Leadership is Everywhere

I recently took some time to re-visit the Ontario Leadership Framework published in 2008 by the Ontario Institute for Educational Leadership. With a goal to "support leadership excellence in Ontario",  the framework and the accompanying self assessment tools are great resources that advance the institute's goals.

The framework is research-based, yet practical, and as the title suggests, easy to put into practice. Despite this, each time I read it I am left with a nagging critique. Upon reading the framework, you are left with the impression that educational leadership resides solely in the office of school principals and district  supervisory officers.

The research demonstrates that:
  • Principals and vice-principals are critical to the development of excellent teaching, excellent schools and, ultimately, enhanced student achievement;
  • Supervisory officers play an essential role by putting in place supportive system practices and procedures for school and system leaders, and provide critical system-wide leadership. p.3.
While I don't question the validity of statements such as these, the over-emphasis on the 'leader' as opposed to 'leadership' discounts the contributions of teacher leaders, informal leaders and educational stakeholders can play in contributing to school leadership. 


The document is very helpful in highlighting the specific leadership practices and competencies that contribute to school success and student learning. The level of detail included the skills, knowledge and attitude school leaders should exhibit, not only creates a common language, but also supports the ease in applying the framework. Unfortunately, what the framework fails to acknowledge is that a variety of educators and school stakeholders may also possess these skills, knowledge and attitudes.


All educators within a school need to be actively engaged in "Setting Directions"  by "building a shared vision, fostering the acceptance of group goals" as well as "setting and communicating high performance expectations". In addition to principals and vice principal, teachers, students, parents, and community members play a key role in "Developing the Organization" by engaging in  leadership actions that "build a collaborative culture and connect the school to the wider environment". The document similarly ignores the contributions of teacher, students, parents and external community members to "Building Relationships and Developing People" and "Leading the Instructional Program". 


While the document and even the institute's website haven't been updated of late, I hope that future iterations include a more inclusive portrayal of school leadership and an acknowledgement that leadership is everywhere.







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