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A Call to Action: Agreements and Conflicts in Review on Leadership and

Collaboration in Inclusion 1

This literature review focuses on four academic journals and one blog to synthesize the
literature on leadership and collaboration. These five sources, published between 2010 to 2015,
emphasize two key issues: what are the qualities and traits of an effective leader that can
generate an inclusive school culture, and how does collaboration serve as both a tool for leaders
and empowerment for teachers? This review will explain what current literature is saying about
effective leadership skills as well as collaborative practices among staff members. It will
conclude by explaining what needs to be improved in leadership and collaboration.
According to most literature reviewed, the principal is the focal point of leadership within
schools and should possess specific traits for an effective transition into inclusive school culture.
(Cohen, 2015; Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015; Lillis, 2015). In other words, the principal is
the guiding factor for a school cultural shift focusing on inclusion. A clear vision of an inclusive
plan is imperative to creating change in school culture (Cohen, 2015; Lillis, 2015; Philpott,
Furey, & Penny, 2010). Communication, listening, and providing support are also considered
important (Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015). Daily interaction between administration and
teachers that provides encouragement, constructive feedback, and interest in teachers merits and
thoughts about inclusion are also considered successful leadership traits (Cohen, 2015; HsinHsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015; Philpott et al., 2010). Acknowledgement through inspirational
leadership (Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015), also perceived as recognition and reward for
hard-working teachers actively striving to adhere in both policy and inclusive practices were also
considered part of effective leadership (Cohen, 2015; Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015). To
conclude, providing a straight-forward vision, clear communication and listening skills, as well
as providing supports are qualities of a successful leader. A leader who does not command,

A Call to Action: Agreements and Conflicts in Review on Leadership and

Collaboration in Inclusion 2

rather, support and communicate has gained respect of teachers who are more accepting of
inclusion and school cultural change (Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015).
Most literature also focuses on collaboration as a successful strategy and tool in creating
an inclusive school culture (Harpell & Andrews, 2010; Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015; Lillis,
2015). Harpell and Andrews (2015) add that principals should use collaboration to empower
teachers, also called psychological empowerment (Dee et al., as cited in Harpell & Andrews,
2010). Dee et al. (as cited in Harpell & Andrews, 2010) explain principals can provide
collaborative practices to enhance a sense of ownership and motivation to staff. If staff believe
their contributions are important, they will have a more satisfactory experience of the process
(Harpell & Andrews, 2010; Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015; Lillis, 2015). Most literature
agrees that there are benefits to collaboration, and if leaders can provide small amounts of
autonomy to these groups while serving only as a facilitator, school culture will be more
satisfactory (Dee, et al. as cited in Harpell & Andrews, 2010; Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015;
Lillis, 2015). A leader can provide facilitation by developing teams, providing materials,
consultants, resources, and professional development, praise and rewards, while allowing the
teams to independently collaborate (Harpell & Andrews, 2015; Hsin-Hsiange, Mao-Neng, 2015;
Lillis, 2015). Creating teams and sharing the decision making in inclusion removes authoritative
practices and creates democracy. Teachers can work together to share ideas and opinions to build
a cohesive bond between colleagues promoting a new school culture (Hsin-Hsiange & MaoNeng, 2015).
The literature identifies both benefits and drawbacks in collaboration and inclusion.
Recently mentioned, collaboration can benefit schools because teachers feel a sense of pride in

A Call to Action: Agreements and Conflicts in Review on Leadership and

Collaboration in Inclusion 3

the decision-making process (Harpell & Andrews, 2015). Also, through discussion, teachers can
share opinions, ideas, and knowledge on inclusion. Literature suggests that a drawback of
collaboration is that the distribution of power by the principal is not enough to satisfy teachers
and make them accept and be motivated to adhere to inclusive practices (Cohen, 2015; Harpell &
Andrews, 2015).
There are differing views on who is more crucial in developing and implementing
inclusion in schools. Some suggest younger or pre-service teachers are more receptive than
senior teachers in an inclusive shift because of training received (Cohen, 2015), while others
suggest senior teachers took more initiative to share experiences and encourage school
environment practices with newer teachers (Hsin-Hsiange & Mao-Neng, 2015). Others try to
provide resolutions for this, mentioning an induction program that would enhance knowledge in
inclusive practices for all teachers (Harpell & Andrews, 2015).
As a result, most literature agrees more professional development and further studies on
inclusion (Cohen, 2015) are needed for both administration and teachers if schools are to become
more inclusive (Philpott et al., 2010). Philpott et al. (2010) express a cultural shift is occurring in
schools. Teachers working today began their career in the seventies, prior to the emergence of
our fast-paced technological world (Philpott et al., 2010). Cultural diversity and specific learning
needs are also increasing, and the literature explains advancements need to be made in
pedagogical practices and effective leadership if inclusion is to succeed (Philpott et al., 2010).
Providing professional development on special education (Cohen, 2015), diversity, meaningful
teaching, and inclusive policy to all teachers will greatly benefit an inclusive practice (Philpott et
al., 2015). In addition to professional development, further studies on leadership style and

A Call to Action: Agreements and Conflicts in Review on Leadership and

Collaboration in Inclusion 4

teaching in regards to inclusion is sought after for different countries (Cohen, 2015).
This literature review aimed to review current literature on effective leadership traits and
the benefits, drawbacks, and conflicts that arise when using collaboration among staff in a
school. It explains what effective leadership traits are, how collaboration is perceived, and what
are the outcomes of current practices in relation to inclusion.

A Call to Action: Agreements and Conflicts in Review on Leadership and

Collaboration in Inclusion 5

Cohen, E. (2015). Principal Leadership Styles and Teacher and Principal Attitudes,
Concerns and
Competencies regarding Inclusion. Procedia Social and Behavioral
Sciences, 186 (The
Proceedings of 5th World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational
Leadership), 758764. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.105

Harpell & Andrews, J. W. (2010). Administrative Leadership in the Age of Inclusion:

Best Practices and Teacher Empowerment. Journal of Educational Thought,
44(2), 189-210.
Hsin-Hsiange L, Mao-neng Fred L. (2015) Principal Leadership and Its Link to the
Development of a
Schools Teacher Culture and Teaching Effectiveness: A Case Study of an
Teaching Team at an Elementary School. International Journal of Education
Policy & Leadership.
10(4):1-17. Available from: Education Research Complete, Ipswich, MA.
Accessed May 26, 2016.
Lillis, Jen. (2015, 8 December). 4 Things Principals of Great Inclusive Schools Do.
Retrieved from
Philpott. D.E., Furey, E., & Penney, S. C. (2010). Promoting Leadership in the
Ongoing Professional
Development of Teachers: Responding to Globalization and Inclusion.
Exceptionality Education
International, 20(2), 38-54.