Book Review Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement By Thomas J. Sergiovanni

Book Review Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement By Thomas J. Sergiovanni

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The heart of leadership has to do with what a person believes, values, dreams about, and is committed to. - Sergiovanni


Target Audience of the Book:
According to the author in the introduction of the book, this work was basically intended to serve as a guide for developing moral leadership in schools geared toward superintendents, supervisors, principals, and any other persons at the upper levels of school management. The author's design was to provoke thoughts and raise questions in the minds of these people to help them analyze the leadership processes in their schools and help them make adjustments to the leadership process that will in the end reduce the need for "direct" leadership in favor of "moral" leadership. He also makes point that this book can serve as a "counterpoint" to some of the textbooks, currently being used in university courses on leadership. Sergiovanni also states that the book would be useful for parents, school board members and policy makers. Because I have been involved in the education process from the teaching side of education, I see this book as being of particular value to teachers as well. Overall, this book is for anyone who cares about improving the leadership in our schools.
The Scope of the Book:
The aspects of leadership covered are broad, from analyzing the traditional leadership roles, to the tapping of higher levels of human potential. It is written from the standpoint of managers or leaders and covers point by point the author's ideas of how to shift the environment of schools from that of a "factory" to one of a “learning community. Sergiovanni discusses "living school" in leadership rather than just being concerned with the facts and figures involved in "playing school." The viewpoint of the author is being concerned about the leadership processes in schools that are presently accepted as the norm. Sergiovanni would like to see school leadership shift to one that is self-motivated by teachers who want to do a great job, not one where the teachers feel they have to as a result of dependency on "extrinsic" rewards. A school, he says, is a community with a shared sense of values and purpose. He describes a "virtuous school" as one founded on the beliefs that a school must be a community, that this school community includes parents, teachers, students and other community members. He believes that every student can learn, that caring for the whole child is the key to academic success, and that mutual respect and positive expectations are the operating dynamics.

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"Book Review Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement By Thomas J. Sergiovanni." 07 Apr 2020

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Throughout this book, Sergiovanni is attempting to reframe the role of leadership in a school from an old paradigm focused on management and control and the view that a school is a formal organization, to a new paradigm of empowerment through caring, acknowledging the expertise of teachers and students, and facilitating their active participation in the school.
Analysis, Impact, and Evaluation
     In Moral Leadership, Sergiovanni shows how creating a new leadership practice--one with a moral dimension built around purpose, values, and beliefs--can transform a school from just an organization to a community. He believes that this “community” can inspire the kinds of commitment, devotion, and service from all stakeholders that can make our schools great. Sergiovanni explains the importance of justifying emotion and getting in touch with basic values and connections with others. He reveals how true collegiality, based on shared work and common goals, leads to an interdependence occurring naturally among teachers. He shows how a public statement of values and purpose can help turn schools into “virtuous” communities where teachers are self-managers and professionalism is valued.
     This book is mainly focused on leadership and transforming leadership from its traditional roots, but this is directly related to curriculum. Sergiovanni believes that much of the problems schools face in transferring curriculum effectively to students is the lack of motivation and professionalism of teachers. Much of this lack of professionalism and motivation stems directly from the “top-down”, bureaucratic style of leadership. Once the leadership roles are transformed and these learning communities are developed where teachers are professional and able to self-manage, curriculum inevitably becomes a more valuable priority. If students and learning become the most important value of the school, then curriculum will take shape as well.
     I think the most important value that is presented in this book is the power that lies within a school if it is not all held within the administration. There can be power in numbers if the teachers, parents, students, and community members buy-in to and have personal interest in the values of the school. Their support alone will change the culture of a school and can turn a low-performing, ineffective school into a success story.
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