Transformational Leadership – A Different Concept of Change

Transformational approaches to leadership in education have long been considered as productive measures faced by schools experiencing reform. Transformational practices contribute to the effort and validity of the concept of change. It is the opinion of this case assignment to agree that a transformational approach is needed to be successful as a leader in education.

The importance of education is immeasurable. Education has, and will always be, the catalyst to success. As educators, it is vitally important to foster success. Leaders in education have many faces. For example, leaders represent principals, guidance counselors, administrators, and superintendents. Using a transformational approach will create an atmosphere that is conducive to transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership is considered a new practice. However, the premise has been around for decades, it is only in the last ten years that it has been given a title. Transformational leadership calls for increased levels of faculty commitment. It also emphasizes the goals of the institution. The leader is hoping that all members offer more support and greater effort meeting these goals.

A transformational leader exhibits many skills, which produce results. This person hopes to develop school objectives, offer professional development opportunities, focus on values, demonstrate and enforce high expectations, and encompass other team members to make important input in decision-making.

I feel a leader in education needs to be respected. This leader must be able to gather from years of similar experience in order to relate to the staff he/she is leading. The leader must lead by example and must set equal high goals for himself/herself.

It has also been recognized by Great Britain that transformational leadership is needed in education. Stephanie Northen noted in The Times Educational Supplement in 2002 that principals in Great Britain are attempting to stand out in the staff rooms. Transformational principals are trying to focus on relationships rather than on systems. They hope to inspire people rather than just completing tasks. (Northen 8).

A school is an environment. In a healthy environment, many good things can happen. Likely, in unhealthy surroundings, the need for change is not only welcomed but also desperately needed. It can be said that any person working in a place that they consider stagnant or hostile will not be a very productive or supportive person for the goals or objectives of the institution. People need to be happy where they work. They need to have value for their efforts and need to see that their leaders appreciate their time.

Within this school environment is the people that benefit most from it: the students. The students also need to be connected to their school. The school cannot represent simply a place to see their friends and eat lunch. The school must be the place where they feel engaged to something real and positive. Studies have shown that students that participate in sports and extra-curriculum activities (drama club, band, chorus, student council) perform better in school socially and academically. A transformational leader wants to create a comfortable and accepting environment for the school. This increased student participation has many benefits; it will increase self-esteem, responsibilities for one, and will help the child identify with education.

An important word that I didn’t see in the Leithwood & Jantzi paper on transformational school leadership effects was “trust”. I think that trust is the foundation of any positive relationship. The word trust “is,” mentioned in Laurie Carlson’s article in Rural Educator of 2002. She says that a culture of trust is needed in effective leadership. She believes that in order to enhance the quality of education, leaders must trust that the obstructions have been identified, the catalysts have been recognized, and the incorporation of positive influence has been emphasized. (Carlson 31).

I think leaders have tough responsibilities. The government has decided to allow each state the option of “taking over” for schools that are considered failing. For example, in Massachusetts where I am a guidance counselor in an inner city middle school, the test scores are atrocious! The test scores reflect the community, which is lower class, struggling citizens. The youth of now is not the same as the youth thirty years ago. Test scores do not measure the success or failure of a school district. Test scores do not measure effort or change. Test scores measure what a segment of the population scored on one given test on one given day. Leaders of today are constantly being reminded that the school is measured by these standardized tests. Principals in most schools are not part of a union and are therefore unprotected from firing. I have always believed that the view of education is this: every student is like a battle, and although we may never win “every” battle, we must win the war. Children are the future. That notion has never varied or changed. Transformational leaders are essential to the success of positive schools creating positive “future” members of society. A transformational leader will foster strength to diminish the weaknesses. No school is perfect. An effective leader will use transformational practices to gain support and effort to achieve the objectives and goals of the school system.

References:

Carlson, Laurie A. “The transformational approach: Organizational development
strategies for transforming schools. Rural Education. Winter 2002, Vol 24. Iss.2
p.31.

Northen, Stephanie. “Are you with me”. Times Educational Supplement. May 10, 2002.
Iss. 4480. p.8

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