Leading change: a self-study
There are many long-held, traditional views of what school leadership looks like: principals as managers of buildings and of people, making hard decisions based on their own view of what is good for a system, then working with a reasonably compliant staff to implement these decisions. Over recent decades, however, the predominant view of the role of the school leader has changed. A tremendous body of research supports school leaders as leaders of adult learning that is intended to enhance student learning. Literature references a myriad of different leadership styles that principals can aspire to. It is difficult, however, to aspire to something without having a sense of one’s current functioning. This study describes how going through a process of self-reflection and considering my practice as it relates to research and literature led to self-discovery with respect to my leadership style and my approach to leading change. The study begins with an initial problem: a secondary school staff is considering making a large, fundamental change to how they teach and how their students learn. As the educational leader of this staff, I was tasked with steering adult learners towards a decision (change or not change) and with setting directions for the conversations that were ongoing. In order to keep a record of what I was thinking after conversations with the whole staff and with individuals, I kept a journal and made regular entries. Through a process of self-study, I coded my journal entries and analyzed coded entries for larger themes. I then examined these themes in the context of current research related to leadership theory and change theory. Through this comparison, I was able to identify attributes that I had as an educational leader as well as develop a sense of direction in terms of the next steps that I will need to take on the journey of change that I am now embarked on with my staff. This study examines leadership style and leadership as it relates to leading change. It also discusses the merits of auto-ethnography and self-study.