Saturday, 9 September 2017

Examining our Context for Transformative Leadership in Education

In a world where change is constant, complex, uncertain and happens at a rapid pace, the idea of leadership that is critical, adaptive and takes into account the perspectives of all involved, is no longer simply the mark of an effective educational leader but a necessity for all educational stakeholders in positions of influence.

As educational leaders, we are no longer the gatekeepers of information for our students or our staff members. Through various forms of media, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips. Our role then, has evolved to one where we must help students learn to critically and responsibly navigate our ever changing world. Important to consider, is the question, in a world where students and staff can find more dynamic and knowledgeable teachers with the touch of a button online, how might we leverage the power of personal relationships to create powerful educational experiences for students and staff? In some cases, this is a difficult task, as many of the leaders charged with this task are in a position where they themselves are learning to navigate in an educational environment that is vastly different from their own experience growing up.

It is my belief that educators have a responsibility to use this access to media to make connections and interact with the world around us and to bring awareness to issues outside of our daily experience. In order to create meaningful learning experiences, both students and staff must actively participate in learning activities that are relevant to them and to which they feel emotional connection. It is through these interactive and meaningful experiences, assumptions are challenged, new conceptual understandings are formed and we find answers that help us make sense of our world. Out of those questions will come some responses, but also more questions.

As a result of our changing world, I do not believe that we need newer textbooks, more accurate diagnostic assessments or more rigorous teacher training and standards, but instead an evolved approach to educational leadership that embraces critical thinking around ambiguous and ever changing issues and the power of collaboration (Shields, 2013).
It begins with an awareness-of the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of our society and of our school system. It requires critical reflection of for whom the system is working and for whom it is failing, of who is advantaged, privileged, and always included and who is excluded. Once problem areas of inequity are identified, transformative leadership calls for critical analysis on beliefs, values, practices, and policies that need to be changed in order to promote equality. Finally, transformative leadership calls for action- action to redress wrongs and to ensure that every child who enters into an educational institution has an equal opportunity to participate fully, to be treated with respect, and to develop his or her capabilities (Shields, 2013, p.11)
I leave you with the following questions:
  • How might we as educators hold ourselves and our peers accountable for creating educational environments that are responsive to the needs of the changing context of the world we live in?
  • When looking at our own actions, how do they align with our beliefs about powerful learning and what changes might we make in our practice to ensure that our actions support our beliefs? 

Shields, C. M. (2013). Transformative Leadership in Education: Equitable Change in an Uncertain and Complex World. New York: Routledge.