Staffing to enact a collective philosophy

Year: 2014

Author: Bill, Lucas, Anna, Sullivan, Bruce, Johnson, Larry, Owens, Bob, Conway, Mel, Baak

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will focus on the complex issues associated with leadership and staffing during the process of policy enactment. It will consider the ‘complicated conversation' (Pinar, 2012) around policy enactment (Ball et al., 2012) and discuss the ongoing tensions between leadership and staff with particular reference to power and micropolitical activity (Johnson, 2004). In doing so, a position will be advanced that advocates for a strong sense of agency and, especially, that of collective agency (Weiner, 2003). This paper will be tease out the paradoxical nature of leadership (Deal & Peterson, 1994) as those in leadership positions strive to construct a role that is more than that of being an energetic manager acting as a conduit for the implementation of external policies. It will examine how school leaders develop and sustain collective agency in the enactment of policy, the role of the collegial and respectful ‘educative' leader, and the strategies they employ with the school community. The findings of this study showed that principals were committed to building and sustaining a staff profile to enacting a collective philosophy based on caring views of children and their families. Additionally, school leaders actively and assertively utilised micropolitical strategies to ensure that staff members upheld the philosophy of the schools in their work. Principals described how, when recruiting new staff, they looked for incumbents with a demonstrated genuine ethic of care for students and families, who would embrace and enact humane behaviour policies and practices. They also described how they encouraged and challenged staff through professional learning to place students at the centre of their practice. Professional learning was a means through which school leaders could interpret and encourage the enactment of humane behaviour policies by translating the ‘language of policy' into the ‘language of practice' (Ball et al. , 2011, 621). When staff did not respond to professional learning, performance management processes were utilised and included moving staff out of the school. In addition, principals described the importance of having a strong and supportive leadership team that recognised the need for, and embraced the enactment of humane policies and practices.