Are you a school leader, or do you aspire to be one? Staying up-to-date on news and trends in your field will help you proactively lead schools. Each month, faculty members in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies blog about topics to advance your career. Current and aspiring teacher leaders, principals, school technology leaders, and superintendents may want to bookmark this page.
This month’s Ed Leadership Blog is written by Dr. Amanda Potterton, assistant professor in the UK College of Education Department of Educational Leadership Studies. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she was a New York City Teaching Fellow and taught special education in New York City. She was also a teacher and school leader in the United Kingdom.
By Dr. Amanda Potterton
The Department of Educational Leadership Studies takes seriously the responsibility of serving future principals, superintendents, higher education leaders, and other education leaders, and we are committed to the students and adults who are ultimately served by the leaders we prepare.
This education-community cycle encompasses:
- students and parents
- P-12, higher education, and other education leaders and stakeholders
- Department of Educational Leadership Studies faculty and staff; and
- colleagues in other departments in the College of Education and the University of Kentucky.
The effectiveness of the cycle depends upon our frameworks, commitments to learn from each other, and willingness to remove ourselves from the center of teaching, conversations, and community dialogues when needed in order to learn.
Issues surrounding equity, justice, diversity, and cultural responsiveness are important to us. We aim to “walk our talk,” and this manifests for me (for example, during classes that I teach and alongside students from whom I learn about their school contexts and experiences) in our educational leadership programs including:
As a community of learners, we aim to build a foundation of understanding of critical issues pertaining to students who are minoritized and whose voices have been marginalized. We read critical theory, encourage a safe space to listen and learn from each other, and read deeply. We consider how understanding social, cultural, political, and economic contexts in education and society are relevant in our professional and personal lives (and why this matters for our work in schools and for our scholarship).
What can we do, then, with the critical readings, challenging discussions, and deeper learning that we experience together? In considering the education-community cycle that I described above, I argue that it is critical for all of us to continually better understand intentional and unintentional consequences of policies and practices for students, families, and communities, and most especially for those who have been minoritized and whose voices are marginalized (or, in other words, whose voices have been treated as insignificant and not centered). Leaders can intentionally choose to align with frameworks and priorities that promote equitable and justice-oriented practices, and this will mean that we remove ourselves as central to processes when necessary when reflecting on both positive and problematic consequences of policies (and not only educational policies and practices, but also housing and others that impact students, families, and communities.)
Here, Khalifa, Gooden, and Davis (also in the Review of Educational Research, 2016) created a Culturally Responsive School Leadership Framework that provides antiracist, anti-oppressive, and community-based leadership behaviors that require commitment and intention. The framework includes, but is not limited to, leading with courage, modeling culturally responsive teaching, accepting indigenized, local identities, challenging exclusionary policies, teachers, and behaviors, and developing meaningful and positive relationships in communities. Indeed, it is a great responsibility for leaders to build trust in communities and to serve. In our critical readings of theory, and continual involvement in action and public scholarship, we can all strive to improve and care for each other. Paulo Freire (1970) calls this conscious effort to become aware through theory and practice “praxis.” In our programs, we endeavor to serve together through reflection and action (praxis) within the education-community cycle in the most relevant and committed ways possible.