Many parents, students, administrators and teachers alike are dissatisfied with some aspect of the education system. Whether it’s a teaching-to-the-test mentality, a lack of focus on the arts, too few male teachers, too few females in STEM or lack of funding for low performing school systems, everyone has a complaint.
Teachers have the most immediate understanding of what happens in the classroom, the center of learning. This lends them a unique perspective on the improvements that can make the most impact. And, this is the reason that we need teachers as leaders. The best way for teachers to move into positions of influence is to pursue a degree in educational leadership.
1. What is education leadership?
Educational leadership interweaves topics typically found in a master’s in education with topics found in a master’s in business management to form a holistic understanding of the education profession. The education classes focus on managing, supporting and collaborating with faculty, staff, parents, students and other educational stakeholders; curriculum innovation, development and selection; school law; and establishing and pursuing learning standards. Of course, the business classes will also be related to the educational field and typically focus on policy/law, procedures, and finance/budgeting.
Educational leaders continue working with students but in a different capacity. They may still be involved with classroom activities, as teachers are, but often they are held accountable for the development and implementation of curricula, development of standards and academic performance related to them, budgeting and expenditures, and a school or district’s impact on an entire community.
2. What kind of skills will a degree in educational leadership produce?
- Deal more effectively with all types of students (special needs, from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, ESL students, etc.)
- Be viewed as being open, approachable and fair by teachers
- Create strong, productive relationships with parents
- Mentor other teachers
- Forge partnerships with teachers
- Foster a sense of school spirit and community
- Reduce conflict between teachers, principals and school administrators
- Increase the school involvement of students, parents and teachers
- Set high (yet realistic) goals to improve student achievement
- Deploy appropriate technology in the classroom
- Develop curricula
- Help teachers develop disciplinary policies for their classrooms
- Improve time management skills
- Introduce fresh methods and approaches with greater receptivity from staff
- Use budgets most effectively for your school’s or district’s particular needs
Note: Interested in learning more about a master's degree in education leadership?
3. What new career opportunities become available?
Educational leadership is a flexible degree that can open up job options in public schools, private schools, colleges and the department of education (at the district, regional and state levels).
- Principal ($90,410): This job allows you to stay in the school setting and manage the overall operation of schools. You would oversee academic goals, ensure that teachers have the necessary resources, address parent concerns and serve as the public face of their school by meeting with superintendents, legislators and members of the community to request for your school.
- College Dean ($88,580): If you want to leave the K-12 level, a college dean oversees all aspects (faculty, staff, students, services, academics, research, budgeting, etc.) of a school or other administrative unit at a college or university.
- Curriculum Specialist ($62,270): A curriculum coordinator will evaluate the effectiveness of curricula and teaching techniques established by school boards, states or federal regulations. They may observe teachers in the classroom, review student test data, and interview school staff and principals about curricula, and then recommend changes to school boards. They may specialize in a grade level or subject.
- Special Education Director ($90,410): This career involves planning, administering and assessing the effectiveness of services for learning or otherwise disabled students. This often includes developing budgets, analyzing information obtained from assessments and research regarding current trends in the field and providing professional development opportunities for special education teachers.
- Superintendent ($91,780): If you’d like to work for an entire district, region or state, consider becoming a superintendent. You’d be a spokesperson who interacts often with students, parents, teachers, principals, school staff and government officials. You’d also have managerial duties such as planning budgets, allocating financial resources, hiring senior staff, setting curriculum standards, analyzing student test scores, handling teacher disciplinary matters, forming school expansion plans and leading school board meetings. Superintendents coordinate the work of all schools to make sure certain state and federal instructional statutes are being met.
4. Is education leadership for you?
Degrees in educational leadership are for those with a passion to change the education field and who can fit many personalities and career goals.
Programs generally require students to be licensed teachers who already have a few years of classroom experience under their belts. This is based on the idea that school administrators can’t be as effective without a teacher’s firsthand knowledge of how schools run, as well as the policies and procedures that most affect day-to-day classroom life. Teachers are the backbone of education and therefore, have an irreplaceable voice in conversations regarding the big picture.
While teachers work with a small segment of a school, educational leaders collaborate with diverse sectors — teachers, parents, students and others within the community — to optimize the inner workings and performance of a school. This degree is suited for teachers with all kinds of interests: reaching at-risk students, implementing curricula that help all students succeed, making the latest educational and technological trends available to students and teachers, and working with community leaders to help your school have a positive impact. If any of those responsibilities resonate with you, this just might be the time for you to get a graduate degree in education leadership.
Are you interested in pursuing graduate studies? Follow the link below and check out our guide to financing graduate school!