The effective operation of a school unit relies on various factors, the most critical of which is leadership, as it this which shapes the working environment through which the school succeeds or fails. Indeed, an effective leader can inspire vision and promote educational policy in the interests of the school and other stakeholders. This leadership role in schools is undertaken by head teachers, who are called to act as supervisors of the school’s human resources in parallel with their purely administrative work. In order for school leaders to achieve these outcomes, however, they must be adequately trained so as to be competent in undertaking the arduous task of leading a school unit. Consequently, in order for school leaders to carry out their daunting tasks successfully—in other words, achieve the best possible results with the fewest sacrifices and least effort—they must possess certain knowledge and aptitudes. For this reason, the staffing of the school units in any country (and hence in Greece) with capable school leaders should be the top priority of the State, while measures should be taken to ensure that the processes for selecting school leaders and for their professional development remain objective and systematic, if the country intends to implement an educational policy efficiently and effectively. Taking into account that the school leader is not born but becomes, and that school leaders are central to the administration of a country’s educational system, it is vital that a system of selection and development of schools’ head teachers be institutionalized.
Evageloula A. Papadatou
Jing Xiao and Paul Newton
Educational leadership as a concept refers to leadership across multiple levels and forms of educational institutions. The challenges facing school leaders in Canada center on the changing demographics of communities and school populations, shifts in Canadian society, and workload intensification related to factors such as increasing accountability regimes and changing expectations of schools. Although education in Canada is largely a matter of provincial jurisdiction, there are some similarities with respect to the challenges facing institutions across Canada. While regional differences occur, general trends in challenges can be observed throughout Canada. There are challenges related to the changing demographics and social context that include increases in immigrant and refugee populations, the growing numbers of Indigenous students and the implications of truth and reconciliation for settler and indigenous communities, the increased awareness of gender and sexual identity, and linguistic and religious diversity. There are also challenges related to the shifting policy context and public discourse with respect to the expectations of public schooling. These challenges include the necessity for schools to respond to the mental health and well-being of students and staff, the increasing pressures with respect to accountability and large-scale assessments, and the demands of parents and community members of schools and school leaders. The changing roles and responsibilities of school leaders have resulted in workload intensification and implications for leader recruitment and retention.
Barbara Pazey and Bertina Combes
The United States and other developed countries have acknowledged and supported the rights of students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education for decades. The role of the principal and school leader in overseeing educational programs and ensuring these entitlements become a reality for students with disabilities has taken center stage. Discussions related to principals and school leaders fulfilling the roles of leader and manager on behalf of students with disabilities linked the complementary disciplines of general and special education leadership. The leadership approach they adopted led to debates surrounding the concept of inclusion and the provision of an inclusive education on behalf of students with disabilities. Current definitions of inclusive education are typically linked to concepts of equity, social justice, and recognition of the student’s civil right to be granted full membership in all aspects of the educational enterprise. The processes involved in creating an inclusive school environment require principals and school leaders to examine the values and beliefs that influence their own thinking and behaviors before they can communicate a vision of inclusion. Principals and school leaders must be willing to act in concert with others to create the type of school culture that unanimously and positively responds to difference so every student can achieve full membership and feel welcomed and valued.
