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Virtuous Educational Leadership

Virtuous Educational Leadership
Doing the Right Work the Right Way

First Edition

October 2022 | 288 pages | Corwin

Excellent leadership matters

Without excellent leadership, school improvement is impossible, or at least impossible to sustain. But what are the characteristics of an excellent leader? Is general leadership experience and knowledge enough? And how do you practically grow and develop leadership in yourself and others so you can all have a bigger impact on student outcomes?

This integrated, holistic resource explores the virtues that are integral to achieving excellence in educational leadership, while offering practical guidance on how to do the right work in the right way—no matter what challenges you face or student inequities you’re trying to overcome. Features include:

  • Practical, research-based applications of virtue theory
  • Examples of school leaders’ thinking and actions
  • In-depth yet accessible theoretical analysis
  • Detailed analysis showing theoretical concepts in practice
  • Summaries and reflection questions

The success of your students and teachers is directly linked to your influence, your knowledge and ideas, your personal character, and your ability to focus on the proper purposes of education.

About the Author
Part A: Identifying the Proper Purpose of Leadership Work
Chapter 1: Three Proper Purposes of Education
The Proper Purposes of Educational Institutions

Less Satisfactory Approaches to Identifying the Right Work


Reflection and Action

Chapter 2: Linking the Purposes to the Science of Learning and Teaching
How Students Learn

Implications for Classroom Teaching


Reflection and Action

Part B: Doing the Right Leadership Work
Chapter 3: Implications of the Science of Learning and Teaching for Leadership
Dimension 1: Setting Goals and Expectations for Deep Learning

Dimension 2: Resourcing Strategically for Deep Learning

Dimension 3: Ensuring Quality Teaching for Deep Learning

Dimension 4: Leading Teacher Professional Learning for Deep Learning

Dimension 5: Ensuring a Safe and Orderly Environment for Deep Learning


Reflection and Action

Chapter 4: Taking Context Seriously
Traditional Concepts of Context

Proposed Concept of Context


Reflection and Action

Part C: Doing the Right Work the Right Way
Chapter 5: Virtues for Doing the Right Work the Right Way
Virtues Explained

Virtues as Inclusive of Motives, Knowledge, and Skills

The Place of Virtues in Leadership Frameworks

A Taxonomy of Virtues for Doing the Right Work the Right Way


Reflection and Action

Chapter 6: Leadership Virtues
Sources of Leadership Influence

Virtuous Leadership Motivations

Identifying and Nurturing a Virtuous Disposition to Lead

Recruiting and Retaining Virtuous Leaders

Reluctance to Lead


Reflection and Action

Chapter 7: Problem-Solving Virtues: Strategic
The Role of Knowledge and Skill in Virtuous Strategic Leadership

The Role of Motivation in Virtuous Strategic Leadership

Connecting the Details With the Big Picture

Finding the Strategic Focus

Enacting the Strategic Focus

Maintaining the Strategic Focus


Reflection and Action

Chapter 8: Problem-Solving Virtues: Analytic
Analytic Virtues and Theories of Action

Analytic Virtues and Truth-Seeking

Motivational Aspects of Analytic Virtues

The Ladder of Inference: A Tool for Truth-Seeking Leaders

Strategic and Analytic Virtues in Action


Reflection and Action

Chapter 9: Problem-Solving Virtues: Imaginative
Imaginative Virtues and the Integration of Solution Requirements

Imaginative Virtues, Creativity, and Problem-Solving

Strategic, Analytic, and Imaginative Virtues in Action


Reflection and Action

Chapter 10: Interpersonal Virtues
Relational Trust: A Guide for Deriving Interpersonal Virtues

Four Interpersonal Virtues


Reflection and Action

Chapter 11: Integrating Leadership, Problem-Solving, and Interpersonal Virtues
The Task-Relationship Dilemma


Reflection and Action

Chapter 12: Being Virtuous in Tough Spots
Fostering Accurate Reporting

Building Collegial Accountability

Providing Critical Evaluation


Reflection and Action

Chapter 13: Virtuous Leadership of Educational Improvement: A Case Study
The Problem: Attendance at Vauxhall Secondary College

The Leaders: Roles and Contributions

The Method: Using CCPS to Improve Attendance

The New Challenge: Addressing an Unanticipated Obstacle

Reflections on the Success of CCPS at Vauxhall Secondary College

Reflections on the Contributions of Leaders’ Virtues to the Success of CCPS at VSC


Reflection and Action

Chapter 14: Conclusion

No one combines novel insights and precise ideas like Viviane Robinson. Robinson is as comfortable around the details of the trees as she is in stepping back to take in the forest. You won’t find a more unique and powerful book on leadership—one suited exactly for our times—than Virtuous Educational Leadership.

Michael Fullan
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In Virtuous Educational Leadership, Viviane Robinson has made explicit what I have often described as an X factor in leadership—something that distinguishes excellent leaders from the rest. Her description and portrayal of virtuous leadership provides insights into the dispositions that underpin wise leadership.

Anne Berit Emstad
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Trondheim, Norway

Viviane Robinson is one of my favorite educational leadership researchers and writers, and this book illustrates so well why that is so. The school leader plays an essential role in engaging students in deep learning. Robinson offers invaluable insights for how to foster this type of learning through virtuous leadership.

Peter DeWitt
Albany, NY

Virtuous Educational Leadership is a gift for all of us searching for guidance in school leadership development. It is both inspiring and practical. Viviane Robinson promotes leadership excellence by showing how virtues are at the very core of leadership and how crucial they are in the face of today’s educational challenges.

Anna Jolonch
LID Barcelona, Educational Leadership Centre
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Making a positive change in any role, from teacher to principal, requires both a ‘what’ and a ‘how.’ Virtuous Educational Leadership provides a framework for identifying the ‘what’ (collaborative complex problem-solving) and approaching the ‘how’ (virtuous leadership). With Viviane Robinson’s characteristic depth and rigor, the ideas hidden in these pages will empower leaders worldwide.”

Oliver Lovell
Victoria, Australia

Virtuous Educational Leadership is a comprehensive examination of the complex world of school leadership. It draws upon research from a wide range of disciplines, supported by rich analysis, of examples of the work of leaders. Voices from the front lines are expertly interwoven throughout. I highly recommend it.

Tom Rees
Programmes, Ambition Institute
Manchester, UK

Educational leaders inhabit a world that expects simplicity to be curated from complexity, certainty from unpredictability, coherence from chaos. And, while the existing literature on educational leadership contains plenty of advice and its recommendations seem intuitively compelling, it is, ultimately, lacking in actionable specificity. Thankfully, Virtuous Educational Leadership is a work of deep practical wisdom that is anchored in theory, acknowledges the critical importance of context, and illustrates clearly how educational leadership is not simply about doing the right work of leadership but also about doing it in the right way.

Stuart Kime
Evidence Based Education
Sunderland, UK

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