Female Leadership and New Teacher Professional Development



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This paper is a self-study that researched women’s ways of knowing and female leadership. Through four episodes, my first year teaching story was shown to be, and defined as a cover story. I examined differences between men and women in terms of learning, communicating, and knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1997; Clinchy, 1996; Hegelsen, 1995; Bateson, 1989). I expanded three issues related to female leadership: 1) barriers and access to school leadership positions (Lucas, 2003; Friedan, 2001; Hooks, 2000; Stone, 1994), 2) types of leadership not delegated by sex (Atwater, Brett, Waldman, DiMare, Hayden, 2004; Brunner & Grogan, 2007; Irby & Brown, 1995; Van Engen, Van Deer Leeden, & Willemsen, 2005) , and 3) influences on teacher voice and development via the leader (Hargreaves, 1996; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2000; Elbaz, 1991). This research was conducted using narrative inquiry in two ways. I unpacked it as a way of knowing (Belenky et, al., 1997; Lyons, 1990) and showed how it is a method of understanding because it situates understanding as contextual to time, place, and personal/social interactions (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994, 2000; Lyons & LeBoskey, 2002; Craig, 2007). My cover story and the subsequent restorying process happened in my analysis and were evidenced through lessons uncovered in each episode. The lesson learned in episode one deals with meaning making. A new female teacher needs to be a connected knower and part of the web of inclusion on campus. I recommend campus-specific professional development in order to grow her and help her become acclimated to the school and its community. This connected knowing time should envelope the new teacher into the ways of knowing specific to that school. Episode two uncovered that the new female teacher must first be legitimized before being included in the web of relationships. New teachers should choose two or three elements to work on and hone their craft that first year. With guidance from the principal and teacher mentor the new teacher’s voice and actions are still her own but they have been accepted before enacting. The lesson discussed in episode three is that teacher and curriculum maker are not synonymous. New teachers need to learn their teaching strengths for curriculum and instruction implementation as well as their leadership strengths, which will help them with the management and relationship pieces of teaching. This kind of professional development will help sharpen the new teachers’ skills and voice. The last lesson presented in episode four is mentoring for the new teaching within a particular context. I recommend new teachers to be assigned to a mentor and willingly incorporated into the school community both within and outside the walls of the building. Also, the principal should critically analyze who and why one becomes a mentor in terms of the best match for the new teacher and a reciprocal relationship (Schön, 1987). It is the principal’s responsibility to select the appropriate on-campus mentor. To conclude, I presented an epilogue of my first year as a principal. I framed it in terms of lessons learned and those I still seek to understand.



Female leadership, New teachers, Professional development, Types of leadership, Female teachers, Female principals