Redefining the Concept
The Concept of Educational Leadership means different things to different educators. It is a vast topic composed of multiple considerations and perspectives. In my experience as an educator, I have heard the term used to describe the relationship between managing educational resources and directing educators, parents, and students toward achieving common educational goals. Still, the ideas surrounding educational leadership are discussed among educators in different ways, some focusing on demographics and others focusing on the resource needs in school environments. People on different continents and within various educational circles have had a field day sorting through the many components that constitute effective educational leadership. When major changes occur, such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of new educational standards, the implementation of new technologies, and the shifts in politics that directly impact educational reform, educational leaders are faced with critical shifts in a school’s structural foundation and must, therefore, quickly and effectively work towards solidifying the foundation on which the previous structure stood, through research, financial resource identification, community building and administrative collaboration among educators, and organizations representing students’ educational interests.
Defining Educational Leadership
While each school requires different types of leadership influenced by various factors such as community environment, educational policy decisions as well as parent involvement, there remains common areas within the leadership spectrum of each school that are fundamental to ensuring that effective educational leadership is being exercised. These factors include establishing a culture of trust, leadership integrity, effective communication, and decisive decision-making procedures. These are among the most important components of educational leadership. Furthermore, since schools exist as a microcosm of the wider society, then leadership must be about influencing purposeful, ongoing, revitalizing change in every aspect of the school environment to create long term benefits and anticipatory solutions to future challenges for the benefit of students, educators, families, custodial staff, as well as within the communities surrounding the school. Ultimately, educational leadership is far more than a job or the management of educational system and people working within a school. It is a way of being forward thinking and solution oriented in the investigation into what works and doesn’t work now and into the future that can be thought through, planned for in advance of the mounting administrative hurdles schools face, of which there are many. The key word here is “being” because educational leadership articulates the true essence of the person and the responsibilities the leader holds as a caretake of policies, opportunities and solutions.
The Privilege of Educational Leadership
To be an educational leadership practitioner, similar to all other forms of leadership, is that it is a privilege to be empowered with the position to act in ways that profoundly impact the lives of many other citizens, more often than not, who are in a vulnerable social status. This is why the educational leader must be scrupulous, thoughtful, solution oriented and reflective in nature to be a person who is worthy of the role they hold to lead. The power of Educational Leadership is that the person welding this pervasive power will magnify their vision by realizing it in the exercise of their authority. Therefore, the educational leader who fails to embody the personal values and qualities that perpetuate continuous growth and improvement in many schools in need, will reveal themselves through their actions and behavior to the detriment of the students, teachers and families depending upon them to lead their schools. Leaders acting through the institutions where they work, such as in schools, churches, governments, possess the moral fiber imperative to sustaining trust in the institution only gained through the achievement of concrete solutions that benefit the community. Children are our community and will play a vital role in the future of our nation, which is why the institution of schools must be held to the highest standard by those granted the privilege to lead the charge of facilitating student to receive thorough and age-appropriate education.
Reimagining Educational Leadership
Reimagining educational leadership requires the consideration of key components that are a part of educational leadership, such as continuous reformation and modification of the structures within and outside each school building. These structures are constantly evolving because they reflect the everchanging culture and climate that exist as the school’s ethos based on the diverse backgrounds of student population and staff members. Leadership requires giving attention to creating an inclusive culture for all within the school community regardless of social class, language differences, religious practices, ethnic identity and other determinants that make individuals unique. Creating a reimagining educational leadership to ensure an ongoing, positive school culture demands that the educational leader be honest, compassionate, an effective communicator, and an adaptive leader. An adaptive leader (Heifetz & Heifetz) is not afraid of leading cultural change. They possess the necessary qualities to mobilize teams through the dark valleys and turmoil of organizational dysfunctions, policy implementation, and shifts in organizational structures. The educational leader should be ready to guide teams of educators through instructional alternatives and create an atmosphere of trust for all members, even in the face of a crisis. To achieve this goal, the leader may establish systems of change in the school’s administration policy that becomes embedded in the school’s culture and structures that may be triggered when needed. Educational leaders are tasked with the responsibility as adaptive leaders to establish these kinds of fail-safe systems long before crises or major reformation happens. These systems may be formed through school leadership and community partnership collaborations within a school cultivating leadership on all levels.
Leadership Change Casualties
Educators across the country and the world have seen and experienced the struggles over the past thirteen months due to the pandemic. School systems faltered and momentarily collapsed under the pressure of brick-and-mortar classroom closures. Many teachers were forced into retirement as well as became obsolete, due to their lack of experience with online teaching technology that had not been a part of most teachers’ continuous educational growth plan in schools. Many of our educational leaders are now beginning to gradually learn about instructional technologies that have been in existence for more than a few years. Unfortunately, the lack of vision and forward thinking on the part of their educational leaders to integrate these technologies into teachers’ professional development training resulted in mass chaos. By educational leaders learning from this example, they can avoid future casualties by creating an environment in schools changing them to learning organizations for staff as well as for students. This will influence continuous learning and development in different skill-sets for staff members so that they become educational leaders in their own instructional practice.
Achievement through Education Leadership
In summary, Educational leadership requires more collaborative teams and the development of a multitude of informed leaders throughout the school. In this way, the school thrives with the establishment of a succession plan that constantly forms great leaders to assure that the established school structure and culture from within the school environment remains planted on a strong, forward-thinking, educational leadership foundation.