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Exploring visual method in the field of educational leadership: Co-creating understandings of educational leadership and authority in school organisations
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9981-6349
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
2023 (English)In: Educational Management Administration & Leadership, ISSN 1741-1432, E-ISSN 1741-1440, Vol. 51, no 5, p. 1219-1238Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper contributes to method development in educational leadership research. The focus is on a visual method and the inclusion of visual material in data collection and analysis. Core concepts in this paper are educational leadership, power and authority. The method was used in face-to-face interviews in a research project that studied the steering and governing in, and of, Swedish schools. The method enhances verbal narratives when informants reason and motivate their understandings of positions, relations and hierarchies within the organisations. We found that using visual material encouraged informants to reason and problematise formalised leader positions, their relations and the hierarchies that appear. The method helps to visualise the informants’ understandings of the power distribution within the organisation depending on whether positions are described as distant or close, horizontal or vertical. The method made the informants take a stand on complex matters, reflect, and gain insights about their organisations. It provided us, as researchers, with rich data material. By making subjective understandings visual, implicit assumptions were made explicit. This could challenge the knowledge on existing leadership and power norms within educational organisations, and most likely in other forms of organisations as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2023. Vol. 51, no 5, p. 1219-1238
Keywords [en]
Visual method, educational leadership, method development, authority, school organisation
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-186648DOI: 10.1177/17411432211030747ISI: 000674083200001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85109395474OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-186648DiVA, id: diva2:1585153
Available from: 2021-08-16 Created: 2021-08-16 Last updated: 2023-12-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ledarskap för lärares lärande: förstelärare som lärarledare
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ledarskap för lärares lärande: förstelärare som lärarledare
2023 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Leadership for teacher learning : first teachers as teacher leaders
Abstract [en]

Today, new teacher leader functions are emerging in several parts of the world. Previous research has highlighted the potential of teacher leadership to enhance teacher learning, but also recorded resistance among teachers to being collectively led in efforts to improve teaching and learning. The aim of this thesis is to draw attention to, and contribute knowledge about, local school actors’ explicit and implicit teacher leadership constructions in schools. Three overarching research questions are addressed: 1) How is teacher leadership constructed in schools? 2) How do these constructions enhance and constrain possibilities to lead teacher learning? 3) How can visualising explicit and implicit teacher leadership practices contribute to learning about leadership for teacher learning?

Spillane’s model of distributed leadership and Wenger’s theories of social learning are used to study, analyse, and create knowledge about teacher leadership constructions. Empirically, the thesis is based on material collected in two qualitative studies conducted in Swedish schools in 2019 and 2021/22. This included interviews (58) with visual material and video-observations (6) designed to capture relevant understandings and practices, both explicit and implicit. 

The results show that egalitarian and autonomous norms strongly influence teacher leadership constructions, while ‘first teachers’, whose roles are supposed to include leadership, are solely regarded as teachers, not leaders, with unrecognized functions and practices. The mainly acknowledging and facilitative teacher leader practices both enhance and constrain teachers’ learning. On one hand, teachers are encouraged to share ideas and try out alternative teaching methods, while on the other hand, current methods and perspectives on teaching and learning tend to be conserved rather than challenged. Supportive and acknowledging leadership practices therefore need to be combined with challenging of perspectives and a habit of inquiry. By visualising explicit and implicit understandings and teacher leadership practices, local school actors and researchers can gain new insights about ways to develop and improve teacher leadership to promote learning. Four conclusions are drawn: 1) Local school actors’ understandings of teacher leadership need to be nuanced, challenged, and developed. 2) Leaders for learning need to manage learning as both individual and collective, concrete and abstract, acknowledging and challenging. 3) Conscious choices and changes are needed at all organisational levels to utilise teacher leaders’ capacities. 4) Visualisation of, and reflection on, explicit and implicit understandings and practices contribute to more conscious choices and changes in leadership for learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2023. p. 93
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 129
Series
Umeå studies in the educational sciences ; 61
Keywords
teacher leadership, teacher leaders, educational leadership, professional development, professional learning communities, middle leadership, middle leaders, lärarledarskap, lärarledare, mellanledarskap, mellanledare, förstelärare, professionellt lärande, professionella lärandegemenskaper, utbildningsledarskap, skolutveckling
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-207829 (URN)978-91-8070-032-0 (ISBN)978-91-8070-033-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-06-02, Lindellhallen 1 (hörsal UB.A.210), Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-05-12 Created: 2023-05-03 Last updated: 2023-05-08Bibliographically approved

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Grimm, FridaNorqvist, LarsKatarina, Roos

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