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Shared Leadership and Meaningful Student Involvement

2013LeadthruMSIThe old model of school leadership that looked like a pyramid are coming to an end. The principal is no longer the leader of the building. Instead, every building is filled with hundreds of leaders; the question is how to engage them. That’s what shared leadership does.

Meaningful Student Involvement engages students as leaders in specific powerful, appropriate and substantive ways. It moves the assumption that adults must lead all education everywhere for all students towards an inclusive, integrated reality that fosters student/adult partnerships for every student in every school everywhere, all of the time.

There is a mistaken belief that “real participation” equates students “being initiators of what needs to be learned” and then working with their teacher to determine ways to demonstrate and assess the learning. This is faulty thinking at best. Students should have meaningful opportunities to work together with adults, not simply work at adults. When we flip the power dynamic in classrooms, we are merely putting students in positions of power over adults. That should never be the course of education. Instead, it should look like power-sharing, which is at the heart of shared leadership.

Places for Shared Leadership in Schools

  • Classroom curriculum
  • School behavior
  • Building climate
  • Education leadership
  • School improvement
  • Find more here.

Positioning students and adults in equitable partnerships allows for developmental appropriateness and professional collegiality between both sides. It also stops the simplistic dichotomy of student voice versus adults, because thats plainly erroneous. Student voice is not a homogenized, one-size-fits-all thing that can simply be heard and acted upon. Instead, its a wide-ranging, diverse and inclusive approach to engaging students in authentic ways.

Ways Shared Leadership Happens

Building the culture of schools, supporting the attitudinal development of individuals throughout, and transforming the structures of learning, teaching and leadership are at the heart of shared leadership. They are also the keys to the spheres of Meaningful Student Involvement.

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