Distributed Leadership Matters: Perspectives, Practicalities, and Potential


See why harnessing educators’ collective expertise leads to better student outcomes, and learn the collaborative processes to make distributed leadership happen.

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Distributed Leadership Matters: Perspectives, Practicalities, and Potential

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See why harnessing educators’ collective expertise leads to better student outcomes, and learn the collaborative processes to make distributed leadership happen.

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Editorial Reviews

Andy Hargreaves
"Alma Harris is a world leading writer on the thinking and practice of distributed leadership. This is undoubtedly the best book that she or anyone has yet written on the subject. Harris's view that distributed leadership is disciplined and collaborative counters critics who complain about the fuzziness of the idea. If you want a book that gives you an authoritative and accessible grounding, that sets out a strategy and a methodology, and that alerts you to the dark arts of distributed leadership as well as its payoffs when it is properly done, this is absolutely the book for you. "
Karen Seashore
"Alma Harris captures the essential challenges facing today’s school and district leaders and summarizes, in precise and accessible language, important research-based lessons for practice. Her focus on building authentic relationships among all staff that will increase school effectiveness is both practical and a welcome antidote to an excessive focus on testing and standardization. "
Nicholas Sun-Keung Pang
"Distributed Leadership signifies the cutting-edge development in the Theory Movement in understanding educational leadership, whereas ‘professional learning community’ is the most recent strand in understanding educational organizations. The book has successfully blended both concepts together and implied that they are the sides of a coin. Most theorists will make use of the full length of a book to delineate about positive and bright sides of theories. It is this book which also expounds on the negative and dark sides of distributed leadership. It is this approach, as in Chinese philosophy, that we call it “Yin and Yang”. The bright and dark sides are actually complementary, not opposing, forces, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic system. The book is a must for most academics, researchers, policy makers, school practitioners and students of educational leadership, organizational study and school improvement. "
Tania E. Dymkowski
"Leadership is a vision that is not held in the hands of one but in the eyes of all who are part of the system. This book allows us to see through those eyes and know what a collaborative unified environment does to make a school successful. "
Kathleen Ellwood
"The book does make a unique contribution to the field of education because distributed leadership impacts leadership style and can guide leaders in moving away from traditional management techniques. Of great importance is the emphasis on the conscious and intentional application of strategies that reflect distributed leadership. "
Laura Linde
"This is a manageable amount of information to read in a shorter period of time with a high quality of take away ideas for implementation. Will they find the material useful? Yes. It gives insightful examples and information about what DL is and is not and the benefit of DL, particularly in PLC’s.

The author provides an eclectic mix of current research to define and convince readers/educators that distributed leadership is an effective method to raise student achievement levels in innovative ways. The vehicle for this method is the structure and facilitation of PLC’s. The author boldly provides a platform for difficult conversations regarding the challenges of this type of leadership that can impede the process and student achievement. The process provides critical information regarding the pros and cons of DL to help those questioning this methodology to analyze the information in order to make the most informed decision regarding implementation in schools. The author has boldly discussed the often unspoken concerns when the characteristics of effective leadership unravel into ineffective practice. "

Dr. Dan Archer
"In addition to its readable and readily accessible style, this book’s strengths lie in the discussion of the nature of distributed leadership, including the difficulties inherent in this form of leadership practice; the discussion around the relationship between distributed leadership, social capital and professional learning communities; and the discussion about building and facilitating strong collaborative teams. "
Dennis Shirley
"Distributed Leadership Matters is an outstanding contribution to the literature on real and enduring school improvement! The writing sparkles with inspirational examples of real-world leadership transformations that have benefitted staff and students alike. The research base is capacious and demonstrates the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of school improvement and effectiveness from all around the world. Especially welcome is the crucial acknowledgement that distributed leadership can be abused and problematic if implemented in rushed mandates, autocratic rule, or mindless compliance. Here is a volume that will help us all to raise achievement with dignity. Here is a book that every educator can use to rally reluctant faculty, to focus on the instructional core, and to lift achievement. Distributed Leadership Matters is indispensable reading for every educator! "
Dr. Pak Tee Ng
"Certainly one of the most eminent scholars in the area of distributed leadership in schools, Alma Harris argues persuasively in her book that distributed leadership, in the form of collective expertise, carefully constructed through professional collaboration, can positively influence learning and teaching in schools. Drawing upon research findings and carefully written so that readers can follow her arguments systematically, this book is a valuable resource to readers hoping to find a reliable guide to link theories in distributed leadership to practices in schools. "
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412981187
  • Publisher: Corwin Press
  • Publication date: 12/6/2013
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 1,461,930
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Alma Harris is internationally known for her research and writing on educational leadership and school improvement. She started her career as a secondary school teacher in South Wales before moving into business development and starting her own company. After completing her Ph D at the University of Bath, she held senior academic posts at the Open University, University of Nottingham and University of Warwick. As Professor of Educational Leadership at Warwick she also held the post of Director of the ‘Institute of Education’ for four years. In 2009, she was appointed Pro-Director and Professor of Educational Leadership at the Institute of Education, University of London.

During her career, Alma has worked with various governments and agencies around the world supporting their school and system improvement work. In 2010- 12, she was seconded to the ‘Welsh Government’ as a Senior Policy Adviser to assist with the process of system wide reform which involved co-leading the National Professional Learning Communities programme and developing a Masters qualification for all newly qualified teachers. Her on-going development work for the World Bank focuses on supporting schools in challenging contexts in Russia, working with a team from the ‘[1]Moscow Higher School of Economics’. She is also currently co-leading the ‘Disciplined Collaboration and Evaluation of Professional Learning’ programme for the ‘Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’ (AITSL).

Alma is President of the ‘International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement[2]’ which is an organisation dedicated to quality and equity in education. At present, she is Director of the Institute of Educational Leadership[3], University of Malaya and is leading a major two-year research study focusing on leadership policy and leadership practice in Asia.

[1] National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Institute for Educational studies

[2] http://www.icsei.net/

[3] http://ikp.um.edu.my/

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Table of Contents

1. Leading Educational Change and Improvement
What Does Educational Change for Improvement Require?
2. Leading System Reform
What Are the Challenges of Reform at Scale?
3. Future Leaders
Why Distributed Leadership Is Needed More Than Ever in a Changing World
4. Distributed Leadership: The Facts
What We Know About Distributed Leadership and Improved Outcomes and Performance
5. Distributed Leadership: The Dark Side
How Distributed Leadership Can be Misused, Misrepresented, and Misconstrued
6. Distributed Leadership: Building Social Capital
How Distributed Leadership, in the Form of Professional Collaboration, Contributes to Building Social Capital for Organizational Improvement
7. Distributed Leadership: Professional Learning Communities
How Distributed Leadership, in the Form of Powerful Collaborative Teams, Contributes to Organizational Improvement
8. Distributed Leadership: Professional Learning with Impact
Leading Effective and Disciplined Professional Collaboration

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