Leadership for Learning

Building the leadership capacity of individuals, teams, schools and school systems is the foundation for making sustainable improvements in student learning and success for every student in every educational context.  A core principle of leadership for learning is the empowerment of adults, learners and critical stakeholders who share a sense of responsibility to maximizing the effort and performance of all parties. 

To this end, leaders must develop and hone skills that allow for the building of knowledge about student performance (Actionable Knowledge); design appropriate strategies to improve student outcomes (Designing Learning); create cultures that expect success (New Cultures for Learning); and empower individuals and teams to utilize their skills and talents to act in effective, creative and innovative ways to maximize knowledge (Leadership for Learning).

Developing leaders capable of initiating and sustaining change within the schools and organizations they lead is a conscious and intentional enterprise, focusing on those approaches proven to ensure high quality student and staff learning and outcomes. The following elements form a coherent and aligned thread in support of a comprehensive approach to developing and sustaining leadership.

  • Clear Leadership Standards: organizations must operate from a set of leadership competencies from which leaders can measure their practice and performance.
  • Selective Recruitment, Development and Hiring: deciding who is capable of entering a succession pool and who is finally selected needs to be consistent with the overall goals of the organization. Leaders must have the requisite knowledge and skills as related to instruction, and the dispositions necessary to lead in various contexts.
  • Leadership Support Systems: high quality professional learning is a critical element in the growth and development of leaders. This includes coaching, mentoring and professional development.
  • Leadership Assessment Systems: this includes a robust evaluation process that incorporates student learning and faculty support and development into the evaluation instrument and a feedback system for the growth of the individual.  Melded into this process should be individual and school growth plans which can and should inform the development of the leader.

CEBE’s strategic approach to leadership development includes the following critical elements:

  • Building Resilience

A key element of leadership for learning is a belief in a vision despite setbacks and adversity. In fact, a leader’s will to move beyond barriers is a critical feature of successful leadership. Resilience and will can be developed through challenges and reflections on practice, coupled with useful and focused feedback about prior situations.  Learning from past mistakes and missteps is the best remedy to meet future challenges and achieve success.

  • Designing a Shared Vision

A learning organization is fueled by the capacity of leadership to create an environment in which faculty and staff engage in the development of a shared vision for how student learning will be accomplished and how to engage various stakeholders in taking responsibility for that same vision. That shared vision forms the foundation for creating a culture of achievement and expectations for, by and through the students, faculty and leadership within the school.

  • Developing Human, Social, and Organizational Capital

Leaders need to design and manage systems which organize people and resources in an efficient and effective way. This means ensuring individuals are placed in positions consistent with the organization’s mission, but it also means providing the necessary glue that permits a synergy to occur within the enterprise so that faculty and staff can work in concert maximizing the collective efforts of all to improving student, staff and school growth.

  • Distributing and Empowering Leadership

Through engaging all of the leadership within the building, the leader maximizes the potential for a shared vision of the enterprise to be realized. The replacement of hierarchy with a more distributive style of engagement and empowerment in no way diminishes the authority of the leader but, in fact, tends to enhance the influence and esteem felt by all. Distributed leadership depends upon knowledge of the strengths of staff, an ability to build capacity for leadership over time, and an understanding of the expansive nature of distributed leadership as well as the limits of shared decision making.

  • Employing Growth and Development Planning

Leadership for learning is a process of continuous improvement with appropriate benchmarks which allows individuals to mark their individual progress against district, national and in some cases international criteria. This work is punctuated by the development of mutually informed individual, team and school goals.  These goals are developed through evidence of current performance (assessments), measured against benchmarks (standards) and developed into growth plans which project future intentional development.

  • Fostering High Performing Teams

Many of the challenges and complexities that face contemporary schools require the collective intelligence, insights and effort of high performing teams. Thoughtfully building, supporting, and developing such teams are priorities that cannot be neglected if all students are to achieve their potential. This work includes ensuring the team is not a team in name only, i.e., it is a real team; it has a clear purpose for its work; it is structured in a way that enables it to be successful; the context in which it works is supportive of its work; and it benefits from high quality, job-embedded coaching.

The intent of the CEBE approach to leadership for learning is to (a) improve the professional preparation of school leaders, (b) strengthen and diversify the pool of future leaders, and (c) create better conditions for such leaders to succeed at improving student outcomes especially of minority and economically disadvantaged students, and (d) develop school cultures in which collaboration, high expectations, autonomy, innovation and creativity thrive.

For further information, please contact us at CEBE