Leadership Mindsets Summary

By Group 5: Imran Baig and Jessica Thielen

Chapter 5: The Fourth Mindset Learning for Deeper Understanding

Learning Focused Leaders:

  • Are knowledgeable about current approaches to learning.
  • Understand current research on “assessment for” and “assessment as” learning.
  • Can identify connections between assessment practices, motivation, and engagement.

Advantages of Being a Learning Focussed Leader:

  • Effective method of modelling life-long learning in their own quest for deeper levels of understanding.
  • Staff are influenced in becoming more learning-focused when their leaders learn some new concepts, form some new habits, and create some new forms of ongoing dialogue.
  • Strong learning-focused school leadership is one of five essential supports for improving learning (Penny Sebring, Elaine Allensworth, Anthony Bryk, John Easton & Stuart Luppescu, 2006).
  • Teachers demonstrate respect for principals who are redesigning their work around student learning.
  • Increases trustworthiness (See Chapter 3).
  • Shifting from sorting to learning is very difficult when principals are not well grounded in contemporary knowledge about learning.
  • School leaders learn to leave their comfort zone and move towards a zone of innovation.
  • Better equipped to have more meaningful dialogues with policy makers about accountability and testing practices.
  • Ultimate goal of learning how to learn is to promote learning autonomy - learners take responsibility for their learning and develop strategies that enable them to learn both on their own and interdependently (James, 2007).

Three Perspectives on Learning Theory

(Bransford, Brown and Cocking 1999; Watkins 2003; Watkins, Carnell and Lodge 2007).

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Contemporary Learning Principles

(Mcombs, 2013, as cited in Kaser & Halbert, 2009, p.87-88)

  • Principle 1: Nature of the learning process - The learning of complex subject matter is most effective when it is an intentional process of constructing meaning from information and experience.
  • Principle 2: Goals of the learning process - The successful learner, over time and with support and instructional guidance, can create meaningful, coherent representations of knowledge.
  • Principle 3: Construction of knowledge - The successful learner can link new information with existing knowledge in meaningful ways.
  • Principle 4: Strategic thinking - The successful learner can create and use a repertoire of thinking and reasoning strategies to achieve complex learning
  • Principle 5: Thinking about thinking - Higher-order strategies for selecting and monitoring mental operations facilitate creative and critical thinking.
  • Principle 6: Context of learning - Learning is influenced by environmental factors, including culture, technology, and instructional practices.
  • Principle 7: Motivational and emotional influences on learning - What, and how much is learned, is influenced by the learner’s motivation. Motivation to learn, in turn, is influenced by the individual’s emotional states, beliefs, interests, goals and habits of thinking.
  • Principle 8: Intrinsic motivation to learn - The learner’s creativity, higher order thinking, and natural curiosity all contribute to motivation to learn. Intrinsic motivation is stimulated by tasks of optimal novelty and difficulty, relevant to personal interests, and providing for personal choice and control.
  • Principle 9: Effects of motivation on effort - Acquisition of complex knowledge and skills requires extended learner effort and guided practice. Without learner’s motivation to learn, the willingness to exert this effort is unlikely without coercion.
  • Principle 10: Developmental influence on learning - As individuals develop, they encounter different opportunities and experience different constraints for learning. Learning is most effective when differential development within and across physical, intellectual, emotional and social domains is taken into account.
  • Principle 11: Social influences on learning - Learning is influenced by social interactions, interpersonal relations and communication with others.
  • Principle 12: Individual differences in learning - Learners have different strategies, approaches, and capabilities for learning that are a function of prior experience and heredity.
  • Principle 13: Learning and diversity - Learning is most effective when differences in learners’ linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds are taken into account.
  • Principle 14: Standards and assessment - Setting appropriately high and challenging standards and assessing the learner and learning progress – including diagnostic, process and outcome assessments – are integral parts of the learning process.

Four Major Learning Models

1) Effort-based Learning

  • Learner effort is at the centre of any learning success - sustained effort, as opposed to individual aptitude, determines how much students can learn, and results in deeper understanding for all learners.
  • Learners need clear expectations and fair assessments - through examples of good work, learners are assisted in evaluating their own work, and setting goals for their next steps. Learners know how they are being evaluated and they know how to prepare for evaluation tasks.
  • The “new basics” are thinking and problem solving - thinking includes developing sound knowledge and involves teaching concepts and curriculum that engages students in active reasoning.
  • Learning requires talk with others - not all talk sustains learning - must be accountable through responses with others, and dialogue that further develops ideas put forth.

