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Creating Community Among Leaders: Leveraging Shared Practices for School Improvement


Principals work within a complex context where multiple stakeholders make many competing demands of them. Chief among these demands includes district initiatives, which serve to create leadership expectations but often do not contain clear methods or practices for implementation. Additionally, demands of the local community and interests of teachers and students create layers of complexity which can confound and isolate leaders. While principals may feel cut off from their peers dealing with these intricacies, the reality is, regardless of initiative or priority, principals have many common problems of practice. Establishing highly effective teacher collaborative groups, is an example of an implementation most principals come to face.

The Early Release Wednesday Toolkit was developed to support leadership practices for implementing highly effective collaborative teacher groups. To create the toolkit, a sample of principals engaged in a co-development process to capture effective practices already in place, and share them with the larger principal group. In so doing, the principal Community of Practice was strengthened. The findings of this study suggest that principals gain from relying on each other for problem solving where their leadership is concerned, and may serve to inform other leaders about effective ways to learn from one another. This design study is centered on action research and includes two primary research elements, evaluation of the design outcome and assessment of the design process.

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