Educational leadership refers to the ideas, tools and practices used by decision makers in academic settings. Educational leadership is something that is continually changing, so educational leaders must stay up-to-date on the latest issues and trends impacting their field, according to the ASCD.

Education Administration vs. Leadership

The traditional title for a school program manager has always been educational administrator. This title refers to educational professionals who focus on the daily administration of daily district-wide or school system-wide affairs. The title educational administer is sometimes negatively associated with old fashioned school leaders who may resist change, diversity, technology or teacher unions. Today’s school leaders are now either educational administrators who focus on operations management or educational leaders who focus on policy, public relations and the overall mission.

The term educational leadership has emerged over the years because schools now only need good managers, but also excellent mentors, consultants and trailblazers. Knowing how to manage the school’s structure and organization will always be important. This includes knowing how to develop a budget, handle a disciplinary problem, resolve potential legal issues and negotiate contracts with unions. It also includes school security, staffing, schedules, transportation and food services. In order to keep schools functioning at their best, educational leaders are required.

What is Education Leadership?

The general term leadership is often associated with strong figures who can handle chaos, change and challenges. Leaders are most often recognized through their abilities to respond to and resolve crises. Due to the fact that many of today’s educational challenges are complex and controversial, strong leadership is needed in order to take decisive action, defend decisions and yield results. The world of education, like the world of politics and business, must deal with a steady stream of harsh critics, multiple information streams and twenty-four-hour news cycles.

The idea that schools are failing offers golden opportunities for educators to present themselves and prove their skills and talents. Outdated educational policies, underfunded programs, poorly paid teachers and low standardized test scores are constant problems with differing opinions. Educational leaders strive to solve collective problems while maximizing the most benefits for students, staff and the community.

Career Profile

An educational leader may be an experienced administrator who transfers into a coaching or consultative position. Educational leader coaches help school administrators transition into the 21st century. For example, they may introduce collaborative practices designed to collect school-wide data for learning and planning purposes. They may help teachers learn how to analyze student learning through student work products in order to determine instructional adaptations.

Educational leader coaches will provide instructional observation and effective feedback–to help teachers co-plan, observe and make adaptations to subsequent lessons. They may help school district leaders with data-based decision-making, which will involve evidence-based approaches to quality reviews, improvement plans and learning objectives. They may also foster the development of instructional leadership teams at each school in order to improve overall system efficiency.

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Some educational leaders may mentor small groups of school leaders, in order to develop a common vision of high-quality instruction, of they may foster the development of cultural understanding projects to improve school services and instruction.