Evaluations of this new program have been very positive.1 Yet those of us who make up the MSLN staff are keenly aware of how difficult it is to pinpoint what aspects of our approach are creating our early successes.
MSLN participants are principals, teacher leaders, and other school- level leaders who meet two criteria: they want to enhance their leadership, and they work in districts that explicitly support their efforts to do so.
As MSLN facilitators, three of the authors are employed approximately three-fifths time to anchor the in-school learning experience.
MSLN operates on the premise that school leaders are the "lead- learners" of their schools, fostering communities of learners among students, staff, and parents that are dedicated to improving student learning.3 Our curriculum seeks to generate, in explicit and transparent ways, a learning community for all.
The MSLN curriculum is more heavily structured at the outset, but, as time and learning progress, it becomes more individualized, more practice-driven, and more reliant on the community of learners.
They build on the MSLN structures and grow beyond them into their own learning paths.
We are sustained in our commitment to the central importance of a learning community by the power of the many soaring trajectories we have seen among our MSLN colleagues.
The MSLN program pushes participants to "step back" from the daily action so they can see more clearly what they need to learn as leaders.
Recognizing that "this is about me." Most MSLN participants join the network with the goal of becoming better leaders so they can move their schools forward.
Ironically, many MSLN members enter the program uncertain about themselves as leaders; they don't have a clear idea of their skills and talents; some seriously question whether they are leaders.
Most MSLN members enter into the experience understanding leadership in primarily cognitive terms: they view leadership as projecting ideals and "best practice," then convincing others to "go forth and do likewise." As MSLN turns the microscope on leaders' actions, this model of cognitive transmission of leadership breaks down, and interpersonal and intrapersonal factors come into high relief.