Educational Leadership: Leadership for the Learning Community
Educational leadership theories
The International School of Management (ISM) is a private business school founded in 1998 and specialized in international executive education. Based in between Paris and New York, it also hosts seminars in leading emerging markets such as Shanghai, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Sao Paulo.
With the internationalization of the Higher Education industry, ISM - among many other higher education institutions (HEI) – several challenges exist especially those related to proving its academic quality to potentially unfamiliar stakeholders (governments, partners, candidates, employers among others). For this matter, the recent decades have seen the rise of international standard settings to address the issues of trust, legitimacy, and academic quality of those institutions. It is even more so accurate for cross-borders educational providers like the International School of Management: there is a need for validation and recognition of the value and academic quality of its programs beyond the usual national/regional frame. Consequently, and especially for the schools of business, we have witnessed the emergence of an international market of accrediting services. Well-known international accreditation for business programs such as AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs), and IACBE (International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education) are mainly based in the United States of America. They are also affiliated with the trend of American-styled business degrees (such as MBA) around the world.
History of educational leadership
Accreditation could be defined as a process of quality control and assurance whereby, because of inspection or assessment, an institution or its programs are recognized as meeting minimum acceptable standards. These general processes of validation in which higher education institutions are assessed on general standards are nowadays primarily focusing on learning outcomes. This assumption of "fitness for purpose", rather than a "standard-based approach," induces that quality is generated by reaching the educational goals and learning objectives established by the institution. Outcomes-based assessment is about expectations and the performance of the schools in achieving these set learning expectations.
On the one hand, educational leaders within those accredited institutions are therefore accountable towards accrediting bodies for the performance of their systems with learning outcomes. On the contrary, leaders and other influential stakeholders of higher education institutions (students, alumni, managers, board directors among others) are still very sensitive to the quantitative output targets approach as it is more concrete and less debatable than a qualitative outcomes approach.
As a result, the leadership of higher education institutions has a role in managing the impacts of ‘learning-centered' outcomes assessments on their organization's vision of learning. More precisely, is it still possible for them to maintain an efficient and professional learning community within their institutions if educational leaders are focusing on a qualitative outcomes approach while the rest of the school is more attentive to a traditional quantitative output targets approach? To avoid the apparition of a differentiated culture within a specific HEI, this should be linked to the leadership's ability to adapt to change: both the changes on the institution's learning visions and the changing culture implied by the always-evolving changes required by the accreditation's need of a performing and adaptive learning-centered institutions.
Research methods in educational leadership and management
In the case of an effective leadership's ability to adapt to change to maintain an active professional learning's community within their schools, is the institution getting more clarity, predictability, and unity in its learning culture? In this sense, it is essential to note that the notion of boosting the performance of schools through establishing personal learning communities is presently in vogue. Most people are using the term to allow them to describe various kinds of individuals showing substantial interest in education, including school committees, grade-level teaching team, entire school districts, school departments, national professional organizations, and state education agencies among others.
In fact, personal learning communities have been utilized so ubiquitously to the extent that it might lose meaning. Today, the professional learning community framework has reached a vital point, to the extent that necessary reform efforts have been witnessed in education institutions. Irrespective of the prevalence of a natural cycle, the real enthusiasm has resulted in confusion concerning the essential concepts that contribute to the initiative in line with implementation challenges. These are mostly because of the difficulties that reforms have failed to institute the needed results. Whereas the need for establishing professional learning communities can assist in avoiding the cycle, educators need to lay significant emphasis on the merits of the concepts. Thus, the literature review discusses the notion of educational leadership while putting emphasis on professional learning communities, learning outcome assessments, and effective leadership styles for change.
Professional Learning Communities Examples
Evidence from different parts of the world suggests that the progress of reforms in educational setting depends on the individual as well as the collective capacity of teachers as well as their ability to connect school-wide capability to promote student learning. Establishing position is, therefore, essential. Capacity is a multifaceted combination of skill, motivation, organizational conditions, real learning, institutional culture, as well as support infrastructure. When combined, ability gives groups, individuals, school systems, and entire school communities the power for participating and sustaining learning over time (Stoll, et al. 2006). In this sense, the establishment of professional learning communities (PLCs) plays a critical role in capacity building to foster sustainable improvement in student learning.
While educational experts have learned significant amount concerning ways of improving the performance of schools during the past 25 years, global educators are encountering challenges when trying to maintain improvement continuously and spread advancements in entire systems. In dealing with the influence of rapid change and globalization, new learning approaches are needed. Learning no longer depends on individuals. In emerging successful in the increasingly multifaceted and changing world, entire school communities need to embark on efforts that can allow them to learn together to adopt change (Stoll, et al. 2006). In this manner, they would manage to find the ideal ways of improving the learning of young people.
What are professional learning communities
Whereas comprehending active PLCs in learning institutions as well as research on their prevalence, effectiveness, and operation, is in the initial development stages in different countries, evidence reveals that have a significant influence on school improvement. Also, while no universal definition of PLCs exists, widespread consensus defines it them as a group of individuals sharing as well as interrogating their practices critically in a continuous, collaborative, reflective, learning-oriented, inclusive, and growth promoting manner (Stoll, et al. 2006). Even if not all PLCs are appropriate for change or emphasize on improvement, its influence is different between schools having active educator communities for traditional communities and teacher teaching communities that support collaborative practices for sharing professional growth.
