Leadership in Education and Custom Academic Research
The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the leadership role of an administrator and to create a philosophy as it relates to this role. In creating a philosophy I chose to align my understanding of the administrator's role with the Illinois Professional School Leader Standards and the many professional sources that have informed my development in the belief that this will guide my understanding of what is expected of a principal in a public school. After describing my philosophy, the next area of focus will be a written reflection on how this assignment will help inform my role as a future administrator.
The competent instructional leader is able to lead others in setting strategic direction and vision for the school. A vision and a mission statement are two key factors in school performance that make schools that are successful. Principals must know how to create a vision and a mission for their schools so that all stakeholders will understand the purpose of the school, form a commitment to the success of the students and identifying the needs of the school and a starting point for setting goals and implementing strategies that will help accomplish these goals. Principals must also build and maintain a highly qualified, motivated team of teachers and other staff who understand the school's goals and who are willing to be members of a team with specific goals and a vision for carrying out those goals.
Kose states that a vision statement is a clear, specific and focused statement on student learning. Having such a statement, however, does not guarantee that students will learn, nor does it necessarily communicate transformative values. Transformative ideas include such things as equity/inclusion, affirming diversity, responsible citizenship, learning for diversity, and social justice/anti-oppressive learning. "Equity/inclusion ideas included equitable access of various programs or opportunities; high achievement for all students; or using flexible grouping or inclusive practices. This language often conveyed equity or inclusion by using terms such as "each student" or "all students."" The key is to include all students, not just those in mainstream groups. Traditionally marginalized students are a part of the school community, and are entitled by their presence to equity and inclusion.
The competent instructional leader guides learning to improve student achievement through trust and respect. This instructional leader engages teachers in understanding how to create detailed practical lesson plans by using state standards to guide the objectives of their lesson plans, creates high-functioning collaborative teams at all grade levels and sets common planning times for teachers that are seen as inviolable and are not interrupted except in extreme cases, where teachers work as study group members who look at student work as action research and create curriculum and common assessments around their findings. The competent instructional leader creates leadership teams that participate in classroom observations and internal walk-through to elevate continuity of classroom instruction, and creates professional development opportunities for all teachers at all levels and supports those developments with time and resources.
The principal creates a positive school climate that supports the needs of the "whole student" to enable educational outcomes, and understands the social-emotional needs of the students and the community and also understands their social and economic needs. Addressing the needs of the students and the communities from which they come from can make a tremendous difference in the learning process. Understanding what is relevant in a student's life is an important factor in motivating that student towards successful outcomes. Knowing the students and working with them in genuine ways makes students feel important and shows them that their education is important and that so are they.
Principals must be able to successfully manage operations and resources to support educational achievement (not only through proper custom essay writing and college research). They must be conversant with management principles, including budgeting and resource management, local operational policies, issues relating to school safety and security, development of human resources and knowledge of physical plant issues. The principal must also be familiar with technologies that support managerial functions and be prepared to implement emerging trends as appropriate. The principal must be cognizant of work issues and collective bargaining and contractual agreements, as well as problem framing and problem solving skills that will adequately address ethical, legal and moral issues.
Principals must foster relationships by building strong lines of communications with internal and external partners. Communication with parents is a major part of a principal's key competencies. Letters should go out to parents on a regularly scheduled basis and in a timely manner. Parents should know about all school meetings and all other activities pertaining to school events. Yearly calendars should be posted on school websites and parents should have access to this information. External partners such as alumni members should be a part of the school's activities and events and should have access to certain information when addressing the schools mission and vision statements. Parents should have access to their children's grades on a daily basis and should be made to feel comfortable when visiting the school. Principals should maintain lines of open communication with parents so that when parents that have concerns, communication flows in a timely manner. Parents should know that the principal has his/her child's best interest in mind and the principal should foster a climate of shared community with the parents and with the larger school community.
Leadership for Learning
Quality education begins in the classroom. The competent leader uses data to inform instruction in the classroom and throughout the school. The leader for learning knows what skills each content area teacher should be working on because she/he has looked at the data and knows the students' deficiencies, and which areas of focus are of immediate need. The leadership for learning principal meets with his/her collaborative teams on a regular basis to help guide curriculum instruction, monitor outcomes, and assess needs for re-teaching skills. Quality assurance is crucial and protocols are put in place to monitor strategies for teaching content. Principals must support professional development that builds more cultural awareness in their students as well as their own. The leader for learning creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in which all stakeholders feel responsible for the success of the school, but creates flexibility to make changes that will improve the school's culture but will be beneficial to all involved. Kose believes that a principal who looks at the culture of the students and teachers and how it affects the school understands the cultural capital in the school, and builds on that framework.
A competent leader truly understands that he/she is dealing with a diverse group of learners who come from backgrounds different from the teachers who will teach them. According to Kose:
"Affirming diversity ideas most often mean building on students' cultural backgrounds or intentionally creating a school that integrate[s] students from diverse backgrounds...[including] each student's sexual orientation, socioeconomic, or linguistic identities. Responsible citizenship include[s] responsible citizenship, environmental stewardship, community involvement/engagement, and social and global responsibility. Learning for diversity concepts communicate that students would intentionally learn about diversity (e.g., different cultures)."
