Magazine article Leadership

Six Dimensions of Leadership: ACSA Has Developed Its Leadership Coaching Model around Six Dimensions of Leadership That Will Clarify, Integrate and Focus Research and Standards

Magazine article Leadership

Six Dimensions of Leadership: ACSA Has Developed Its Leadership Coaching Model around Six Dimensions of Leadership That Will Clarify, Integrate and Focus Research and Standards

Article excerpt

Long ago and far, far away, I began my 20-plus year career as a school principal. as a new principal, I was ready to make some serious changes to improve and update instruction, to make kids feel like more valued independent learners, and to bring parents and community into the school as our partners in education.

By the end of my first year I was seeing a doctor for stress, taking heartburn medication and sleeping upright at night. My marriage was strained. The overwhelming majority of my staff wanted my head on a platter and to ride my tail out of town on a rail. But I just knew I was doing the "right" thing ... for my teachers, my kids and my parents. Why was this so hard? Why was this work so damn lonely? Why was every road uphill?

My superintendent recommended that I attend an ACSA program, Project Leadership. There I met Bill Kipp. I remember Bill putting his hand on my shoulder after I had attended a few meetings and saying, "Son, you are bright, enthusiastic and energetic. You know what good teaching is. You've got a good heart and nothing but positive intentions. But son, you don't know spit about leadership. If you are serious about being a leader, you need to study leadership. Leadership is your craft now."

That was 1984, and I've been a student of leadership ever since. Today, as ACSA's director of leadership coaching, supporting and developing California's educational leaders is my job.

Recently, we were challenged to develop a new coaching-based approach for the AB 430 practicum. Most of the state's AB 430 training has come a long way since the early days of its parent program, AB 75. Most of California's providers, including ACSA, have worked to develop trainers and content and to make meaningful connections between the modules. But we agree with the 2006 research findings of Stanford's Darling-Hammond and Orphanos: "AB 75 (reauthorized AB 430) has certainly been helpful ... criticisms are directed at the brevity and one-size-fits-all nature of the training and the fact that it generally does not include mentoring or coaching of principals."

What AB 430 coaching should look like

Coupled with AB 430 training, we think coaching will support AB 430's Administrator Training Program to better fulfill its charge. The question is, what would an AB 430 coaching program look like? An ACSA/NTC coaching program would surely revolve around "Blended Coaching" developed by Bloom, Moir, Castagna and Warren (2005) at the New Teacher Center. Wouldn't an AB 430 coaching program have to be based upon the objectives of AB 430? At first glance, a reasonable assumption. But we felt there were so many objectives in the three modules of AB 430 that we could be in danger of having no focus at all.

Ron Taylor, AB 430 coordinator at the California Department of Education, encouraged us to think "thematically." Jeanie Cash urged that our coaching program needed to focus upon bigger ideas that encompassed the AB 30 objectives. Then, it all came together rather neatly into six overriding themes or "dimensions" of an educational leadership model:

* Visionary/cultural leadership

* Operational leadership

* Instructional leadership

* Learning leadership

* Collaborative leadership

* Strategic leadership

We can anticipate your first reaction: "Do we really need a new list? Come on, we've got the CPSELs and their friend the DOPs (Descriptions of Practice), the ISLLC standards, McREL's 21 leadership behaviors most associated with student achievement, and Kathleen Cotton's list of 25 categories related to principals and student achievement. Enough, already! Surely one of these well-researched lists could be used!"

To be honest, we tried. It would be a lot less work to just use existing research and resources to focus our leadership coaching efforts rather than to develop something new. Yet, we found the CPSELs to be somewhat static and incomplete, especially as related to collaborative and strategic leadership. …

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