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The Ontario Leadership Framework. The framework: describes what good leadership looks like, based on evidence of what makes the most difference to student achievement and well-being

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The framework:

  • describes what good leadership looks like, based on evidence of what makes the most difference to student achievement and well-being
  • identifies the practices of successful school and system leaders, as well as the organizational practices of successful schools and districts
  • includes a small but critical number of Personal Leadership Resources(leadership traits and dispositions) that have been found to increase the effectiveness of leadership practices
the ontario leadership framework1
The Ontario Leadership Framework
  • The goals of the OLF are to:
  • provide a robust research foundation on which to base the elements of the Ontario Leadership Strategy
  • help ensure that Ontario leadership practices and personal leadership resources support the key goals of improving student achievement and well-being
  • provide a common language and understanding for leaders to engage in discussions about effective practice
history of the olf
History of the OLF


  • OLF designed in 2006
  • IEL provided workshops to districts in 2008
  • Leithwood research report informed revisions to OLF in 2012:
    • No longer included competencies, now includes the addition of Personal Leadership Resources
    • Revised practices
    • Introduction of District Effectiveness Framework (DEF)
    • Connection to Student Effectiveness Framework (SEF)
history of the olf con t
History of the OLF (con’t)

In 2013

  • Strong Districts and their Leadership (Leithwood 2013)
      • Nine characteristics of strong districts and related practices
      • Two new personal leadership resources
      • Revised DEF and System-level Leadership placemats

Components of the OLF



big ideas in the olf
Big Ideas in the OLF
  • Context is important
  • Leadership and Management are integrated
  • Formal leaders enact practices directly and indirectly
  • Leadership is best shared in a planned and

coordinated way

  • System leaders and districts add significant

value to the learning of students beyond the

contribution of schools and classrooms

personal leadership resources in 2012
Personal Leadership Resources in 2012
  • Cognitive resources:
    • problem-solving expertise
    • knowledge of school and classroom conditions that directly affect student learning
  • Social resources:
    • perceive emotions
    • manage emotions
    • act in emotionally appropriate ways
  • Psychological resources:
    • optimism
    • self-efficacy
    • resilience
what happened in 2013
What happened in 2013?
  • The Institute for Education Leadership (IEL) and the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) commissioned Ken Leithwood to do a research study on the role of the district leader
  • Result: “Strong Districts and Their Leadership”
  • Impact: Changes to the system-level leadership placemat, addition of two new PLRs to school and system level placemats; and changes to the DEF

Leadership Practices

in Schools

Scenario 1

  • It’s September, and you have just learned that because of declining enrolment you will have to cut two teachers from your staff and re-timetable the school (and you have 4 days to do it!)
  • Look at the bolded leadership practices in the School-level Leadership placemat and pick out several that you think are the most critical to solving this problem effectively
  • Highlight these practices and be prepared to defend your choices and explain your thinking

Leadership is Contingent

Scenario 2:

  • You are a candidate in a principal interview. You are asked to state what your entry plan would be if you were appointed to a specific school in your district.
  • How would you apply the idea of “contingent leadership” to this question?
  • What are the look-fors in your answer?

Shared Leadership

Scenario 3:

Think of a principal for whom you have worked who Demonstrated excellent “shared leadership” practices.

  • Find a few practices in the framework that reflect what this principal did to be so effective.
  • What were this principal’s strongest personal leadership resources and how did he/she demonstrate these?
  • As a teacher in this school, why was this important?
  • Have you made mistakes or witnessed mistakes in sharing leadership that you have learned from?
system level leadership
System-level Leadership
  • System leaders start with the school level practices
  • System-Level leadership practices organized by the 9 characteristics of strong districts
  • Note the use of verbs to describe the practices (what leaders do)
  • Sub-bullets provide more detail of how these practices are carried out
two new plrs
Two New PLRs
  • Proactivity
    • Ability to stimulate and manage change on a large scale under complex circumstances
    • Show initiative and perseverance in bringing about change
  • Systems-thinking
    • Ability to understand dense, complex and reciprocal connections among different elements of the organization
    • Foresight to engage others in likely futures and consequences for action

* proactivity and systems thinking are important for all leaders but especially useful for district leaders


System-Level Leadership Placemat

Referencing one of the highlighted practices in the System-Level leadership placemat, unpack the practice:

  • What does it mean?
  • How would it be enacted?
  • What are the look-fors?

How will proactivity and/or systems thinking be

helpful in carrying out your role as a system leader?

How can you foster proactivity and systems

thinking in other leaders?

district effectiveness framework
District Effectiveness Framework

Characteristics of Strong Districts:

  • Shared mission, vision and goals
  • Coherent instructional guidance system
  • Multiple sources of evidence to inform decisions
  • Learning-oriented organizational improvement
  • Job-embedded professional learning
  • Resources and structures aligned with mission
  • Comprehensive leadership development
  • Policy-oriented board of trustees
  • Productive working relationships
district effectiveness framework def
District Effectiveness Framework (DEF)
  • 9 characteristics of strong districts
  • Note the use nouns to describe these characteristics
    • e.g. mission, guidance system, use of evidence, etc.
  • Sub-bullets provide more detail about what the characteristic looks like in practice
def learning oriented organizational improvement
DEF: Learning-oriented Organizational Improvement
  • Coherent approach to improvement, small number of goals, consistently pursued over sustained time
  • Integration of new initiatives into existing routines
  • Professional learning networks to share, assess and refine
  • How can you influence the discussions in your district to support the characteristic, “Learning-oriented organizational improvement processes”?

Think about:

    • Advocacy for leaders in carrying out

the district mission and vision

    • Sense-making
    • Leadership development needs -

organizationally and individually

What is your role as system leader?

How do you connect with other district leaders?

activity cont d consider the following
Activity (cont’d)Consider the following …
  • How do you exert your influence?
  • What does it look like when you do so?
  • Are there ways that you could strengthen this influence?
  • Who else should you talk to in your district?
  • What are the vehicles and venues through which one can influence? (Adm. Council meetings, BIPSA meetings, PPA, principals’ meetings)
  • What is the impact on organizational leadership if you are not at some of the district tables – how would you connect with other district leaders?

What Fullan calls “coherence making” involves seeking a balance between letting go and even encouraging “disturbance” on the one hand and on the other hand building coherence, sense and direction.