Learning-Focused Leadership and Leadership Support: Meaning and Practice in Urban Systems

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 Learning-Focused Leadership and Leadership Support: Meaning and Practice in Urban Systems

All the different forms of leadership support just discussed were in evidence in some degree in the districts and schools we studied. And to the extent that they were both present and aligned with each other, they formed a mutually reinforcing web of support for the practice of learning-focused leadership and, ultimately, for learning improvement, as signaled schematically by Figure 5 below. One form of support reinforced another, and the same structures and practices could be invoked in offering more than one kind of support. Network arrangements in several districts, for example, simultaneously offered school principals and other school staff colleagues intellectual, emotional, operational, and strategic support. Within the schools, principals guided and supported teacher leaders’ learning and practice by offering material and financial resources, providing ideas (or access to idea sources), and legitimizing the work of teacher leaders in the eyes of staff members who were not always initially receptive.

This and other forms of leadership support were simultaneously occasions for focusing effort on learning, modeling good practice, engaging educators in improvement work, and developing and using evidence, among other forms of learning-focused leadership practice. In this sense, support activities not only guide and assist the practice of learning-focused leadership, they also embody it. Leadership directed at teachers, teaching, and student learning needs support. Leadership support is itself leadership. The two are flip sides of the same coin.

Figure 5. Web of Support for Learning Improvement and Learning-focused Leadership Work


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