Educational Leadership in Turbulent Times

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 13319

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Education, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta
Interests: leadership; school management; change management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We live in an uncertain, turbulent world, where corruption, injustice, migration, poverty, and acts of terrorism affect many communities and nations. Witnessing such events may make us feel helpless, vulnerable, or else we remain detached, oblivious of the realities surrounding us. Lawrence-Lightfoot argues that too many conversations we engage in about such events are reductionist or rhetorical in nature and encourages us to challenge the dynamics and the language used in such educational/social discourse (cited in Swaffield, 2017, p. 493). She incites us to question what we take for granted, to question the unquestionable; to take a stand; to deliberate and engage with issues that affect us and future generations. Within such a context, leaders play a critical role. In such a context, educational leaders exhibit particular traits, which include empathy, openness to different perspectives and ideas, resilience, and strong communication skills. Whilst educational leaders are trying to navigate in these currents, they are also faced with an educational context focused on performativity, accountability and managerialism, and we run the risk of losing sight of what Nixon (2004) describes as the moral purposiveness of our role as leaders.

As a result of changing socio and political context, educational practice has changed and continues to do so at an incredible pace. Therefore, the role of schools in general and teachers and leaders in particular in embedding change has become even more demanding, especially in managing turbulence through what Bush (2010) describes as an “avowedly ethical approach to decision-making” (p. 402). The challenge of people to think and act ethically is gaining momentum, but at the same time, it is more unclear and challenging at the personal and collective level as they are asked to handle challenges they have never been exposed to before. As a result, leaders have continually commented on the added pressure on them in terms of their leadership responsibilities, the teaching and learning taking place, and the administrative duties that keep piling up. Hoyle and Wallace (2005) compare this to a lack of awareness or appreciation of leaders and practitioners and how they must handle the varied contexts in which they have to implement policies.

Aims

This Special Issue aims to:

  1. Provide an opportunity for authors to focus on particular aspects of the educational system and engage the reader to reflect on how policies and decisions impact their personal and professional lives.
  2. Explore the major concerns that educational institutions are facing today, given the external pressures from outside and how educators are responding to government-initiated reforms in different regions and countries.

This Special Issue facilitates dialogue and debate regarding the challenges that educators are facing, the practices that are being introduced, and most importantly, the values that determine their actions. In particular, the following questions will serve as a backdrop to the submitted articles:

  1. What are the recent educational reforms and changes that have been imposed on educational institutions, and how do educators at the school level respond to such directives?
  2. How are educators affected by external policy initiatives?
  3. Are school leaders able to nurture an environment conducive to professional learning amongst educators despite these challenges?
  4. How are experiences deepening and shaping leaders to sharpen and enlarge their perspectives?
  5. What is the moral purpose that drives educational leaders to handle the challenges to focus on the greater good? 

Types of Articles:

Original research, evidence-based commentaries, position papers, and literature reviews are encouraged by this journal. 

References

Bush, T. (2010). Spiritual leadership, Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 38(4), 402-404.

Hoyle, E. & Wallace, M. (2005). Educational Leadership: Ambiguity, professionals and managerialism. Sage.

Nixon, J. (2004). What is Theory? Educar, 34: 27-37.

Swaffield, S. (2017). Editorial. Reframing views, lifting up voices and ensuring everyone is visible? Professional Development in Education, 43(4), 493-496.

Prof. Dr. Christopher G. Bezzina
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • leaders
  • leadership
  • empowerment
  • policies
  • challenge
  • change

