An Educational Leadership Philosophy for School Leaders

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School Mission

School administrator sitting next to a globe.
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A school mission statement often includes their focus and commitment on a daily basis. A school leader's mission should always be student-centered. They should always be focused on bettering the students they serve. You want every activity that occurs in your building to revolve around what is best for the students. If it is not beneficial for the students, then there is no reason that it should continue or even begin to happen. Your mission is to create a society of learners where students are constantly challenged by teachers as well as their peers. You also want teachers who accept a challenge to be the best they can be on a daily basis. You want teachers to be facilitators of learning opportunities for students. You want students to experience meaningful personal growth every day. You also want to involve the community in the learning process, because there are many community resources that can be utilized to promote growth throughout a school.

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School Vision

school vision
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A school vision statement is an expression of where a school is going in the future. A school leader must realize that it is typically best if vision is implemented in small steps. If you approach it as one large step, then it will likely overwhelm and consume you as well as your faculty, staff, and students. The first thing you have to do is to sell your vision to the teachers and the community and get them to invest in it. Once they truly buy into your plan, then they can help you carry out the rest of the vision. You want all stakeholders to be looking to the future while focusing on the now. As a school, we want to set long-term goals that will ultimately make us better, while maintaining focus on the current task at hand.

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School Community

school community
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As a school leader, it is necessary to establish a sense of community and pride within and around your building site. A sense of community and pride will promote growth among all members of your stakeholders which includes administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, businesses, and all taxpayers within the district. It is beneficial to include every aspect of a community within the daily school life. Too many times we only focus on the community inside the building, when the outside community has much that they can offer that will benefit you, your teachers, and your students. It has become increasingly necessary to create, implement, and evaluate strategies to use outside resources for your school to be successful. It is essential to have such strategies in place to make sure that the entire community is involved with the education of your students.

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Effective School Leadership

effective school leadership
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Effective school leadership is transcended through qualities that enable an individual to step to the forefront of a situation and take command by overseeing, delegating, and providing guidance. As a school leader, you want to be the kind of person that people trust and respect, but that does not come through a title alone. It is something that you will earn with time and hard work. If you expect to gain the respect of my teachers, students, staff, etc., you have to give respect first. That is why it is important as a leader to have an attitude of servitude. That does not mean that you allow people to step all over you or do their job, but you make yourself readily available to help people out should the need arise. By doing this, you set up a pathway for success because the people you oversee are more likely to accept changes, solutions, and advice when they respect you.

As a school leader, it is also crucial for you to be prepared to make tough decisions that go against the grain. There are going to be times when it is necessary to make these types of decisions. You have a responsibility to make choices based upon what is best for your students. It is important to realize that you will step on people’s toes and that some may be angry with you. Understand that if it is best for the students, then you have a rational reason for making those decisions. When making a tough decision, have confidence that you have earned enough respect that the majority of your decisions are not questioned. However, as a leader, you should be prepared to explain a decision if it has the best interest of your students in mind.

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Education and Legislation

education and legislation
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As a school leader, you should realize the importance of adhering to all laws governing the school including federal, state, and local school board policy. If you do not follow the law, then understand that you could be held liable and/or insubordinate for your actions. You cannot expect your faculty, staff, and students to follow the rules and regulations if you, in turn, are not willing to follow the same rules and regulations. You can only trust that there is a compelling reason for a specific law or policy to be put in place, but realize that you must follow it accordingly. However, if you believe that a policy is detrimental to your students, then take the necessary steps to have the policy rewritten or thrown out. You will still need to adhere to that policy until that happens. It is also necessary to check before reacting. If there is a topic that you do not have a lot of knowledge about, then you may need to consult other school leaders, attorneys, or legal guides before you address that issue. If you value your job and care about the students under your care, then you will always remain within the confines of what is legal.

