In today’s era of heightened expectations, school leaders are in the hot seat to ensure effective and excellent educational outcomes. The multi-levelled pedagogic school leaders highly determine the mode of teaching students in schools and the effective application of the learning process.
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Not only are they curriculum leaders but they are also educational futurists, disciplinarians, instructors, assessors, analysts, field experts and society builders (Davies 2005). They are involved in the core running of the school and act as a go-between in case of any arising conflicts between the parents, students, teachers, education participants such as unions and the society itself.
This requires them to not only be sensitive when meeting student’s demands and needs but to also be critical thinkers so as to deliver valid judgments based on logic. School leadership is currently a complex concept with most leaders failing to balance their roles.
It is evident that they are heavily inclined towards school management and accountability hence disregarding the effective mode of impacting knowledge to students to ensure quality teaching and learning.
The outcome greatly reflects the quality of the school leaders’ pedagogy and their ability to give credible teaching instructions to improve learning in schools. Teachers need to have adequate knowledge of how to teach students and be able to implement and design the school curriculum.
The following paper will therefore discuss the current change in pedagogical and instructional roles that seem to create imbalance in their competing roles and how the same can be reclaimed.
Previous studies have attempted to define the concepts, models and practises that characterise the effect of leadership in educational outcomes. Several contemporary leadership theories have come up as a result. According to Davies and Ellison (2001), the distributional and transformational leadership theories are examples of such theories.
These two theories have been discussed by many scholars in an attempt to draw an understanding on the nature of school leadership and how it affects learning and teaching in schools. They also create a link between the leaders and the teachers themselves with an attempt of establishing the student outcomes that is derived from this relationship.
Though the study on effective leadership based on this theories have not been concluded, it is evident that school leaders have a big role to play. Student performance is therefore attributed to the influence impacted through effective leadership.
Successful school leaders give support and knowledgeable instructions to the teachers, a practise that develops their inner intellectual powers. In addition, they also implement an effective organisation model that helps them strike a balance in their competitive roles.
The studies on educational leadership draws a clear conclusion that school leaders requires to be actively involved in the institution’s learning and instructional programs. Principals need to balance the instructional and pedagogical roles together with their managerial roles to ensure exemplary student performance.
The main goal in any learning institution is assuring parents and the society in general that their children are receiving quality education. Though managerial and compliance accountability roles play a big role in running a school, student performance should be made the core business, a concept that is ignored by many school leaders.
In order to discuss how school leaders can become instructional and pedagogical leaders rather than just mere managers, it is important to look at the challenges facing school leadership. There has been increasing demands for effective schools and the achievement by students is entirely based on the key roles played by school leaders.
Leadership challenges have played a big role in the transformation of quality teaching and learning (Duke 2010). The school leaders need to address these challenges as a step of regaining the lost glory. One of the main challenge relate to the leadership styles adopted by the leaders.
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Most school leaders lead through manipulation that tends to intimidate teachers. A research conducted indicates that 80% of school management is characterised by dictatorial leadership (Duke 2010). This can be due to various reasons such as nepotism or favouritism by the leader.
Dictatorial leadership can also be applied in instances where the leader is involved in unscrupulous dealings and is afraid of being exposed by a certain teacher. In such cases, the dictatorial management style instils fear in such teachers who steer away from the leader’s affairs. This challenge begets teachers who in turn fail to perform in their role of impacting knowledge to students.
The other challenge is the limited capacity by school leaders to qualify as effective leaders. There has been an increase in unqualified selection of leaders due to the lenient selection process. The mode of screening, selection and admitting the leaders have been ill-defined and lacking in its application.
As a result, most school leaders are easily admitted based on their academic background only and not their knowledge experiences or skill disposition required to making an effective leader. In addition, there are inadequate training programs for principals. The training is important to upgrade their competence and qualification to effectively run a school.
Lack of dialogue between leaders and other participants in decision making is also a leadership crisis that has led to a decline in students’ performances. Such leaders fail to take criticism from teachers, students or even the society itself positively. This leads to such leaders applying the direct approach instead of a facilitative approach while making their decisions.
