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  • 1.
    Grimm, Frida
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    How do teacher leaders lead in professional learning communities?: Explicit and tacit negotiations2023In: International Studies in Educational Administration, ISSN 1324-1702, E-ISSN 1839-2768, Vol. 51, no 1, p. 34-51Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Teacher leaders who lead peers in professional learning communities (PLCs) are an increasing phenomenon in school organisations in several parts of the world today. However, the knowledge of how they lead professional learning is sparse. The purpose of this article is to create deeper understandings of teacher leadership in PLCs. It is based on data acquired through an empirical study with so-called 'first teachers' in three Swedish schools during 2021 and 2022. The article providesin-depth descriptions of explicit and tacit teacher leadership practices in PLCs. According to the results, the first teachers in the study led their peers by securing structure and relevance, building a supportive, sharing, and reflective community, and encouraging the use of new teaching methods. They tacitly negotiated their leadership in relation to previous experiences in teaching, leadership and professional development, explicit and tacit boundaries within teacher communities of practices, and their own understandings of their professional identity. The article contributes with important insights into how these negotiations made them build safe and inspiring learning cultures, but also restrained them to challenge their peers’ current understandings of teaching. The results highlight the need to illuminate and understand both explicit and tacit teacher leadership practices when developing and improving teacher leadership for professional learning in schools.  

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  • 2.
    Grimm, Frida
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Ledarskap för lärares lärande: förstelärare som lärarledare2023Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    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.

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  • 3.
    Grimm, Frida
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Teacher leadership for teaching improvement in professional learning communities2023In: Professional Development in Education, ISSN 1941-5257, E-ISSN 1941-5265Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Teacher leaders are increasingly leading learning conversations in professional learning communities (PLCs) in schools in several parts of the world today, but there is little empirical knowledge of teacher leadership in PLC conversations. Thus, this article aims to enhance such knowledge, particularly the development of teacher leadership in PLC conversations. Empirical data were acquired in a study of three Swedish PLCs and consisted of six video observations and 24 interviews with teachers and teacher leaders (hereafter 'first teachers'). The study particularly addressed how professional learning and teaching improvement was encouraged in teacher-led PLC conversations, what tended to be missing, and how the conversations influenced the teaching practices of participating teachers (self-reportedly). The results indicate that the teaching practices did not change in depth if the first teachers focused on acknowledging and sharing PLC conversations about concrete teaching methods. Instead, there seems to be a need for informed teacher leaders who consciously and systematically analyse and support teachers' learning processes, and foster a habit of inquiry among their peers. It is suggested that this should include challenging norms and understandings about what it means to be a learning teacher and requirements to improve teaching practices in the long run.

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  • 4.
    Grimm, Frida
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    The First Teacher as the Elephant in the Room: Forgotten and Hidden Teacher Leadership Perspectives in Swedish Schools2020In: Research in Educational Administration and Leadership, E-ISSN 2564-7261, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 454-483Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    International research has highlighted teacher leadership as a means to improve teaching and learning by distributing instructional (learning-centered) leadership to teacher leaders. Simultaneously, there has been an increase and alteration of teacher leaders in schools. One example is the 'first teacher' position in Sweden implemented in 2013. The article builds on an inductive, empirical study made in four Swedish schools. I conducted 34 semi-structured interviews with teachers, first teachers, assistant principals, and principals to explore how different school actors understand first teacher leadership and how this enables and constrains the construction of teacher leadership for teaching and learning. In the analysis, I concluded that the participants understand first-teacher leadership as horizontal and facilitative. Their understanding, built on egalitarian and autonomous norms, collides with the intensions of a changed role to improve teaching and learning. The result implies a hidden first-teacher function. In the article, I argue teacher leadership, as a concept, has been forgotten in Swedish research literature and schools, even though Sweden has had teacher leaders for decades. Increased exploration of first-teacher leadership in Swedish schools can contribute to a more visualised and nuanced understanding of teacher leadership and its impact on teaching and learning.

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  • 5.
    Grimm, Frida
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Norqvist, Lars
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Interactive Media and Learning (IML). Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Katarina, Roos
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Exploring Visual Method in the Field of Educational Leadership: Co-creating Understandings of Educational Leadership and Authority in School Organisations2021Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper is a contribution to the ongoing dialogue on the need for method development within the field of educational leadership. Educational leadership research has a set of conventional qualitative methods that regularly occur, surveys, interviews and observations (Thomson, 2017; Moran Jackson, 2019; Castillo and Hallinger, 2018; Hallinger, 2018; Tian et al., 2016). Though, it remains an overlooked issue to critically examine what this means to our research field (Thomson, 2017). This paper was born in some practical difficulties of interviews with educational leaders, which provoked an expansive take on the interview as an empirical occasion. In the paper we describe a visual method that was developed and added to qualitative face-to-face interviews to capture essential concepts concerning educational leadership, for example power, hierarchies and relations. The purpose of the paper is to examine how the process of data collection and analysis can benefit and constrain from the use of visual material in qualitative semi-structured face-to-face interviews. It also opens up for discussions about alternative ways to present research. In the paper we explore the following research questions:

    • can a visual method imply for the co-creation of understandings about positions, relations and hierarchies within school organisations?
    • What advantages and challenges may arise when new methods are added to qualitative face-to-face interviews within the field of educational leadership?

    A rather limited number of methods and approaches are employed within the field of educational leadership. The most common are surveys and interviews (Thomson, 2017; Moran Jackson, 2019; Castillo and Hallinger, 2018; Hallinger, 2018; Tian et al., 2016). Qualitative methods still dominate, although quantitative approaches are increasing in number (Gumus et al., 2018). Few studies make use of alternative data sources, such as videos, blogs, and photos (Moran Jackson, 2019). In an interdisciplinary and complex research field such as educational leadership, this could imply limited and to some extent defaulted perspectives.