Professional learning communities are productive because they have five common features that contemporary theorists explore. These comprise of participation and interaction, understanding and shared beliefs, interdependence, concern for minority and individual views, and meaningful relationships (Stoll, et al. 2006). Overall, professional learning communities play a critical role in permeating the life of students, educators, and school leaders hence making it possible to boost the overall learning environment and support effective reforms in education institutions.
Learning Outcomes Assessment
Assessments in Schools play a critical role in influencing learning outcomes. In countries such as the U.S. and other developed nations, assessments have received significant emphasis. Almost all universities and colleges are embarking on revealing that evaluations can boost student learning through empirical research. For instance, the Department of Education's Commission on the Future Education was established in 2005 to develop strategies that higher learning institutions should meet to meet the growing educational needs of America’s population. The organization also aimed at addressing the workforce as well as economic needs for the future. In boosting outcomes from assessments, the Commission instituted several reforms to improve accountability that would ensure that all the other prior educational reforms are successful. In this sense, universities and colleges need to exercise transparency concerning price, cost, and success in learner assessment outcomes (Hufford, 2013). They should be willing to share the information with their students as well as their families.
Literature suggests that while much is written concerning assessment during the years, research coverage in the recent years should incorporate sources that would appear relevant to academic professionals. Also, they should also disclose new developments, directions, and ideas in assessing research and academic libraries. Moreover, in offering an accessible and competent understanding of the influence of assessments on student outcomes, learning institutions should be able to manage and administer libraries, public services, and other issues that affect several departments in a library (Hufford, 2013).
Assessment is frequently connected to evaluation. In the case of education professionals, evaluations take place when researchers wish to discover what students understand or what they are capable of doing. As for evaluation, it determines the value of a particular program of course. Most library and academic book authors utilize assessment when discussing the measurement of a library's services or operations. Evaluation comprises of performance comparison with an agency's objectives. It aims at determining whether any change has occurred within a particular period and whether the change follows the anticipated direction. By contrast, assessment is the process of assessing operations through gathering, interpreting and utilizing data to boost customer service and make appropriate decisions. Assessments focus on studying the internal processes, service quality, levels, and impact of the library on the goals of an institution (Hufford, 2013). In this vain, assessment is more detailed and more efficient in evaluating the outcomes among students.
Leadership-Follower Relationship Example
According to Bradford, leadership is always akin to a two-way traffic (Bradford & Cohen, 1998). Both the leaders and the followers have to develop a good relationship and rapport to communicate for success to be achieved effectively. While the actions that leaders do and the decisions they make and implement, affect the followers' actions and decisions, the actions of the members and their decisions also affect the leaders.
A perfect example of the intimate relationship between the leaders and followers is distinctly evident in a business institution setup. In the case of a manager who is always trying to increase the productivity of his/her team. The manager comes up with specific rules and guidelines that all the parties involved have to adhere. The manager is also intended to be exemplary to the team.
The team under the manager’s leadership adheres to the rules that are laid down in order. Leaders have to make conscious decisions that will affect their productivity and maintain a good relationship with the manager. However if the manager sets up guidelines that are counterproductive and sets up bad examples, then the team also starts working according to the managers set standards and as such their productivity lowers (Lord et al.,1999).
Heroic and Shared Responsibility Leadership Systems
Heroic leadership system is the system where the decisions that affect the running of an organization or an institution by a person(s) who supposedly have a greater comprehension of the issues that affect the organization. The decisions made often favor the side of the decision maker and have less regard for the ultimate goals of the organization. In a school setup, the principal may make decisions that he/she thinks will help propel the school to greater academic heights without involving his/her staff in the decisions. The team to develop a negative attitude thus negatively impacting the vision of the principal (Allison et al., 2014).
The shared responsibility system is a system whereby the leaders put everyone on board in the decision-making process. The first step is proposing an idea and asking for the input of the organization or institution members. This system relies on proper communication, coordination, and collaboration and it, therefore, helps in the wholesome growth of the establishment due to the direct involvement of everyone. In a school setup, the goals of the school are set by the principal(post-heroic leader) with the direct consultation from all his/her staff, and therefore everyone knows their duties for the goals to come to fruition (Hoch, 2013).
Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2014). Now he belongs to the ages”: The heroic leadership dynamic and deep narratives of greatness. Conceptions of Leadership: Enduring ideas and emerging insights, 167-183.
Bradford, DL & Cohen, AR (1998). 'The leadership trap,' in Power Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership, J. Wiley, New York, pp3-19.
Hoch, J. E. (2013). Shared leadership and innovation: The role of vertical leadership and employee integrity. Journal of Business and Psychology, 28(2), 159-174.
Lord, R. G., Brown, D. J., & Freiberg, S. J. (1999). "Understanding the dynamics of leadership": The role of follower self-concepts in the leader/follower relationship. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 78(3), 167-203.
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