What I Believe about Leadership Development: Leadership Development Must Enable Real-Time Professional Learning and Teamwork among Leaders and the Creation of System and School Cultures That Allow New Ideas and Practices to Flourish

By Sparks, Dennis | Phi Delta Kappan, March 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

What I Believe about Leadership Development: Leadership Development Must Enable Real-Time Professional Learning and Teamwork among Leaders and the Creation of System and School Cultures That Allow New Ideas and Practices to Flourish


Sparks, Dennis, Phi Delta Kappan


Sustained and well-designed leadership development is essential in school systems that desire high-quality teaching and learning for all students in all classrooms. Such leadership development prepares leaders to be instructional leaders and to create school cultures that promote continuous improvements in teaching and learning and surround both young people and adults with supportive relationships. The pressures created by high standards and testing requirements and the guidance provided by long-range planning are insufficient in themselves to continuously improve teaching and learning across a school system. Instead, such improvements will occur by developing teamwork, real-time professional learning, and system and school cultures that allow new ideas and practices to grow and flourish. Without teamwork and sustained professional learning, systemwide continuous improvements are fated to remain a fervent wish, rather than become a reality.

It is critically important that teamwork and high-quality professional learning begin at the highest leadership levels in a school system and that district leaders be fully committed to and engaged in their own development. Significant change throughout the system requires that leaders be willing and able to change their own beliefs, understanding, and actions.

The kind of team-based real-time professional learning I advocate for leaders is very different from the "sit-and-get" sessions still commonly experienced by most school and district administrators. Such activities--which sometimes are little more than a series of speakers who offer their views on a variety of subjects--are often markedly separate from leaders' core day-to-day responsibilities, seldom build on one another to develop complex understandings and skills, do little to promote teamwork within the school system, and reinforce the mistaken notion that good staff development is a series of "presenters" who "convey" ideas and research to relatively passive recipients.

I Believe

Based on more than 40 years of experience as an educator (with more than 30 of those years dedicated to the field of professional learning), my careful reading of the professional literature in education and related fields, and conversations with tens of thousands of administrators and teachers from a variety of settings, I have acquired a number of beliefs about leadership and leadership development that I offer as propositions in the spirit of dialogue.

* I believe that significant improvements in teaching and learning for all students begin with significant change in leaders.

Therefore, leadership development focuses on affecting what leaders believe, understand, say, and do each day. Leadership development is sufficiently robust that it literally changes the brains of leaders as they acquire new beliefs, deepen their understanding of important subjects, and develop new habits.

* I believe that the quality of relationships in schools profoundly affects the quality of teaching and learning.

Therefore, leadership development creates relationships among leaders that inspire hope rather than resignation, provides support in implementing new practices, and inspires the courage necessary to consistently act in ways that promote the welfare of all young people.

* I believe that individuals working inter-dependently in teams pursuing goals that stretch their capacities can accomplish far more than individuals working alone.

Therefore, leadership development engages leaders in genuine teamwork based on ambitious goals for student learning as a primary means of continuous improvement that overcomes the centrifugal forces of professional isolation.

* I believe that if all students are to experience high-quality teaching and learning and be surrounded by supportive relationships, their teachers must also be surrounded by such relationships and experience continuous real-time professional learning.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

What I Believe about Leadership Development: Leadership Development Must Enable Real-Time Professional Learning and Teamwork among Leaders and the Creation of System and School Cultures That Allow New Ideas and Practices to Flourish
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?