Trapped between an encroaching tide of privatization and a rocky theoretical shore, educational leadership in America’s public schools is ardently researched and professionally practiced, but frequently besmirched and poorly understood. Despite the intentions of public educators to engage all students with the original power of education, disconnections caused by mandates, ideologies, and theoretical fuzziness render educational leadership unreliable.
The capacities necessary for school leadership to function reliably on behalf of all students are well within the grasp of present-day public educators. But, the action or agency sufficient to enacting educational leadership reliably is on hold. Educational leadership throughout US public schools is submarined when disconnections and ideological misdirection impede the primary purpose and the moral obligation of public education.
To fulfill the promises of public education and restore the intentions of educational leadership requires that educators, policymakers, and proponents of US public education reimagine the interconnections that yield the primary purpose and moral obligation of public education. Functional educational leadership is examined throughout this book as the agency necessary and sufficient for public education to discard the forces and factors that impose unreliability.
Jeff Swensson served in traditional public education across the Midwest as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent for forty-five years. He graduated from Amherst College, received his MAT from Northwestern University, and earned his PhD from Indiana University.
Lynn Lehman served in public schools and universities in Indiana as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, university lecturer, and assistant professor for fifty years. He earned BS, MAT, EdS, and EdD degrees from Indiana University.
Chapter One. The Issue with Educational Leadership
What Is Leadership, Anyway?
From the Factory Floor to the Classroom: Educational Leadership
Where Does Educational Leadership Begin?
So, What Does a School Leader Sign Up For?
Virtue and Educational Leadership
Virtue: An All-Encompassing Excellence
Virtue and the Worth of Leadership
Crucial Relationships and Leadership
Relationships: First Among Equals
What’s A School Leader to Do?
Is Leadership a Pattern-Seeking Device?
Theories and Styles and Patterns, Oh My!
What Should Leaders Know to Serve All Students?
Looking at this Chapter in the Rearview Mirror
Chapter Two. It’s NOT All About You
An Intervening Note
The Troubled History of Educational Leadership
Organizational Leadership First and Foremost
Virtue Kidnapped in the Free Market
Standards: Meeting the Needs of the Educational Market
Mirror, Mirror, on My Wall: A Leadership Syndrome
The Origins of Educational Leadership
The Commitments of an Educational Leader
Commitment #1: Moral Obligation of Public Education
Commitment #2: Poly-Collegial Leadership
The Conjunction of Leadership Commitments: Leading-Out
A Reimagining of Educational Leadership
The Greater Good and Educational Leadership
A Coda to this Cautionary Tale
Chapter 3. I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Seen So Many Trees
Educational Leadership: Tree Identification
The Pitfalls of Educational Leadership
Old Growth, Second Growth, and the Weeds
Old Growth Educational Leadership
Second Growth Educational Leadership
Educational Leadership Down in the Weeds
Management as Product
Educational Leadership Is Stuck
Is there a Forest Among those Trees?
The Forest: Functional Educational Leadership
Educational Leadership in the Indeterminate Zone
Chapter Four. Wheat and Chaff: Educational Leadership Uncovered
The Advent of Function of Leadership
Educational Leadership as an Ecological System
The Double Helix and Functional Educational Leadership
A Return to 9th Grade Biology
The Theory and Utility of the Double Helix
Toward Functional Educational Leadership: A Definition
The Double Helix: Shaping Educational Leadership
Harvesting Educational Leadership
Can Educational Leadership Function Reliably?
Learning is Leadership Fuel
Chapter Five. Our Students Deserve—Dynamic Instruction
The Case for Dynamic Instruction as Function
Why Leadership and Instruction Disconnect
Leadership of Instruction and Leadership for Instruction
Leadership of Instruction
Leadership for Instruction
The Original Power of Education
If Instructional Leadership Fell in a Classroom, Would It Make a Sound?
The Interminable Cacophony of Standardized Testing
Marooned on the Island of Default Culture
Transforming Backward in the Default Culture
Functional Educational Leadership: Agency and Action
Action for Functional Educational Leadership
Dynamic Instruction in a Leader’s Day
The Pedagogies of Dynamic Instruction
Complex and Soundly Structured Pedagogy
Complex Pedagogy and All Students
Can Educational Leadership Pivot?
Pivot Opportunity #1
Pivot Opportunity #2
Pivot Opportunity #3
Nuancing the Leadership Differential
Dynamic Instruction: A Rung that Students Deserve
Chapter Six. Our Students Deserve—Ethical Leadership
The Rationale for Ethics in Leadership
Using Ethics Is Not the Same as Being Ethical
US History and Upside Down Ethics in Education
Present-Day Upside Down Ethics
Singularity and the Hard Work of Being Ethical
Is there a “How” of Being Ethical?
