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Making Distributive Leadership Work March 5, 2013

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Principal Effectiveness, Video.
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By Jose Enrique Lopez, Assistant Principal, AAMA/Sanchez Charter School

Distributive Leadership

In a school setting, faculty, staff and students commonly understand that those in leadership roles typically exhibit high levels of knowledge, skills, and talents. In education at the local level, those leaders are district superintendents or school principals. However, the reality of any successful leadership model in a 21st century public school is now starting to rely more and more on the capacity of that particular district or school leader to generate and establish the concept of distributive leadership.

Distributive Leadership_3Real sharing of leadership responsibilities and functions could be the simple way to define distributive leadership. In a school distributive leadership model, every individual, faculty or staff member, understands the value and importance of his or her daily responsibilities and functions. Every individual at the school or district assumes the role of a leader. In the words of my head school principal, John De la Cruz, at AAMA/Sanchez Charter School, “…everyone in the school needs to understand that he or she is also the principal in our school building.” For instance, the teacher who makes over a thousand decisions in a given instructional day is also deploying the knowledge and skills of a school leader. The teacher facilitator or instruction specialist who supports, coaches and consults with those teachers over the best instructional practices and researched-based learning strategies is also the leader of a school in his or her own specialized role. Distributive leadership is a collaborative effort that involves integrating every school system and daily tasks to perform and achieve the necessary results at the end of the school year.

However, this leadership model is not possible without the strong leadership knowledge and skills of everyone inside the school or district. Everyone is and must be a leader in the school organization; sharing the common goals, actions, results, and accountability. At our school site, AAMA/Sanchez Charter School in Houston, Texas, distributive leadership is in full function every day.

But, what exactly are the elements of a distributive leadership model?

Distributive Leadership_2In our school, over a period of less than three years, we have been able to produce successful results. One of the important elements that accompany the positive growth results is the ability of our school leadership team to generate capacity for every team level of our district and school as an organization. You might be wondering how exactly we generate that capacity and continue to build more distributive leadership? Well, we have been able to do this by generating opportunities and spaces for constant professional growth among the total faculty and staff. Also, by generating systems of information that enable any member of the organization to make the right decision based upon trusted sources and reliable data. AAMA/Sanchez Charter School has strengthened its distributive leadership by establishing a collaborative setting at every school team and the school itself, as a professional learning community.

Finally, establishing our distributive leadership model at AAMA/Sanchez Charter has demanded a tremendous amount of innovation and technology in addition to a strong collaborative culture. These factors, coupled with a decision-making process centered on excellence, have driven our process to provide the best model to our most valued customers, our students. In short, we have made our distributive leadership model work by tailoring the best academic program and social wrap- around services to every Latino middle and high student of our public charter school community in the East End of Houston.

Below are two short clips on implementing distributive leadership and building capacity. How do you plan to employ these concepts at your own school? Let us know in the comments section.

Distributive Leadership:

Building Capacity:

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