One Size Does Not Fit All: Differentiating Leadership to Support Teachers in School Reform

Kristina Brezicha, Ulrika Bergmark, Dana L. Mitra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: Many of the predominant leadership models acknowledge the need to support teachers’ work, but these models rarely specify how to support teachers’ implementation process. This article studies the relationship between leadership support and teachers’ sensemaking processes. It brings together three divergent bodies of literature on educational leadership, teachers’ sensemaking and implementation of reforms to conceptualize leadership that specifically addresses how leaders can provide teachers differentiated support. Research Design: This article uses case descriptions to illuminate the relationship between leadership support and three teachers’ sensemaking processes of implementing a new initiative. The empirical data consists of observations and interviews with teachers and principal in an U.S. elementary school. Findings: The findings present the need for developing a concept of leadership that increases support of teachers’ implementation work by focusing on school leaders’ understanding of individual teachers’ views and philosophy, their enabling of flexibility of a reform, their encouraging of horizontal support structures, including teacher social networks. It also considers how leaders’ influence the school’s setting and the delivery of information around new reforms. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that providing teachers with differentiated support improves teachers’ understanding of the reform and supplies teachers the necessary tools to implement the new idea, facilitate teacher voice and participation in the process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-132
Number of pages37
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 8 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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