As defined by the authors of a recent study on the subject, “learning-centered leadership” is “a process whereby school leaders motivate, guide, and support teacher learning and school improvement.”
More precisely, the researchers operationalized the concept by asking teachers in 98 primary and middle schools in Thailand and China the extent to which their principals displayed the following behaviors:
Building a Learning Vision, e.g.,
Providing Learning Support, e.g.,
Managing the Learning Program, e.g.,
Learning-centered leadership was found to have a very strong impact (effect size of 0.8) on teacher professional learning, which the psychologists measured with a scale assessing agreement with statements related to:
Reaching out to the Knowledge Base, e.g.,
Interestingly, the effect was mediated by two factors: the impact of learning-centered leadership on trust (in both leaders and colleagues) and agency.
Trust - Learning-centered leadership appeared to create an environment in which teachers feel safe to be vulnerable, take a critical look at their own practices, challenge themselves, and reach out to their peers and supervisors.
Teacher Agency - Learning-centered leadership positively affected both its individual and collective dimensions. Individually, teachers display agency when they have a strong sense of self-efficacy, enabling them to take initiative and be open to innovation and risks. Collectively, this translates into a social norm and identity motivating teachers to do their best and continuously enrich their skill base and rely on each other to do so.
Reference: Hallinger, Liu and Piyaman, “Does principal leadership make a difference in teacher professional learning? A comparative study in China and Thailand”, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Volume 49, Issue 3, 2019.