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 1055 KiB  
Article
Responding to the Current Capricious State of Australian Educational Leadership: We Should Have Seen It Coming!
by Christopher M. Branson, Maureen Marra and Paul Kidson
Educ. Sci. 2024, 14(4), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci14040410 - 15 Apr 2024
Viewed by 873
Abstract
The capricious state of Australian educational leadership is evidenced in the publication, “The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Survey 2022 Data”, which highlights unsustainable adverse health outcomes for an increasing number of school leaders. According to this report, the [...] Read more.
The capricious state of Australian educational leadership is evidenced in the publication, “The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Survey 2022 Data”, which highlights unsustainable adverse health outcomes for an increasing number of school leaders. According to this report, the accumulation of stress caused by the sheer quantity of work, the lack of time to focus on teaching and learning, a lack of sufficient teachers, and having to care for an increasing number of staff and students with mental health issues were the main causes of professional disillusionment and burnout among Australian school leaders. Moreover, the level of destabilisation and chaos that this situation could cause, should it continue to rise, is compounded by current research highlighting an ever-decreasing number of applicants for school leadership positions. To assign blame for this serious predicament on the excessive school leadership demands during COVID-19 is to ignore the abundant pre-existing evidence already pointing to this eventuality. However, the way in which Australian school leaders were able to constructively lead during the intensely demanding COVID-19 period does provide additional compelling support for the adoption of a far more relational foundation for leadership theory and practice. Hence, in response to this understanding, this article first presents during-COVID-19 and pre-COVID-19 Australian school leadership research literature to not only describe the evolving concerning issues but also to present the demand for a more relational approach to leadership. Then, the article proceeds to justify and illustrate a new relational approach to the practice of school leadership informed by our theory of organizational ecology. It is proposed that this new way of leading relationally will enable Australian school leaders to ultimately overcome the myriad of complex and stressful crises that now confront them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Educational Leadership in Turbulent Times)
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13 pages, 218 KiB  
Article
The Pernicious Predictability of State-Mandated Tests of Academic Achievement in the United States
by Jamil Maroun and Christopher H. Tienken
Educ. Sci. 2024, 14(2), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci14020129 - 27 Jan 2024
Viewed by 6797
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to determine the predictiveness of community and family demographic variables related to the development of student academic background knowledge on the percentage of students who pass a state-mandated, commercially prepared, standardized Algebra 1 test in the state [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to determine the predictiveness of community and family demographic variables related to the development of student academic background knowledge on the percentage of students who pass a state-mandated, commercially prepared, standardized Algebra 1 test in the state of New Jersey, USA. This explanatory, cross-sectional study utilized quantitative methods through hierarchical regression analysis. The results suggest that family demographic variables found in the United States Census data related to the development of student academic background knowledge predicted 75 percent of schools in which students achieved a passing score on a state standardized high school assessment of Algebra 1. We can conclude that construct-irrelevant variance, influenced in part by student background knowledge, can be used to predict standardized test results. The results call into question the use of standardized tests as tools for policy makers and educational leaders to accurately judge student learning or school quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Educational Leadership in Turbulent Times)
18 pages, 1173 KiB  
Article
Distributed Leadership in Irish Post-Primary Schools: Policy versus Practitioner Interpretations
by Niamh Hickey, Aishling Flaherty and Patricia Mannix McNamara
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040388 - 12 Apr 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4882
Abstract
School leaders have faced significant challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributed leadership has become the default leadership response implemented by schools to manage increased pressure. While Irish schools have traditionally operated behind a ‘closed-door’, there has recently been a movement [...] Read more.
School leaders have faced significant challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributed leadership has become the default leadership response implemented by schools to manage increased pressure. While Irish schools have traditionally operated behind a ‘closed-door’, there has recently been a movement towards a shared model of leadership, and Irish school leadership policy currently endorses the adoption of a distributed leadership model. Increased interest and policy endorsement notwithstanding, distributed leadership remains an elusive concept. The aim of this study was to explore Irish post-primary school personnel’s interpretations of distributed leadership and analyse these interpretations through a teacher empowerment lens with respect to Irish school leadership policy. This study reports the results of a thematic analysis of 363 survey responses provided by post-primary school personnel. Short’s six dimensions of teacher empowerment were utilised to inform a framework for thematically analysing the participants’ interpretations. An initial framework for enacting distributed leadership through an empowerment lens was outlined. Interpretations were found to diverge regarding (i) what is shared, (ii) who it is shared with, and (iii) how it is shared. This paper adds to the corpus of knowledge concerning how distributed leadership is understood in practice and will aid in informing future school leadership policy documents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Educational Leadership in Turbulent Times)
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