The New School Leader

February 15, 2011 at 4:44 PM Leave a comment

From Instructional Leader to General Manager

As reform-oriented superintendents experiment with new budget formulas, a dramatic shift toward decentralization of school funding and decision-making is emerging. The model makes good sense for management of 21st century schools. However, one may wonder if traditional training in instructional leadership will be adequate preparation for school leaders.

Instructional leadership has been a priority for principal preparation programs for many years. The movement recently gained strength from concern for achievement gaps among children, particularly in urban education. While these programs provide for course work and a wealth of mentoring in the many other roles of school leaders through residencies or apprenticeships, all heads of schools may find themselves perplexed as they venture into the unfamiliar waters of general management. So, what’s the difference?

I would hypothesize that new accountabilities will elevate non-pedagogical decision-making to a level of equality with academics. The headmaster of the future will need to be knowledgeable in finance, marketing, human resources, organizational behavior, information tecnology, and facility operations. He or she will make policy and judgment calls in conflicts, but there will be less emphasis on cumbersome consensual decision-making. The more democratic participatory leadership will be pushed further down into the organization to the level of the small learning community. Management of teacher effectiveness will rely on a combination of shared leadership and new data on student outcomes. In addition, many learning opportunities will engage students with community resources beyond the school’s oversight.

(To be continued…)

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