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Improving the Leadership of PK-12 Administrative Teams

JOSHUA S. ZARLING Ed.D., University of Washington - Tacoma Campus


Traditional individualistic approaches to leadership and learning have failed to create the systems change and continual improvement necessary in a complex, globalized world. As a result, school districts have increasingly turned to use administrative teams to solve complex systems issues. Unfortunately, many of these groups fail to become a real team. Facilitating a groups transformation into a team that effectively engages learning is not easy.

The primary goal of this case study is to assist team leaders in improving their leadership of PK-12 administrative teams, primarily by gaining the perspectives of team members. These perspectives have been gathered from ten exceptional PK-12 administrative team members (five district directors and five principals). This qualitative case study uses their interviews and follow-up focus groups to delve deeper into their initial insights and perspectives on the guiding research question: What are the insights and suggestions of a team of PK-12 principals and district directors that could benefit team leaders who are creating teams to collaborate and learn together? The significant findings and implications outline what leaders should do to increase the likelihood of a group becoming a high performing team, and what may hinder leaders from transforming a group into a team. The most critical finding: The leader makes or breaks the team. Fortunately, leaders can learn to be effective, transformational team leaders.