Diffusion of an innovation: The multiple roles of leadership in an urban high school

                         Gideon, Barbara Hand; EdD

                         TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, 2000
                         EDUCATION, ADMINISTRATION (0514); EDUCATION, SECONDARY (0533)

                         This investigation explores the conditions that foster the adoption of an innovation in schools as well as
                         those conditions that serve as barriers to change. Educational reform is a popular topic in our society.
                         Reform initiatives are plentiful; however, few result in improved student achievement. The purpose of
                         this study is to examine the emergence of multiple leadership roles that emerge and the barriers to
                         leadership as one urban high school extended a successful innovation to a wider population at the
                         school. This study documents renewal at Crockett High School, a large urban high school in Austin,
                         Texas. A team of teachers guided the implementation of the innovations and assisted the researcher.
                         The research team utilized the framework established by Argyris and Schön (1974, 1996) to
                         analyze, categorize and refine the practices implemented at our school. The research questions
                         addressed are: (1) How is the existence of Model I theories-in-use (Argyris & Schön
                         1974) evident in the interpersonal relationships and organizational learning of Crockett High School; and
                         (2) How is the existence of Model II theories-in-use (Argyris & Schön 1974) evident in
                         the interpersonal relationships and organizational learning of Crockett High School? The Argyris and
                         Schön (1974, 1996) constructs provided the research team with a common vocabulary, a
                         framework for discussion and guided collective thought processes. In this way, the members of the
                         research team were able to recognize self-sealing thought patterns and redirect themselves to utilize all
                         valid data, resulting in double-loop learning. As we used this spiral process, our organizational learning
                         and effectiveness increased, allowing us to monitor and adjust the innovations and to create conditions
                         conducive to school renewal. This study adds to the body of knowledge, regarding the multiple roles of
                         leadership that facilitate the process of school renewal and the subtle shifts in human dynamics and the
                         environment, which move a promising practice from being simply an innovation in isolation to being part
                         of the fabric of the school culture.

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