This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
In the context of educational leadership, for a manager to be effective, the application of Contingency and Situational theory underlines the importance of analyzing the current situation and the variables affecting the organization's framework. Whichever education system we are referring to, it is virtually meaningless to study leadership styles without recognizing the significance of the school context. School is a complex organization, an open system that appears to be a very uncertain environment. To have an effective leadership in this uncertainty, school should be examined with a holistic approach. Many leaders show high levels of uncertainty avoidance by applying standard operating procedures or by making traditional bureaucratic responses in every case. Contingency and Situational theory could give school leaders the opportunity to further refine management policies and practices.
Contingency theory is based on the assumption that no single leadership style is appropriate in all situations. According to this theory, leadership style is quite inflexible. Organizational effectiveness depends on matching internal organizational characteristics with environmental conditions. Therefore, effective leadership depends on whether a leader's style matches the needs of the individual case. This theory applies better to educational systems where principal selection is done through an open recruitment process. One useful tool of this theory is contingency planning or forecasting, a process of identifying the major contingencies and preparing in advance responses and strategies for future conditions and events. This procedure intends to diminish the levels of uncertainty. However, situational theory dictates that leaders adapt their style to match their staff's characteristics and requirements. In educational systems like the Greek one, where the recruitment and selection of school principals lies with central government, situational theory can be a useful tool for principals. When principals are placed in a new school, they should choose the best course of action based upon the current circumstances. Leaders should consider the readiness/maturity level of their followers by analyzing the group’s willingness and ability. Depending on the level of these variables, they should choose the amount of direction and the amount of socio-emotional support they are going to provide. Flexibility is the key in managing a team effectively. The main difference between the two theories is that, in the first case, we put the right person in the right job, while in the second, leaders adjust their style depending on school context.
Anthony J. "Sonny" Magana III
Of the many stated purposes of organized educational systems, one that might meet with general agreement is this: to ensure students build abundant learning capacity, achieve ample academic proficiency, and consolidate the requisite knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to successfully address future learning challenges. As computer technologies have transformed nearly every human endeavor imaginable, future learning challenges that students encounter will almost certainly require facility with digital technologies. In the realm of teaching and learning, the average impact of computer technology on student achievement has been both negligible and unchanged, despite astonishing technological developments since the 1960s.
However, there is cause for renewed optimism about technology use in education. Compounding evidence suggests that large gains in student achievement are possible when digital tools are leveraged to enhance highly reliable instructional and learning strategies. The objective of the author’s investigation efforts is to develop a more precise language and set of ideas to discuss, enact, and evaluate high impact uses of digital tools in education. The result is the T3 Framework for Innovation in Education. The T3 Framework increments the impact of technology use into three hierarchical domains: Translational, Transformational, and Transcendent. Compounding evidence suggests that implementing the strategies in the T3 Framework, with reasonable fidelity, will likely increase the impact of digital technologies to unlock students’ limitless capacities for learning and contribution, and better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s learning challenges.
Bruce G. Barnett
The growing economic and employment disparities between members of different socioeconomic groups often paint a bleak future for people living in marginalized communities. These conditions are reflected in many low-performing urban schools where dropouts, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance prevail. In the United States, large numbers of adolescents have a sense of hopelessness, particularly among racial and ethnic minority groups. Despite these challenging circumstances, school leaders are well positioned to build these urban students’ hope for a bright future. Using hope theory—goal development, agency, and pathways—as a foundation, the article describes ways school leaders can become agents of hope, which is reinforced by research from an international study of leadership in low-performing schools. The article concludes by examining how leadership preparation and development programs can influence aspiring and practicing school leaders’ capacities to become agents of hope.
There is a growing awareness of the crucial role that trust plays in every aspect of a school’s functioning and especially to student outcomes. To trust another person or group is to be at ease, without anxiety or worry, in a situation of interdependence in which valued outcomes depend upon the participation and contribution of others. The trustor can rest assured that their expectations will be fulfilled based on confidence in the other party’s benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. As citizens across the globe have become increasingly distrustful of their institutions and leaders, the trend away from trust creates a special challenge for schools because trust is so fundamental to their core mission of educating students. The philosopher Annette Baier observed that we tend to notice trust as we notice air, only when it becomes scarce or polluted. These days, it seems evident that trust in our society as a whole has indeed been disrupted and is in scarce supply. As contemporary society has grown more complex, as changing economic realities, changing demographics, and changing expectations in society have made life less predictable, we are beginning to notice trust much more. There are a number of things that make cultivating and maintaining trust in schools challenging. These include the effects of social media, and other new forms of information and the propensity for the news of potential threats to one’s well-being, as well as the well-being of one’s children and community to spread farther and faster than positive news.
Trust matters in schools and in our world because we cannot single-handedly either create or sustain many of the things we most cherish. Parents send their children to schools, trusting that they will be safe from harm, as well as guided and taught in keeping with our highest hopes for them. Schools are also invested with a significant share of a community’s collective resources in the form of tax dollars, school buildings, and local employment opportunities. In addition, schools are charged with keeping and promoting a society’s shared values and ideals. They foster and protect the collective ideals of respect, tolerance, and democracy, as well as the vision of equity of opportunity. Indeed, the future of a society rests with the quality of its schools. It is evident, then, why trust has become such a pressing issue for schools in these challenging and turbulent times.