What is Educational Leadership?

Educational leadership is a broad term that encompasses any education professionals who functions in a decision-making capacity to influence the curriculum or academics provided to an institution’s students, according to ASCD. Numerous positions within a school, district or campus can fall within the umbrella of this definition. Typically, those with leadership responsibilities hold advanced degrees in their field and are highly ranked among their colleagues. Continue reading to learn more about this profession, the kinds of positions available and what it takes to become an educational leader.

Examples and Responsibilities

Educational leaders work to improve the education received by students. Examples of positions within this category include superintendents, principals, administrators, curriculum developers, provosts, deans, department chairs and teachers. Experts from pre-Kindergarten through higher education can hold positions in academic leadership. These change makers can have a wide variety of responsibilities. They often work to build teams and grow communities within their organizations. They may serve as analysts who revise and recommend educational policy to facilitate student learning. Administrators in leadership positions may oversee and develop budgets for departments and programs. School leaders are responsible for creating policy and writing curriculum. They hire teachers and oversee progress. Educational leaders also serve frequently in an activist capacity working toward reform at all levels of government. There are merely a few examples.

Educational leadership relies on a collaborative philosophy. Working together with other professionals within your district and with the decision makers who impact your students is absolutely imperative to success. Effective leadership within an educational environment allows for and encourages the positive contributions of all its members, with a constant focus on the good of the students.

Education and Training

In order to enter the field of leadership in education, there are a number of academic paths you can take. There are degree programs at all levels that can help you to reach a position within your desired leadership field. Most upper-level leadership positinos within education require at least a master’s degree, with many only hiring at the doctorate level. however, depending on your desired position, you can gain entry to leadership work with a bachelor’s degree. One area, in particular, that is open to this possibility is the field of early, or pre-K, education. You can obtain an Early Childhood Education Leadership bachelor’s degree and work as a preschool administrator.

For professionals currently working as teachers or in another capacity within a school system, it is possible to obtain a graduate certificate in K-12 Leadership. This certificate provides academic knowledge in educational legal issues, diversity, supervision and learning theory, among other relevant courses. If you desire a more immersive program to help you on the path to becoming a school administrator, a Master of Arts in Policy, Organization and Leadership may be for you. Those wishing to teach at the university level should look into a Master of Science in Educational Leadership. The Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership are terminal degree programs that can lead to positions such as university provost, president, school superintendent, academic researcher and policy developer among others.

Related Resource: Educational Policy

There are a wide array of choices when it comes to influencing the education of students. If you are passionate about making a difference in the academic lives of others, a career in educational leadership may be for you.