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What i believe about leadership and education : a reflective essay.

Julie A. Bride , University of Northern Iowa


Open Access Graduate Research Paper

School administrators--Attitudes; Teacher-administrator relationships; Student-administrator relationships;

Exemplary educational leadership requires mastery of many essential skills. In order for a principal to be an effective instructional leader, one must support the success of all students by nurturing an environment based upon the school's developed vision. An instructional leader believes in, values, and is committed to the fact that all students have the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become successful adults. Each student is an individual with unique needs. An educational leader must be a proactive advocate for the needs of all children.

Year of Submission

Degree name.

Master of Arts in Education

Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

David K. Else

If you are the rightful copyright holder of this graduate research paper and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to [email protected] and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original

Object description.

1 PDF file (23 pages)

©2007 Julie A. Bride

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Recommended Citation

Bride, Julie A., "What I believe about leadership and education : a reflective essay" (2007). Graduate Research Papers . 412. https://scholarworks.uni.edu/grp/412

Since November 02, 2018

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reaction paper about educational leadership

Reflections on school leadership

With the recent publication of the Developing your school with Cambridge guide, aimed at school leaders and teachers, it is a good time to reflect on what school leadership really means.

Everything about a school needs to focus on student learning with the dignity and development of each individual at its heart.

While schools have much in common, every school is a unique community and leadership needs to be situational and come from within. Outstanding school leaders strive to improve both the components and the dynamics of the system. This includes a concern for curriculum, assessment, the school’s culture and values, the role of parents and the community. Above all school leadership should be focused on improving learning through developing better teaching as teachers are the most powerful influence on student learning.

Good leadership is a necessary condition for educational excellence

The best schools understand the difference between leadership and management, viewing leadership as a process rather than a position of authority. Great leaders get the best out of the system by creating, implementing, monitoring, reviewing and refining goals practices and policies so that student learning outcomes are continuously improved. It also involves, in the words Geoff Southworth , the ‘liberation of talent.’ Teachers and students, fully supported, are leadership resources of enormous power and potential. For this reason leadership is best viewed as a collective responsibility and widely distributed.

Accountability and standards are critical

School evaluation practices, teacher appraisal and professional development systems need to reflect the complex nature of the educational process. They should involve teachers as reflective practitioners conscious that they have a role in improving both their own and institutional practice. Involvement breeds confidence, commitment, ownership and dignity.

It can result in raising a wide range of educational standards as well as creating a culture of excellence based on the needs of the school at that particular time. All leadership is situational; inexperienced teachers need more directed support from experienced colleagues and progress needs to be benchmarked to meaningful targets with individuals held to account.

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LfL practice is based on the following beliefs:

  • Learning and leadership are a shared enterprise, as much as an individual one
  • Leadership should be ‘distributed’ and exercised at every level
  • Collaborative modes of working strengthen both teams and individuals
  • An independent, critical perspective, informed by research is vital
  • The status quo and received wisdom should be persistently questioned

Nurturing student leadership has never been more important in a world where education is even more about ‘’ providing young people with the competence and self-confidence to tackle uncertainty well.’’ Employers are desperate for students who are adaptable, able to be ‘intelligent in the face of change’ [Claxton, 1990], able to work together and lead teams effectively.

Leadership starts with ‘knowing yourself’ and developing self-confidence, empathy and resourcefulness. This cannot be taught but it can be nurtured and needs to be infused in every day school life and culture rather than become a mere marketing slogan. Schools are part of a community and must acknowledge their responsibility to contribute to and play a leadership role in community life. Learning and leadership do not begin or end at the school gate.

At Cambridge we will be working on improving the support and training we provide in the school leadership area. The potential for networking and sharing research-based international best practice is unique amongst our diverse range of schools. There is something very powerful about a community of schools and partners in so many different countries and contexts sharing practice and learning from each other.

Claxton, G [1990] Teaching to Learn: A Direction for Education. Cassell Education, London. UK.

MacBeath J. and Dempster, N. (Eds.) (2008) Connecting Leadership and Learning: Principles for practice. London: Routledge

Southworth, G. [2011] Speech given at the Cambridge Teachers Conference on School Leadesrhip

2 thoughts on “ Reflections on school leadership ”

Well said, Tristian Stobie. All of it really make good sense.

The idea of leadership and learning being individual and shared enterprise is a powerful one. It resonates with the notion of collaborative responsibility and collective growth. An interesting read, thanks Tristian!

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Tristian Stobie

Tristian is Director, Education at Cambridge Assessment International Education . He leads the development of our education strategy for schools, supporting Cambridge teachers and learners.

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