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This ASCD Study Guide is designed to enhance your understanding of The Art of School Leadership, an ASCD book written by Thomas R. Hoerr and published in December 2005. It will help you make connections between the text and your personal and professional experiences. The author, a veteran school leader, offers invaluable advice on running a school, including how to promote collegiality, set goals, evaluate teachers, work with parents, manage meetings, support diversity, and make a difference in children's lives.
You can use the study guide after you have read the entire book or as you finish each chapter. The questions provided are not meant to cover all aspects of the book; rather, they address selected ideas that might warrant further reflection. Most of the questions are ones you can think about on your own, but you might consider pairing with a colleague or forming a group of people who have read (or are reading) The Art of School Leadership.
If you have any questions or comments about this study guide or about the book, you may contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 1: Leading a School
- Can you envision a high-quality school in which the leader didn't believe that “leadership is about relationships”? How would this school differ from those described by Hoerr?
- Hoerr explains how his interactions with Warren, a parent at his school, evolved from being adversarial to supportive. Have you ever experienced a similar situation? If so, what did you learn from the experience?
- Some of the difficulties of collaboration stem from unclear roles and responsibilities. Have you had collaboration problems in your school setting? How could such problems be avoided?
- The “excellence versus perfection” challenge is not, of course, about lunchroom trays. On what professional and personal issues do you struggle with the excellence versus perfection tension?
- What could be done in schools of education and principal preparation programs to help future leaders become more adept at leading through relationships? Or are relationship skills something that people are born with?
Chapter 2: Promoting Collegiality
- It is possible to have congeniality without collegiality, but can you have collegiality without congeniality? If so, how?
- Barth's original components of collegiality did not include Hoerr's fifth component, teachers and administrators learning together. Is it realistic to expect teachers and administrators to learn together in your setting? What would make it more likely for this to happen?
- On pp. 21–30, Hoerr offers practical ways to attain collegiality. Are any of these activities occurring in your setting? Which activity would be the easiest for you to implement? Which would be the most difficult?
- Hoerr discusses the New City School teaching application form, which appears on pp. 195–196. What would you put in the small box if you were applying for a job?
- Review the questions on pp. 33–34 about school culture, in particular “What are the characteristics of students who succeed?” and “What are the characteristics of teachers who succeed?” How would you respond to these questions as they relate to your school? Would most of the people at your school agree with your answers?
Chapter 3: Exploring the History of Supervision
- Hoerr reviews the assumptions of hierarchy—work is predictable and constant, supervisors have more knowledge than their employees, and supervisors have the right to direct their employees—and how these assumptions have changed in the past 25 years. Have these assumptions changed more or less in schools than they have in businesses? Why?
- What effect has the increase in worldwide commerce and competition had on supervision?
- Is it accurate that secondary schools are far more likely to be “curriculum-centered” than “child-centered”? If so, what could be done to change this? Should this change take place?
- Has e-mail changed the relationships between and among employees and supervisors in your work setting? If so, how? Is this a positive or a negative?
- On which issues, if any, must principals be more knowledgeable and skilled than teachers?
Chapter 4: Setting Goals
- Hoerr writes that “goals that are not shared with others are just hopes” (p. 51). Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- What is something that is not now being measured at your school because it is difficult to quantify? If measurement occurred in this area, how might people behave differently?
- Should supervisors share some, all, or none of their goals with their employees? Why?
- How would faculty members in your setting respond to the personal/professional goal-setting process that Hoerr describes?
- What gains could result from teachers generating team goals with colleagues from other grades or academic departments?
Chapter 5: Wielding Power
- Do the forms of power used by elected politicians tend to vary based on whether they are serving at the local, state, or federal level? If so, why do you think this is the case?
- What forms of power are considered the most important when administrators are hired? Are these forms of power different than the ones that enable administrators to be successful?
- How will the kinds of power that an administrator uses change over time?
- Is your power different in your personal and professional relationships? Explain.
- How can you develop your expert power? How will others know that you have it?
Chapter 6: Evaluating Teacher Growth
- Should principals formally observe all the teachers in their building? Is it realistic to expect principals to do so?
- What should be done to support the growth of new teachers? Does this change if the new teacher has a decade or more of experience working in a noneducational setting?
- To what degree does the evaluation process support the growth of teachers in your setting?
- Would a performance pay system benefit students? Why or why not?
- How could advances in technology be used to support teacher growth?
Chapter 7: Facilitating Creativity and Teamwork
- Are there employees in your setting who might feel that they receive less respect? Are these feelings justified?
- What would happen if everyone in your school called everyone else by first name only?
- What strategies can principals use to build teams at their schools?
- What is the best way for principals to elicit teacher feedback on their performance?
- In describing creative teachers, Hoerr writes, “These kinds of teachers often aren't the easiest people to supervise, and they sometimes have difficulty working as teammates” (p. 118). Do you agree with the author? Why or why not?
Chapter 8: Making Meetings Meaningful
- When was the last time you heard someone say, “That was a great meeting”? What happened that caused the person to feel this way?
- Does your school have too many or too few faculty meetings? Are these meetings meaningful?
- How would the quality of meetings in your setting change if anyone could place items on the agenda?
- Is it realistic to use the “Blackjack formula” (see pp. 123–124)? Why or why not?
- To what degree are faculty committees integral to your school's success? On what topics should faculty committees be focused?
Chapter 9: Celebrating Our Differences
- How will society's increasing racial and ethnic diversity change your workplace?
- Do you agree with Hoerr's statement that “not only what we teach but also how we teach has implications for diversity” (p. 145)? What examples support your view?
- Has your school addressed the diversities found within the staff? If so, was this successful? Would everyone agree with your answer? If this has not been done or has not been successful, what could be done?
- How might the presence of a Diversity Coordinator help a principal? How might it hamper the principal?
- Is it possible to teach a history or social studies curriculum that does not contain a diversity message? Are there times when it might be desirable to do so? If so, when?
Chapter 10: Partnering with Parents
- What strategies can principals employ to help all families feel comfortable in the school? Would these strategies vary based on the socioeconomic level of students' parents?
- How should schools make it easier for parents to give feedback to a school leader?
- How can parents become involved in establishing school policies and setting school procedures? Should they be doing this?
- Would intake conferences be successful in your school? If not, why?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of offering teachers' and administrators' home phone numbers to parents?
Chapter 11: Leading in the Year 2025
- Hoerr cites ever-expanding technology, changing family life, and increased school accountability and competition as three factors that will affect schools in the future. Do you agree with these thrusts? What important factors did he not discuss?
- Have you seen technology misused in schools? How could this be avoided?
- Looking ahead, do you agree that schools will provide student supervision for more hours, days, and weeks? Is there any alternative? How is this trend a positive or a negative?
- How can schools benefit from competition and parental choice? How might this be harmful?
- What would it be like to work in a school that was led by someone with a strong distributed intelligence?
The Art of School Leadership was written by Thomas R. Hoerr. This 216-page, 7” x 9” original paperback book (Stock #105037; ISBN-13 978-1-4166-0229-3; ISBN-10 1-4166-0229-1) is available from ASCD for $21.95 (ASCD member) or $27.95 (nonmember). Copyright © 2005 by ASCD. To order a copy, call ASCD at 1-800-933-2723 (in Virginia 1-703-578-9600) and press 2 for the Service Center, or buy the book from ASCD's Online Store.