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School Leader Duties

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A school leader has two main tasks that their day should revolve around. The first of these duties is to provide an atmosphere that promotes intense learning opportunities on a daily basis. The second is to advance the quality of the daily activities for each person within the school. All of your tasks should be prioritized based on seeing those two things take place. If those are your priorities, then you will have happy and enthusiastic people in the building that are teaching or learning on a daily basis.

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Special Education Programs

special education programs
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Understanding the importance of special education programs is vital to a school administrator. As a school leader, it is essential to know and care about the legal guidelines established by Public Law 94-142, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1973, and other related laws. You also need to make sure that all of those laws are being carried out within your building and that every student is given fair treatment based upon their Individualized Education Program (IEP). It is critical that you make the students who are being served in special education relevant and that you value their learning as much as any other student in your building. It is equally pertinent to work hands-on with the special education teachers in your building and be willing to assist them with any problems, struggles, or questions that may arise.

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Teacher Evaluations

teacher evaluations
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The teaching evaluation process is a significant part of a school leader's job. The evaluation of teachers is an ongoing assessment and supervision of what is going on within and around a school leader's building. This process should not take place on a one or two-time basis but should be something that is ongoing and done either formally or informally almost every day. School leaders should have a clear idea of what is going on in their buildings and within each individual classroom at all times. This is not possible without constant monitoring.

When you supervise and evaluate teachers, you want to enter their classroom with the idea that they are an effective teacher. This is essential because you want to build on the positive aspects of their teaching ability. However, understand that there are going to be areas in which every teacher can improve. One of your goals should be to build a relationship with each member of your faculty where you can comfortably offer them advice and ideas on how to improve in areas where refinement is needed. You should encourage your staff continuously to look for better ways and be ongoing in their pursuit of a quality education for all students. An important part of supervision is to motivate your staff to improve in every area of teaching. You also want to provide a large quantity of resources and strategies available in areas where teachers might want or need assistance.

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School Environment

school environment
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Administrators should create a school environment where respect is the norm among all administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, and community members. If mutual respect is truly present among all stakeholders within a school community, then student learning will increase substantially. An important component of this theory is that respect is a two-way street. You must respect your teachers, but they also have to respect you. With mutual respect, your goals will line up, and you can proceed with doing what is best for the students. An environment of respect is not only conducive to increased student learning, but its impact on teachers is significantly positive as well.

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School Structure

school structure
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A school leader should work hard to ensure that their building has a structured learning environment with aligned programs and a supportive atmosphere. Learning can occur under a variety of circumstances and conditions. Understand that what works best in one place may not always work in another. As a school leader, you will have to get a feel of a particular building before you change how things are structured. On the other hand, you know that significant changes can promote strong resistance towards those changes. If it is the best alternative for the students, then you should try to implement it. Nevertheless, a change such as a new grading system should not be done without significant research as to how it will affect the students.

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School Finance

school finance
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When dealing with school finance as a school leader, it is essential that you always follow the guidelines and laws of the state and district. It is also important to understand the intricacies of school finance such as budgeting, ad valorem, passing school bond issues, etc. It is pertinent to ensure that all money that comes into the school is immediately receipted and deposited on a daily basis. Understand that because money is such a powerful entity that it only takes a small amount of wrongdoing or even the perception of wrongdoing to get you fired. Therefore, it is necessary that you always protect yourself and follow the set guidelines and policies for handling finances. It is also critical that you ensure that other personnel responsible for handling money be given appropriate training.

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Meador, Derrick. "An Educational Leadership Philosophy for School Leaders." ThoughtCo, Dec. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com/educational-leadership-philosophy-for-school-leaders-3194580. Meador, Derrick. (2017, December 7). An Educational Leadership Philosophy for School Leaders. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/educational-leadership-philosophy-for-school-leaders-3194580 Meador, Derrick. "An Educational Leadership Philosophy for School Leaders." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/educational-leadership-philosophy-for-school-leaders-3194580 (accessed May 27, 2018).