Educational Leadership Portfolio

My values and guiding principles of educational leadership are informed by the image of the leader as shepherd as inspired by Psalm 23 (1). A shepherd leader is a positive role model, one that leads and serves the community by being protective, patient, caring and supportive yet exhibits diligence, courage and resilience when implementing necessary changes. It is a fully integrated leadership philosophy that identifies a way of thinking, doing and being. First, leadership is a way of thinking which involves visualizing the future in order to think and plan ahead and to empower those around you to see and learn more than they would on their own. Leaders also need to move from deep reflection and contemplation to doing, by making decisions in a timely manner that will enable the school to achieve the objectives outlined in the strategic plan. Thirdly, in order to create an environment conducive to growth and well-being, leaders need to see and experience first-hand the perspectives of the different members of their school community.
Leadership is a joint effort that requires interdependence and support from each of the stakeholders and a commitment to the vision outlined in the strategic plan. It is important for an educational leader to discover the needs of the various stakeholders by interacting with them in order to listen to the substance of what people tell them, and to more clearly understand the context of the details that are being shared. Learning how to meet their needs will enable the leader to help the community to reach their full potential. When people provide input, they become more motivated and engaged in their development. This helps to establish an environment of trust, because they know you value their opinion. The more involved they become in implementing the changes, the more responsible they will feel for the results that are achieved, which creates a greater capacity for growth.
Effective principals are both managers and instructional leaders, recognizing that both roles are essential and providing a balance between management and instructional skills (Chell, 2002(2)). One of my main motivations for becoming an educational leader is because I want to help teachers to continue to evolve their instructional practice by embracing 21st century learning approaches and tools to improve student engagement and achievement.  As Toffler states, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”(3). I think it is important as a school leader and teacher to model how these tools can be used in a responsible way to collaborate and communicate with others to co-develop school plans, share educational resources and best practices, and to use social media to celebrate what is happening in our schools. I find it personally rewarding to work with teachers to facilitate their professional and personal growth through our professional learning cycles and collaborative inquiry. “When members of a team make the results from their common assessments transparent, analyze those results collectively, and discuss which instructional strategies seem most effective based on actual evidence of student learning, they're using the most powerful catalysts for improving instruction”(4).

In order to facilitate the re-examination of current instructional practices, I will need to create an environment where teachers feel safe to take risks in order to find innovative solutions to instructional challenges and to become learning partners with students. As Fullan states, the unplanned digital revolution is creating a push-pull factor; push - school is increasingly boring for students and alienating for teachers, pull - the allure of the digital world (5). By letting teachers’ natural curiosity for learning guide them in their collaborative inquiry and by re-framing failure as iteration I hope to achieve the progress principle so that staff feel motivated, energized and self-efficacious in working towards overcoming the problem of practice they are experiencing in their classrooms. Innovation will be achieved through an iterative process whereby staff continue to evolve their practice as a result of their experiences in implementing their professional learning cycle. Another critical aspect of driving change will be to directly involve students in helping to create a learning environment that is more engaging, authentic, collaborative and inter-connective.

Here is the link to my interactive mind map presentation where I provide an overview of the different areas of the Catholic School-Level Leadership framework that I have been involved in through my role as a 21st Century Learning and IT Consultant. (You may switch to the full-screen mode to start the presentation by clicking on the arrows icon in the bottom left corner or you can use the following navigation controls to interact with individual elements in the mind map).

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1. Wiley: Shepherd Leaders hip: Wisdom for Leaders from ... 2003. 3 Jul. 2015
2. Part, A. "Introducing Principals to the Role of Instructional Leadership." 2005.
3. Alvin Toffler Quotes (Author of Future Shock) - Goodreads. 2007. 5 Jul. 2015

5. Fullan, Michael. Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Pearson Canada, 2013.