Great teachers can accomplish more with their students when they have the support of strong leadership. Skilled leaders can help create and maintain the kind of environment within a school that enables teachers to help students learn and achieve. In a recent article from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, several of the foundation's senior program officers put together a list of four ways that leadership teams create conditions for success in schools:
- Strong leadership teams enable teachers to work with their peers and focus on improvement rather than evaluation.
- Strong leadership teams involve teachers in decisions about curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional learning.
- Strong leadership teams engage families and communities.
- Strong leadership teams create a safe, nurturing learning environment for students.
Types of School Leadership
Though there are qualities of school leadership that are common to all school situations, like the four points listed above, there are many different types of leaders. Those who choose to pursue educational leadership have varying motivations, visions, skills and styles.
There's not any one particular style of leadership that is inherently better than another, and various leadership theories overlap and are adapted to the people and circumstances involved.
In a recent article for Standard for Success, Dr. Dianna Whitlock explains three different types of effective leadership styles in schools. Dr. Whitlock is the Director of Research and Process Development at Standard for Success. She holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership and has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and adjunct professor for teacher preparation programming.
- Servant Leadership - Leaders who consider the needs of their followers first and show sensitivity to others' concerns.
- Authentic Leadership - Focuses on the leader and his or her self-concept and self-knowledge.
- Ethical Leadership - Focuses on that which is fair and just to others, on acting with integrity and fairness, and on using ethical practices
Is Your School Better Because You Lead It?
It requires reflection, courage, honesty and self-examination, but school leaders should be asking this question of themselves continually. Baruti K. Kafele, an award-winning former urban principal in New Jersey who currently works as an education leadership consultant, shares his observations and experiences with educational leadership.
Kafele observes that leadership identity is not necessarily the same as your personal identity. Away from school, your home life, family, friends, interests and hobbies inform your personal identity. However, when you walk into school each day, you transition into who you are at work. "What does your presence mean in the eyes of your students, staff, parents, and the community? Does your leadership identity affect the climate, culture, and achievement in your school?" he asks.
Your leadership mission is what drives you and keeps you up at night. Kafele shared that his mission as a principal was to defy the stereotypes of black males from urban communities. He wanted to show the young men at his school that they were scholars.
If your leadership mission is your "what", Kafele says, then your leadership purpose is your "why." Why did you decide to become an education leader? His mission was to improve outcomes for black males. His purpose was to empower them.
Where you want your school to be in five years as a result of your direction is your leadership vision. How will your skills evolve? How will you improve so that those who depend on you will also improve? As you grow, both your staff and students will benefit.
When school leaders are clear about who they are and their leadership identity, they know their mission and what drives their work. They can envision the future they want for their school and their students, they are able to lead with confidence.
The UTA Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Online
This non-thesis principal certification program is fully aligned with the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) standards and designed for classroom teachers who want to acquire the skills and background needed to become a campus principal or assistant principal.
Graduates of this program will build upon existing expertise and acquire progressive skills that can improve teacher retention and increase student achievement while cultivating their own leadership style.
The fully online format of this program provides convenience and flexibility for working teachers who need to balance the responsibilities of work and home while pursuing an advanced degree. The program consists of 10 seven-week courses for a total of 30 credit hours, and students can earn their degree in as few as 16 months.
Learn more about the UTA online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program.
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