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Parallel leadership for school improvement in Singapore: a case study on the perceived roles of school principals
Proceedings of the Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice conference, Singapore, May - June 2005.
Educational leadership for the 21st century calls for a new and different working relationship between educators. In addition to well-known approaches to educational leadership such as transformational, strategic, educative and organizational styles, the notion of parallel leadership is
receiving much attention with growing evidence from Australian schools that this leadership style facilitates school improvement. Parallel leadership challenges teachers and members of the school management to establish a more collaborative working relationship. Such leadership entails mutualism between administrator leaders and teacher leaders, a sense of shared purpose and an allowance of individual expression and action by respective leaders (Andrews & Crowther, 2002). Nurturing parallel leadership involves a change in the roles and responsibilities of principals – to lead in metastrategic development – and of teachers –
to lead in pedagogical development. Such leadership is an impetus for essential processes of schoolwide professional learning, culture building and approach to pedagogy which will enhance and sustain school outcomes, thus giving IDEAS schools a cutting edge. This enables the knowledge-generating capacity of schools to be enhanced and sustained. Based on data obtained from interviews and fieldwork observations we introduce an elaborated version of the’ black box’ (Crowther, Hann & Andrews, 2002) and provide a discussion on how three principals in Singapore schools, as part of the IDEAS project, embrace the role of ‘strategic leaders’ in the context of parallel leadership. As these principals progress with developing parallel leadership,
we expect valuable insight to emerge as to how parallel leadership is functioning in these schools, thus enabling us to provide at a later stage, a more conclusive answer as to what a parallel relationship between teachers and principals looks like in the Singapore context.
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