District Level Educational Leadership
Schlechty (2001) defines school leadership as the procedures put in place to recruit and monitor the energies and talents of students, teachers and also the parents.
This is mainly done with an aim of achieving common goals and educational achievements. In addition, murphy & seashore (1999) state that, this term is often used synonymously with educational leadership in the United States and has supplanted educational management in the United Kingdom’ (p. 21) . Thus it is common to find so many learning institutions in the United States offering educational leadership as a course in order to sharpen the skills of current and future educationists in different regions. Before expounding on the importance of district level educational leadership as it relates to educational reform and improvements in student performance, it is necessary to comprehend the historical background of the topic. The term school leadership was first introduced during the late 20th century with an aim of meeting the high demands made by schools to come up with alternative measures to reform and improve the quality of education.
It is worth noting that such expectations were also associated with the need for accountability and transparency in school administrative activities. Elmore (2000) argues that during the late 20th century, the conservation of the status quo no longer got a wide audience of acceptance and thus a need for equality in the quality of education was given the priority. In educational leadership, the stability of educational related activities is usually controlled and supervised from central administrative points which are headed by experts of particular disciplines that make up the educational facility. In addition, Schlechty (2001) states that,’ the concept of leadership was favored because it conveys dynamism and pro-activity’ (p.39). Most institutions consider the principal to possess the school leader title but in real sense, this docket involves various other people who form a leadership team at the district level.
The members usually discuss many issues that affect the educational advancement at the district level. The success of district level educational leadership depends on the motivational factors employed by the concerned leaders. It is worth noting that leaders who come up and implement strategies in the district do this with a vision of improving the education system in the locality. Carlson (1996) suggests that leaders of educational change have a clear picture of what they want to accomplish since they have the “ability to visualize one’s goals” (p. 21). Thus when the need to improve the student’s roles and discipline in educational matters, the district educational leaders normally come up with a vision that is significant.
In addition, Swanson & Razik (2001) state that, ‘their vision of their school or district provides purpose, meaning, and significance to the work of the school and enables them to motivate and empower the staff to contribute to the realization of the vision’ (p. 125). For educational reforms to take place, educationists suggest that it is important to design a process of developing a collective vision which aims at promoting collaborative and collegial relationships between the students and the teachers.in addition, Schlechty (2001) argues that the key issues behind the design of an reform strategy in the district educational sectors is the dire need to address the problems pulling back attainment of goals. These problems range from lack of proper follow up of district based curriculum, inefficiency in the teaching man power and drawback inn the technological advancements in most learning institutions.
Moreover, Sergiovanni (1990) describes the aspect of district educational leadership as a means of bonding students, parents and the teachers so that they can develop knowledge based values for the betterment of education in the region. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that educational reforms are not only subjected to the students but also throughout the stuff involved in the operations in the education institutions in the districts. The superintendents encourage the need for teachers and the principals to work hand in hand, share thoughts and observations which could lead to the better working of schools to dispatching the most relevant services to the students thus increase efficiency in the learning processes. Wendel, Hoke, & Joekel (1996) add that students should also be engaged in forming discussion groups and holding forums which are relevant to their field of study. Through freedom of expressions of what students feel is the conducive enrolment for learning, they are able to build on their self-expression skills, get informed from other student’s contributions and also help retain what they already know since what they contribute is gauged by their fellow students and they are not likely to forget such contributions that they have put across.
‘Leaders also are expected to develop the aspect of cooperation to the people they lead. This trait helps workers to develop a sense of teamwork which is very essential in helping the students achieve their goals’ (p. 313). In the recent times, several educational reforms have been witnessed globally, this is attributed to the tireless efforts that the district educational leaders employ to sensitize people on the need to embrace education. Murphy & Seashore (1999) argue that special workshops and seminars are organized to train teachers on leadership skills. This is done in an effort to ensure that the particular teachers are able to come up with workable ideas during compromising circumstances like student unrests.