2) Self-regulated Learning

  • Contexts, environments and social and cognitive factors guide and encourage learning.
  • Teachers and principals create the learning environments that promote successful learning and are aware of conditions that make self-regulated learning difficult.
  • Focus on the development of learner self-directedness in approaching new learning.
  • Two important variables in this model – 1) how learners interpret tasks, and 2) how they set their own personal objectives.
  • Teachers must engage in continuous reflection on learning and teaching practices.

3) Imaginative Learning

  • Educators need to think less about prior knowledge and more about how to engage the imaginations of their learners (Egan, 2005).
  • Challenges teachers to engage learners through imagination and creativity.
  • Corresponds more closely to how learners acquire more lasting understandings of the world.
  • Strong emphasis on two key areas: 1) power of oral language and the cognitive early language tools, and 2) cognitive tools that are aids to the thinking and understanding of learners.
  • Stories and abstract binary opposites are the strongest cognitive tools for engaging learners of all ages, in addition other cognitive tools such as metaphor, movement, rhyme, rhythm, pattern, jokes, gossip and humor.
  • Believe it is important for leaders using this model to see the world less from an adult perspective and more from the perspective of learners and what engages them.

4) Life Long Learning

  • Four big learning habits that good lifelong learners need to develop (Claxton, 2002):
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Chapter 6: The Fifth Mindset Evidence-seeking in action

  • Evidence-informed mindset – helps transform evidence into knowledge about patterns and provides directions for meaningful change.
  • Most school leaders understand that they have a responsibility to use evidence wisely, and to consider a variety of data sources to assist their staff to deepen their learning.
  • Deciding what to pay attention too, and facilitating thoughtful, trusting and probing discussions with teachers are challenging leadership tasks.

Accountability for Learning

  • Most school systems are struggling to develop and implement accountability systems that actually provide useful information and create genuine improvement.
  • In the sorting system, external pressures for accountability are in the form of legislation (No Child Left Behind in the US, formal inspections, external reviews, etc.).
  • Teachers and principals respond in a variety of ways to these pressures, ranging from embracing, compliance, passive resistance and outright defiance.
  • In schools led by educators with evidence mindsets, strong internal ownership for improvement and transformation is present.
  • Accountability is about taking responsibility for genuine learning improvement and building confidence in the identity, direction and learning focus of the school.

Evidence-Minded Leaders:

  • Create a school culture where thoughtful evidence sources are used regularly and effortlessly.
  • Are not obsessed with test scores, nor do they ignore this information.
  • Shift the focus from an overemphasis on “assessment of learning” to a balanced approach of “assessment for learning” and “assessment as learning”.
  • Focus more attention on learner meta-cognition and on developing stronger strategies for learning how to learn.
  • Believe that developing self-regulated and lifelong learners is part of the moral purpose of their work.

Typical Questions Evidence-Minded Leaders focus on:

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Learner Engagement and Formative Assessment

  • Compelling research exists on the impact of formative assessment on learning and motivation (Black & Wiliam, 1998, 2006).
  • Leaders who focus on genuine learner engagement in their classroom observations can provide a wealth of actionable evidence.
  • Assessment information in feedback is effective when it can answer three questions for the learner: 1) Where am I going?, 2) How am I going?, and 3) Where to next? (Timperley, 2007).
  • These questions allow teachers to share their vision for their work and can provide invaluable insights for leaders.
  • Applying inquiry-mindedness, or thoughtful assessment and learning strategies, and then looking carefully for evidence of deeper learning, is an important new competence for leaders.
  • “Formative assessment is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of students’ status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics” (Popham, 2008, p.112).

Pause and Reflect: Online Resource

Lets take a quick break and watch the following video:

Questions for Thought (Post Video):

Attaining high student engagement can be one of the most challenging tasks in 21st century education. As a leader would you describe your current school, students and staff, as having a curious nature? What are some challenges you face as a leader whilst attempting to foster curiosity in your school as a means for deeper, more meaningful learning?

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning
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Six Formative Assessment Strategies

  1. Learners are clearly in charge of their own learning, and own it.
  2. Each learner understands their current learning intentions, and is able to tell explain in their own words what these are and how they connect to life beyond school.
  3. Each learner has been provided with or has co-developed the criteria for learning success. Thus learners not only have clear criteria for quality of work, they also know in which areas they need to improve.
  4. Individual learners are regularly provided with personalized feedback that moves their learning forward.
  5. Learners are used to responding to questions that generate evidence of learning. Thus teachers have worked together ahead of time to develop thoughtful questions to use in discussions that provide evidence of their learning.
  6. Learners regularly work as learning and teaching resources for each other, using a range of cognitive strategies.

