Educational Leadership at the Intersection of School System and School Building: Conceptualizing Leadership as a Multiple-Level Phenomena

Project: Research project

Project Details


Motivating the Research Theoretical and empirical work on educational leadership tends to focus on a single level, typically the school building. Indeed, school leadership has become synonymous with educational leadership. But, schools don’t operate in a vacuum; they typically are part of school systems. And, these school systems also engaged in educational leadership; that is, they actively work (granted some systems more than others) to lead teaching and learning in their schools and classrooms. School systems come in many forms. Some are public including national school systems, school systems operated by local educational authorities, and school networks of various sorts. Some school systems are private including religious based systems (e.g., Catholic, Muslim school systems) and others are organized around particular educational philosophies such as Montessori, IB, and Steiner. Some school systems are particular to nation states whereas others are transnational such as Montessori and IB. Even more important given our focus educational leadership, school systems differ in terms of their educational infrastructures. By educational infrastructure we mean the instruments that systems can use to connect structure and organization to classrooms including student assessments, curricula, and teaching materials. It also includes the practices, ideas and other things that systems can use to influence the nature and use of those instruments by school leaders and teachers including teacher recruitment and training, workplace norms, and so on. All school systems have educational infrastructures, but they design and used these infrastructures differently. Some school systems have very elaborated educational infrastructures anchored in well-defined and well-specified visions for teaching and learning. In these school systems, student assessments and curricula are closely aligned with teacher preparation and teacher professional learning among other things. Other school systems have less elaborated educational infrastructures and visions for classroom teaching and learning that are not as clearly specified. As a result of these substantial differences in educational infrastructure, the challenges of leading and managing teaching and learning at the school level are likely to differ. We aim to study and theorize these differences. Yet, attention to educational leadership at the system level is sparse. More important still, efforts to think about and study how educational leadership at the school and school system levels interact to influence the core work of schooling – teaching and learning is sparser still. We aim to address this gap in the empirical and practical knowledge by conceptualizing educational leadership as a multi-level phenomenon (or practice) that happens at the intersection of the school system and school building. The Problem for Practice, Policy, and Research The inattention to educational leadership at both the system and school level simultaneously is problematic for several reasons that have implications for leadership practice, educational policy, and leadership research. With respect to leadership practice, understanding how the challenges of leading teaching and learning in schools differs depending on the school system is important if we are to better prepare school leaders through in-service and pre-service professional development for the work of leading and managing. From the perspective of policy, as governments and school systems around the world take on the challenge of improvin
Effective start/end date8/1/1812/31/19


  • Qatar Foundation International, LLC (agmt 8/1/18)


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