Throughout the Masters in Teacher Leadership program, I have reflected on leadership in schools I have worked in, my philosophy on educational leadership, and my own personal communication and leadership style to deepen my understanding of the role of an administrator and what type of leader I see myself becoming. An effective administrator truly leads staff and students in teaching and learning. A leader’s perspective on her role, integrity as a leader, and ability to build trust in an organization has the power to effectively create positive momentum and powerful unity.
During the course EDAD 6580, Leadership in Education, I was able to examine how the TPEP criteria for principals very much aligns with criteria for teachers. This way, the work principals do supports teachers’ professional goals. In my Evaluation Goal Sheet, I wrote goals that correspond to three Principal Criteria and Teacher Criteria. For example, Principal Criteria 1 asks principals to “create a school culture that promotes the ongoing improvement of learning and teaching for students and staff” (http://tpep-wa.org). Creating systems that involve all stakeholders in decision-making to improve a school facilitates a collaborative culture. Prioritizing time for collaboration among teachers across grade levels and subjects promotes a collaborative approach to student growth.
Washington Principal and Program Administrator (WSP) Standard Two states, educational leaders are committed to maximizing student and teacher learning. Achievement of Standard Two requires effective leaders to understand the importance of intentional professional learning and nurture and sustain a culture of growth among the staff and students. Administrators need to promote the success of each student by implementing a School Improvement Plan that acknowledges and respects student diversity. This standard also involves overseeing instruction. Educational leaders are to guide teachers in the ongoing process of analyzing assessment results to monitor learning and adjust instruction. Principals also serve as an evaluator and should be able to give meaningful feedback to teachers on their instructional practices based on regular observation. The leader’s role also is to plan and implement professional learning that primarily promotes student learning, but also empowers teachers to become leaders themselves.
Leading to improve teaching is no easy task. In all the schools I have taught, I can think of leadership styles I thrived in and some that were ineffective. In a Visionary Leadership Analysis, I zoomed in to my current school setting to dissect my school’s mission and vision, how the mission and vision were developed, student achievement data and what systems address specific needs, how my principal builds shared commitment and understanding among stakeholders, and how our mission and vision serves our community. This process shed light on the intricate challenges of unifying a community and staff toward a common vision. Collectively owning a shared vision “helps others recognize not only that they are part of something larger than themselves, but also that every part is vital and important to he success of the whole” (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2008, p. 29).
In EDAD 6580, I learned that good leaders make decisions based on the context of the situation. Good leaders are not always directive, nor always collaborative. Hersey and Blanchard call this a situational leadership model.
There are many cases where leadership must be distributed in order to be effective. No one leader can possibly have all the answers. WSP Standard Four discusses the role of cultural competency and responsiveness as a leader. Educational leaders need to demonstrate awareness and understanding of the complexity of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups and the various challenges they face in our education system. A good leader knows when to ask others for help and call on others to lead. Hirsh and Hord (2010) argue, “if school-wide changes about attitudes and expectations are a desired outcome, than settings that convene the entire staff for hard conversations and facilitated dialogue may be necessary first steps.” From my personal experience, I don’t think that all principals are prepared to engage their staff on topics of social justice and equality. Teachers, parents, or community members, who maybe do have the expertise to facilitate these conversations often are not given a place or time to speak and lead.
After analyzing leaders I have worked with, I assessed my own leadership strengths and weaknesses by taking several “personality” quizzes in EDAD 6580. I learned what type of communication I prefer, how I tend to solve problems, how I respond to conflict, my introversion/extroversion tendencies, etc. In my Washington Standards Reflection, I write about my understanding of each of the six WSP standards and how my leadership style and personality both helps and hinders me in relation to each standard.
I discovered that I am intrinsically motivated and tend to take initiative to seek professional growth opportunities. This is supported by my tendency to prefer Theory Y leadership. I act with integrity in my personal life, so I feel I am well prepared to act similarly in my professional life as a leader. I pride myself on treating others with respect. I am introverted and may have difficulty facing conflict directly. I like to please others and am sensitive to making everyone else happy. In a principal role, this is sometimes not possible.
I delved into my spiritual beliefs and how they affect me as an educator and leader b reading and writing about Houston, Blankstein and Cole’s, Spirituality in Educational Leadership. In their book, Houston, Blankstein and Cole list eight key principles that impact leadership. I discuss my personal experience and thoughts on each principle in my Spirituality in Educational Leadership Reflections. My spirituality helps me lead with intention and fairness. I have faith in people as a race and as a society. I tend to assume good intent and seek to understand before being understood.
Moving forward, I plan to develop assertiveness and confidence as a teacher leader by taking on more leadership roles in my building and in my team. One way for me to improve my leadership skills is to practice leading others. I have talked with my administrator about leading some professional development this year on differentiating literacy instruction to meet the needs of all learners and co-teaching practices. I have gained a deeper understanding of the role of leadership in education, and so am able to be more intentional as a teacher leader.
Owens, R.G., & Valesky, T.C. (2015). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform (11th ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Hirsh, S. & Hord, S.M. (2010). Building hope, giving affirmation. Journal of Staff Development, 31(4), 10-17.
Houston, P.D., Blankstein, A.M., & Cole, R.W. (2008). Spirituality in educational leadership. Thousand Oakes, CA: Corwin.