Reinventing Educational Leadership

As the 21st century continues to unfold, the task of finding competent leaders to occupy positions of leadership in the educational arena continues to be a challenge, not because of a lack of academically qualified leaders; but because of a lack of adaptive -competently qualified candidates. As such, many schools are under the leadership of leaders who lack the qualifications necessary to operate educational institutions in an era marked by rapid and constant change. If the educational scenery is to realize any meaningful change, educational leadership should be reinvented. This paper identifies some of the challenges currently faced by the education system. It looks at how these challenges may be addressed by reinventing educational leadership. The paper culminates with brief recommendations of how institutions of higher learning, as well as stakeholders in the educational sector may reinvent the manner in which they prepare educational leaders. The end result should be academically-qualified and adaptive-competently qualified leaders who are able to perform in environments characterized by constant and rapid changes.

The educational environment in contemporary society is one in which change represents one of the very few constants. Cultural, social, political, technological, and economical changes have resulted in a more diverse school populace since the genesis of education. With the advent of these changes, the educational sector is now faced with increased challenges. Challenges such as: low family literacy, increased poverty margins, a rise in dysfunctional families, and increased access to counter-productive information via internet. These challenges have seemingly created an uneven playing ground where students from all walks of life enter the education system being different. But, by the time they exit, the barriers of differences should fade significantly -at least academically. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. An article by The National Association of Secondary School Principals “How do you reinvent a principal” highlights a number of effects these challenges have birthed. These include: higher drop out rates, lower academic achievement, and teacher attrition. The impact of the effects of these challenges on society is detrimental. More students exit the educational system without the necessary qualifications to become positively contributing citizens to society.

As these changes and their impact are manifested in the educational environment, stakeholders are forced to raise their expectations from those in leadership positions within schools. Copeland in his article “The myth of a Super Principal” substantiates this point when he states that the expectations of leaders have increased significantly since the 1980’s (2001). The mandate of the No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 solidified the prior statements. Under the act, leaders working in schools which were repeatedly classified as not meeting annual yearly progress (AYP) goals were relinquished of their positions. Incidentally, most of the leaders who were “relocated” were academically qualified for leadership positions, but lacked adaptive-competent qualification. Academically qualified leaders have successfully completed their years of training, by mastering the necessary dogma that was required. Adaptive-competent leaders are able to execute the theoretical skills practically and are able to assess new situations and appropriately modify their leadership style to suit the situation. As the educational scenery changes, leadership should be reinvented if any measure of success is to be expected in erasing the effects of the challenges facing education.

The expectations of society have shaped, and will continue to shape the roles of those in leadership positions. Educational leaders are now expected to be more than managers, creating rules and policies, and maintaining the necessary paper work. They have to be more than disciplinarians, enforcing rules and policies and giving how internet changed education consequences in the event that rules and policies are broken. Leaders are expected to, amidst all the challenges they face, contribute to the increase in student achievement, cut drop out rates, and be a motivating force to their teachers. As the period of high stake testing takes root, no educational leader is exempt from these new demands. Institutions of higher learning as well as stakeholders within the educational arena must now ponder and quickly, how to prepare leaders to take on an educational system that must survive in these turbulent times, or face a future with yearly increase in the number of counter-productive students.

 

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