Authors: Lytle, Lytle,Johanek, and Rho,

Publisher: Teachers College Press
ISBN: 978-0-8077-5922-6

The authors of this book, Repositioning Educational Leadership, argue that if educational leaders used an inquiry approach instead of a diagnostic or evaluative top down approach they might find some ways to improve how to educate their student populaces.  (2019, paraphrase, p.2) Inquiry requires the educators and leaders to be adaptive meaning that they may need to experiment a bit to find the right mix and be able to adjust it for each student to reap the rewards. The framework for such stems from the following. “Inquiry as stance is perspectival and conceptual – a worldview, a critical habit of mind, a dynamic way of knowing and being in the world of educational practice that carries across professional careers and educational settings.” (2019, p.4)

They put forth many lenses for how this manual is constructed beginning with rational trust, an understanding of context, uncertainty and complexity, leading learning, and leading for equity and social justice. Let’s begin with rational trust. The authors state that rational trust is the overarching theme for organizing educational systems and improving them. Taken from Organizing Schools of Improvement; Lessons from Chicago. (2019, p.7) How is this done? Principals must actively listen to the concerns of others and act accordingly.

Understanding context is how the educational leaders learn about the underlying issues that require resolve and how they can to adapt to those circumstances. Further into that is uncertainty and complexity. No doubt technology has changed the landscape of education, but that is not the only game changer. There are emerging policies and politics to take into account too. These changes and updates in technology and engagement has brought about challenges to how educators educate and lead.  

Leading learning means that “organizations must develop cultures that support change and risk taking…promote an openness that encourages dialogue and the expression of conflicting points of view.” (2019, p.9) On one end of this spectrum we must be accepting and open and the other, as seen in the media, we are becoming over sensitive and where we exhibit conflicting perspectives we must do so as delicately as humanly possible so as not to step on anyone’s toes.

Equity and social justice have come about as educational systems have moved into a more test based environment where mere coursework is targeted at the test instead of simple learning of practical educational materials, especially for students who come from international backgrounds that are linguistically and economically diverse. There has been some talk about how this movement has unfairly discriminated against some segments of society and how to even the playing field by making education more equitable for all students. Principals and other educational leaders now must make their class leaders aware of these dynamics and find creative ways to solve these problems while also providing intuitive constructive feedback.

As a former educator I found this an interesting approach to what is amiss in some educational systems and a tool that can, if metered out intelligently and judiciously, help educator and educational leaders do their jobs better by taking into account the differing backgrounds of their student populaces.