    Our visual method was designed within a larger research project about steering and governing in, and of, Swedish schools. The creation of the method grew from a need to develop the interview technique to explore understandings of the organisations from the informants’ points of view. The most common motive for using visual material in a data collection process is an ambition to access data, as it enables the collection of data other than verbal data alone. Another argument is that visual material facilitates communication between researchers and respondents, particularly when participants are asked to express abstract ideas, and supports verbal communication. Visual methods are also believed to promote reflection, as words and pictures can work in synergy to enhance meaning (Pain, 2012; Pink, 2013). By adding visual material to semi-structured face-to-face interviews, we created a visual method to stimulate the informants’ reflections about complex matters as hierarchies, power and relations. These themes are central phenomena within the field of educational leadership. We wanted to explore what happens to the research process when transforming a traditional method by adding visual material to otherwise traditional qualitative face-to-face interviews. During the conference we evoke further exploration of alternative methods by presenting our findings by using moving pictures.

    Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources UsedThe 57 informants in our empirical and inductive study were selected and approached in the following way. In the Swedish educational system, municipalities are organisers of compulsory and secondary education, and thus we started off by selecting municipalities. The first selection criteria was that the average results, and the average grades of pupils in the last year of compulsory school, should be comparable between the selected municipalities (Kolada 2019, Siris 2019). Secondly, the average percentage of pupils who perceive themselves to be safe and secure in school, should be in the same range in the selected municipalities. Thirdly the municipalities should be of the same size, in population numbers. Two municipalities were selected (purposive sampling; Cohen et al., 2011). They identified two schools each (convenience sampling; Bryman, 2012), for the study.  Approached from a systems thinking perspective (see Shaked & Schechter, 2017), semi-structured face-to-face interviews were made with politicians (n=4), superintendents (n=2), assistant superintendents (n=4), principals (n=4), teacher leaders (n=14) and teachers (n=29). Individual and group interviews were conducted.

    By accompanying the semi-structured interviews by a paper sheet with sticky notes we created a visual method. A sticky note with the informant´s function was put in the middle of the sheet, which was divided in three levels. Encouraged by the interviewer the informants added sticky notes with functions that they found central for their own function accompanied by semi-structured interview questions. The themes discussed during the interviews concerned key actors on different levels in the school organization, roles and functions, knowledge and competence, loyalty, trust, communication and systematic quality assurance. By adding a visual method, the informants were given a hands-on tool to arrange and to describe the education organization that they are a part of. This made it possible to visualize positions, relations and hierarchies. We video-recorded the sticky-note mapping to enable analysis of movements simultaneously with verbal narratives. At the end of the interview project a total of 43 images had been created during the interviews. In the process of analysis, the visual and auditory material were encapsulated in still pictures. These described more in detail how the interviews developed and certain aspects of the interviews that should be considered in the analysis. The still images were useful for further analysis, for example, to detect patterns in positions and relations within and between organisations, and for presentation of the result.

    Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or FindingsThe co-creation of images during the interviews elicited dialogues about complex subjects such as hierarchies, relations and positions. The method helped us to gain an understanding of how leaders describe their perceptions of authority and power in school organisations. By adding visual material to the interviews, a creative and active interview environment was created. The method made the informants take a stand on complex questions and matters, and to take different perspectives, thus gaining new insights about their own organisations. This provided us as researchers with a rich data material and uncovered our own biases. By making subjective understandings visual, the implicit was made explicit.

    As researchers we were challenged to coordinate the designing and exploration of the method and to ask new questions, which was sometimes challenging. Another challenge was to translate the rich visual material into condensed text to make it fit into the traditional journal format. This made us look for alternative ways to present research within our field. Research conferences that offer alternative ways to present, discuss and share research can be a valuable venue to develop research methods.

    To sum up, by adding a visual method to qualitative face to face interviews, it is possible for researchers to create a creative and active interview environment, and to analyse the data from different angles within a holistic approach (understanding parts vs whole). The method offers a flexible structure which enables longitudinal studies within and between different organisations. Inspired from what we have seen, we suggest that the method can facilitate international studies of educational organisations within different school contexts, European and other international contexts. Adding visual methods to more traditional interviews can make dilemmas in educational leadership visible and is useful when finding strategies to manage and lead various (groups of) actors in educational organisations.

  • 6.
    Grimm, Frida
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Norqvist, Lars
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Katarina, Roos
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.
    Exploring visual method in the field of educational leadership: Co-creating understandings of educational leadership and authority in school organisations2023In: Educational Management Administration & Leadership, ISSN 1741-1432, E-ISSN 1741-1440, Vol. 51, no 5, p. 1219-1238Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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  • 7.
    Haake, Ulrika
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Lindberg, Ola
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Rantatalo, Oscar
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Grimm, Frida
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Siljebo, Josef
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Bäck, Thomas
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
    Leadership in swedish public organizations: a research review in education and care2023In: Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, E-ISSN 2245-0157, Vol. 13, no 2, p. 63-85Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article is a review of recent Swedish leadership research in two large public-sector areas: education and care. By comparing and contrasting research in these areas, we unveil the specifics and commonalities of research in public-sector leadership. We reviewed research articles from 2018 to 2020 and analyzed theories used, data-gathering methods employed, and topics researched. The results show some fundamental differences between the two areas. Compared to research on education, research on care is to a larger extent non-theoretical and is often focused on change management, quality assurance, and leaders’ roles in employee health. Conversely, studies on education are theory driven and mostly focused on leaders’ roles in learning and shared leadership. We discuss the state of Swedish public leadership research and make suggestions for mutual learning and moving forward in this research field.

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