Flipped Classrooms Need Flipped Leadership

This is a great post I found by  RANDALL G. SAMPSON, PHD on JANUARY 10, 2013. For more information about the author go to the bottom of the article. 

Educators are deeply engaged in the dialogue about the flipped class and how it works. It is great for teachers to be so engaged and ready to try a different method to engage their students in the learning process. Just as quickly as a teacher is burning with desire to learning a new practice, school leaders can become a wet blanket / barrier because their leadership style does not support teachers’ need for innovation and change. In order for teachers to gain the confidence in their innovative Flipped Classroom approach, a school’s leadership team / administration needs to adopt the practice of Flipped Leadership, also referred to as Distributed Leadership.

Too often, organizations misdiagnose social justice issues (gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status) as the impediment for growing a Distributed Leadership culture. I have found that the actual boundaries in schools that deter the growth of a Distributed Leadership culture are the tasks pertaining to safety/belonging; task-oriented industriousness and self-actualization/satisfaction (Ronald F. Ferguson, Senior Lecturer in Education and Public Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School and Senior Research Associate at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy). The culture of Distributed leadership has to be nurtured and grown over time; dynamic leaders and teachers realize that school culture is not a lock step event. In a thriving school culture there are multiple things occurring at the same time. Therefore, requiring a balance of tasks and Distributed Leadership in order to reach peak performance.

Types of Leadership Beliefs and Practices:

  1. Autocratic-Compliance: Top-Down Orders
  2. Participative-Collaboration: Team Approach: External Locus of Control
  3. Transformational Commitment-High Self-Efficacy: Internal Locus of Control

Autocratic Leaders:

For the most part, teachers and leaders can agree that top-down leadership results are a short-lived autocratic experience. These leaders are focused on assessing the checklist of goals accomplished and compliance driven. In such a situation teachers often double-down with passive aggressive behaviors; teachers are holding on until the top-down leader leaves, therefore leaving a clear void in innovative practices

Participative Leaders:

These are the leaders who seek to create a positive change in their school. Typically this person will recruit who they believe are strong teacher leaders in the building. The leaders will assign the teachers to various tasks and committees in order to accomplish school improvement goals or district wide initiatives. There is a high sense of external locus of control authorized by the principal who is micro-managing the unauthentic innovation process. At a cursory level people in the school are working together, but have not authentic engagement to create innovative practices and are compliance-oriented committals to the initiative.

Transformational Leaders:

The transformational Flipped Leadership style encourages learning to occur outside of the school and classrooms. Such dynamic leaders establish the conditions for teachers and students to try new methods and seeking innovative learning. Often time the school’s culture and innovation conditions do not reside within the expertise level of the principal or one individual. The ultimate goal is to for teachers and students to amplify their strengths by applying innovative learning to their real world experiences. Simply put, transformational leaders encourage student-learning tasks to be about the student and their world; building a strong sentiment for internal locus of control.

Leadership Pyramid.

Click on graphic to view larger size.

Distributed Leadership Boundaries: Safety/Belonging; Task-Oriented Industriousness; Self Actualization and Satisfaction

This post was written by

Randall G. Sampson, PhD

Randall G. Sampson, PhD –
Randall Sampson, PhD, ensures equity and access for students through innovative STEMLab, Fast Track, New Start models.