This approach is bureaucratic in nature and tends to leave out important factors that can result to a disastrous decision. The other challenge worth noting is the lack of ownership in the mission and vision statements of the school. These statements play a big role in achieving the goals set by the school’s administration.
In most schools, leaders have failed to expose the vision and mission to both teachers and students as an inspiration for them to work towards achieving the set goals and objectives. Most school teachers are up in hands to retain their position thus compromising the performance of students.
Instead of engaging both students and the teachers, they are busy pleasing the school board in a bid to secure their managerial positions and disregarding problems faced by teachers to facilitate effective learning (Grace 1995).
The quality of education has declined over the past few years. It is important to note that most of these challenges were not faced twenty ago hence they can be resolved. The challenges not only lead to the leader’s disorientation but also affect the teachers and the students as well.
Instructional And Pedagogical Leadership Versus Administrative Leadership
An oration by William Walker during a conference held by educational leaders in Australia gives a clear analysis of who qualifies as a pedagogical leader. Delivered by Viviane Robinson, the article seems to focus on educational leadership and their ability to give instructions rather than just being mere managers (Robinson 2007).
The roles in this kind of leadership are differentiated from that of a school administrator in various ways. One distinctive role is the mode of discharging their administrative duties. While the administrators apply a rather strict approach, a pedagogical leader has clear set goals that involve all the participants.
The latter is more involved in the implementation of the curriculum, monitoring process and evaluation of teachers and allocation of resources to make the program successful. They also encourage team work and transparency as opposed to their counterparts through delegation of powers to their juniors, a tactic that enhances learning growth.
Recent definition of an instructional and pedagogical leader by Pont, Nusche and Moorman (2008) has shifted to include teaching and learning. Some of the scholars have further defined this kind of leadership as ‘learning leadership’. The community in such a learning environment uphold team work as the guiding principal.
This entails constant meetings by staff members to discuss, reflect and modify the learning process together as a team. To further avoid any future conflict that may arise, the members are armed with a problem-solving model to come up with a solution.
The community creates a learning culture that leads to student’s success. Administrative leaders on the other hand are more attentive to the general running of the school as regards its finances, school projects and other factors affecting the general management of the school.
They isolate themselves from the learning and teaching process leaving it entirely to the juniors to device their own curriculum. This leads to teacher’s laxity which in turn leads to a decline in students’ performances (Anderson and Cawsey 2008).
Striking a Balance between the Administrative Role and the Pedagogical/Instructional Role
For school leaders to be classified as effective leaders, they need to get deeply involved in the learning and teaching process while at the same time managing their administrative role. While this seems to be a challenging task, it is possible through application of various workable solutions.
While teaching and learning has been termed as the core business in any learning institution, the school’s management needs to be kept running to ensure success in the said core business. Failure to effectively manage one can render the other one futile.
Several scholars have proposed some workable models that can help strike a balance between these competing roles hence reclaiming the lost pedagogical and instructional roles of school leaders. This balancing model can be analysed through five strategic dimensions that play a big role in impacting quality knowledge to students.
One of the dimensions is through promotion and active participation in teacher learning development. Crowther, Ferguson and Hann (2008) argue that a school leader needs to be actively involved in all activities pertaining to professional and developmental learning. This has proved to have great impact on the student’s performance outcome.
The school leader can be involved through formal or informal contexts. Formal context entails organising and participating in staff meetings and formal professional sessions. The informal context requires the school leader to not only initiate team building sessions that bring together all the members of the staff but to actively participate in them too.
Team building session helps the members to identify problems that hinder the learning process and to come up with solutions to these problems through rigorous discussions. Scholars have suggested that such leaders who take this initiative begin to develop a focus in the learning and teaching process. They further get to learn their staff and how they operate.
This helps the leaders to know the problems that the staff members are likely to face hence helping them with adequate support ranging from teaching resources to coming up with a valid timetable. Lastly, they learn to appreciate all the stages and time-line involved in the transformation process.
The dimension not only involves itself in the learning process but also the administration role. The leader learns to involve the members of the staff in matters that affect the general running of the school hence helping to strike a balance between the two competing roles.
