Educational Research and Innovation

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

2076-9679 (online)
2076-9660 (print)
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This series of books from the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovations provides the results of OECD work on innovation in education.

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Leadership for 21st Century Learning

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Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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04 Dec 2013
9789264205406 (PDF) ;9789264185760(print)

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This is the latest of the influential series of OECD reports on Innovative Learning Environments. "Learning leadership" is fundamental because it is about setting direction, taking responsibility for putting learning at the centre and keeping it there. This becomes increasingly complex in 21st century settings, calling for innovation and going beyond the heroics of individual leaders. Many need to be involved, bringing in diverse partners at different levels.

This is all explored in this volume. It clarifies the concepts and the dimensions of learning leadership, relating it to extensive international research and identifying promising strategies to promote it. Specific examples are drawn from Austria, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. There is an extensive overview that addresses the "why, what, how, who, where, and when" of learning leadership. Among the international experts contributing to this volume are James Spillane, John MacBeath, Louise Stoll, and Clive Dimmock.

This report will prove to be a valuable resource for all those interested in schooling. It will be of particular interest to teachers and teacher educators, advisors and researchers, the voluntary sector and teacher associations, and, first and foremost, education leaders themselves.

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  • Foreword

    Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) is an international study carried out by the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) of the OECD. It is focused on innovative ways of organising learning for young people with the view of positively influencing the contemporary education reform agenda with forward-looking insights about learning and innovation.

  • Executive summary

    Leadership is critical because it is strongly determinant of direction and outcomes, whether at the micro level of schools or of broader systems. As learning is the core business of education, it provides the paramount form and purpose of leadership focused on creating and sustaining environments that are conducive to good learning. Innovation is an integral part of the exercise of learning leadership in setting new directions.

  • Learning leadership for innovative learning environments: The overview

    This overview by the OECD Secretariat grounds learning leadership in the wider perspectives of innovative learning environments. Learning leadership is understood to be about actively contributing to the design, implementation and sustainability of powerful innovative learning environments through distributed, connected activity and relationships. It extends beyond formal players to include different partners and may be exercised at different levels of the overall learning system. The chapter presents the "5Ws and 1H" framework for addressing and analysing the different dimensions of learning leadership – Why? What? How? Who? Where? and When? It presents a set of nine points of concluding orientations, accompanied by some questions for learning leaders to enhance the practical application of this overview for those in leadership positions.

  • The practice of leading and managing teaching in educational organisations

    This chapter by James Spillane focuses on leading and managing teaching, described as "the core technology of schooling". He argues that too many analyses dwell on "leading the schoolhouse rather than the core work of the schoolhouse" and as a result are only weakly related to learning, teaching and leading their improvement. The chapter begins with consideration of the nature of teaching. It discusses the diagnosis and design work of leadership as the practice of leading teaching. It then focuses on diagnostic and design work centred on the school’s organisational infrastructure: organisational routines; tools (e.g. classroom observation protocols); and formal positions, departments or sub-units (e.g. school subject departments and grade levels). The chapter focuses mostly on the school level, but it argues for a more comprehensive approach that goes beyond any one level of an education system to consider the multiple components and how (or not) they operate together.

  • Leading learning in a world of change

    This chapter by John MacBeath examines the character of leadership in both a descriptive and ethical sense. Leading learning entails the constant endeavour to stimulate the desire to learn and sustain teachers’ engagement, and requires quality of insight and "connoisseurship". Five principles for learning leadership are presented: 1) a focus on learning; 2) creating conditions favourable to learning; 3) dialogue; 4) sharing leadership through structures and procedures supporting participation; and 5) a shared sense of accountability. There is discussion about the leadership challenges of creating communities of learning, self-evaluation and inducting new teachers. The final section turns to learning leadership in non-formal settings and hybrids of formal and non-formal. These forms of learning environment are very promising for the future and have, par excellence, given more leadership to young people. But they represent significant challenges to professional practice and its understanding, dominated in the literature by "the place called school".

  • Leadership for 21st century learning in Singapore's high-performing schools

    This chapter by Clive Dimmock, Dennis Kwek, and Yancy Toh presents a model for developing learning-centred leadership appropriate for the 21st century. The approach is the "school design model", employing a distinctive "backward mapping" or iterative methodology. It starts with "21st century knowledge and skills" covering global awareness, health literacy, creativity, financial and economic literacy, citizenship, critical thinking and problem-solving, and digital literacy. It then moves to the corresponding teaching, learning and support systems covering curriculum, teaching and pedagogy, assessment and standards, organisational structures, teacher professional development, and culture and environment. Finally, it maps leadership onto this, understood as learning-centred, emphasising leadership of curricula, teaching and learning; distributed thereby empowering teachers and building capacity; and community networked, and so benefiting from the resources of other schools and the community. The chapter applies the model in detail to two case-study schools in Singapore that for more than a decade have practised learning-centred leadership.

  • Approaches to learning leadership development in different school systems

    This chapter presents a selection of the leadership initiatives and analyses gathered through the Innovative Learning Environments project. Tanja Westfall-Greiter describes the strategy of creating teacher learning leaders (lerndesigners) in the current Austrian reform (Neue Mittelschule or NMS). Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser discuss a leadership programme in British Columbia, Canada that engages leaders together in a "spiral of inquiry" about learning in their own school and networked activity across sites. The New York City examples described by Roser Salavert cover Professional Learning Communities, coaching, teacher teams, and student "voice". Lone Christiansen and Per Tronsmo present Norwegian approaches to leadership, and national programmes for school leadership professional development and the Advisory Team programme for mentoring principals and local providers. The South Australian and Israeli examples presented by Susanne Owen and Dorit Tubin feature the work of particular sections of the education ministries looking to drive innovative learning and provide conditions to support it.

  • Promoting learning leadership in Catalonia and beyond

    This chapter by Anna Jolonch, Màrius Martínez, and Joan Badia describes a research and development initiative that is both international in reach and aimed at creating the conditions for innovative leadership in Catalonia in Spain. It describes the rationale, methods and lessons learnt in the collaboration between the Jaume Bofill Foundation and the OECD’s ILE project, and how that has resulted in cross-fertilisation and sharing benefits across the different local, regional, national and international arenas. Within Catalonia, an important aspect of the work has been a research study, clarifying concepts and conducting fieldwork in six sites which are exemplary and innovative in their learning leadership yet with typical school profiles. The research examined a set of key dimensions, including: the origins and role of identifiable innovation projects, professionals’ attitudes, the role of the management team, teacher leadership, learner leadership, family and community participation, and reshaping the curriculum. It discusses the use of the research in context.

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