational model, which views leadership as residing not in individuals, but in the spaces among individuals." "Teacher leaders also have the benefit of working with others in small, intimate, adaptable groups or in one-on-one relationships... Some of these small units are formal work groups, such as grade-level teams or departments. But many are naturally occurring and informal—clusters of teachers who get into the habit of dropping by one another's rooms, sharing materials, ideas, and challenges or generating a proposal to the principal for a new science initiative. In these less formal clusters, it's often difficult to say who's leading whom. But few would say that leadership doesn't exist among these energetic and closely connected professionals."
"Teacher culture based on relationships is hugely influential in schools, often trumping administrative and legislative influence (Spillane, 2006). Although some administrators and policymakers might see this as a problem, strong relationships are teachers' most powerful leadership asset (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002)." (Donaldson, Educational Leadership, September, 2007)
Similarly, here's Roland S. Barth in "Improving Relationships within the Schoolhouse,"
"Congenial relationships represent a precondition for another kind of adult relationship highly prized by school reformers yet highly elusive: collegiality. Of the four categories of relationships (parallel play, adversarial, congenial, and collegial), collegiality is the hardest to establish.
Famous baseball manager Casey Stengel once muttered, 'Getting good players is easy. Getting 'em to play together is the hard part.' Schools are full of good players. Collegiality is about getting them to play together, about growing a professional learning community.
When I visit a school and look for evidence of collegiality among teachers and administrators—signs that educators are “playing together”—the indicators I seek are
* Educators talking with one another about practice.
* Educators sharing their craft knowledge.
* Educators observing one another while they are engaged in practice.
* Educators rooting for one another's success.
Empowerment, recognition, satisfaction, and success in our work—all in scarce supply within our schools—will never stem from going it alone as a masterful teacher, principal, or student, no matter how accomplished one is. Empowerment, recognition, satisfaction, and success come only from being an active participant within a masterful group—a group of colleagues."
(Barth, Best of Educational Leadership 2005-2006)
A question it'd be interesting to explore at CR2.0 is where is the leadership in your school, and do you feel you can enter into the leadership in a smooth and healthy way? As we work towards reform and "21st-century learning," are you finding examples of teachers "taking" leadership on their own (interesting word, "taking", because sometimes if you take it there's MORE, not less of it); do you have suggestions of what we can do to move into educational change through viewing leadership differently?