A school leader's effectiveness in creating a culture of sustained change will be determined by the leaders he or she leaves behind.
Effective leaders need to be able to deal with complex problems; they need many years of experience and professional development on the job

The four aspects of leadership:

• making a positive difference in the lives of students;
• committing to reducing the gap between high and low performers within your school or district;
• contributing to reducing the gap in the larger environment; and
• transforming the working (or learning conditions) of others so that growth, commitment, engagement and the constant spawning of leadership in others is being fostered.

Leaders who are effective operate from powerful conceptions, not from a set of techniques. The key, then, is to build up leaders' conceptions of what it means to be a leader. These conceptions must be fostered through a socialization process that develops leaders as reflective practitioners. If leaders are taught techniques without conceptions, the techniques will fail. Techniques are tools that must serve a set of conceptual understandings. When conceptions and techniques go hand-in-hand, we create breakthroughs.
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Vision for Change
One crucial element that must exist in a school to inspire effective change is a shared vision of what things are important. Numerous researchers have found that sharing a common vision increases the likelihood that school improvement efforts will succeed and all students are most likely to succeed academically. If this shared sense of purpose exists, members of the school community are able to spell out what constitutes good performance in a relatively precise and consistent way. Without a shared vision, students, teachers, administrators, and parents do not know what is expected of them (Smey-Richman, 1991). A shared vision helps point out what is important to develop and protect in the school. Norms such as introspection, collegiality, and a shared sense of purpose or vision combine to create a culture that supports innovation (Staessens, 1991).

Transforming a Field - learning in context and producing leaders at many levels.
Recruiting top-performing principals is important, but not as important as systematically learning on the job. Learning in context occurs when people interact to learn and solve problems they face. Learning out of context takes place when principals go to a workshop or conference. Such learning can be valuable for further development, but it is not the kind of applied learning that makes a difference. Learning in context has the greatest potential pay-off because it is more specific, situational and social (it develops shared and collective knowledge and commitments).

An organization cannot flourish on the actions of the top leader alone. Schools and districts need many leaders at many levels. Learning in context helps produce such leaders.
Transforming culture - changing what people in the organization value and how they work together to accomplish it - leads to deep, lasting change.

Moral Purpose
Moral purpose is social responsibility to others and the environment. School leaders with moral purpose seek to make a difference in the lives of students. They are concerned about closing the gap between high-performing and lower-performing schools and raising the achievement of - and closing the gap between - high-performing and lower-performing students. They act with the intention of making a positive difference in their own schools as well as improving the environment in other district schools. Moral purpose is more than passionate teachers trying to make a difference in their classrooms. It's also the context of the school and district in which they work. That means principals have to be almost as concerned about the success of other schools in the district as they are about their own schools. Sustained improvement of schools is not possible unless the whole system is moving forward.

Change and Communities
"Schools are generally responsive to constituent groups. This means that people outside schools will have influence on the type of new programs that may be introduced" (Krueger & Parish, 1982, p. 134). Change efforts fail if the community does not provide ongoing encouragement, support and resources (Gauthier, 1983). Schools are vulnerable to pressures for change from external groups because they must try to satisfy what their constituents believe is proper for schools (Cuban, 1990).”


Fullan, M. (2002, September). Moral Purpose Writ Large. School Administrator, 59(8), 14. Retrieved June 15, 2008, from Professional Development Collection database.
http://www.nsdc.org/library/publications/jsd/fullan241.cfm - National Staff Development Council interview with Michael Fullan
http://www.sedl.org/change/school/culture.html - understanding the culture of a school

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