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PHILOSOPHY  OF  EDUCATIONAL  LEADERSHIP  

My Philosophy of Educational Leadership
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Presented to the Department of Educational Leadership
and Postsecondary Education
University of Northern Iowa
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In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the
Master of Arts in Education
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by
Kathryn S. Drake
Korea International School
Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
May 12, 2014
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Dr. Timothy Gilson

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PHILOSOPHY  OF  EDUCATIONAL  LEADERSHIP  

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Abstract
A Philosophy of Educational Leadership is an essential component of being an
effective leader. During this transformative time in education, it is important to
consider best practices to engage student learning and prepare them for the future. An
effective leader is one who incorporates the elements of innovation, collaboration, and
motivation in order to empower students and teachers.

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The ultimate goal of education is student learning, which happens when
students are engaged in meaningful ways. My philosophy of educational leadership is
rooted in a deep desire to empower students and teachers in their learning. We have
reached a new paradigm shift with the advancement of technology and the rapid rate
at which information is now accessible and available. Robinson (2011) points out:
For previous generations, one of the only ways to connect with the wider
world of culture and ideas was to go to school. That’s simply not true
anymore. The pervasiveness of digital technology changes the whole
equation for education and for the roles of educators. (p. 76)
Why does this matter? Because now more than ever there is a growing disconnect
between schools and their engagement of digital learners (Sheninger, 2014, p. 15). In
the past there have been many educational reforms, but we are now standing on the
precipice of transformation as we move from the Informational Age to the Conceptual
Age (Pink, 2006). “In short, we’ve progressed from a society of farmers to a society
of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we’re progressing yet
again—to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning
makers” (Pink, 2006, p. 178). Knowing the information or how to get the information
is no longer enough. Now the expectation is: what can you create, design, or solve
with that information? Added to this shift is the reality that our students are digital
natives while most adults are digital immigrants (Robinson, 2011).
The transition from one intellectual age to another can be traumatic and
protracted. New ways of thinking do not simply replace the old at clear
points in history. They often overlap and coexist with established ways of
thinking for long periods of time. This complex and convoluted process of
change can create many tensions and unresolved problems along the way.

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But eventually the new paradigm provides the framework for a new
period of normal science. (Robinson, 2011, p. 90)
As an educator, I have always believed in student-centered, inquiry-based learning.
As we look to engage students in today’s classrooms and stay mindful of preparing
them for their future, it is essential that students are in a rich environment that
provides them with the essential skills of 21st century learning: creativity,
collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, technological
proficiency and global awareness (Sheninger, 2014). Now more than ever, education
requires genuine leadership. I believe an effective leader in today’s transformative
climate is one who leads with innovation by communicating a clear, forward-thinking
vision; collaboration by cultivating positive relationships in the school and
community as well as globally; and motivation by inspiring others to seek areas of
learning of which they are most passionate.
Innovation
“If you don’t want to change anything, you really don’t want to be a leader”
(Ramsey, 2006, p. 55). Innovation is an important part of growth. An educational
leader must communicate a passionate, forward-thinking vision. This comes from
having an awareness of changes happening in the world at large and within education.
Ramsey says, “A vision is essential to help you filter options and drive decision
making” (p. 19). Along with that, an effective leader must outline goals that support
the vision and develop a plan for how those goals can best be accomplished. A
strategic plan allows for all staff and stakeholders to be aware of what they are
striving for, which can help strengthen and foster a positive school culture (Ramsey,
2006). When everyone is aware of the goals and vision of the school, meaningful
conversations can be held and true innovation can begin happening.

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Collaboration
Collaboration is also vital to being an effective leader. It is not surprising that
Fostering a Collaborative Culture is the first domain listed in the Teacher Leader
Model Standards:
The teacher leader understands the principles of adult learning and knows
how to develop a collaborative culture of collective responsibility in the
school. The teacher leader uses this knowledge to promote an
environment of collegiality, trust, and respect that focuses on continuous
improvement in instruction and student learning. (Teacher Leader
Exploratory Consortium (TLEC), 2011, p. 14)
A healthy, collaborative atmosphere makes for a positive, productive school climate,
which in turn leads to high morale. Ramsey (2006) states: “Morale is the catalyst that
brings together all of the human elements in the organization and produces results.
With high morale, school personnel work hard, have fun, and reach their goals” (p.
34). Healthy relationships are critical within education. Teachers can no longer work
in isolation, nor should leaders. Collaboration within the school and community helps
to move everyone forward together. Also, in today’s educational age there must also
be global collaboration. According to Sheninger (2014), “Consistent innovation,
effective integration of technology, meaningful professional development, connecting
beyond the walls of brick-and-mortar building, and an open mind are all mandatory
duties of a leader in the digital age” (p. xvii). The Internet has opened the doors for
sharing and connecting with virtually anyone in the world. Real-time communication
with other educational leaders allows for an unprecedented dialogue of best practices
as well as the sharing of successful implementation of progressive ideas. Social
media tools such as Twitter and YouTube, along with blogs and online organization

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sites provide a global forum of collaboration that is critical to being a leader in
today’s educational climate.
Motivation
Finally, in order to be effective and enable empowerment, a leader must
motivate others to maintain and pursue their passion for learning. To get the most out
of others, Ramsey (2006) lists qualities such as being open and honest, celebrating
accomplishments, demonstrating integrity, delegating responsibilities, practicing selfdisclosure, and championing lifelong learning. (pp. 42-43). This requires trust. Trust
comes from modeling your own passion and commitment as a leader. One of the
functions of Domain III of the Teacher Leader Model Standards states: “The teacher
leader uses information about adult learning to respond to the diverse learning needs
of colleagues by identifying, promoting, and facilitating varied and differentiated
learning” (TLEC, 2011, p. 16). As an instructional coach, I look forward to
supporting teachers in identifying and pursuing their own professional development
interests and then assisting them in implementing new strategies and ideas. This, in
turn, will encourage them to motivate other colleagues to draw upon those successes.
I believe when teachers receive positive support from co-collaboration on an on-going
basis, they are empowered to move forward with innovative practices, which leads to
strengthened student learning.
During this transformative time in education, we must rely on strong leaders to
make decisions that will improve student learning and inspire teachers. By leading
through the lens of innovation, collaboration and motivation, I believe an educational
leader can effectively contribute to empowering teachers and students.

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References
Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind. New York: Penguin Group
Ramsey, R. D. (2006). Lead, follow or get out of the way: How to be a more effective
leader in today’s schools, (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Capstone
Publishing Ltd.
Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium. (2011). Teacher Leader Model
Standards, 14-20. Retrieved from
http://www.teacherleaderstandards.org/downloads/TLS_Brochure_sm.pdf