The other dimension is through planning, evaluation and implementation of teaching curriculum. The school leaders need to be directly involved in the teaching process through regular attendance in classrooms. Recent study has indicated that giving a feedback to the teachers regarding their teaching tactics in class has played a key role in positive student outcomes (Mullen 2007).
Such leaders play a vital role in coordinating an effective school curriculum to be used in all the levels. They also work together with staff members to plan, evaluate and implement their teaching curriculum. The curriculum also ensures a monitoring policy that closely follows the progress of student’s performance and evaluating the results in order to enhance future teaching programs.
An effective teaching curriculum not only ensures exemplary performance but also help to create a good image of the school’s administration to the society. The image is an indication that the school head has the managerial abilities to run the school’s administration.
Another dimension requires the leaders to come up with goals and expectations. This is by establishing an effective and workable vision and mission statement and to own it. The mission and vision statement encompass the goals and expectations set by both teachers and the students. It is therefore important to actively involve them in setting up these learning goals.
Though it can be argued that this dimension plays a very minimal role in student outcome, it has significant learning impact to the students and staff by allowing them develop a specific focus.
The school leader is able to give priority to student achievement by ensuring that the goals are met and that the teaching curriculum correlates with the set school objectives. On the other hand, the goals and objectives also oversee the general running of the school by acting as the guiding principles.
Strategic resourcing is also another dimension that the leader should actively be involved in. Strategic decisions concerning allocation of resources to aid in the learning and teaching process have an indirect impact in the student performance outcomes. The resources cover the school staffing and provision of teaching materials that facilitate the learning process.
What is important is the ability of the leader to secure adequate resources that relates to the pedagogical set goals and objectives. The school leader on the other hand gains an additional skill to allocate resources required in the managerial role as well.
The last dimension is to make certain that an orderly and supportive learning environment is maintained. School leaders should ensure a safe and caring haven for both its teaching staff and the students. The intervention mode by school heads to ensure such an environment helps to create a balance between the competing roles.
Some of the interventions include setting up a standard discipline code, ensuring minimal conflicts that tends to disrupt the learning process and to protect the teaching staff from undue pressure from outside participants such as the parents or the school board.
Implications Of The Dimensions
The final question that requires to be answered is whether the dimensions play any key role in striking a balance in a leader’s competitive roles so as to ensure quality learning and teaching process. The dimensions seem to create a link between the leaders and other participants involved in the learning process. This creates an implication of team work that helps in solving problems.
It further helps to strike a balance by ensuring key evaluation in student performances that effectively embeds positive experiences. The dimensions also include all the key areas in the school environment and serves as a focal point of leadership that ensures flexibility in affecting decisions made by the participants.
In order for school leaders to strike a balance between being both administrative and instructional/pedagogical leaders, they need first to focus on effective mode of leadership rather than the bureaucratic approach.
The school head should then apply the dimensions in order to effectively get involved in the teaching and learning process on one hand and the managerial role on the other. This makes the heads partake the student’s performance as their core business hence meeting the ultimate requirement as an instructional or pedagogical leader.
Anderson, M and Cawsey, C (2008) Learning for leadership: building a school of Professional practice. Camberwell, Australian Council for Educational Research Press.
Crowther, F., Ferguson, M and Hann, L (2008) Developing Teacher Leaders: How Teacher Leadership Enhances School Success. London, SAGE Publications.
Davies, B (2005) The essentials of school leadership. London, Paul Chapman Publishing and Corwin Press.
Davies, B and Ellison, L (2001) School leadership for the 21st century. A competency and knowledge approach. New York, Routledge.
Duke, D.L (2010) The Challenges of School District Leadership. New York, Routledge.
Grace, R.G (1995) School leadership: beyond education management: an essay in policy scholarship. Bristol, The Falmer Press.
Mullen, C (2007) Curriculum leadership development: a guide for aspiring school leaders. Sydney, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.
Pont, B., Nusche, D and Moorman, H (2008) Improving school leadership: Policy and practice. New Zealand, OECD Publishing.
Robinson, V (2007) William Walker Oration: School Leadership and Student Outcomes – Identifying What Works and Why. [Online] Available at: www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2515/13723.