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Leading by example within a collaborative staff

Ritchie, S.M. and Rigano, D.L. (2003) Leading by example within a collaborative staff. In: Wallace, J. and Loughran, J., (eds.) Leadership and Professional Development in Science Education: New possibilities for enhancing teacher learning. Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group, London, England, pp. 48-62.

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I'm supposed to be the 'lead by example' person in the department and I just felt really uncomfortable with what I was doing. I guess that is what I am doing now, trying to set a bit of an example. (Mr Cresswell , Interview 4)

As head of his science department, Mr Cresswell (pseudonyms are used throughout this chapter) felt obliged to set an example for his colleagues by changing his practice. Unsurprisingly, teachers who lead by example are "likely to have a positive influence upon the larger school community because they take the risk to provide a constant, visible model of persistence, hope, and enthusiasm" (Barth, 2001, p. 447). Over our five face-to-face interviews with Mr Cresswell, he had expressed dissatisfaction with his previous traditional teaching style that tended to bore those students who were not intellectually challenged. Yet in the classes we observed, Mr Cresswell appeared to be a transformed teacher leader - one who was committed to student-centred learning and strategies that he perceived to be relevant and engaging, as well as providing his students with opportunities for success. As we observed other classes and spoke to teachers within the science department, we came to believe that Mr Cresswell's changing teaching practice influenced both students and staff. For us, Mr Cresswell was the sort of leader that Senge was referring to when he wrote:

we are coming to believe that leaders are those people who 'walk ahead', people who are genuinely committed to deep change in themselves and in their organizations. They lead through developing new skills, capabilities, and understandings. And they come from many places within the organization. (1996, p.45)

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: 2003 The Authors
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