Being an educational leader in the 21st century is not an easy task. The educational practices have reformed to a large extent, owing to the pace of change and incorporation of technology. Students in this modern age have advanced perspectives about everything they learn.
Whereas, many educators continue to remain old school in their teaching and still feel hesitant to reform their teaching practices, due to which they fall short of their mark of attaining success with education in this modern era. Educational leaders have direct influence on how successful their organization can be and how it can meet up with the demands of students, teachers and their community for advancement in education. To do this, firstly the leader needs to alter his mindset and should be willing enough to make amends to his organization’s traditional education practices.
The biggest challenge that the governing administrators, principals, coordinators and leaders of educational institutions have to face is to come out of the outdated system of education in their organizations. They need to re-imagine who they are as modern educators and re-culture their schools. This, they should do keeping in mind the requirements of state testing, curriculum standards and traditional ethics, which are subject especially to leading educational institutions, which requires a good deal of balance to be maintained. The principals and leaders need to figure out as to how they can lead their faculty and teach them how to be effective constructors of learning. They must also be capable of inducing the change necessary to progress, so that the learning environment is stretched beyond the boundaries of tradition and their new generation students develop the skills necessary to succeed in work and life.
Another challenge for these leaders is to meet the decree and policies that don’t always fit perfectly into the dynamics of a 21st century school and implement changes within budgets that often fall short of what is required. Leaders need to understand that to change the way they teach, they need to change the way they learn. They need to become a learner first and that too a lead learner. Also, it is necessary for the educational leaders to take time out of their own professional learning and networking in the midst of their busy schedules. Leaders need cutting-edge knowledge and skills to be effective. Many leaders we have today entered into leadership roles before the trend of social media, mobile technologies and virtual learning environments came up. A lot needs to be done by the educational leaders in order to be successful, and they must begin with the basics to gradually step up the ladder. There can be many approaches which can aid the development of an educational leader in 21stcentury, here’s the step-wise of one approach, that has been recommended by the people behind EdLeader21, who are also the authors of the book, ‘The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts’, released by Pearson.
The steps for 21st century educational leaders to succeed can be summed up as:
Adopt your vision for 21st century knowledge and skills.
Create a community consensus.
Align your system with the new vision.
Build professional capacity.
Embed 4Cs (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration) in curriculum and assessment.
Support your teachers in the classroom.
Improve and Innovate.
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These steps can help understand leaders of schools and districts what the deep implementation of 21stcentury education must look like. As a leader, you need to reinvent yourself professionally. As mentioned earlier, you have to position yourself as ‘learner first’ and figure out what new skills you must gain to be able to lead other educators through this revolution in teaching and learning to build 21st-century capacities on a large scale within your organization. The most effective change drivers will be the initiatives by a leader that will change the culture of school systems by inducing elements such as leadership, collaboration, teamwork, all guided by a focus on values, norms, skills, practices and relationships.
Both the leaders and school teachers require professional learning, with the mindset to build and engage with a personal learning network (PLN). They should also try to be part of conferences and discussions where they come into contact with other leaders who not only understand their challenges and aspirations, but understand what it means to learn and to lead teaching in a technological society and a connected world.
A leader is someone who understands the need for an updated model of education for the 21st century and it is to my belief that no 21st century school or district will prevail without a strong leader at the helm. I hope this article can make you understand the significance of being an educational leader in the 21stcentury and the responsibilities that come with being one. Share what you think about the same. The Comment Box awaits you.