Integrity and Being Ethical
A Different Leadership Responsibility
Reflection as Ethical Agency
Choosing Ethics Intentionally
Direct Effects and Ethical Leadership
Direct Effects of Being Ethical
Community and Ethics
The Moral Obligation of Public Education
Chapter Seven. Our Students Deserve—Emotionally Intelligent Leadership
Wherefore Art Thou, Emotional Intelligence?
Intelligence and Leadership: A Blast from the Past
Indifference to Emotional Intelligence
Leaders and an Incomplete Map
The Behaviors of Emotional Intelligence
Social Skills: The Pea Under the Leadership Mattress
How Annoying! Emotions Interrupt Rationality
Emotional Intelligence: A Set of Abilities
The Ability Model of EI
Emotional Intelligence in a Leader’s Day
Emotional Intelligence and the Limbic System
Emotional Intelligence and Academic Performance
Emotional Intelligence and Dynamic Instruction
Emotional Intelligence and Its Influence on Colleagues
The Value of Emotional Intelligence
Leadership and the Emotionally Intelligent School
Leadership Choices and the Emotionally Intelligent School
Chapter Eight. Our Students Deserve—Public Life Education
The Erosion of Citizenship Education
Public Life and Mutuality
School Leadership and Public Life
Public Education: A Habit of Public Creation
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Citizenship Education
Islanding: Land’s End for the Intelligence of Social Balance
If Everyone Is an Island
The Premise of Islanding
Islanding: A Group Phenomenon
Islanding: An Individual Affectation
Islanding: An Educational Infestation
Public Life Education: A Transformational Leadership Function
Enacting a Transformation
Public Life Education and Democracy
Public Life Education and Dissent
The Gist of Public Life Education
DCaR and Functional Educational Leadership
The Public Thing We’re Looking For
Chapter Nine. Enacting Functional School Leadership
A Return to the Indeterminate Zone of Educational Leadership
Marbles Throughout the Indeterminate Zone
Out of the Zone and into the Accountability Fire
Finding the Voice of Function of Leadership
Picturing Functional Educational Leadership
In the Picture: The Systemic Ecology of Intentionality
Function and the Construction of Educational Leadership
Functional Educational Leadership Is Public Work
How to Function as an Educational Leader
Misperceptions of Function and Educational Leadership
Chapter Ten. Details, Details, Details
Details Send Signals and Signals Are Messages
Leadership of Details: Anticipation and Assessment
Anticipation of Details
Assessment of Details
Trust Is a Detail
Inquiring for “Returns”
Surveying for “Returns”
Gardening for “Returns”
Indignity Can Be in the Details
Attention to Detail: A Leader’s Message
So Many Detail-Oriented Observers
Chapter Eleven. Reliable Educational Leadership
The Ecology of Reliable Educational Leadership
What Should Be the Expectations for US Public Education?
The Expectation of Virtue
From Virtue: The Expectation of Reliability
Ecology of Leadership
Reliability and the Ecology of Educational Environments
Ecological Principles for Reliable Leadership
The Process of Reliable Leadership
The “Voice” of Reliability
The Active Person and Reliable Leadership
Speaking to Highly Reliable Educational Leadership
What Are the Expectations for US Public Education?
What Are the Expectations of Function?
Chapter Twelve. So Much Leadership, So Little Time
Educational Leadership: Nothing Less than the Future
Looking for Panaceas in Pandora’s Box
Expectations, Function, and the Future of Educational Leadership
Function: The Ecology of Leadership and the Ecology of Thought
Function as Competency
Functional Educational Leadership and the good and Democracy
Educational Leaders as Moral Agents
Agentic Educational Leadership
The Inescapable Dilemma of Leadership
Agency for Functional Educational Leadership
Educational Expectations Are the Future of Agency
Functional Educational Leadership: Working the Work
Speaking of Functional Educational Leadership
Looking at this Book Through the Windshield
About the Authors
In Reliable School Leadership, Swensson and Lehman offer a metaphorical bridge between theory and practice for those preparing for school leadership or for current school leaders seeking to advance their practice. Reliable School Leadership is a comprehensive guide and reminder of the core tenets of public education that opens the door to “reimagining difference-making and intentionality” in our schools and for our students.
Reliable School Leadership by Swensson and Lehman helps school leaders identify ways in which to transform their leadership practices. Practical application of the complex dynamic of public school leadership is shared throughout this book. The authors elevate the profession and draw upon their own successful educational leadership careers to inform current school leaders through their understanding of professional practice and scholarship in educational leadership.
There is no better time to reimagine leadership in education. Swensson and Lehman’s Reliable School Leadership challenges aspiring and veteran educational leaders to examine what school leadership looked like during the first twenty years of this century and, then, to transform with intentionality to best serve our students for the remainder of the twenty-first century and beyond.