Lewis, Marian and Andrews, Dorothy (2009) Parallel leadership: changing landscapes for principals. In: Australian school leadership today. Australian Academic Press, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 141-164. ISBN 978192151336
The chapter is premised on recognition that change is ongoing, discontinuous, and that responsiveness to change requires new and different forms of leadership in educational organisations. Parallel leadership is one such frame breaking concept.
Parallel leadership is defined as 'a process whereby teacher leaders and their principal engage in collective action to build school capacity. It embodies three distinct qualities – mutual trust, shared purpose, and allowance for individual expression' (Crowther et al, 2002, p.38). This conceptualisation unlocks the leadership potential for building the capacity to respond to change in schools.
Parallel leadership is both powerful and challenging for principals. Teacher pedagogical leadership has been investigated in some detail (e.g.) and there has been some exploration of the metastrategic role of the principal (Crowther et al; 2001; Crowther & Andrews, 2004; Morgan, 2008). Such action includes aligning organisational elements, articulating shared direction and values, and networking beyond the school. Also crucial to the principal's role is the task of building leadership capacity within the professional community. This task includes enabling the growth of leadership skills and of the particular group of teachers within the school – a group that changes as staff come and go. There is both flexibility and fluidity implicit in this aspect of the work of the principal within parallel leadership...
As indicated in the definition above, teachers and their principal engage in collective action. What implications does this have for the principal? For parallel leadership to emerge, teachers leadership must be enabled. For collective action to be sustained, new ways of working must be developed for both the principal and the teachers. This is the area explored in detail in this chapter. Further insight will be provided through the exploration of the experiences of two principals who are working within the reality of parallel leadership. These cameos illustrates the power and the challenges of working in parallel with teachers – where there is shared purpose, trust and mutualism are valued and there is clearly allowance for individual expression.
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