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Leadership Platform

Clay Nolan

Saint Bonaventure University: EDL-515


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Abstract

This leadership platform explores the theories of my educational leadership. The school

system has to function under a leader but there are other key players the leader guides and helps

throughout the years to experience success: students, teachers, administration, community

members, business partners, visitors, other stakeholders. When the goals of all of these key

players are helping each other reach a common goal, it makes a school system stronger.

Throughout the platform, the characteristics of theories will be reflected through the

ELCC standards. A leader must facilitate and develop a shared vision, ensuring that the goals are

being reached and are attainable. Every goal is made to aid in student success. An educator must

ethically promote the success of each learner to help strengthen the school system. Curriculum,

instruction, and assessment must have the rigor necessary to promote this success.

The community plays another role in the school system. Support is needed from them and

vice versa as an educational leader. The strength of the school system and goals empowers

people and ideas and combines both of them together for a long period of time. This creates a

school system that is strong in the present and will be for years to come.
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Leadership does not happen overnight. It is a skill that is always a constant learning,

growing, and failing experience. Some people may pick up the skill quick, but it is not an

inherited trait like having blue eyes or blonde hair. It’s an acquired trait like learning how to play

soccer or how a plant grows toward the light. Leadership is unique to everyone because our skill

sets, experiences, and styles are even more unique. Educational professionals, however, must not

only develop a capacity for leadership but also then encourage others to develop that capacity as

well. In addition, leadership does not appear in isolation and cannot be self-contained. It shows

most when opportunities, challenges, and various personalities present themselves and leaders

take notice. No one leadership style is effective in all situations, but the traits of successful

leadership are a constant.

The school system needs to be one cohesive unit, all on the same page, working toward a

similar goal. There will be many different paths and goals running throughout the unit, but all

have the greater common goal. Each path has its own purpose and direction, yet each cannot

continue without the other. The leader is who helps keeps these goals and paths running

smoothly, as well as working toward his own goals and others. The leader is used for guidance

rather than seen as the ultimate director. Not the “sage on the stage”, but “guide on the side.”

Facilitating himself by balancing this position makes for successful leadership, especially when

kept in line with the ELCC standards. This is an essential part of the school environment. The

purpose of the school is set from the top down, but the leader is both equal and set apart. The

educational leader has the ability to set the tone for how people treat each other and then is

responsible for the repercussions be they positive or negative consequences. Each contact that is

made with any individual within the school system, community, visiting member, or outside

services that has to deal with the school should be reflective of this practice and serve as a model
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for all interactions others should strive to portray. As we treat others and interact with the

school’s stakeholders, they should be reflected back in a positive way. The leader of the school

system is persistent with the paths and goals of the district that have integrity and are fair and

ethical in nature.

An educational leader always acts with the knowledge that an obligation comes with the

title and understands the decisions being made affect an entire community. The ultimate trust is

placed upon an educational leader to care and do what is right for every single student. This ideal

can go as far as being the cheerleader and/or role model students may not otherwise ever get the

chance to have or know. An educator and leaders of educators must portray the person that they

want the students, parents, other educators, and all other invested members in the school to be.

Another way to model, is to be self aware and seek personal growth. Leaders are continually

asking staff and students to reflect upon their actions. A leader must obey this advice too and be

transparent about it. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if a leader wouldn’t do it theirself,

than no one being guided should have to do it either. This constant and extreme modeling of

integrity, fairness, and ethics takes place both inside and, more importantly, outside of the

campus property. It is represented in the fifth standard of the ELCC. Educational leaders have

the ability to promote the success of all students. To do anything less would steer the paths and

goals already formed by stakeholders in the wrong direction and be unbecoming of and an

educational leader.

Another important task leaders can do is invite and/or create a spark in a district with a

directed path and goal that includes all stakeholders and enlists their support. Getting the support

is an essential task made just for leaders. A leader is only as strong as the followers and

followers are the most crucial leaders. More voices are stronger than others and this idea
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cultivates leaders. Others will feel comfortable stepping into a role or helping if they feel

supported. Likewise, feedback can be more honest and accepted knowing there is a common goal

to reach. A leader needs to embrace their followers and help build them up to become a better

leader than they are (Maxwell, 2012). Guiding all the goals and paths of the students, teachers,

community, and curriculum and leading them toward a common goal is reflected in the first

standard of the ELCC.

