Distributed Leadership and Social Networks in the School-Based Development of the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme in a Venezuelan K-12

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Jose Bolivar—Instituto Educacional Juan XXIII (Valencia, Venezuela)

Deep analysis of the collective work of teachers and school administrators as they develop innovative programs, such as the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme (MYP), is essential to build models for 21st century education. Two theoretical frameworks, distributed leadership and social networks, have emerged in the educational research literature that present school leadership for change and innovation in terms of actions and emphasize the importance of social interactions for their enactment. This study draws upon these theories to describe and understand leadership in action during the school-based design and implementation of the MYP as well as the social networks underlying their enactment. In terms of practice, the study highlights several findings key to the successful development of the MYP: (1) the importance of coherence-building, collaborative design tasks for a systemic instructional vision, (2) the critical role of teacher support tasks in providing key resources for the successful enactment of design tasks, (3) the promotion of certain school-level and team-level conditions that support collaborative processes, and (4) the existence of certain school-level and team-level conditions that constrain teacher collaboration. The study shows that when schools undertake major changes special attention needs to be given to the multiple tasks that will need to be accomplished to achieve these initiatives. Findings indicate that these tasks require unique, varied, and fluid social network configurations that channel collaborative processes and that they are shaped by contextual factors that impact collaboration and communication flow.

Executive summary (PDF, 487 KB)