Managing and Guiding School Refor...
Educational Administration Quarterly Datnow, Castellano / GUIDING SCHOOL REFORM Managing and Guiding School Reform: Leadership in Success for All Schools Amanda Datnow Marisa Eileen Castellano This article addresses issues of leadership in school reform with respect to the roles of the principal and the reform facilitator, a teacher who works full-time to support reform activities. The Success for All reform model is used as a case in point because it, like many other reforms, views leadership as critical to reform success. Using qualitative data gathered in six Success for All schools, this article focuses on how principal leader- ship shaped and was shaped by the reform and on the successes and challenges faced by Success for All facilitators in occupying a position of teacher leadership. This article dis- cusses the roles and relationships, tensions and ambiguities, and power dynamics that evolved among principals, facilitators, and teachers in the implementation of the reform. The findings of this study illuminate the challenges in reconnecting teaching and admin- istration and reveal the importance of changing structures and cultures in this move. It is axiomatic that strong leadership is critical for successful whole-school reform. Not only is leadership generally important, but ���the school improve- ment literature shows fairly clearly that schools are unlikely to be strength- ened by either teachers or administrators working on their separate side of the street��� (Murphy, 1999b, p. 9). Teaching and administration must be con- nected so that ���organizational forms and administrative structures take form 219 Educational Administration Quarterly Vol. 37, No. 2 (April 2001) 219-249 �� 2001 The University Council for Educational Administration Authors��� Note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association on April 28, 2000, in New Orleans. The work reported herein was supported by a grant from the Office of Educational Research and Improve- ment, U.S. Department of Education to the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (Grant No. R-117D-40005) and by a grant to the Center for Research on Educa- tion, Diversity, and Excellence under the Educational Research and Development Centers Pro- gram (No. R306A60001). However, any opinions expressed are the authors��� own and do not rep- resent the policies or positions of the U.S. Department of Education. We wish to thank the
around the most productive work on the core technology of schooling��� (Murphy, 1999b, p. 9). Yet, reconnecting teaching and administration is a for- midable task that requires substantial changes in working relationships between teachers and administrators as well as between the institutional structures and cultures that hold them in place. To know more about reconnecting teaching and administration, more research is needed on the principals who are engaged in reform (Lieberman, 1999), on the teacher leaders who are seen as linking teachers and administra- tors (Muncey & McQuillan, 1996 Smylie, 1997), and on the power relations between teachers and administrators (Johnson, 1999), particularly in terms of how these relations are affected by gender and the relatively low status of the teaching profession (Lieberman, 1999). In this article, we address some of these issues as we explore leadership in Success for All (SFA) schools. SFA is a research-based whole-school reform model that organizes resources to ensure that students succeed in reading throughout the elementary grades (Slavin & Madden, 1996). SFA is used as a case in point as it, like many other reforms, views leadership as critical to reform success. Using qualitative data gathered in six SFA schools, we focus on how principals and facilitators (teachers who work full time to support reform activities) understand and enact their roles as leaders of the reform. We explore the changes, tensions, and ambiguities that arise in schools as principals redefine their roles to support the reform and as facilitators rede- fine their roles as teacher leaders. We examine how principals and teacher leaders attempt to connect with each other and negotiate power differentials and styles of leadership. Through this investigation, we hope to contribute to the discussion of how to reconnect teaching and administration in the quest for school improvement. Our study is grounded in several theoretical assumptions about social life in schools and in general (Datnow, Hubbard, & Mehan, 1998). We assume that the meaning that people derive from the social world varies according to their perspective (Garfinkel, 1967 Wittgenstein, 1952) and that a person���s location in social institutions and in cultural arrangements can influence his or her interpretation of events (Bakhtin, 1981). Because of institutional arrangements, some positions accrue material and symbolic resources (e.g., power) that enable incumbents of those positions to impose meanings on 220 Educational Administration Quarterly Educational Administration Quarterly editorial team and anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions. We also wish to thank Lea Hubbard, Tiffany Meyers, Joseph Murphy, Robert Slavin, and Sam Stringfield for their comments on an earlier draft the participants in the schools who gave so freely of their time for the purposes of this study and Kathleen Stringfield for her assistance with the Success for All database.
