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Analysis of school counselors' leadership practices through the lens of distributed leadership
To be able to connect the school counseling program to standards-based reform, school counseling initiatives such as The Education Trust's Transforming the School Counseling Initiative and The American School Counseling Association (ASCA) have called for a paradigm shift in the understanding of the school counselor's role, from a service provider to a key player in the success of all students. Consequently, emphasis on advocacy, leadership, teamwork and collaboration, accountability, use of data and systemic change infuses the school counseling literature. As a result of these efforts, a new understanding of school counseling has emerged and leadership is considered to be at the core of the other essential roles of the counselors.^ Even though school counselors' leadership is a hot topic, studies that holistically examine the leadership practice of school counselors are absent from the school counseling literature. The goal of this paper is to investigate how school counselors play a part in the overall school leadership practice for system-wide improvement.^ The distributed leadership framework was chosen as an analytical framework to analyze the leadership practices of the school counselors. This paper offers the idea that distributed leadership is a useful tool to understand school counselors' effort on school improvement holistically because this framework calls the unit of analysis not with individual leaders, but their interactions. Briefly, in this study leadership practice is the core unit of analysis in trying to understand school leadership from a distributed perspective.^ The qualitative research methodology chosen for this study is ethnography and this ethnographic study conducted in Mid West in a high school setting. The data were analyzed with the line-by-line coding technique. The findings indicated that the school counselors at the research site made important systemic changes. These changes mostly happened as a result of the counselors' personal willingness to be part of the leadership in the school. However, the institutionalized opportunities for counselors to lead were limited therefore many changes stayed at the idiosyncratic level and the counselors often relied on their informal working relationships to shape the leadership practice. This paper concluded that a school counselor needs to work in an integrated situation with distributed leadership to be able to create system-wide change and there is a need to ensure institutionalization of school counselor leader roles.^ The findings of this dissertation study provide some implications for the school principals, school counselors in practice, and those who educate and train school counselors. Principals can provide some opportunities for counselors to engage in formally-constituted multidisciplinary leadership teams. School counselors can think about the ways of being an active participant in school leadership and can learn more about the nature of organizational change. In addition to that they need to raise other school members' awareness about the counselors' appropriate functions and to seriously consider the other school members' perceptions. Graduate programs need to teach students the concept of leadership and organizational change.^
Education, Leadership|Education, Administration|Education, Guidance and Counseling
"Analysis of school counselors' leadership practices through the lens of distributed leadership"
(January 1, 2010).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.