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Transforming an academy through the enactment of collective curriculum leadership

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Although the transformation of relevant curriculum experiences for youth from impoverished backgrounds in large urban high schools in the US offers many leadership challenges for faculty, few studies have focused on the roles of students and teachers in the creation of distributed leadership practices to build and sustain improved learning environments. Through ethnography, this paper explores the leadership dynamics in one academy within a large urban high school whose students are mostly African-American. Students in some classes had opportunities to participate in cogenerative dialogues and, in so doing, learned how to interact successfully with others, including their teachers and peers, and build collective agreements for future classroom roles and shared responsibility for their enactment. The study highlights the centrality of successful interactions among participants and the extent to which co-respect and co-responsibility for goals occur. Initially, a lack of trust within the community undermined tendencies to build solidarity throughout the community, despite a commitment of the academy's co-ordinator to be responsive to the goals of others, listen to colleagues and students, and strive for collective goals. It is argued that all participants in a field need to take responsibility for accessing and appropriating structures to achieve positive emotional energy through collective curriculum leadership and climates that create and sustain educational accomplishments. Furthermore, it is suggested that individual and collective actions should be studied dialectically in subsequent research on leadership dynamics in schools.

Keywords: agency; curriculum leadership; emotional energy; solidarity; urban education

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-04-01

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