Every career field needs leaders, and education is no exception. In fact, in today’s world of academia, educational leaders are even more of a necessity, for the sake of students, colleagues, and school districts alike. As America’s schools and students struggle to reach, maintain, or exceed academic goals so they can compete in a global market and workplace, the need for better educational leaders is even more evident.
Educational leaders–including administrators, principals, superintendents, and other educational professionals in leadership roles–can become better at fulfilling those roles and advocating for students by taking some proactive steps. Here are six ways for these individuals to become better educational leaders.
Joining relevant organizations and networking with other educational leaders, according to Mike Lubelfeld, is an essential step in professional development. Lubelfeld is a public school superintendent who strongly believes that taking advantage of mentoring and attending conferences with professional organizations and associations is key in becoming better educational leaders.
Professional development and collaboration
Eric Sheninger, a high school principal and educational administrator, believes it is vitally important to take the time to participate in professional development opportunities whenever they are available, and collaborate with like-minded educational leaders. Doing so can remove the roadblocks, Sheninger says, and encourage growth in educational leaders.
Stepping into the role as children’s advocate in a school system is one of an educational leader’s most important tasks. Leaders can grow as they exercise a blend of compassion and “toughness” as authority figures, while focusing on what really matters most in schools: child development.
Suzie Boss, an educational journalist and a member of the National Faculty of the Buck Institute for Education, authored a book entitled Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World. She refers to educational leaders as innovators who can change the face of education, and she offered a checklist of characteristics common to educational leaders. One key characteristic is being action-oriented. Leaders seldom sit back and passively watch the world go by. They are active and motivate others to action.
Listen to the “Boss” – Suzie Boss, again – and learn to take risks for the good of the students and colleagues you serve. Boss suggests such risks as applying for educational grants, creatively accessing resources, authoring and driving new approaches to instruction, and challenging school policies that are detrimental to students’ abilities to learn and reach their full potential. As you take risks, you can grow as an educational leader.
Educational leaders are innovators by their very nature, according to Boss. Helping forge new ideas and fostering their growth, making changes in old ways that aren’t working and implementing new ideas, overcoming obstacles, and having the ability to envision a brighter future for their sake and the students under their care — these are the characteristics of educational leaders who continue to grow and improve in their leadership roles. Embrace change and “turn things around” for the good of all concerned.
Challenge to educational leaders
Are you an educational leader who wants to grow in your role, for the sake of your own career, as well as those you serve and lead? Then consider evaluating where you stand in the six areas identified by a number of fellow educational leaders. Embrace networking, professional development, and collaboration. Practice child advocacy. Become an action-taker and a risk-taker. Engage in innovation and look ahead or envision the future. Lead by example and grow in the process.Learn More: Click to view related resources.
- Mike Lubelfeld, "Professional Associations Provide Insights, Leadership Tips, Guidance "
- Eric Sheninger, "A Principal's Reflections "
- Suzie Boss, "A Six-Point Checklist for Education Innovators," Edutopia