Dr. Mina Radhwan has a Ph.D. degree in leadership and management in education and a master’s degree with a degree of excellence in science education. She works as an educational evaluator at the Ministry of Education. She is a key member of the evaluation team, visiting schools across the country, working with school principals, governors, and senior school leaders, and playing an integral part in contributing to the recommendations for school improvements from K to 12 of all types of curricula. She has a number of publications in the field of education related to leadership, types of assessments, best ways of teaching and learning, curricula, and benchmark exams. She is a member of the research community at the Ministry of Education. She participated in different internal and external conferences, and she recently earned an award for the best presentation and research paper out of 80 research papers at the ICASE International Conference 2023. Dr. Mina is a writer for different magazines and is both a judge and participant in several internal and external competitions.
Leaders are well-recognized for their beliefs and work ethics. The culture and structure that school leaders create help to ensure that students receive high-quality instruction, which has an indirect but significant impact on student learning. In a place of learning, leadership is crucial because it facilitates the management of daily operations. Currently, the impact of educational leaders on the abilities and outcomes of K–12 students is a topic of discussion on a global scale. The era of schools, leaders, and teachers’ accountability has intensified expectations for enhanced 21st-century skills for students and increased the pressure on schools to improve the results of national and international assessments for their students. School improvement is complex work, and focusing exclusively on either one formal individual leader or a select group of designated teacher leaders will not be able to achieve and sustain the expected levels of school improvement. Leadership is a group-level phenomenon that requires the cooperative agency of numerous actors. Consequently, senior and middle leadership abilities are important for school evaluation outcomes, particularly student achievements.
In order to answer the question: How can senior and middle leaders become effective and make a difference in K-12 schools?
Educational organizations have to focus on the following main aspects:
- It is not sufficient to know what to do. Effective leaders give their teams the appropriate tools and data they need to enhance their pedagogy and students’ development. This can be implemented by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the educational organization using a range of data management methods and technologies through a self-evaluation plan. Leaders in schools should work with team members, including staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders, to use the collected data as benchmarks to create a self-development plan with specific goals. These goals include having a clear organizational vision, establishing high expectations, assigning roles to every individual, and having an evaluation and monitoring plan to measure the efficacy of the organization and ensure effective operations while also coordinating with school boards, governing bodies, and parent cohorts. Leaders need to create strategic plans using school data based on discussions with staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders.
- Leaders are strengthened by coaching and authentic learning. Employee productivity and efficiency are greatly impacted by their capabilities, skills, and competencies. Education and training are positively correlated with employee motivation and well-being, enhancing both individual and organizational performance. To accomplish the goals of the school, all senior leaders, middle leaders, teachers, and other staff members must develop their skills. Professional development sessions that are appropriate and fit the needs of the staff should be offered to support educators’ growth with the targeted goal of raising student achievement. Senior leaders are considered indispensable pieces of the process and a key component of any expert improvement demonstrated in a successful school.
- The importance of having qualified staff with the required knowledge, skills, and experience in Education. This advancement can be achieved by earning a higher degree in educational leadership, which takes a more respectful view. For example, receiving a master’s degree or a Ph.D. degree in education in a specific stream such as leadership and management. In this case, the organization will have qualified staff, the power to settle on the task of the school, and the ability to change or create new rules that will better represent the school. A good leader should constantly look for ways to innovate in the field of education and keep up with the latest developments. It is crucial that school leaders support the ongoing professional growth of their teaching staff so that instruction is informed by contemporary educational practices.
- Creating a positive environment where there is trust, collaboration, safety, accountability, and equity. Professional and experienced school leaders demonstrate solid instructional management and leadership for ongoing school improvement. They are essential in creating a culture of trust, sharing a common vision, and encouraging and observing collaborative learning. As it is necessary to address individual needs and concerns to promote self-confidence, listening plays a significant role in this domain. In the context of transformational leadership, principals are in charge of praising teachers for their accomplishments, for their initiative, and when they reach their intended levels of potential. Through this culture of collaboration, principals and instructors concentrate on the common benefit of the students and the attainment of organizational goals.
- Senior and middle leaders are responsible for managing the teaching and learning program in every school by creating a productive workplace with a positive learning environment for teachers and students, hiring faculty and staff to implement the curriculum, and monitoring school activities and performance. Currently, there is mounting pressure on school leaders to improve student’s performance and skills, and there is a big focus on the crucial role of teachers. Therefore, schools create needs for teacher leadership and provide opportunities for them to take on more leadership roles as principals learn the value of delegating leadership responsibilities. Senior and middle leaders can help teachers set appropriate, meaningful, and challenging targets and be innovative and creative in their lessons by adopting a critical view of traditional methods and assumptions.
- The leadership styles used within an organization can have an impact on its performance and employee motivation. Leaders are able to produce a performance that exceeds expectations by giving themselves and others challenging responsibilities and tasks to lead and encourage them to perform at greater levels. The transformational leadership style has a positive impact on staff performance and the development level of the school. Transformational leaders can also motivate teachers and other staff members to perform above and beyond expectations by altering their attitudes, beliefs, and values. In this case, staff will feel more empowered if a leader is able to combine appropriate and effective leadership styles within the organization. As a result, employees will be able to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently and effectively, which will spark their innovative and creative thinking and, in turn, improve performance.
- School leaders should be engaged and work with the small community inside the school and the wider community outside the school. A key focus that school leaders need to have is engaging with their wider community. Students from various cultures and backgrounds frequently coexist in schools. To make everyone feel included, effective leaders have to engage with and celebrate the community’s diversity. To guarantee that excellent outcomes are achieved, leaders must cultivate solid relationships and create strong partnerships with everyone involved in the educational system, from students, parents, and stakeholders to other schools.