Evidence-Informed Dialogue and Action

  • Creating time and space for learning conversations is essential.
  • Learning does not happen in isolation, it requires dialogue.
  • For challenging conversations to truly to occur, deep levels of trust are required.
  • For improvement to happen, showing respect for each other’s viewpoints is imperative, while at the same time challenging each others interpretations (Timperley & Earl, 2008).
  • Greatest gains for learners come from inquiry-minded leadership in pursuit of intelligent evidence.
  • Too easy for educators to get caught in 1) “Activity traps” - a quick look at the evidence and then on to some unproductive “action” and 2) ”Over analysis traps” - where educators have lengthy meetings going through lots of data, over long periods of time.
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Click here or above to access the article.

A Framework for Shared Leadership

Title: A Framework for Shared Leadership

Author: Linda Lambert

From: Educational leadership, May 2002, Volume 59 Number 8

Summary and Take Away:

  • "For decades, educators have understood that we are all responsible for student learning. More recently, educators have come to realize that we are responsible for our own learning as well. But we usually do not move our eyes around the room—across the table—and say to ourselves, I am also responsible for the learning of my colleagues" (Lambert, 2002 p. 37).

  • A key component to establishing strong distributed leadership is knowing and accepting each and every individual's role as well as accepting everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Study groups, actions research teams, vertical learning communities and leadership teams are modes by which leadership capacity can be not only increased but more importantly sustained (Lambert, 2002).

  • Have you witnessed students voluntarily help a classmate who is struggling? "Students seem to understand that the classroom and school communities are in the business of learning together. For instance, when our 9-year-old grandson, Dylan, completes his own work, he observes how other students are progressing. He voluntarily goes to the desks of other students and assists them." (Lambert, 2002). Imagine the level of trust and care that must exist amongst staff who volunteer help and willingly accept help from one another. Trust and care are essential for building a collaborative culture.

  • Before we can become successful leaders, all parties involved must establish the same attitude and approach towards distributed leadership. Lambert suggests establishing the following beliefs as a recipe for building strong leadership communities (p.38):

1) Everyone has the right, responsibility, and ability to be a leader.

2) How we define leadership influences how people will participate.

3) Educators must yearn to be more fully who they are—purposeful, professional human beings.

4) Leadership is an essential aspect of an educator's professional life.

  • Do we feel responsible for the learning and growth of our colleagues? Are we willing to figuratively get up from our desks as Dylan does and voluntarily assist a colleague in need?

  • From our years of playing team sports, we have experienced that "a team is only as strong as its weakest link". The same truth applies to education. As we put forth the effort to strengthen our staff and colleagues, we will in turn strengthen the entire group as a whole. It should be our goal to develop the leadership capacity of the entire school in order to become stronger as a group (Lambert, 2002).
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Chapter 7: The Sixth Mindset Learning-oriented design

  • Design - the intricacy and complication required to create appropriate structures for adult learning.
  • Context matters - reshaping school culture requires understanding of local context, values and history.
  • Designs for professional learning should be based on “next practice”, defined as practice which is possibly more powerful than current “good practice”.
  • Mindset of learning oriented design - actions that leaders take to design powerful adult learning opportunities where the mindsets of intense moral purpose, trust, learning, evidence and inquiry are collectively made apparent.

Teacher Learning and Development

  • Strong connection exists between principal involvement in professional learning and teacher participation and learning.
  • Providing time, space, resources, support, refreshments and a structured routine for sharing relevant readings, new ideas and beliefs and stronger practices, are much more likely to deepen professional learning.
  • The involvement of an external person with expertise can help counter challenges that can restrict new learning.

Four Understandings that Inform Teacher Professional Learning: (Timperley, 2008)

  1. Student learning is strongly influenced by how teachers teach, and what they teach.
  2. Teaching is a complex activity.
  3. Conditions must be setup that are responsive to the ways in which teachers learn.
  4. Professional learning is strongly shaped by the context in which the teacher practices.

Five Leadership Dimensions that Impact Student Outcomes:

(Robinson, 2007)
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Distributed Leadership

  • Belief that leadership capability and capacity are not fixed but can be extended and developed.
  • Emphasizes the active development of leadership activities within all members of the school organization.
  • Effective distribution of leadership requires that principals pay attention to the skills and developmental levels of teachers.
  • Successful leaders understands the power of distributed learning to build capacity, and recognize the importance of creating a professional learning community that is sustained over time.

