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Enbaling and Constraining middle leading at a school site

Conference contribution
Authors Karin Rönnerman
Veronica Sülau
Published in Paper presented at the NERA conference 6-8 March 2019, Uppsala University
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords practice theory, middle leading, leading practices
Subject categories Pedagogical Work


This paper focuses on teachers as middle leaders who are the drivers for change through facilitating and sustaining professional learning. The purpose is to study and understand the relationship between educational practices in a school site, with a particular focus on how middle leading practices are enabled and constrained by other practices. The specific questions to be answered are: • Which leading practices can be identified in the school organisation? • How are the different leading practices ecologically arranged? • How are middle leading practices enabled and constrained by other practices? In this paper the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008) and the theory of ecologies of practices (Kemmis et al., 2014) are used as a theoretical framework to guide the study. Specifically, the analysis will focus on how different levels of leading practices enable and constrain middle leaders in their role of facilitating colleagues in collegial learning. Furthermore, the specific arrangements between the levels of leading in the school site will be examined to see how they are ecologically arranged. The study is a case study of one upper secondary school that is part of an independent school company. At the school two teachers have been commissioned as first teachers - what we consider as middle leaders in this paper. Their specific task was leading collegial learning at the site. All teachers at the school were involved, in total about 20 teachers. Data have been collected during the spring semester of 2018. All people in leading positions were interviewed once, and the first teachers have been interviewed twice Their work as facilitating their colleagues have been observed and recorded, and the teachers have been interviewed in groups. Furthermore, data were collected through protocols on decisions and plans for the specific professional learning initiative. The expected findings are that, although the working conditions enable organizing collegial learning, the teacher meetings are more focused on activities to be reported than on reflections and understandings. Also, there seem to be double levels of middle leading at the school company; the development leaders and the first teachers. A third initial reflection is that trust seems to be a phenomenon that permeates all the leading practices, when at the same time the teachers say any of us could do the middle leading job. The phenomenon about middle leaders is increasing in the Nordic countries (Rönnerman, 2018). Their task is often to facilitate collegial learning, and so for this to be understood the organization of the local school (the site) and its conditions for middle leaders have to be taken into account.

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