ETL504 – Leadership for Learning

Leadership for Learning

What is it?

MacBeath and Dempster (2009) connect leadership and learning through their “common skills, such as problem solving, reflection, and acting on experience” (p. 32) and remind us that they do not exist mutually exclusively but instead lead to each other.

From MacBeath and Dempster (2009) defining Leadership for Learning as involving “explicit dialogue, maintaining a focus on learning, attending to the conditions that favour learning, and leadership that is both shared and accountable” (p. 42), I agree with them that it seems to be closely linked with Distributed or Shared Leadership styles so long as people are taking on the shared leadership responsibilities wholeheartedly and with an open mind to leadership and change.

From Donoghue and Clarke’s chapter teachers learning and teachers leading (2010), a leader in a school, such as the principal, needs to foster collaboration between themselves and teachers, and between teachers themselves, encourage and participate in reflective practices, encourage teacher leadership (as promoted in distributed leadership theory above), have a clear, shared vision that is supported throughout the school, and provide support both logistical and social to teachers, all of which have “gains in staff confidence, motivation and morale” (Donoghue & Clarke, 2010, p. 91).

I appreciated Starkley’s (2012) learning theory “connectivism” as a theory for the 21st century but also a link for leadership for learning. He quotes that “knowledge is developed not in the heads of individuals, but between people and sources of information” (p. 25) and that “it is through the connections between the people and information that new knowledge emerges” (p. 25). I agree that this way of thinking is more closely inline with the thinking behind learning in the 21st century thus “maintaining a focus on learning [and] attending to the conditions that favour learning” that MacBeath and Dempster (2010, p. 42) defined.

Collaborative Curriculum Programs:

I have subbed in an elementary school for an ESL teacher for a week where there was a homework club in action started up and run by the teacher I was in for – they had it on 2 afternoons per week in the computer lab. There was an awesome cooperative culture to it from the teachers and the students themselves. The teacher had done a great job through collaborating with all classroom teachers, promoting the homework club in a positive light, and not the negative punishment light it sometimes is looked at by kids.

The teacher, from what I saw in a week there, was a great example of leading change in the school and getting many teachers on board to help run it with her. I spoke to her husband who also works at the school and he told me students really started responding well to it from the beginning, which the classroom teachers could see and they have been happy running it in rotation with her.

What about improving student learning in this collaborative environment?
The teacher in this case saw a need for a homework/catch-up club and created it along with developing the culture necessary to support it, and this can always keep improving.
It doesnt seem as if any formal collaboration every has taken or takes place about the homework club, but with its status in the school climbing I think it could benefit from it, and it also deserves more recognition for its success in the school. Perhaps taking the model and collaborating with other elementary schools would be a next step for leading this further.

Also there is no current “desired outcome” which Sampson (n.d.) mentions as being necessary. Now that the homework club has proven itself it could benefit from this.

Being set up and run by the ESL teacher perhaps is a sign to the Advocacy Leadership Collay (2011, p. 88) discusses, perhaps in this school leading for advocacy wouldnt be at the forefront of classroom teacher’s minds whereas it is for a ESL/support teacher, could it be that only the ESL/support teacher is focusing on kids falling behind or needing extra help? This ESL teacher could lead classroom teachers in improving this across the school.

Digital Literacy:

To me digital literacy is the ability to get, use and manipulate information in any form and adapt it for one’s needs.
In a specific sense, it is the ability to successfully use a wide range of Web 2.0 tools such as
• searching tools (google, metasearch engines, pathfinders..) [see ‘Investigating with ICT’ Levels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, p. 9~]
• process tools (graphic organisers, digital graphing, notetaking, digital bookmarking…) [see ‘Investigating with ICT’ Levels 4, 5, 6, p. 9~][see Creating with ICT Levels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, p. 12~]
• online and offline written publishing tools (word, powerpoint, excel, wikis, blogs, online portals..) [see Communicating with ICT Levels 3, 4, 5, 6, p. 13~]
• audio visual publishing tools (youtube, podcasts, vodcasts, photoshop…)[see Creating with ICT Levels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, p. 12~]
• social and communication tools (using the above tools in collaboration with others, twitter, facebook, skype..) [see Communicating with ICT Levels 3, 4, 5, 6, p. 13~]
• ethical tools (creative commons licensing, privacy settings) [see ‘Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT’ Levels 4, 5, 6, p.7~]

After looking at the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum I inserted the italics above of where the tools I listed fit into the GC and at what levels. The page numbers refer to the PDF found at

The areas of digital literacy I have seemed to neglected more is the offline digital literacy aspects (as well as ‘Managing and Operating ICT’ p. 15~). I need to remind myself that to be digital literacy doesn’t only entail internet and internet related tool literacy, but offline digital literacy also. Such as digital camera, computer software, computer processes (such as saving, printing, creating files etc), editing, USB and peripheries knowledge, operating system knowledge etc.

I think the digital literacy continuum has already begun to emerge in most schools, but the emphasis needs to move to integrating ICT and digital literacy throughout the curriculum and not have it as a standalone subject which it seems to be at many schools today. To do this would require changing the whole school culture toward it and getting more enthusiastic teachers (including the TL) to spearhead the movement and encourage the change for less enthusiastic ones. The TL could have a great role in doing this as they should be well adept at ICT skills and have knowledge and experience at integrating digital and information literacy throughout the curriculum. The TL is in the position to work collaboratively with classroom teachers to develop inquiry units that have a focus on digital literacy, and where the classroom teacher is more reluctant to adopt a model for digital literacy the TL can act as a mentor or coach to aid the teacher to make the transition.

The move toward incorporating ICT and digital literacy into classrooms should be smoother when associating it with constructivist theory, which is prevalent in many classrooms already today. The tools available for learning are well suited for allowing students to construct their own learning and digital literacy is learnt at the same time.

Reference List

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (n.d.). General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved March 23, 2013 from
Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Donoghue, T. A., & Clarke, S. (2010). Teachers learning and teachers leading. Leading learning: process, themes and issues in international contexts (pp. 87-99). London: Routledge.

MacBeath, J. E., & Dempster, N. (2009). Leadership for learning. Connecting leadership and learning: principles for practice (pp. 32-52). London: Routledge.

Sampson, M. (n.d.). The Practice of Collaboration – Resource Center – Michael Sampson on Making Collaboration Work. Making Collaboration Work—Culture, Governance, Adoption – Michael Sampson on Making Collaboration Work. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Starkey, L. (2012). Knowledge and connectivism. Teaching and learning in the digital age (pp. 20-28). New York, NY: Routledge.


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