In addition, Rogoff (1990) adds that the importance of district educational leadership in relation to promoting educational reforms can be further attributed to the, ‘recent restructuring and site based management that have promoted increased teacher participation and leadership in the decision- making processes of various aspects of school administration’ (p. 98). Consequently, the leaders who head the educationalinstitutions at the district level ascertain the importance by stressing the need for workers to be in good terms with others at their workplace. It is worth remarking that these leaders bear the responsibility of initiating the human relation skills to the stuff at large and ensuring that it lasts enough to bear the intended frits towards the educational reform and improvements in student performance. The superintendents, principals and teachers, though still maintaining a sense of formality need to work as colleagues and not one seeing another as a threat to their work and performance. The board members, the teachers and the students all have to collaborate and see that they all have similar goals which are to achieve the best out of education and building respectable persons of great importance in the society (Murphy & Seashore, 1999).
A principal acts as a leader to his or her school of administration. The principal is intended to test new things, like programs or rules that he thinks will be of great importance to their schools. Though there is always a risk being condemned, usually by teachers or even parents, a good leader should be ready to take criticism and remain firm on his stand if he really thinks that the school deserves it. External factors likely to affect the schools, like economic problems are just but the things a principal with good leadership skills should always prepare to handle if they arise. In addition, the principals ‘values and beliefs have a great impact on how a particular school operates. The principals usually have a direct link not only to the teachers they oversee but also the students in that particular institution.
Teachers will depend on the principals guidance on how to handle the matters on the ground while the students will also be watching and assessing the principals’ actions thus their leadership skills need to be fine-tuned to details otherwise they risk misleading quite a big number who look up to them. Nevertheless, the boards of directors who act as decision makers of the school have a great role of overseeing the operations in their schools and this can only go through by acquisition of good communication skills. These experts will have to interact with the teachers on matters pertaining to their teaching practices as well as talking and listening to the students’ parents in a bid to try and understand their students and their personal ambitions in life. In addition, they also get to discuss matters pertaining to the schools management with the board through holding board meetings. All these forms of interactions by the heads reflect the importance of excellent communication skills by leaders in the education system into seeing that the schools’ performance and development are achieved to the maximum.
Values and beliefs of the leaders are a very important element in educational reforms and improvements in student performance. In fact, the values and beliefs determine what a leader can really achieve for his or her school and the whole district at large. These values and beliefs are the ones that are actually instilled in a student over time through interactive sessions and help influence those students in building confidence in them and making them believe that they can actually achieve both in their education and in their subsequent career prospects. Rogoff (1990) states that, ‘this leads to a very important fact; the leaders should assume responsibility for their values and beliefs that they uphold, putting into considerations that they play a role of mentorship to the scores of the students they oversee’ (p.127).
The students depend on their leaders for moral guidance in their day to day lives.The future path of an educational institution is by large in the hands of the leader appointed to head them, thus these leaders personal and organizational values have to be of the highest professionalism since they are obligated to foster development in these institutions, not only at the district level but also at the individual schools. Superintendents work to see that the whole education system works to benefit the students and help them gain to the fullest that the institutions they are undertaking their education from and the teachers at large have to offer. These superintendents have to work very hard in seeing that the highest standards are attained at the district level. This is achieved through the basic knowledge of upholding the most appropriate of values and beliefs and acting according to them in the most morally acceptable way possible (Sergiovanni , 1990). Teachers are seen as the most closest to the students in these education systems.
The teacher-student relationship is seen as personal thus the need to exploit from this situation. Studies have showed that a teacher’s motivation comes from the students’ need for knowledge. A teacher gets the urge to change these students knowledge-wise and watch them grow to better successful and knowledgeable individuals. Through this, we see the students having the power initiate the leadership traits in teachers whose values and beliefs are gradually shaped by the day to day needs of the students. The leaders ought to know and appreciate the work done by those close to them. Most leaders fail to appreciate or even notice the little things done by those around them, either they do not want to or they see them as lower in command and see their work as irrelevant.
Leaders are always obliged to take into consideration the workers in their organization’s views and contributions. This not only makes the workers like teachers feel wanted but also goes a long way in building confidence in the leader’s workforce. The stuff stands at a better place when their suggestions are considered and this helps improve in building motivation and better innovations start to spring up leading to the success in the educational systems thus educational reform and improvements in student performance is consequently enhanced (Rogoff, 1990). Leaders also are expected to develop the aspect of cooperation to the people they lead. This trait helps workers to develop aa sense of teamwork which is very essential in helping the students achieve their goals.