There are many different types of school systems out there. Some are successful, some

are building toward success, and some are starting over. Those that are regularly experiencing

success did not just get lucky and choose all the proper paths and goals. There is no engraved

stone way to be successful that was followed. The common entity is that these districts are all

striving and inherently working toward a common goal. This goal has the support of the teachers,

the community, stakeholders, and students (who cannot be left out), guided closely by the

educational leader. The goal is clear, spoken about often, referenced by all supporting members

inside and out of school, and observed through actions and written language. Another common

entity is the educational leader is analyzing and using data and knowledge the school is

producing and openly sharing it (Whitaker, 2012). Data can help provide the resources needed

for teachers to help build their capacity, create plans to work on any weaknesses noticed

throughout the school, and realize that a leader is not just responsible for results but for people as

well. Through the use of this data, the leader can use appropriate needs to motivate staff,

students, and families alike to promote the success of all students and work toward the district

goals.

On the opposite spectrum, teachers who work in school systems that have no common

goals or paths and/or not being guided by the leader end up likely struggling to provide success
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to the students. There is no goal they are trying to help the leader and district achieve. Normal

every day teacher duties seem mundane or difficult such as using technology educationally

appropriate, complaining about curriculum or modules, worrying about the contract or union

rules, teaching to the test or not teaching the correct content, etc. Without goals and paths set in

place, teachers can get lost in the day-to-day duties. They can latch on to the negativity that is

common in these schools (Whitaker, 2015). The goal of the school is compromised with

stakeholders going in all different paths that do not work toward the common goal.

As a leader, one of the theories to promote would be to facilitate and create a common

goal that allows all students to be successful in their own way. The only way to do this would be

to have all stakeholders combine their ideas around the common goal to which they are able to

enact. The process of developing a goal or vision and mission statement is often more valuable

than the statement itself because the vision and mission are important only if they are alive

(Ubben, 2011). When stakeholders are involved in helping to develop the goal, they are more

willing to work toward it with pride. This feeling and emotional tie to the goal further

strengthens the school system, wherein people feel part of it, rather than subject to it. They feel

the ideals of working together with the leader rather than working for the leader.

Another theory to promote within leadership is to make sure to not only lead with my

head, but also lead with a sense of emotion or feelings. The development of the culture of a

school system and building of an atmosphere of inclusion of all students is the reason behind

this. I have worked with many kinds of different people. I have been in social situations with

many different people. I have taught many types of different students. With these experiences, I

have found that, acceptance and safety, more often than not, translates into success for all

members involved in any situation. Building relationships is an important factor in success with
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any stakeholder. Academic achievement and data can improve instruction, but relationships can

truly motivate learning (Jensen, 2013). Another way to ensure the building atmosphere of safety

and security is by updating its physical appearance. A building should be welcoming to all

students, teachers, and members of the community, and they should want to come to the

building. A leader needs to make sure their building keeps this in mind. As a leader, it is with

utmost importance that the goals of the district and stakeholders includes the ideals that all

students, teachers, and stakeholders are gratefully welcomed and provided a place where positive

and safe relationships are guaranteed and expected.

The school system is at its best and successful when everyone involved works toward the

common goal, regardless of grades, economic status, learning ability, test scores, family

situation, race, gender, or sexual preference. Certainly there has to be and will be strategies,

plans, and best practices used in providing this culture as reflected in the ELCC’s second

standard. These strategies, plans, and best practices will not work unless they are able to combine

the notions of knowledge and heart in an equal balance. As a leader, this type of balance needs to

be constantly checked and made aware to all those working to the district goal.

Management and organization fits into another theory of leadership. Structure and

discipline are needed in every school district in order to be successful. A competent leader does

need to juggle the resources, operations, and organizations, as reflected in ELCC’s third

standard. With such an undertaking, it can only make sense that management and organization

are key players with success. Knowledge of systems, research, and data help keep the structure

of the school system. Leadership is not always a pleasant experience, though can be during

certain times of the experience. These times might not last very long or be far and few in-

between. Therefore, structure is always there to help keep things running smoothly when the
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pleasant times have passed. Management and organization can be the cause of a pleasant time.

Real leadership is done when the time is not pleasant, when goals and paths are going down the

old beaten path or get off track. Management and organization can pull the goals back toward the

directed path and make the leadership even stronger.

A few ideas that go hand-in-hand with each other describing another leadership theory

would be leaders are remembered and called up after leaving, leaders return and always offer

help, leaders are active and functional, not standing in the background, and leaders set

expectations and adhere to and model them. All these ideas centralize around the notion that

leaders are always visible by sight and show visibility with decisions and clarity. In order to be

visible, the leader cannot be afraid to make a decision. Once the decision has been made, the

leader needs to be transparent about their choice and stand by that. Most importantly, being

visible might also entail admitting that the decision made was not the right one. But, decisions as

an educational leader should be made to uphold the well-being of each student. With this in

mind, the leader is being visible by guiding stakeholders toward the common goal that holds the

school district together as well as giving them something to hold on to.