others (Erickson & Shultz, 1982 Mehan, Hertweck, & Meihls, 1986). We also assume that the agency of educators is part of a complex dynamic, shap- ing and shaped by the structural and cultural features of school and society (Cole, 1996 Datnow et al., 1998). These assumptions guide our investigation ofhowprincipalsandfacilitatorsmakemeaningoftheirnewrolesinreform. LITERATURE REVIEW Principals and School Reform It is well established that reforming schools requires both restructuring and reculturing (Fullan, 1999 Hargreaves, 1994 Sarason, 1996), during which the role of the principal is reshaped (Carlin, 1992 Murphy & Louis, 1999) and teacher leaders are developed (Miller, 1998). Principals need to craftschoolculturesthathelpsetthefoundationforchange (Deal&Peterson, 1998), and the role of the principal as an active and ongoing supporter of reform is critical to the success of a school-wide change effort (Muncey & McQuillan, 1996). For principals to be effective at guiding change, they need to do many things, including play an instructional leadership role: ���A good administrator . . . supports improvement that is responsive to the classroom context��� (Fraatz, 1989, p. 19) and provides support for classroom teachers. Principals must also create and maintain a sense of trust in the school use positive micropolitics to negotiate between managerial, technical, and insti- tutional arenas and create a professional community and networks for com- munication within the school (Murphy & Louis, 1999). They must also main- tain a momentum of continuous growth (Goldring & Rallis, 1993). Engaging in school change requires principals to move from being man- agers of the status quo to facilitators of reform (Frederick, 1992). In doing so, principals often have to develop skills of collaboration, learn to empower teachers, and learn to share power with them (Louis & Miles, 1990 Wasley, 1989). For principals, this involves a balancing act of knowing when to be directive and when to step back and allow teachers to direct reform efforts (Leithwood & Jantzi, 1990 Muncey & McQuillan, 1996). Principals need to be willing to take risks associated with losing some of their control (Prestine, 1993). This is difficult for some principals, who may end up maintaining the status quo instead of empowering teachers (Anderson, 1991). The newly defined roles that principals are asked to play in reform are accompanied by a series of other challenges. For principals, reform is often accompanied by role ambiguity or overload and by a loss of a sense of iden- tity (Murphy, 1994 Prestine, 1993). Principals often must spend increased Datnow, Castellano / GUIDING SCHOOL REFORM 221
time promoting the school���s image and working more closely with parents, school boards, and other external agents (Goldring & Rallis, 1993 Murphy, 1994). This is a role in which some principals are uncomfortable (Hallinger & Hausman, 1994 Murphy, 1994). Principals also face challenges in ensuring that teachers implement reforms at the classroom level, as teachers are accus- tomed to substantial professional autonomy and might resist encroachment (Fraatz, 1989). Even when principals are supportive of reform, their ability to provide effective leadership may be hampered by their own experience, train- ing, or beliefs (Hallinger, Murphy, & Hausman, 1992 Murphy, 1994) or by their lack of understanding of the reform itself (Neufeld, 1995). These findings about the impact of reform on the role of the principal illu- minate some of the issues that principals in SFA schools might face. How- ever, much of the research on principals and school reform is discussed in terms of more general school improvement initiatives (e.g., site-based man- agement, standards-based reform) or school restructuring. There has been a dearth of research on how the new generation of externally developed school reform models, including SFA and others, affect principals and their leader- ship in schools. With specified curriculum and implementation plans, some of these reform models raise a new set of issues for principals, who must learn to manage and guide teachers in the use of new instructional models and learn to interface with external reform design teams. The Teacher Leader in School Reform The implementation of an externally developed school reform model can also dramatically affect the professional lives of teachers. In our prior research, we analyzed classroom teachers��� responses to SFA (Datnow & Castellano, in press). In this article, our concern is the teachers who occupy positions of leadership in SFA schools: the facilitators. There is a plethora of research describing the development of teacher leadership, as this is gener- ally thought to be a precondition for school improvement (Smylie, 1997 Wasley, 1989). Much of this work focuses on how teachers��� roles might be redefined to include the responsibilities and decision-making powers related to instruction, assessment, procedures, and governance, which are typically reserved for administrators. The hope is that ���teacher leadership and admin- istrative leadership work in collaboration to create more democratic and par- ticipatory school organizations��� (Miller, 1998, p. 531). Opportunities for teacher leadership have also recently arisen from poli- cies that designate master teachers to direct school improvement (Smylie, 1997). However, the role of teachers who are out of the classroom, occupying the position of full-time reform facilitator or coordinator, has gone relatively 222 Educational Administration Quarterly
unexplored. The few studies that do exist suggest that the facilitator role is important for reform efforts and involves a tricky balance of multiple, some- times conflicting, activities (Muncey & McQuillan, 1996 Neufeld, 1995 Nunnery et al., 1997 Smylie & Brownlee-Conyers, 1992 Smylie & Denny, 1990 Wasley, 1989). For example, in a study of teacher leaders whose roles were established as part of a district-wide career enhancement program, Smylie and Brownlee- Conyers (1992) and Smylie and Denny (1990) illuminated the tensions and ambiguities that arise with such policies. Teacher leaders (who still taught part time) were reluctant to challenge the norms that characterize the profes- sional lives of teachers for fear of separating themselves from their col- leagues. They were also cautious about their relationships with principals and their impact on the leadership terrain. Wasley (1989) reached similar conclusions about the constraints provided by teacher leaders��� own concep- tions of their roles and the role conceptions held by their administrators. Similarly, Muncey and McQuillan���s (1996) ethnography of the Coalition of Essential Schools includes some relevant insights on the role ambiguity of teachers who served as reform coordinators. Only one coordinator (of eight) had a full-time position the remaining coordinators all had some teaching as well as administrative responsibilities. Although it was hoped that the reform coordinators holding these positions would ���use classroom-based insights to inform program policy��� (Muncey & McQuillan, 1996, p. 57), the blending of these positions proved difficult. The coordinators found it difficult to be edu- cational leaders due to uncertainty in how aggressively they could or should promote change. Teachers also saw coordinators as occupying an ill-defined role that constituted a ���no-man���s-land��� between teacher and administrator (Muncey & McQuillan, 1996, p. 59). As some of the aforementioned studies point out, power relations and sta- tus issues come into play in considerations of teacher leadership and the changing role of the principal in reform (Evans, 1996). Gender is one of the most important variables in changing power relations within schools (Lieberman, 1999), as traditionally men have held administrative positions and women, particularly in elementary schools, have constituted the bulk of the teaching force (Apple, 1994). The long-standing definitions of teaching as women���s work and leadership as men���s work can constrain school change efforts (Acker, 1996 Apple, 1994 Blackmore & Kenway, 1995 Datnow, 1998 Hubbard & Datnow, 2000). Some researchers have argued that recent waves of school reform have in fact exacerbated these gendered power rela- tions in schools (e.g., Blackmore, 1998). Yet, the impact of gender on the roles and relationships of teacher leaders and administrators in reform has yet to be fully explored. Datnow, Castellano / GUIDING SCHOOL REFORM 223