Educational Leadership 101

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EDUCATIONAL LEADERS:
CHANGING ROLES AND IMPACT ON
TEACHER AND SCHOOL EFFECTIVENESS

I. OVERVIEW
This paper suggests that ongoing developments in societies and their provision of education are reflected in the roles, recruitment and development of school leaders. The paper first examines how, as a result of these developments, the role of school leaders is changing. It then examines if school leaders can strengthen the recruitment, development and retention of teachers, as well as lift student outcomes. Evidence is provided to demonstrate that particular leadership practices can achieve these outcomes. It is concluded that school leaders remain of crucial importance for continued improvement of education. Given this importance, the paper then focuses on school leader recruitment and development and retention (or professional development). A number of implications of these various explorations conclude the paper. The major approaches employed by governments to ensure ongoing educational reforms were identified as old public administration (OPA), new public management (NPM) and organizational learning (OL). Inconsistencies within and between these approaches were shown create their own pressures on schools and their leaders. The worry is that the cumulative demands and resulting fragmentation and incoherence could undermine the capacity of schools. When considered en masse rather than separately, these myriad views may create unintended consequences that fuel the current problems of supply and quality in the principalship. The result is a largely unattainable ideal of mythological proportions - ‘the super principal’. While it is argued that NPM has emerged as the dominant approach in educational governance, recent research questions its effectiveness in terms of improved student outcomes. It is suggested that a closer examination be made of OL. In order to meet the heightened, multiple expectations now placed on schools, as well as to have engaged teachers, it is argued that schools need to become learning organizations, consciously and continuously pursuing quality improvement. Within schools that are learning organizations evolve new types of relationship between students, teachers and leaders based around a reasonably common set of characteristics that include a trusting and collaborative climate, a shared and monitored mission, taking initiatives and risks, and ongoing, relevant professional development. The key relationships in the ways school leaders strengthen teacher recruitment, development and retention were shown to include factors such as teacher satisfaction, school effectiveness, improvement, capacity, teacher leadership, distributive leadership, organizational learning, and development. School leaders can be a major influence on these school-level factors as well as help buffer against the excesses of the mounting and sometimes contradictory external pressures. A skilled and well-supported leadership team in schools can help foster a sense of ownership and purpose in the way that teachers approach their job. Conferring professional autonomy to teachers will enhance the attractiveness of the profession as a career choice and will improve the quality of the classroom teaching practice. Teachers who work together in a meaningful and purposeful ways have been found to be more likely to remain in the profession because they feel valued and supported in their work. Research suggests that while decentralization may have occurred from the system to school level, it has not necessarily occurred within schools. Further, where decentralization has occurred within schools it tended to be about administrative rather than education matters. This situation should be of concern, especially given evidence teachers are attracted to, and stay in, the profession if they feel they belong and believe they are contributing to the success of their school and students. One of the most consistent findings from studies of effective...
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