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School leadership is a term that was used in replacement of the term educational administration since it was deemed to be more inclusive and participatory besides the obvious objectives such as pupils success and improvements. Giving room for change was one of the important entrants with the leadership of school as the existing situations in schools were considered to be anti-progress and stagnant. The proactivity nature of school leadership is what made it favorable to administration thus fitting in well in the 20th century educational revolution (Javan, 1994). This is because in leadership everyone with a stake in the education is included towards the development of the education.
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Accountability on the part of the school administration was necessary thus heralding the leadership era in schools. As opposed to administration and management that depict more of control, taking charge and supervision, leadership is more inclusive of all partners who will ensure they all play their part towards the common success of the school shared by everyone. It ensures that the people involved own the process and not just subjects of the program. In administration, the people being managed always have grievances and cases of high-handedness appear partly due to misunderstanding or miscommunication thus leadership of the schools enhances these.
Educational leadership refers to programs that sometimes go beyond the schools set-up. There are institutions that are specifically for educating the educational leaders such as the adult education and masters programs. These can be universities, colleges etc. Courses provided in these institutions can be such as student leadership, university teaching, vocational education and even administration of the universities. Many countries have set up several policies on leadership of schools and even budgets to cater for the same. This is to develop the school leaders besides just training them.
School leadership is dynamic and the kind of policies that were applicable and effective in yesteryears is no longer applicable in schools today. It therefore takes careful intervention by the local policy makers to be able to develop this very vital leadership in our schools. The school leaders such as the principals, managers therefore should be trained carefully, imparted upon skills that will improve their skills in school participator management. School leaders should be able to gain skills such as of entrepreneurship so to focus on the teaching improvement and learning of the students besides protecting the teachers from external influences.
School leaders of high quality are those that understand their work well, carry out their duties effectively but above all, respected by their staff. The moment your staff have respect for you, you are destined for success because they trust you. That is one of the very rare qualities school leaders lack. They are always to be held accountable for whatever happens thus taking their job seriously. The leaders of schools are directly linked to the success of their respective schools, the outcome always portraying what kind of a person such a leader is.
In the hiring of school leaders/principals, schools with higher performance gets well qualified principals unlike their poor counterparts. The schools in rural areas that perform poorly end up getting less qualified leaders thus ensuring the continuity of the vicious cycle. This applies too to the urban poor perfoming school, with less pay, they do not get good leaders thus poor quality. This poses the biggest challenge on schools; enough well qualified principals and assistant principals.
Despite the principles holding the key to success in their schools, other vital elements for good leadership are good programs of leadership development. Program such as the Developing successful principals; a leadership study is a research that was done to help bring to the fore more horizons in improving the leadership in schools. The Wallace foundation commissioned study seeks to examine developed in-service program models in developing articulate leaders. This will be replicated to other schools if it proves successful in its piloting (John, 2000).
The demand by the public for success pedals the need for development of good leadership in schools. It's the public who bringing their children to schools thus they would want no less that effectivity in running of these schools. Rewards for better performing principals is rampant serving as incentive for the principles while sanctions for the poorly performing ones also cannot be overlooked. In California, there is a law that threatens to sack principles in schools that are performing poorly (Eric, 1999). This is in the Public Schools Accountability Act, Senate Bill 1x, 1999. This shows just how principals play a central part in student development and should be held responsible in the event of failure.
Development of inclusive decision making in the ranks of school leadership holds key to success. This coupled with delegation of duties to all the stakeholders will ensure that everyone plays their role in the betterment of the school. Some people who might not seem directly interested in the affairs of the school actually are such as the cultural leaders, traditional custodians and religious leaders. Incorporating them will help improve mutual understanding great deal thus ensuring that simple misunderstandings will be ironed out swiftly (Alan, 1998). This is in acknowledgement that many break-downs of communication arise as a result of minute misunderstanding on the part of one or now of the stakeholders.
In addition to the responsibilities of the school leaders/principals, there are many other roles that are coming up for them and the sooner they adapt to them the better. Principals are expected not only to concentrate on their professional outlay but to keep their minds wide open for expansion of horizon, for example, they are expected to be curriculum experts, facility managers, communication experts, disciplinarians, academicians, policy experts among many others. These rolled up into one forms the very basis of a successful education program in the current age where things are very dynamic and changes every time (Warp, 1996).
Standards were put for the expectation of skills, and knowledge to be imparted into the learners for successful leadership. This was done in 1996 by Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium. This has influenced quite a number of programs in the leadership of schools. States such as Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, and Mississippi adopted this approach. Though ISLLC has made impressive strides in ensuring improvement on leadership, there are concerns that it may have overlooked some features of efficient leadership practices such as participation of teachers in curriculum design and implementation, recognition of individual and institutional accomplishments. Give or take, school leadership is heavily inclined towards participatory involvement of all the stake holders.
States must improve on leadership development in schools, especially in professionalism and licensure. The policy makers should make efforts to institute new relevant methods of improving the leadership to be in tandem with the society that is constantly changing.
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