Shared leadership for change
The Community “Shared leadership for change”
“With the best leader at the helm, people barely know there is one. Then comes the one who loves and praises himself. Then comes the one you are afraid of. Then comes the one who is despised and challenged. When a leader trusts no one, no one will trust him. The great leader speaks little. He never speaks recklessly. He works without personal interest and leaves no trace. In the end, people say: we did it. “
Lau-Tzu, Tao-Te Ching, verse 17
Similarly, in the school system, the concept of leadership has often been interpreted as a vertical top-down relationship between an individual (the Head teacher) and a group (teachers, students, ATA staff …), but over the years, in order to face up to the numerous changes that have taken place in the education sector, alternative leadership models have emerged to respond in a more effective and flexible manner to the new educational and organizational needs.
What has emerged, especially by observing the Anglo-Saxon world, is a movement towards shared leadership management models, where network representations replace pyramid organization charts, so that the Head teacher is placed in the centre of a circle rather than on top of a pyramid. The Shared Leadership model differs from the concept of distributed Leadership. In fact, according to this approach, the need to support the taking of responsibility by all school actors (students, teachers, parents, other stakeholders in the area), in the decision-making process and in addressing problems and difficulties that concern and involve the entire educating community, is recognised and emphasized. Thus, in addition to and alongside the head teacher, there will be, for example, teacher leaders and student leaders, capable of taking on projects, and educational and organizational paths of change and innovation.
This is why INDIRE proposes this Community specifically named “Shared leadership for change”.
The issues of leadership and governance are in fact now more current and debated than ever, far from only concerning the head teacher, they see the entire school community and the stakeholders of the territory increasingly involved.
The idea of designing and opening the community, shared leadership for change, stems from INDIRE’s participation, since 2018, in the European project Learning Leadership for Change (L2C ). The main objective of the L2C project, funded within the Erasmus+ Programme, was to promote innovation in the field of shared leadership between teachers, head teachers, students, parents, educators, and local stakeholders.
In these three years, schools from 5 European countries (Belgium, Spain, Italy, Malta and Portugal) have developed and tested new ideas related to the impact of the application of shared leadership principles in specific areas of schools’ strategic development (STEM, innovative use of ICT in teaching, digital citizenship), through a process of co-construction of teaching ideas and practices.
Since the project will end in December 2020, it is important not to waste the know-how acquired in these three years of activity. This led to the idea of creating an online environment in which all school players can discuss the issue of shared leadership and school governance, in order to share innovative experiences and practices both nationally and internationally.
The Community “Shared Leadership for Change” aims to be open to all the school actors: head teachers, teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders in the area. In this virtual space, developed in collaboration with IUL online university, materials, resources and best practices can be found and shared; and there will be the opportunity to discuss in special forums and to participate in live events, such as webinars with industry experts.
In the Community, the publication of new materials and resources will take place periodically and will above all respond to users’ requests, in accordance with their current needs. In this way it will be possible to respond and discuss in real time the requests that will gradually emerge, also using relevant documents proposed by the users themselves, with the aim of making this Community a tool with in-progress updates, useful for a profitable change in the school system.