Middle leading: Investigating practices for sustainable pedagogical change in schools.
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Drawing on the theory of practice architectures and ecologies of practices (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer and Bristol, 2014), we present research that focuses on the leading practices of educational practitioners we describe as middle leaders. Middle Leaders are those with an ‘acknowledged’ position of leadership but also a significant teaching role and are often charged with the responsibility of leading pedagogical change in classrooms. We draw on in-depth case studies from a cross national study involving interviewing and observing 22 middle leaders, along with some classroom teachers and principals, from Australian primary schools and Swedish preschools. These case studies specifically examine the characteristic practices of leading - constituted in cultural-discourse, material-economic and social-political arrangements found in the particular sites. We analyse these practices to uncover how, and if, sustainable change is secured in educational contexts. In this paper we explicitly address these research questions: i) What middle leading practices are evident across different sites (schools, preschools, higher education, countries)? ii) In what ways do the practices of Middle Leaders influence sustainable pedagogical change in different national contexts? Findings illustrate that much of the pedagogical change sustained in the schools we studied can be directly attributed to the particular practices laid down by middle leaders in the different sites. Examples from the site will be presented as explanatory resources. Distinctively, we focus on the practices of leading rather than the qualities or characteristics of leaders, and this is emphasised by our use of the term ‘leading’ rather than ‘leadership’.
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