Revamping Your Approach To Early Childhood School Leadership
School leadership is one complex field that is ever-changing & constantly evolving like the learners & educators it represents. It's no longer about being the head of a school but rather about being an instructional leader, coach, facilitator, etc. Therefore, it is paramount for school leaders to periodically take stock of their approach and consider whether it could be improved or completely changed to meet the school community's objective. Recent research has revealed some helpful insights into what comprises effective school leadership. Here are four key areas to revamp your early childhood school leadership approach.
Positive Outlook on school business, finances, and organization
An effective school leader always has a positive outlook on the business, no matter how challenging things may be at any given time. It doesn't mean being in denial about problems or challenges; instead, it means maintaining an optimistic perspective and looking for solutions. There's a modus operandi in the child care business where leaders need to put on a "happy face" for employees and the parents, but that's not what we're talking about here. A positive outlook is more than just being cheerful; it's about having faith in the organization and its ability to overcome difficulties. A good case study is how many child care directors handled the COVID-19 pandemic. While the situation was undoubtedly daunting, school leaders maintained a positive outlook and found ways to continue providing quality education to their children. They managed to do this by being adaptable and thinking outside the box & without compromising the safety of their learners and staff. This positive Outlook extends to your view of the school's finances. Even if the budget is tight, an effective school leader will find ways to limit financial constraints by providing quality education.
Culture of the school (creating a collaborative, happy, creative work environment)
You've probably heard the saying, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." This quote is remarkably accurate in the field of education. A school's culture directly impacts everything from learners' achievement to teacher retention. School leaders need to create and maintain a positive school culture. It starts with ensuring that your teachers are happy and have what they need to succeed in the classroom. But it takes much more than that. An effective school leader works to create a collaborative culture where all school community members feel like they are part of a big goal and that their contributions are valued. School community members include children, parents, and support staff. When everyone feels like they are working together for a common purpose, amazing things can happen. It's also crucial to create a culture of creativity. By fostering an environment where brand new ideas are encouraged, people feel free to contribute—Paramount for any organization that wants to stay relevant and responsive to the ever-changing needs of its constituents. Finally, an effective school leader works to create a culture of respect through valuing the diversity of everyone in the school community and creating an environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued. When staff feels like they belong and are valued, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and invested in the school's success. Creating and maintaining a positive school culture is essential for any school that wants to succeed. It starts with the leader but must involve everyone in the school community to be truly effective.
Staff Communication and interactions
Of course, none of the above-proven approaches would be possible without effective staff communication & interaction. The way staff communicates with each other & with learners has a direct impact on the school's progress & culture. So how do you ensure that your team communicates with each other effectively? First, it's essential to have a clear vision for the school & ensure that everyone is aware of it by sharing the school's mission, values, and goals with all members of the staff & making sure that they buy buy-in. It's also paramount to create opportunities for open dialogue & feedback. The child care director or leader can do this through regular staff meetings, one-on-one meetings, and even surveys. Finally, it's also essential to make sure that everyone feels like their voice is heard & that they can contribute to the decision-making process. When staff & learners feel like they have a say in what happens at the school, they are more likely to be engaged in its success.
Conversely, when they feel like they are being kept in the dark or that their opinions don't matter, they are more likely to become disengaged & disinterested. But again, it all starts with the leader. An effective school leader sets the tone for how staff communicate & interact with each other. By modeling respectful, open communication & encouraging dialogue & feedback, a school leader can create an environment where everyone in the school community feels like they are part of the team & that their contributions are valued.
Revamping your approach to school leadership starts with creating a positive school culture. This approach involves ensuring that your teachers are happy & have what they need to be successful, fostering a culture of creativity, and valuing the diversity of everyone in the school community. It also requires effective staff communication & interaction. When everyone feels like they are part of something larger & that their contributions are valued, amazing things can happen. Lao Tzu once said, "A leader is best when individuals barely know he exists. When his work is achieved, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." In other words, the best leaders are the ones who can create an environment where everyone can succeed. When you focus on creating a positive school culture & ensuring that your staff has what they need to be successful, you set the stage for success. So what are you waiting for? It's time to revamp your approach to school leadership.
Wallace. (2022). School Leadership. Retrieved from; https://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx
About the Author: Sheika Petteway
Sheika Petteway provide educational and leadership training to individuals and organizations. She is the founder and CEO of Elite Educational Enterprises and has several years experience serving in the early childhood education industry.
Learn More about Mrs. Petteway by visiting her personal website www.sheikapetteway.com