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Differentiating School Leadership

Differentiating School Leadership
Facing the Challenges of Practice

Edited by:
  • Daniel L. Duke - University of Virginia, USA, Darden-Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education

November 2012 | 160 pages | Corwin
The proposed book maintains that schools face distinct types of challenges requiring distinct types of leadership. There are not, however, an infinite number of types of challenges, at least not for practical purposes. The book focuses on four sets of challenges that any principal might confront, depending on local circumstances. A principal can address each set of challenges successfully, but only by recognizing the distinctive nature of the challenges and adjusting his/her approach accordingly. This recognition of the need to make adjustments in leadership is referred to as ôdifferentiated leadership.öThe idea of differentiated leadership has its roots in contingency theory, situational leadership theory, and path-goal theory (Northouse, 2007). That the concept of leadership requires differentiation is further evidenced by the variety of adjectives used to modify the term û instructional leadership, moral leadership, distributed leadership, servant leadership, normative leadership, and so on. In recent years, educators have been attracted to the notion of differentiated instruction. They have recognized that one form of instruction is unlikely to address the needs of all students. The approach begins with actual situations confronting contemporary principals and then analyzes the kinds of leadership functions most likely to handle the situations effectively. The book opens with an introduction to the idea of differentiated leadership and why it is important for principals to understand how different schools may face very distinct sets of challenges. Trying to apply a ôone-size-fits-allö type of leadership can have disastrous results. The introduction also contains an overview of ôorganizational diagnosticsö and the kinds of data needed to assess the particular kinds of challenges presented by a particular school at a particular point in time.
About the Author
Part I. The Challenge of School Decline
1. Recognizing the Potential for School Decline
A School on the Brink

Detecting Vulnerabilities

The Impact of Inadequate Funding

The Impact of a Weak Principal

The Impact of a Change in School Culture

Meeting the Challenge of School Decline

Key Lessons and Next Steps

2. Leadership to Prevent School Decline
Leading Schools That Face Demographic Changes

The Challenges of Changing Demographics

School Leadership in the Face of Demographic Change

Key Lessons and Next Steps

Part II. The Challenge of School Turnaround
3. Identifying the Characteristics of Low-Performing Schools
A School in Need of Turning Around

Analyzing the Causes of Low Performance

Diagnosing School-Based Causes

Meeting the Challenge of School Turnaround

Key Lessons and Next Steps

4. Leadership to Turn Around a Low-Performing School
Targeting Key Conditions

School Turnaround Leadership

Key Lessons and Next Steps

Part III. The Challenge of Sustaining School Improvement
5. Reversing School Failure Is Only the First Step
A Promising Start at Stuart High School

Determining the Unfinished Agenda

Meeting the Challenge of Sustained Improvement

Key Lessons and Next Steps

6. Leadership to Sustain School Improvement
Building Capacity for Sustained Success

The Challenges of Sustained School Improvement

Leadership for the Long Haul

Key Lessons and Next Steps

Part IV. The Challenge of Creating a New School
7. Leadership for Students Who Need a Different Learning Environment
Leading by Design

Meeting the Challenge of Creating a New School

Key Lessons and Next Steps

Part V. Leadership Lessons
8. Why School Leaders Fail
Self-Inflicted Problems

The Greatest Mistake of All

9. The Implications of Differentiating Leadership
Some Practical Consequences

Last Word


"Offers a set of extremely useful heuristics, mental models, and organizational checklists with which future and practicing school leaders can analyze leadership situations and take positive, focused action to improve school conditions. I really appreciated the numerous frameworks for thinking about school reform and the models that clearly differentiated across different school conditions. The author’s gift for narration brings the reader into the case studies and allows you to almost be sitting alongside experienced educational leaders as they ponder about and make decisions concerning critical educational issues. This is highly insightful and helpful for the reader just learning about the complexity of educational leadership and a critical gift for their own future decision making."

Dan W. Butin, Assistant Dean of Educational Leadership
Cambridge College

"Addresses real issues of every school leader. The vignettes, cases, and stories provide important insight into what an educational leader at the school level can be faced with each day. These examples lend themselves to great material for a professional book study with practicing principals as well as those who aspire to take on that role."

Michelle Gayle, Principal
Griffin Middle School, Tallahassee, FL

"Superintendents, curriculum specialists, and teacher leaders will find the information useful and the suggestions easily implemented, to say nothing of the thoughts provoked and the comments generated by those who share the reading."

Stephen Shepperd, Retired Elementary Principal
Kellogg, ID

"Duke's divergence from 'cookie-cutter' leadership theory in [this book] is a result of his extensive work as a researcher and consultant in school transformation and turnaround schools. The simplicity of the message and case studies to illustrate interventions needed in high-priority school settings identified in [this book] provide a practical and insightful look into improving schools."

Glenn Stephen Baete
Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky
School Leadership & Management Vol 31-5

Daniel L. Duke

After teaching high school social studies and serving as a secondary school administrator, Daniel L. Duke embarked on a career in higher education. For over three decades he has taught courses on educational leadership, organizational change, and school reform as well as conducted research on various aspects of public schools. After serving on the faculties of Lewis and Clark College and Stanford University, he came to the University of Virginia as chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Duke founded and directed the Thomas Jefferson Center for Educational Design and helped establish the Darden-Curry Partnership for Leaders in... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412970501