The challenges that educational trends pose call for holistic educational leadership that sees every aspect of the scenario. At present, the growing number of children with learning difficulty and diverse cultural background presents various problems affecting not only individuals or groups but the whole American population. Likewise, the unresolved issues regarding standardized testing and instruction compound the problem, and continue to raise arguments in the local and national scenarios.
Moreover, the challenges of innovation through the use of technology continually haunt many tenured teachers and educational leaders alike. Confronting these issues, educational leaders should be equipped with appropriate knowledge and strategies that may be learned from further study and training. This paper provides insights on the benefits of the course (EDD 9100) on my personal and professional development. As I provide reflection, I propose a holistic approach to educational leadership, one that combines leadership approaches to solve specific problems.
As a middle school teacher aspiring for a leadership position in the future, I bear witness to the problems brought about by reforms in education. Among these include 1) inclusion and diversity, 2) trends in curriculum and instruction, and 3) use of technology (O’Connell, 2010). Needless to say, these reforms arise in response to the growing demands of globalization. Particularly, multiculturalism has become a reality in every classroom due to the increasing number of migrants. Consequently, this relates to issues of standardized instruction and testing, inclusion, language proficiency, and a lot more.
On a different note, globalization requirements necessitate advancement in the field of technology, which means a generous allotment of school budget for facilities, and enhancement of skills not only of those teaching computer subjects but every academic teacher and staff as well. In searching for solutions, some leaders find difficulty due to factors that are beyond their control. Nevertheless, with the proper approach, educational leaders will find a relevant solution to every problem. The long history of American education provides a variety of traditional approaches including trait, behavioral and contingency approaches.
The notion that leaders are made and not born drives us to dispose the trait theory, yet we should retain the idea that certain leadership qualities and traits are a must to succeed. Taking from behavioral and contingency approaches, I believe that firmness, sensitivity and resourcefulness are the main qualities I need to become an effective manager and leader. Setting up behavioral standards, being sensitive to others, finding resources to address students’ and staffs’ needs are therefore some measures I intend to practice once I attain my goal of becoming an educational leader.
To address issues related to diversity, I would adopt the transformational leadership theory. Being a transformational leader means emphasizing improvement of personal traits to effect organizational change. Particularly, properly addressing diversity issues will only be possible if leaders and teachers themselves undergo assessment of their own views and cultural orientation. In the school where I am in, there is respect for each person but appreciation of others’ cultural background is lacking.
This happens because there is limited interaction on the organizational level. In the future, I hope to change this situation by providing venue for cultural exchange, leading teachers and staffs to work in teams, and allowing them and even the student body to participate in decision making. For me, listening, negotiating, and assessing values are keys to solve diversity issues. Although transformational leadership may lead to strong leadership, it may not be effective for addressing concerns related to standardization, inclusion, and language proficiency.
In this view, I would like to propose the use of other approaches relevant to the issues. In recent years, standardization has become a significant topic in the field of education. With the government’s move to implement the No Child Left Behind Policy, standardization measures have been done, including standardized curriculum and measurement. As a result, many schools struggle to adhere to the requirements, focusing in particular on developing reading and math skills of students. However, efforts have proven to be lacking, especially if done on individual level.
To address this issue, one needs to employ strategic leadership, that which interprets external events to see problems and opportunities for improving teacher and student performance. As a strategic leader, I will not confine myself to improving test scores; rather find resources to address the problems. Relevant research and coordination with other schools should be done to achieve the target. Likewise, I would employ strategic leadership to address inclusion and language proficiency issues.
Similar to standardization, discussion on inclusion of learners with learning difficulties including language difficulty cannot be confined within the school walls but should be brought up in the state or national level. In this view, strategic leaders go out of their way to find solutions, and coordinate with pertinent authorities to suggest possible solutions based on identified problems. As a future leader, I will not be content with providing solutions to present problems but see emerging challenges to educators.
As such, I would include education innovations in my plans. These include the use of technology to improve the quality of learning. To do this, I would apply organizational leadership. This form of leadership focuses on the improvement of the whole organization for the benefit of its own. I vow to always seek the benefit of all, and not just those under my supervision. In the aspect of innovation, providing trainings, lectures, seminars or on-going study for all in the use of technology will be one of my goals.
Effecting change in the present system involves a lot of effort and strategies on the part of educational leaders. As discussed, one should not be content with a single approach or strategy to address varied issues. Instead, leaders should maintain a wide perception of issues, and employ a holistic approach to deal with present and emerging problems. Indeed, a good academic preparation is a must in order to become an effective leader. Reference O’Connell, M. (2010). The future of education in the United States. (Unpublished Thesis, Western Governor’s University, 2010). Utah.
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