What is Change Leadership in Education?

Written by Scott Wilson

What is change leadership in education? Change leadership, also known as transformational leadership, is a style of leadership that revolves around motivation and inspiration. A change leader seeks to create a positive workplace culture and to achieve big goals through energy and enthusiasm for better things.

change leadership

It’s no secret that many people get into educational leadership to make a difference. As a teacher, you see how the sausage is made every day in your school. It’s natural to come up with your own ideas about how you might do it all better.

As a leader, you earn the opportunity to do things differently in schools.

Stepping up to the principal’s office is a chance for you to try things your way. Whether they are ideas you’ve cooked up on your own, or things you learned in your own studies, you can make a big difference when you are standing in a leadership position.

In schools that have been demoralized and left in disarray by the pandemic, it’s pretty clear that big changes are needed. In June of 2023, the Washington Post reported that major declines in standardized test scores registered during the COVID-19 pandemic not only had not yet recovered, but continued to drop.

Change leadership is an effective style to catalyze major turnarounds in performance and culture.

For any shot at success with such a bold strategy, you need the right kind of preparation. And for school leaders interested in making changes that stick, that means earning an advanced degree in educational leadership.

Why Change Leadership Is Becoming Common in Education

posing for a photoWhen change is needed, change leadership is the tool for the job. It’s a style that swings for the fences. Change leaders are willing to take big risks to attain big results.

American education was struggling even before the pandemic. Today, with high rates of turnover, political pressure, and funding problems, many schools suffer from a real deficit of hope.

Change leadership is all about overcoming overwhelming challenges with inspiration and focus. As a style of leadership, it’s tailor-made for dealing with schools with low morale and low achievement. The transformational style builds hope again in teachers, students, and communities. And along the way, it offers them the resources and energy to achieve great things that once seemed out of reach.

Change leadership isn’t a style limited to principals and superintendents. Even teacher leaders or librarians can have the same effect within their own area of influence. Sparking up a new reading program in a district with historically low scores or getting fellow educators excited about a new curriculum can both benefit from transformational leadership styles.

Transformation Is Hard Work in Modern Educational Settings

Change leadership is not easy, however. The school system responds to many influences beyond those at the district office. Through the school board, communities have an impact on policies and expectations. State and federal laws and school funding also create constraints.

A transformational leader isn’t simply free to step in and create a new system in their own vision. They have to understand the current structure and pressures first. And they need the knowledge and skill to come up with a vision that can be realized within those lines.

That’s why a high-level degree in education leadership is a must-have for effective transformational school leaders.

Getting the Education You Need to Be a Change Leader in Your School or District

change leadership adminEducation is where future change leaders acquire the knowledge and ability to bring their visions to life.

You can have big visions of a better future for your school for free. But learning how to engage the rest of your team and make it happen is going to take study and effort.

Change leaders in education have big ideas, a positive attitude, and infectious energy.

It’s a style of educational leadership that requires not just the right personality, but also the confidence that comes from a strong education. A master’s degree in educational leadership can’t give you the energy to be a transformational leader. But it can give you all the background knowledge and skills you need to be a great one.

Taking Advantage of Your Educational Leadership Training To Achieve Great Transformations

man bulb ideaIn most cases, that knowledge begins with the way things are today. Every advanced degree in educational administration starts with theories of leadership and management in schools. They also offer coursework in educational policy, HR, budgeting, ethics, and finance.

Put all those factors together, and you get a very clear snapshot of why the educational system operates the way it does.

But master’s programs in educational leadership aren’t simply there to turn out cookie-cutter principals who keep things how they are. Instead, you’ll also get plenty of training and encouragement in creative problem solving. Critical thinking is encouraged, even required.

There’s a personal element to transformational leadership as well. The inspirational style requires charisma and connection.

Your own personality is something you will bring with you into your degree program. But the communications skills and psychological assessment techniques you develop can help you become stronger at interpersonal relations.

Through the course of practicum and internship placements, you’ll learn how real-world leaders use those tools to motivate their own staff. With their mentorship and guidance, you’ll be two steps ahead when it’s time to deliver your own brand of change.

Finally, a graduate degree in educational leadership comes with a requirement to complete a capstone project, thesis, or dissertation. As the final element of your studies, this part of the program is your chance to bring together all the pieces of the leadership puzzle. But they also offer you the opportunity to perform unique research, develop new ideas, and put your own concepts out into the academic community.

As the formal endpoint of your leadership studies, that capstone also serves as the launch of your career. So the concepts you come up with are going to be high-priority reading material for every district you interview with.

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