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The relational dimension of the school leader profession
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of School Development and Leadership (SOL).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8148-9172
2023 (English)In: RCEN 2023 Conference: abstracts of presentations, 2023, p. 24-25Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Relational Dimension of the School Leader Profession 

An ethnographic study was carried out at the Oak school, situated in a segregated area in Sweden, where the school leader and the teachers handle major pedagogical and social challenges. With a clear focus on changes in teaching and learning, the school leader decided to face the challenges by developing a distributed leadership (Gronn, 2000), which needs to be based on trust (Liljenberg, 2016). Viewing leadership from a relational perspective enables the visualisation of interpersonal relationships (Gergen, 2009). With a focus on school development, the aim of the study was to explore the complexity in developing a distributed leadership over time. From a relational perspective (Ljungblad, 2021) a specific aim was to explore how the school leader relate to her personnel, face to face, in everyday practice, which is presented in this presentation. The school leader was shadowed one day a week during a year, enabling a profound data production. The field work consisted of observations of spontaneous meetings with the personnel. An observation scheme based on pedagogical tact (Ljungblad, 2023) was used for detailed observations of the interaction in scheduled meetings. In the end of the day the school leader participated in meaning making dialogues (Ljungblad, 2016) about events during the day. Furthermore, 32 semi-structured interviews with the school leader and the teachers were conducted. 

 

The Key Indicator Taxonomy of Relational Teaching (Ljungblad, 2022) was used as an analytic tool for analysing the school leader’s way of relating to the personnel on a micro-level. The Taxonomy consists of six key indicators and the characteristics of each key indicator were analysed. The results are presented under the themes incalculable tact, con-tact, pedagogical tactfulness, responsible considerations, curiosity and pathfinder. A general pattern in the results highlight a school leader’s tactful balancing act in developing the school organization, with the necessity to constantly balance organizational factors and interpersonal values. Over time, in the collaboration between the school leader and the personnel a trustful climate emerged. At the same time the school enhanced its performances. Hence, the results underline the importance of trusting leadership, which creates opportunities for teachers to act and operate freely, face new challenges, grow and contribute to the school to their full potential. To conclude, the results give insight into that a relational leadership has to be lived every day, face to face. In line with this insight, the findings elucidated the vulnerability within interdependent professional relationships where the school leader and the personnel mutually needed to find ways to trust each other while working in the incalculable processes of school development. 

References

Gergen, K. (2009). Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gronn, P. (2002). “Distributed leadership as a unit of analysis.” The Leadership Quarterly, 13(4), 423–451.

Liljenberg, M. (2016). “Teacher leadership modes and practices in a Swedish context – a case study.” School Leadership & Management, 36(1), 21–40.

Ljungblad, A-L. (2023). The Relational Dimension of the Teaching profession. NY: Peter Lang.

Ljungblad, A-L. (2022 accepted). Key Indicator Taxonomy of Relational Teaching, Journal of Education for Teaching.

Ljungblad, A-L. (2021). “Pedagogical Relational Teachership (PeRT) – a multi-relational perspective.” International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(7), 860–876.

Ljungblad, A.-L. 2016. Takt och hållning – en relationell studie om det oberäkneliga i matematikundervisningen [Tact and Stance – A relational study about the incalculable in mathematics teaching]. PhD diss., Gothenburg Studies in Educational Sciences, 381. Gothenburg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. p. 24-25
Keywords [en]
relation, pedagogy, relational leadership, school development, trust, vulnerability
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-61140OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-61140DiVA, id: diva2:1771630
Conference
Relation-centered education network, RCEN conference, June 14-18, 2023, University of East London, London.
Available from: 2023-06-20 Created: 2023-06-20 Last updated: 2023-06-30Bibliographically approved

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Ljungblad, Ann-Louise

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