Leaders in the field of education are in a unique position when it comes to guiding our younger generations — students who will become our next politicians, scientists, and educators. Strife with cultural divisiveness and misunderstanding, our current political climate has created the need for educators to serve as role models for the change we hope to see happen. It is vital for those in mentorship positions to exhibit the positivity and strength that is necessary for a strong and healthy society.
Effective teacher leadership requires continued efforts to learn about new educational technologies and pedagogical developments. Like in any other industry, continued education is required to ensure strong professional development. Children in the United States spend 180 days in school each year — that is a lot of face time with teachers who have a direct impact on them. We must be prepared to take full advantage of this.
Qualities of School Leaders
Students look towards both their teachers and educational leaders as role models and examples of exemplary adults. There are correlations between successful leaders of corporations and those of educational leaders, but rather than focusing on key demographics, effective educational leaders must focus on the inclusion of a diverse range of students.
Just as an effective leader of a successful company lays out clear expectations for their employees, an educational leader can benefit from doing so as well. Leaders who excel in their positions make sure their expectations are reasonable and clear to all individuals.
The key to setting expectations and having them met is assigning a reward and punishment system, especially with younger children. For example, when students complete an assignment that meets the requirements set by a rubric, they can be rewarded with extra free play time. If there are no repercussions for living up to expectations, there is little stopping them from running off the rails.
Effective communication skills are developed at a young age. Younger students often test the power of their own words. This can be seen how their word choices evolve as they grow older in an effort to better convey their meaning. Correcting errors in the classroom when a word is misused or when a student says something out of line can help to develop a student’s articulation skills.
Furthermore, students are young adults in making, and we need to help them develop positive communication skills when interacting with one another. Rewarding learners for using positive speech when talking with their fellow students, both within and outside the classroom, will help to encourage them to do so in their adult relationships as well.
Values and Personality
A leader’s values and personality have a deep impact on those who they serve. Leaders who exhibit the following values are often highly regarded among their peers:
- Sound judgment
Exhibiting the above personality traits and portraying a just set of morals and values especially serves students who lack role models who do so at home.
Importance of Online Courtesy
As technology has advanced and entered the classroom, teaching online courtesy and moderating usage have become increasingly important. Setting the example by detaching from your smartphone while conducting a lesson, having a one-on-one conversation with a student, or during any class session is a fantastic way to model appropriate tech use.
Making sure to monitor online engagement between students is also important, as there is a tendency to feel as if you are anonymous when posting online. This has led to a problem with cyberbullying and increased suicide rates in schools. Additionally, to know what the standards are for a leaders’ personal usage, look to the administrative staff for guidelines. Educational leaders can outline how the institution would like for them to portray the school and their students when posting to online forums, newsletters, social media, and various other platforms in the employee manual or at a communications-focused faculty meeting.
Encourage Studying Abroad
As an educational leader, you are in a unique position to help navigate a learning path for individuals that may, in turn, impact what they adopt as a career path later in life. Encouraging students to study abroad is a valuable piece of advice that can expand their educational careers.
Experiencing life in other countries — being immersed in a new culture and language firsthand — is an important part of becoming a global citizen. Not only does it allow students to step outside of their comfort zone, but it also is an eye-opening experience. It helps individuals understand that there isn’t just one way of doing things. It offers a new way of knowing and understanding the world that simply can be learned in a textbook back at home.
Being an educational leader who students can trust and feel supported by is integral to their personal growth and development. Create an optimistic and innovative atmosphere for students to thrive in. Be the type of educator others strive to be like.