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Becoming an Educational Leader

If you’re an experienced educator, you might be looking for new opportunities and challenges within your field of expertise. When searching for a way to advance and make great change, teachers often turn towards educational leadership careers within a school system or district. Such posts usually require higher education, extensive experience and multiple certifications.

What is Educational Leadership?

Department directors, experienced faculty, committees and lead boards all qualify as educational leaders within a school or system. They provide guidance to fellow professionals and oversee accountability measures. These positions are different from administrators such as principals, superintendents and vice principals. Educational leaders usually continue teaching or other instructional capacities while maintaining their leadership responsibilities. These individuals can be found at all levels of education from preschools to the most esteemed universities.

Possible Career Paths

To start, many educational leaders do pro-bono work at smaller institutions. These educational facilities cannot usually afford to retain educational leadership jobs, though they often require their services. Pro-bono work allows for professional and personal fulfilling experiences that lead to fantastic opportunities down the line. Common posts include:

  • Department chairs at colleges and universities
  • Department directors at high schools
  • Department directors for special needs instruction
  • Athletic directors

Common Job Responsibilities

Education leadership professionals strive to aid educators to work better independently and as a cohesive team member. The overall goal is to improve the school’s or university’s quality of education. As a dean, department director or chair, leaders oversee organizational preparations and program implementation procedures for a department or institution. They usually answer to higher-level educational administrators.

Qualities of Successful Educational Leaders

The best education leaders intimately understand the methods and practices of academia. They act as representatives for colleagues and departments during important planning, budget, fund raising and assessment meetings and events. Additionally, the drive curricula improvements and try to find a balance between the teachers’, students’ and administrators’ needs.

Education and Qualifications

Department chairs and directors usually have graduate level degrees and/or comparable certifications. Some states, regions and institutions require certain upper level degrees to be eligible for education leadership positions. Most educational systems openly state these standards on websites or leadership manuals. Before committing to a degree program, prospective education leaders should be sure the certification matches the eligibility guidelines.

Doctorate or Master’s Degree

Some institutions or states may require at least a doctorate level degree to be able to apply for education leadership posts. However, most only require a master’s degree in educational leadership, instructional leadership or relevant educational disciplines. This is in addition to teaching experience and competitive scores on aptitude tests.

Common Degree Program Coursework

Educators who enroll in a leadership degree program will encounter a range of different courses and focuses depending on the institutions. Students can expect to encounter academics with these emphases:

  • Building an effective team
  • Educational institution structure and procedure
  • Improving school systems through programs and policy
  • Holistic international study of educational reform
  • Policy development and analysis
  • Local, state, national and international educational intersectionality

Taking education to the next step can be a confusing endeavor, but for experienced teachers, professional advancement may come in the form of an educational leadership career. From here, educators can launch into policy-making positions and other professional avenues.