Nieto believes that we must look at students' cultural differences on a daily basis, not just on those rare and few holidays that we set aside to remember individuals from different backgrounds. Multicultural education is part of the diverse schools curriculum on a daily basis. Indeed t is the way that genuine multicultural schools operate on a daily basis, with the multicultural belief system informing decision-making and priorities for the school. The school should be representative of the students enrolled. Students should walk the halls and the classroom seeing pictures and things that are symbolic of who they are and what they represent and feel safe and proud of their individual heritages. It is crucial that the school be an accurate representative of the people in the community, and that the community inform the school's understanding of what is culturally important. Students should not be influenced by example paper writing servies, even if they offer them good value for their English language studies.
The responsibilities of principals expand far and wide and there are a number of factors that a principal must take into consideration when leading a successful school. Building a safe community where all students can feel equal while fostering a strong learning environment for all and keeping the lines of communication open to all stakeholders is a crucial and important first task.. The principal has many responsibilities, and they are all of nearly equal importance. He/she must develop a strong sense of effective and efficient instruction and also have the skills to bring groups of teachers together to develop a common vision so that they can help each other to reach the level of excellence to which they aspire. The principal leads teachers through the understanding of assessments and data initiatives and puts structures in place to achieve set goals. He/she must communicate openly with parents and reach out until he/she gets the level of involvement that is expected, needed and desired.
Kose suggests that principals can play important roles in shaping a transformative school vision. "The major principal practice that distinguishes transformative vision development from noncritical vision development is that principals provide opportunities for transformative ideas to be explicitly discussed as the vision statement is being developed and in the case of larger community involvement, intentional inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups." Developing transformative schools is challenging and long-term work. As schools move in the direction of transformative change, principals can do part of the work as it becomes feasible to do so, never forgetting the ultimate goal of the transformation and realizing that the process itself is not the goal.
A study by Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe and Meyerson concurs with Kose. According to the authors, successful school leaders influence student achievement by the support and development of effective teachers and by implementing effective organizational processes. Successful school leaders display three core leadership practices, according to Leithwood, Seashore-Louis, Anderson, and Wahlstrom. These core leadership practices are:
- Developing people - Enabling teachers and other staff to do their jobs effectively, offering intellectual support and stimulation to improve the work, and providing models of practice and support.
- Setting directions for the organization - Developing shared goals, monitoring organizational performance, and promoting effective communication.
- Redesigning the organization - Creating a productive school culture, modifying organizational structures that undermine the work, and building collaborative processes.
These happen to coincide with three important aspects of a principal's job.
1. Developing a deep understanding of how to support teachers.
2. Managing the curriculum in ways that promote student learning.
3. Developing the ability to transform schools into more effective organizations that foster powerful teaching and learning for all students.
According to Davis et al, evidence suggests that principals' attitudes and behaviors play a strong role in how schools create a context in which students can learn best and most effectively. Principals shape this context with their knowledge, skills and dispositions. Effective principals facilitate and support teachers in their instructional work, and implement strategies that focus on school improvement, keeping in mind the stakeholders who are involved and keeping in mind the local community in which the school operates. Developing a vision that articulates well with student diversity, instructional needs, social, moral and ethical considerations, concerns for safety and inclusion, equity for all constituents of the process, cultural sensitivity, and a balance between power distribution is the new mandate for effective leaders. Autocracy is a thing of the past; collaboration guided by a leader who is just, fair and has the knowledge to lead effectively is the norm of the present and the foreseeable future.
As a future principal it is important to know what the objectives are for each day and know when to change course as needed, to knowhow to utilize curriculum and instruction and to know what data to collect and to know how to analyze the data so that it is used effectively to optimize student performance and to give evaluative feedback on the transformative process. It is important to know and believe that all students deserve an equal opportunity to learn and be successful in life, and that they are getting the best of what the school has to offer.
Through the process of writing this philosophy statement I realized that a lot of the concepts and ideas that I learned from the myriad of scholarly journals and the discussions that I have had with my peers and my professors has enlightened me in understanding my future role as a principal. I have many leadership roles within the school already and I believe that those responsibilities will help me be more prepared for the role as a principal. I have seen my leadership style in several of the scholarly journals that I have read. I believe that my philosophy will continue to grow as I begin to develop as a leader within my school and also as I begin to get deeper into the program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Hopefully as I begin to read more and discuss more and become a part of the learning community I will have a true philosophy that represents who I am and the leader I aspire to become. Reflecting on this process makes me realize that the more responsibilities that I take on within my school will only help me in my role as a principal. My next steps are to take the information that I have gathered throughout the course of these past few months and begin creating a framework for how this knowledge can help me in the leadership role that I am in now and further help me along the way with my future responsibilities and goals. I now have a better grasp of how the leadership role is the key ingredient in making a school accomplish its mission and vision and without a strong leader in place these things can and will not happen.
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Davis, S.; Darling-Hammond, L.; LaPointe, M.; & Meyerson, D. School leadership study: Developing successful principals (Review of Research). Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Stanford Educational Leadership Institute. Pp1-6.
Illinois Professional School Leader Standards [29.100] 2nd Edition.
Kose, B. W. Principal Leadership for Social Justice: Uncovering the content of teacher professional development. Journal of School Leadership, 17, 276-312.
Kose, B.W. Developing a school vision: Lessons from nominated transformative principals. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association March: New York.
Leithwood, K., Seashore-Louis, K., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. How leadership influences student learning (Academic Paper Writing Course From Leadership Project Executive Summary). New York: The Wallace Foundation.
Nieto, S. Affirmation, Solidarity and Critique: Moving beyond tolerance in education. In E. Lee, D. Menkart & M. Okazawa-Reys (Eds.), Beyond heroes and holidays: A practical guide to K-12 anti-racist, multicultural education and staff development (2nd ed., pp.7-18). Washington, DC. : Teaching in College.