Vol. 5 No. 10 (2010): Pass the Crayons: Leadership, Art Production, and Communities of Practice
The results of an arts-based leadership (Kelehear, 2006, 2008) practice at a rural middle school in South Carolina are examined. The school principal and art teacher led a day-long staff development and followed up individually to assist teachers to create art as metaphor for individual growth plans as well as school improvement plans. Specifically, the arts-based initiative sought to invite professional conversations that focused on: 1) personal reflections, 2) multiple perspectives, and 3) art making. Findings suggest that when the art teacher and principal work in collaboration, there is real value in an arts-based leadership practice. Also, when led by the art teacher, teacher reflections suggested that as the principal worked alongside the teachers, they felt valued and supported and viewed the principal as authentic and trusting. Additionally, out of the engendered trust, the teachers were emboldened to consider innovative, arts-based approaches to their teaching. Finally, there was evidence that the art teacher was highly effective in introducing innovative leadership practices as teachers. This study is one of several implementation studies emerging from earlier research on arts-based leadership.