Jim Spillane Visits China and Malaysia to Discuss Leadership for School Improvement

Jim Spillane Visits China and Malaysia to Discuss Leadership for School Improvement

Jim Spillane

Professor James Spillane visited China and Malaysia in March to deliver talks and confer with professors, policymakers and scholars about school improvement. He is a visiting professor at the University of Malaya as part of the university’s Academic Icon program. 

Spillane’s talks emphasized taking a distributed perspective on school leadership and management as a way to rethink instructional improvement. He has written three books on the topic: Distributed Leadership, Distributed Leadership in Practice and Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement.

At the 2013 Asia Leadership Roundtable in Shanghai, Spillane gave the closing remarks. With the theme “Leadership in Change,” the international conference aimed to share research findings and methods related to leadership in the East and the West and to explore how leaders respond to the organizational and cultural contexts in which they work. The Institute of Schooling Reform and Development at East China Normal University and the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change at Hong Kong Institute of Education organized the conference, with participants mainly from Asia but also from Europe, Australia and the United States.

Spillane visited Malaysia in connection with the Academic Icon program at the University of Malaya. As part of an effort to make the University of Malaya a world-class center of research and learning, its Academic Icon program draws globally renowned academicians and researchers to the university. These internationally prominent scholars and researchers work with the university staff to encourage high-impact research and prestigious publications.

Through this program Spillane is a visiting professor at the Institute of Educational Leadership at the University of Malaya. In March he gave a talk, led a symposium and met with faculty members, students and the university’s vice-chancellor. His meeting with the vice-chancellor focused on the university’s global outreach work.

On March 18 he gave a talk at the University of Malaya, entitled "Rethinking Instructional Improvement:  A Distributed Perspective on School Leadership and Management," to 150 faculty members, students, policymakers, and practitioners from around Malaysia. His symposium at the university was co-led with professor Alma Harris, director of the Institute on Distributed Leadership. While in Malaysia, he also gave a live interview on “Hello-Two” on TV 2 to discuss distributed leadership and school improvement.

Spillane is the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Chair in Learning and Organizational Change at Northwestern University. His research explores the policy implementation process at the state, school district, school and classroom levels. He has worked to develop a cognitive perspective on the implementation process, exploring how local policymakers, both administrators and teachers, come to understand state and national reforms. He is also interested in organizational leadership and change; his work conceptualizes organizational leadership as a distributed practice involving formal and informal leaders, followers and a variety of organizational tools and artifacts.

Spillane’s most recent projects include a social network analysis of mathematics advice structures in elementary schools, an evaluation of how kernel organizational routines can develop leadership practice and improve student achievement in schools, and an examination of the preparation, recruitment, and retention of school principals.  

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/8/13