This year I am starting my Masters in Education. Despite specialising in Information Technologies, I have also decided to commit time to studying Education Leadership. It was my talents with technology that threw me into my current leadership role. Over the last few years, I have had to work hard to grow into the leadership side of my position. While I exhibit some characteristics, I am not the classic type A personality that so many leaders are and I recognise that it is a skill I want to develop further.
As I commence my first subjects this week, I found myself reflecting on my understandings of leadership in education. To be a successful leader, you need a deeply thought-through philosophy about leadership. You also need to constantly interrogate and re-evaluate your leadership practices and beliefs.
What is Leadership in Education?
I believe that leadership is a process and not a necessarily a position. While leadership positions exist in educational institutions, individuals can be leaders without any formal authority. Leaders are people who initiate change and growth. They are people that can see possibilities and develop a vision. It is for this reason, I feel that creativity can be a valuable skill in leadership. Leaders build culture, inspiring engagement and collaboration, and they maximise the potential of the talented individuals around them.
I do think there is some difference between being a leader and being a manager, although admit that many educational leadership roles require skills in both. Leadership is about producing change and growth by envisioning and designing strategies to move forward. Management is more about enacting these strategies, ensuring order and consistency. Management is more tactical and hands on while leadership is strategic and visionary.
What is the purpose of Educational Leadership?
Educational organisations have obligations to society, the needs of their learners and the requirements of other key stakeholders. Leadership in Education is somewhat responsive to these needs and obligations and responsible for driving them. People in these positions need to develop strategies and point their schools in the right direction after analysing industry trends in relation to their context.
Where do we gain leadership knowledge and skills?
Leadership skills are something that can be improved over time through study, mentorship and experience. Leaders are individuals who develop interpersonal and communication skills, build relationships and become more self aware. Learning more about the "business of education", change management, educational policies and compliance are key in becoming an educational leader. Many also model their leadership styles after those they have experienced themselves. Mentoring can be highly valuable to beginning leaders. Transparency within the organisation also permits a view inside and an opportunity to learn.
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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