June 20, 2017

Is Educational Leadership for You?

By Ken Sankey, Director of Education Administration and Liaison to LCMS School Leadership Education Program | Education

Do you want to improve student success and lead an effective school? You may have what it takes to be a school principal. School Leadership That Works identifies 21 responsibilities, or behaviors, demonstrated by principals that positively impact learning, achievement, behavior and attitudes of both students and teachers, with the top 11 being:

  1. Situational awareness
  2. Flexibility
  3. Outreach
  4. Monitoring and evaluating
  5. Discipline
  6. Knowledge of curriculum instruction and evaluation
  7. Order
  8. Resources
  9. Input
  10. Culture
  11. Agent of change

Researcher Jacie Maslyk indicates that effective leadership behaviors in the areas of instructional leadership, school climate development and school mission formation also lead to improved academic achievement in schools. If certain leadership behaviors impact student achievement, then one must consider what’s next.

Are leaders born or developed?
Another way of looking at this is through two different perspectives: traits vs. process. According to author Peter Northouse, traits suggest that a leader is born with certain characteristics that make them a leader. These characteristics may include physical features, personality features and intelligence. You may know individuals in leadership roles who acquired their position because of looks, social standing or family prominence in the community. The process perspective proposes that leadership is a phenomenon, or situation, that occurs between the leader and followers in a specific context. This leadership process is available to all and suggests that leadership behaviors are learned and developed. In your own experiences, you may recall an individual who stepped up and led the group through an immediate crisis. Since it’s not clear if leaders are born or developed, one must reflect on which perspective best serves the role of the principal.

What is the role of principals today?
A few decades ago, the principal fulfilled a managerial role in running the school. Today, the emphasis is on student academic success in school. Principals need to be more than just managers of people and property. They must develop the mission of the school and be change agents to bring the mission to fruition. Principals are instructional leaders, striving for excellence in teaching and evaluation. And, they need to promote a school’s climate that is inclusive to all and motivates both students and teachers to high levels of achievement. The role of the principal is multifaceted, requiring a multitude of leadership behaviors that promote student achievement.

What does Concordia University, Nebraska have to offer future principals?
Concordia University, Nebraska’s master’s program in educational administration offers coursework and experiences in developing and strengthening leadership behaviors and skills in each student. We focus on the areas of school leadership that positively impact student learning and teacher growth: instruction, curriculum, school community relations, school improvement and resource management. Our instructors are experienced administrators who practice successful leadership behaviors at their own schools. We require a personalized field experience that provides opportunities to practice and improve one’s own leadership behaviors in a school setting.

Interested in learning more about our program? We’re here to answer any questions you have.

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