Learning Communities

  • “A group of people who take an active, reflective, collaborative, learning-oriented and growth promoting approach towards the mysteries, problems and perplexities of teaching and learning” (Sackney & Mitchell, 2000, p.5; as cited in Kaser & Halbert, 2009, p.127).
  • Shifting school cultures requires professional community, organizational learning and high degrees of trust (Louis, 2006).
  • Leader’s active involvement is imperative to effective professional learning communities.
  • Providing time, space, resources, support, refreshments and a structured routine for sharing relevant readings, new ideas and beliefs and stronger practices, are much more likely to deepen professional learning.
  • Learning communities are characterized by both patterns of distributed leadership and by strong leadership from the principal (Mitchell & Sackney, 2006).

Leadership Qualities Needed to be Developed With Staff:

(Stoll, McMahon, & Thomas, 2006, p. 614)

  1. Shared values and vision.
  2. Collective responsibility for student learning.
  3. Collaboration focused on learning.
  4. Reflective professional inquiry.
  5. Individual and collective professional learning.
  6. Openness, networks and partnerships.
  7. Inclusive membership.
  8. Mutual trust, respect and support.

Collective Inquiry and Assessment Cycle

  • Collaborative work generally involves constructing an environment in which theories go through cognitive discomfort or disturbance.
  • “Through the inquiry process teachers collectively and individually identify important issues, become the drivers for acquiring the knowledge they need to solve them, monitor their impact and adjust practice accordingly” (Timperley, 2008, p. xxvii).
  • When leaders and of teachers meet regularly to thoughtfully review student work and to plan together based on learner needs, deeper learning occurs.
  • Significant change in practice requires multiple opportunities in a trusting but challenging learning environment.
  • Issue is not to create more time, rather to create more productive time.
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Click here or above to access the article.

Article #2: Learning-focused leadership and leadership support

Title: Learning-focused leadership and leadership support: Meaning and practice in urban systems.
Authors: Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., Honig, M. I., Plecki, M. L., and Portin, B. S.

From: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, 2010

Summary and Take Away:

  • "They regarded themselves as hardworking martyrs in a hopeless cause…." is how one principal described the morale of his staff members" (Knapp et al, 2010 p.1).
  • Questions to consider: How does a staff become learning focused? How do you keep your staff on track with achieving their leadership goals despite the distractions and challenges they face on a daily basis?
  • Leaders serve as a source of encouragement and stability when tough times hit. Do not underestimate the impact your attitude can have.
  • An important part of changing a school's culture from a sorting into a learning system is to set realistic and attainable goals for the teachers.
  • Just like anyone else if teachers feel overwhelmed by the professional learning plan they are undergoing they can get discouraged or burnt out too quickly.
  • Leaders need to oversee the goals and the progress to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • All staff members need to know, "Even in the face of these challenges, learning-focused leadership is still a realizable goal for many, if not most, urban educational systems, though the pace and scope of the changes that are necessary for this to happen will vary considerably across settings. What will it take to get there?" (Knapp et al, 2010 p. 32).

Five Concepts to Consider (Knapp et al, 2010 p. 33-34):

  • Bedrock convictions. Learning-focused leadership work is anchored to the notion that learning improvement is possible at scale, that professionals and students are capable of much more than they have typically accomplished to date, and that leadership work will translate into demonstrable performance.

  • Explicit focus on improving the quality and practice of leadership. To realize the promise of learning-focused leadership means, if nothing else, to intentionally include leadership practice as part of the learning improvement equation.

  • A learning stance. Improving teaching and leadership practice means new learning for teachers, administrators, and other staff, all of whom have much to understand and new skills to acquire to do their work effectively.

  • Talent search and talent development. Especially where new or redefined positions are concerned, but also for the full range of positions from which leadership is exercised either formally or informally, the educational system needs committed, capable people to take on learning-focused leadership work.

  • Systemic perspective. Finally, the whole is—or at least can be—greater than the sum of the parts. Within this well-functioning whole, the exercise of learning-focused leadership entails different elements—public focus, investment in learning improvement, new work practice and relationships, and engagement with evidence—that are aligned and connect with one another.
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Chapter 8: Connecting Mindsets Networked Leadership

  • When leaders connect across schools through reflective learning partnerships, a greater likelihood exists that the leaders begin to lead in more transformative ways.
  • Leaders come together to share ideas and resources and to create and organize knowledge about learning and assessment practices, greater support for transformation occurs.

Mindset Links

  • All the mindsets are necessary and important.
  • Leaders can use the mindsets as a framework to identify their strengths as well as areas where they need to grow.
  • It is the synergy in the use of the leadership mindsets that creates the impact for learners.