This visibility is reflected in the principles that line up with the collaboration mentioned

in the fourth standard of the ELCC Standards. Collaboration comes in being visible and open to

share all reasons for decisions. Also, in order to collaborate, a leader has to be visibly present.

Collaboration works productively when interacting with stakeholders physically rather than

digitally. The collaboration strand is apparent in the school system by guiding all to be inclusive

and build a climate of support. The strength of the collection of goals empowers people and ideas

and holds them together with specific purposes.


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An educational leadership platform cannot go very far without thinking about the

investment of families being involved in the school system and leadership. Reaching out to them

and continually welcoming them to be part of the conversations helps the school and goals

develop and become more focused on the services provided. Again, working together in order to

create an optimal learning environment for the students. The leader in this situation finds the

common goals of the families and school district and helps guide them toward the larger goal.

The leader has the opportunity to hear both sides of the group and put their differences into

actions.

Schools and their leaders must also operate within the larger context of community that

extends beyond families of the school. Keeping the communication lines open with local and

area political figures increases awareness of how each affects the other. Facilitating open

discussions regarding issues and the policies pertinent to schools are an important part of being a

progressive leader toward goals and one that looks ahead to the bigger picture. Proactively

engaging in protecting the rights of students and the legal opportunities awarded to them and

their families is reflected in ELCC’s sixth standard. As policies change and decision-makers

within the community move in and out of office, the leader must be cognizant of the changes or

decisions made in order to prepare for how it could affect the school system’s goals.

All the different attributes can be summed up into values, dignity, respect, and fairness

are reflective characteristics of an educator’s behavior. They must be at the core of any leader’s

beliefs. I truly feel that a leader’s leading must be able to change at a moment’s notice and have

many different styles depending on the situation. They must lead by looking ahead and create a

path to get there that others might not think is attainable or might not be able to see yet. They

must lead from within and work with all the stakeholders. They must also lead from behind,
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encouraging, building, and providing a foundation on which the stakeholders will be able to start.

It is a servant-leadership model.

In a servant-leadership model, leaders understand that putting the best interests of the

organization and the stakeholders above their own results in a more aligned purpose to the

ultimate objective. This statement applies in many situations as well as in today’s educational

climate. The ELCC serves as a reminder and a standard that educators should use in dealing with

students, teachers, parents, and all other vested parties in the educational community.

Expectations are plainly delineated and serve as a foundation to guide decision making, actions,

and situations that require it.

Keeping the best interests of others in mind when making decisions that will directly

impact them resides in a servant-leadership model as well. This type of model lends a leader to

be one who works with diligence, listens before answering, listens to all sides of the story, has

the ability to discern, and is able to take pride in accomplishments as well as failure. A leader in

this model does not ask someone to do something which he has not done before or will not do

again.

Servant leaders take time to confer with all stakeholders involved. As a leader, I choose

to involve others in leadership. Many opinions and voices of support can be way more effective

than just one. Effective leadership means listening carefully to other’s opinions and encouraging

others to participate in making decisions. Working together creates stronger goals and a stronger

community.

The characteristics of a servant-leader model are similar to the ideals of the

transformational leader. This is the type of leader who shares the leadership role and motivates
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others to be leaders. This type of leader encourages the participation and involvement of all

stakeholders. Transformational leadership inspires others toward collaboration and

interdependence as they work toward a purpose to which they are deeply committed (Ubben,

2011). This idea is reflected in all of the standards of the ELCC. It includes the collaboration,

individual ideas that work together for a bigger goal, and management and organization all into

one.

All in all, a transformation leader guides people toward a common goal, strengthening the

system as well as giving them a starting place. Flexibility and strength are both necessary when

dealing with the pressure of budgets, personnel, and student achievement. This style of

leadership works to ensure student success as the priority and all other goals interact to achieve

it.
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References

Jensen, E. (2013). Engaging students with poverty in mind; Practical strategies for raising

achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Maxwell, J. (2012). Developing the leader within you. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Ubben, G. C., Hughes, L. W., & Norris, C. (2011). The principal: Creative leadership for

effective schools (Seventh Edition). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Whitaker, T. (2012). What great principals do differently (Second Edition). New York: Taylor

& Francis.

Whitaker, T. (2015). Dealing with difficult teachers (3rd ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis.