Leadership is one of the most significant school-related factors that contributes to student success and what they learn in school, second only to classroom instruction. In short, great schools do not exist apart from great leaders.
Administrators and system leads are navigating incredible challenges in a complex, changing world. In times of increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), less is sometimes more: fewer well-communicated priorities may help your team and community tackle current challenges in a focused manner.
LEA leaders can create conditions for success by concentrating on four key areas: creating a vision for an ideal future state, managing change, revisiting roles and relationships, and leveraging community partnerships.
The pandemic has changed education incalculably. Norms and structures that were held as commonplace, such as end-of-year testing, are now nonexistent (at least for the time being). These changes provide leaders an opportunity to set a new vision and align teams to work towards common aims. New visions and goals must take into account the short- and long-term effects of the pandemic on students, families, and staff. This is an important moment for LEA leaders to rethink what their ideal future state looks like and their “north stars.”
Change and crisis management are now essential skills for school leaders; running an effective school requires leaders to be engaged in constant change management. Support and collaboration from the entire staff are needed to keep up with the fast pace of change and to ensure that issues are addressed together as they arise. Choosing a change management model in advance allows leaders to focus on the targeted change while bringing the community along. Here is a guide to managing change in education from RTI International.
As Simon Sinek said, “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” Leaders must develop mutual trust and understanding with the educators they work with if they want to lead long-term growth and change. Research has also shown that systems mimic the personality of their leaders. What leaders model for their teams will become part of the team culture. Leaders have the opportunity to become the change theory they wish to see and model attitudes, practices, and behaviors that help teams thrive.
There’s a great deal of benefit in leveraging all available resources to support student learning and well-being. Schools cannot and should not do this work alone. Community-based organizations (CBOs) often have the assets, agility, and flexibility to help fill gaps and support students. They can provide our schools opportunities and resources that we might not be able to provide on our own. In a time when schools are not the only hub for learning, these partnerships become even more important. Understanding your community assets is essential when designing instruction and learning experiences.