Networks of Inquiry

  • Relationships and learning partnerships are formed across schools.
  • Informal leaders are drawn to network participation.
  • A clear purpose is expressed through an intense focus in an important area of learning.
  • Collaboration and inquiry need to be combined thoughtfully so that schools in the network become genuine knowledge-creating communities.
  • Trust develops across schools as principals and teachers meet, talk, share resources and work together through a cycle of inquiry with a clear focus on student learning.

Full Engagement

  • “To be fully engaged, leaders must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond their immediate self-interest” (Loehr & Schwartz, 2003, p.5).
  • In order to do the kind of challenging, persistent and passionate work of changing a school or a system, working as part of team is essential.
  • When energies are connected, it is easier to overcome the inevitable obstacles.
  • The strongest leaders love what they do. Their challenges are easier to overcome because they put learners and learning at the centre of every decision and action.

Reflective Partnerships

  • Reflective partners do not tell leaders being coached how they should lead, but rather assist them to reflect critically on their practice so they can make informed decisions about their leadership (Robertson, 2008, p. 29).
  • When reflection is done well it can lead to different perspectives, fresh ways of seeing old traditions, and a renewed sense of confidence.
  • Every leader benefits from having a colleague on whom they can rely on a regular basis for deep and active listening.
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Discussion Question

There are many different responsibilities and expectations when it comes to being a leader. Through the readings of the above mentioned chapters, a strong emphasis has been placed on leaders to make a commitment to lifelong learning, foster continuous self-reflection and learning in their staff and students, lead by example, promote and encourage collaboration and professional learning communities, strongly commit to effective professional development, network and distribute leadership, and establish a culture of perpetual learning at their institutions. With this in mind, we would like the class to discuss one or both of the following questions:

Discussion #1: List a few challenges that you may face as a leader attempting to instill in your staff the importance of learner engagement, and what solutions would you propose.

Discussion #2: As a Principal at a school, how could you promote learning autonomy and foster lifelong learning in both the students and staff? What potential problems do you see arising, and how do you anticipate tackling these issues?


Lambert, L. (2002). A framework for shared leadership. Educational leadership, 59(8), 37-40.

Loehr, J. and Schwartz, T. (2003) The Power of Full Engagement. New York: Free Press.

Kaser, L. and Halbert, J. (2009). Leadership mindsets: Innovation and learning in the transformation of schools. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., Honig, M. I., Plecki, M. L., & Portin, B. S. (2010). Learning-focused leadership and leadership support: Meaning and practice in urban systems. Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy–University of Washington.

Robertson, J. (2008) Coaching Educational Leadership: Building Leadership Capacity through Partnership. London: Sage. Previously published as Robertson, J. (2005) Coaching Leadership: Building Educational Leadership Capacity Through Coaching Partnerships. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research Press.

Stoll, L., McMahon, A. and Thomas, S. (2006) ‘Identifying and Leading Effective Professional Learning Communities’. Journal of School Leadership. 16(5): 611– 23.

Timperley, H. (2008) ‘Teacher Professional Learning and Development’. International Academy of Education. International Bureau of Education. Education Practice Series 18, March: 1– 23.

Image/Video References:

Accountability - https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/6/005/06f/391/369307c.jpg

Benjamin Franklin - http://emilysquotes.com/tell-me-and-i-forget-teach-me-and-i-may-remember-involve-me-and-i-learn/

Collaboration - http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/images/thumb/8/8d/Colab.jpg/300px-Colab.jpg

Curiosity - http://www.teachthought.com/learning/how-to-kill-a-learners-curiosity-in-12-easy-steps/

Einstein - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BuNXtOkCMAA-TDV.jpg

Five Leadership Dimensions Image Background - http://coe.lehigh.edu/sites/coe.lehigh.edu/files/documents/iStock_000017018503Small.jpg

Five Questions Image Background - http://www.evolllution.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/meeting.jpg

Networking - http://beachsidesocial.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/networking.jpg

Never Cease to Learn - https://kconnollyteach.wordpress.com/

Professional Learning Communities - http://www.coreeducationllc.com/blog2/online-professional-learning-communities/

Ramsey Musallam Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsYHqfk0X2A

Socrates - https://www.pinterest.com/maggiebluth/wisdom/

Solve - http://www.voicenet.asia/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/solve.png

Synergy - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/305822630918317921/

Team - http://www.exacttarget.com/blog/how-to-create-1-1-3-marketing-campaigns/

Two Heads Networked - http://image.slidesharecdn.com/mindsetdividebrochure-120920145521-phpapp02/95/the-mindset-divide-revealing-how-emotions-differ-between-personal-and-professional-networks-1-728.jpg?cb=1348189706