The Future of Educational Leadership

The landscape of educational leadership has significantly evolved over the course of the past decade. School administrators used to stand alone as school leaders, with instructors and innovative technologies as tools for that leadership. Today’s schools are increasingly moving toward more collaborative leadership models with technology and equity at the heart of those models.

In 2011, Contemporary Issues in Education Research  predicted leadership changes that emphasized collaboration and widespread expertise across school districts: “Leadership is no longer defined as a ‘lone star’ master of modeling instruction for student improvement, but a host of individuals with instructional expertise in the distribution of leadership for school improvement.”

Over the past 10 years, this instructional expertise has increasingly focused on technological and community-based interventions to optimize leadership capabilities and meet the needs of diverse bodies of students. Taking their cues from technological organizations both in innovation and organizational structure, schools of the future are more likely to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to embrace innovation and foster meaningful change.

The Role of Technology

MIT professor and online educational innovator Anant Agarwal believes the most crucial step countries can take now to improve education in the future is to invest in technological infrastructure. As reported by The Harvard Crimson, Agarwal predicts that, in schools of the future, “Both technology-enabled learning and in-person learning will coexist in classrooms all over the world.”

Experts predict future educational leaders will incorporate educational technology in classrooms everywhere. Future students are likely to be employing digital technologies regularly, interacting with holographic images of historical figures or collaborating with other schools via digital platforms to solve economic problems in their communities.

Educational technology is already being used for its potential to address achievement gaps for students with disabilities. For example, EdTech Magazine reports that virtual reality headsets, digital tools like Google Expeditions and text-to-speech tools are invaluable in building independence and closing achievement gaps in special education classrooms. Educators might also use future technologies to offset other achievement gaps, engaging students from various backgrounds and meeting them where they are.

Organizational Structures are Changing

Future educational leaders will certainly need to be well-versed in technological advances that can change the way they reach students. However, this does not mean every school principal will need to be a technology expert. With increasing emphases on collaborative leadership structures, each member of a school’s team will contribute their unique expertise in guiding school changes.

Some schools are tapping technological organizations for guidance on how to identify and develop school leaders. Arlington Independent School District is turning to the tech giant, General Electric, to rethink recruitment and professional development.

Schools of the future are likely to look a lot more like technological organizations in their leadership structures. However, leadership does not have to be relegated solely to administrators. Teacher leaders, community members and a wide variety of stakeholders will also inform new approaches to education.

In an interview with SmartBrief Education, Arlington ISD’s assistant superintendent of school leadership, Tracie Brown reflects, “This way of thinking is not the norm for school districts, but it should be. Nothing can replace the human element of relationships in education. If we have great people, our students will succeed. It’s as simple as that. The awakening for our district leadership team was realizing there is already greatness all around us – it’s our responsibility as ‘talent masters’ to bring it out of our people.”

The future of educational leadership will blend technological and human innovation to rethink organizational structures and develop learning communities. Schools will better meet student needs by utilizing both new and already existing tools in creative ways. Collaborative, community-based leadership structures will inform new approaches to teaching and learning, ensuring that targeted interventions meet the needs of all students.

Learn more about Fitchburg State University’s M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Management (Non-Licensure) online program.

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