Benjamin Kutsyuruba and Keith D. Walker
Teachers’ quality and abilities are the most significant school-based factors contributing to student achievement and educational improvement. Helping new teachers in their transition and socialization into school contexts and the profession is important for their teaching careers. However, despite heavy financial and educational investments to enable their teaching careers, a large number of beginning teachers quit the profession in their first years. Researchers claimed that induction programs with effective mentoring in the early teaching years are capable of positively affecting beginning teacher retention and student achievement as well as reducing the waste of resources and human potential associated with early-career attrition. Due to the overall school leadership role, school administrators are responsible for ensuring that adequate teacher development and learning takes place in their schools. School administrators’ engagement is vital for the success of the induction and mentoring processes in schools. Implicit in much of the literature is that school administrators have an “overseer” or “manager” role in the teacher induction and socialization processes. In order to explore the administrators’ specific roles and responsibilities in induction and mentoring programs, the empirical literature that directly or indirectly makes reference to the formal or informal involvement of in-school or building-level administrators (e.g., school leaders, principals, head teachers, headmasters, and vice and assistant principals) in the beginning teacher induction and mentoring programs was reviewed. The review of the literature on role of the school administrator in teacher induction and mentoring programs elicited the emergence of the following four categories: (1) objective duties and responsibilities for early career teacher support; (2) types, patterns, and formats of support; (3) benefits and impacts of school administrators’ involvement; and (4) leadership and commitment to programs. Implicitly and explicitly, the majority of the sources indicated that school administrators had an overall objective responsibility for supporting beginning teachers’ personal and professional development due to their legal and rational role of duty as leaders for teacher development and support in their schools. Various formal and informal duties of school administrators were discussed in the reviewed literature, varying from informal interactions with beginning teachers to scheduled formal meetings and teacher supervision, whereas assignment of mentors to beginning teachers was the most widely detailed aspect of the school administrator’s role. School administrators were found to play an important role in teacher induction and mentoring program implementation through the provision of various types of support to beginning teachers. School administrators’ core tasks in terms of teacher induction program success included recruiting, hiring, and placing new teachers; providing site orientation and resource assistance; managing the school environment; building relationships between school administrators and teachers; fostering instructional development through formative assessment; providing formative and summative evaluation; and facilitating a supportive school context. Studies noted direct and indirect impacts of the school administrator on the effective outcomes of teacher induction and mentoring programs and ultimately, teacher retention and development. In contrast, researchers also found negative outcomes of school administrators’ perceived lack of involvement or provision of support for early career teachers. Finally, literature noted the significance of school administrators’ leadership and commitment to the program if teacher induction and mentoring programs are to succeed.
Byabazaire Yusuf, Lynne M. Walters, and Abdul Halim Mohamed
Social media platforms have emerged as a powerful communication strategy for school leaders, whether within a school or in the community as a whole. The potential for the heads of school to improve leadership connectedness and efficiency lies in the proper selection and use of available social media tools. This would consolidate their position and influence in a 21st-century learning environment. Social media tools provide efficient means for school leaders to mobilize and to build consensus on important matters among their subordinates or stakeholders before arriving at a final decision. They also can use social media tools to shape a vision of academic success for students, motivate academic staff in carrying out their duties in a diligent manner, and build support for their efforts by communicating directly with parents and the community. By spearheading the use of social media strategies, school leaders can inspire teachers to embark on a pedagogical shift by putting real-world tools in the hands of students. This would allow students to consume information, as well as to create artifacts of learning to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Students would become more motivated through active engagement and achievement by focusing on improving essential skills, such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and global connectedness. Allowing for distant access, social media also enhance the management zone and extend learning beyond classrooms and schedules. Because social media resources are varied and evolving, school leaders can establish an empowered and dynamic learning community of educators in which skills, knowledge, and thinking would be shared among them through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Leaders also could form their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to meet the diverse learning needs of their schools, acquire and share resources, access knowledge, receive feedback, connect with both educational experts and practitioners, and discuss proven strategies to address teaching, learning, and leadership concerns. Furthermore, a school leader can create specific social media channels to collectively engage teachers, heads of departments, coordinators and community leaders. This would enhance the sharing of instructional ideas and strategies, policy issues, and positive aspects of school culture that promote community pride. In this way, a school would not only provide a healthy environment for sharing ideas and collaboration, but would improve the teaching and learning process and attract the enthusiastic participation of stakeholders in school affairs. Lastly, school leaders can employ social media platforms to engage the outside community in an appropriate manner to improve their institutional image and relationships with others. Thus, a vibrant social media strategy would provide an efficient means to manage content and communicate the most accurate, timely, and relevant information, based on appropriate levels of transparency. It would also provide a means of interaction between the school leaders and community stakeholders, enabling them to keep these community stakeholders updated on either the current or most important aspects or events within the schools, hence promoting community participations in school affairs.