Nevertheless, this is not only subjected to the students but also throughout the stuff involved in the operations in the education institutions in the districts. The superintendents encourage the need for teachers and the principals to work hand in hand, share thoughts and observations which could lead to the better working of schools to dispatching the most relevant services to the students thus increase efficiency in the learning processes. Students should also be engaged in forming discussion groups and holding forums which are relevant to their field of study. Be expressing what each students has in mind, they are able to build on their self-expression skills, get informed from other student’s contributions and also help retain what they already know since what they contribute is gauged by their fellow students and they are not likely to forget such contributions that they have put across (Murphy & Seashore, 1999). Bass (2006) states that, ‘Communication involves the transfer of a message form a sender to a receiver without the message being distorted or losing its intended meaning’ (p.
57). A good leader has to be an effective communicator as this is the only way his ideas can be conveyed and his visions achieved. Superintendents treasure the ability of being in a position to send and receive messages efficiently, usually through spoken words and listening abilities. Through this, the superintendents are able to carry out their mandate in seeing that schools in the district level employ the best strategies in providing quality education to the students. The superintendent will need to communicate with the stuff and be in a position to collect views and suggestions from the principals in their progress in educational reform and improvements in student performance. Communication and listening skills are also highly valued by the teachers.
As a matter of fact, education and teaching in particular would be a very hard task if the person given that responsibility has poor communication and listening skills. Firstly, teachers are expected to pass on knowledge to the students. This objective can only be achieved to through communication. The most obvious form of communication is through talking. Teachers as leaders to their students need to be fluent and precise in order to pass on the intended message without alteration.
The can also choose to do this by forwarding notes. Teachers thus are obligated to be good writers in formulating short simple and relevant notes to their stude3nts for future reference. Teachers also should learn to listen as this is the only way to get to know the students’ feedback; whether they understood or they not, comments or questions (Schlechty, 2001). ConclusionIn the operations of schools, critical decisions have to be made. A good leader is the one who knows and follows his or her gats in determining when, which and how to implement these critical decisions and still maintain the smooth learning of these institutions or schools.
The superintendents have the mandate to critically analyze the education system they have been appointed to head and see if it conforms to what he thinks are the right standards for that district. The superintendent also has that important role to see the external factors that may in way or another affect the operations of the schools under his surveillance and guide the district through them to avert major interactions. Rogoff (1990) adds that, ‘he is also at liberty to question the normal operations of the schools which may be viewed as tradition and if they really deserve transition, he should initiate it thus contribute to the educational reform and improvements in student performance in the district’ (p. 201). The leaders heading the educational institutions at the district level also stress the need for workers to be in good terms with others at their workplace. The superintendents, principals and teachers, though still maintaining a sense of formality need to work as colleagues and not one seeing another as a threat to their work and performance.
The board members, the teachers and the students all have to collaborate and see that they all have similar goals which are to achieve the best out of education and building respectable persons of great importance in the society. The leaders bear the responsibility of initiating the human relation skills to the stuff at large and ensuring that it lasts enough to bear the intended frits towards the educational reform and improvements in student performance. Teachers should by all means be proactive in the sense that they should always be ready to come up with new and fresh ideas in order to improve their effectiveness in how they pass on the knowledge to the students. Unforeseen changes, like coming across students with special needs, should always be expected and new approaches should be improvised fast in order to handle such situations. The teachers may also choose to abandon various ineffective standards which had been followed in the past and take on new ones with much better benefits (Murphy & Seashore, 1999). In ensuring that educational reform and improvements in student performance takes the collects the needed momentum, all those involved in the education system throughout the district level take risks be introducing new tactics, strategies, rules or events which may lead to disastrous results if not well thought through or implemented.
Superintendents are always revising rules governing the operations of the schools in the district, principals altering normal programs in their schools and teachers taking on a whole style of teaching in the classes. These courageous decisions may be coupled up by a bit of problems at first including rejection but are the root cause of development in the education sector thus fostering educational reform and improvements in student performance no matter the risks involved (Schlechty, 2001).