Exploration of a Pedagogical Leadership Challenge

free essayPedagogical leadership plays an essential role in my teaching career as I had been working as a teacher in one of the Saudi colleges. The profound changes in various spheres of public life of a modern Saudi Arabia cause the intensive search for new ways to increase the efficiency of the main social institutes among which an education system occupies a prominent place. The formation of an innovative person is one of the key points of the development of the innovation strategy of Saudi Arabia till 2030. An innovative person is a subject, initiator, and producer possessing such skills, as the ability and readiness for the continuous education, professional mobility, critical thinking, creativity, etc. in the highly competitive environment. Being able to fulfil all the above-mentioned abilities, the country will succeed in the achievement of the put goals and perspectives. The indicated mission is imposed to a family and the whole education system designed to change and correspond to new pedagogical challenges.

Internal and External Forces Influencing Pedagogical Approaches

During my work in the New Horizon English College in Saudi Arabia, I found out a row of problems essentially hindering the formation of a modern, innovative person and effective application of pedagogical leadership in the educational establishment. The crisis of the traditional model of childhood is especially distinguished from the modern calls connected with the processes of globalization and information explosion. The development of children occurs in new conditions (Alsalahi, 2014, p. 1415). The experience of children significantly differs from the parental, habitual mechanisms of family education. The modern family is given more opportunities for successful careers, leading to the lack of time for education of children. The reduction of communication in a family and the insufficient emotional empathy lead to the emergence of difficulties in the development of children. They receive less care and parental love, leading to unrealized needs and desires. The growth of cynicism, roughness, cruelty, aggression in children under the influence of the computer games reduce the control of children and form the dependence on the virtual life. As a result, there is the increased level of uneasiness, uncertainty, egoism, and spiritual deprivation. All these features and changes require reconsideration of relations of an educational establishment and a family, creation of constructive instruments of interaction with families, and the updates on school education.

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Apart from that, the advent of new technologies affects education. Revision and updating of teaching techniques are necessary for the effective pedagogics. Nevertheless, many educational organizations are rebuilt from classically accepted methods of educational standards to innovative ones. Partly, it is connected with the unstable economic situation in the country and moral oriented principles. The majority of Saudi population is patriarchal, conservative, and traditional, which renders the objective brake factors on the development of innovations in all spheres of life, including education (Alsalahi, 2014, p. 1417; Heikka & Waniganayake, 2011, p. 502). However, at the same time, healthy conservatism can also be salutary for preservation of morality.

The challenges of pedagogical leadership in the New Horizon English College include the absence of coordinated communication, any motivation or desire of teachers to change something in the college and the lack of discussions aimed at possible improvement of students’ signs of progress. Aside from that, the internal forces influencing pedagogical leadership include the absence of the compromise and the unity among teaching staff.

Dominant Public Policy Influencing Pedagogical Leadership

In the conditions of intellectual competition, the continuous self-improvement, pedagogical search, and creativity compose the obligatory requirements imposed to a modern teacher. The professional success of a teacher substantially depends on the level of skills and needs of students, as well as the development of leadership in the educational establishment. A teacher in a class is an informal leader, and not only his professional success but also the degree of trust of students, possibilities of his or her influence on others, his or her reputation and business image depend on the acceptance of a teacher’s leader position by students.

The idea of a teacher as of a head traditionally holds the central position in the pedagogical theory. Within the frameworks of the majority of educational systems, a teacher is a formal head of class. A teacher organizes the activity of pupils during a lesson and out of class for the achievement of the training and educational purposes (Algarni & Male, 2014, p. 47). The leading position of a teacher is based on the power provided to him by the educational system. In the psychological theory, this aspect of pedagogical leadership is described as the use of powers (Heikka & Waniganayake, 2011, p. 503). The realization of the modern problems of education demands from a teacher to be constantly ready for action, sensitive to students, to see an image of the desirable future, and inspire students with ideas (Alameen, Male, & Palaiologou, 2015, p. 123). It gives the grounds to assume that pedagogical leadership is the key point in the achievement of these goals.

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A teacher can become authoritative for pupils, but not obligatory be a leader in their group. This statement follows from determination of an authority and a leader. The authority as the ability to influence someone is a concept wider than a leader. A leader is a group member exerting the greatest impact on other group participants capable of operating them. A leader can organize their activity and relationship, possessing the highest status (Algarni & Male, 2014, p. 50). Therefore, a teacher can increase his/her impact on students. Together with it, he/she also involves the mechanisms of a group impact on personality.

There are many advantages of leadership practiced by a teacher. First, at the present stage of the development of the Saudi society, the standard system of secondary education does the achievement of leadership by a teacher rather complex (Alsalahi, 2014, p. 1420). It is caused by several reasons. For a teacher, there are no ideological points in the modern Saudi society. The country is in the transition period of ideological formation. This situation negatively affects consciousness of both senior and young generations. The confusion of the central values of education is created, and also discrepancy of impact of a parent, a teacher, a tutor is frequent. The researchers in pedagogics note the increasing role not of the professional but of personal qualities for the efficiency of a teacher’s impact (Alameen et al., 2015, p. 124). However, the above-mentioned difficulties are levelled if a teacher tries to achieve authority and leadership. The conditions for the achievement of a leader position in pedagogics established within the social psychology are culturally universal, and it allows using them in various situations of a real pedagogical process. Second, the leader position allows operating a school team in general. It gives serious advantages to a teacher (Heikka & Waniganayake, 2011, p. 505). At present, there is a point of view that a team is the strongest factor of the formation and development of a child personality. Third, a leader position gives more freedom for a teacher. Thus, the dominant policy in the country essentially affects the development of leadership and innovations in the educational process.

Purpose of Pedagogical Leadership

In order to understand the problems of pedagogical leadership experienced by the teachers’ staff in the New Horizon English College, it is necessary to understand how leadership is applied in pedagogy. Pedagogy studies the educational process and discusses the factors influencing the success of training, philosophical approaches, and practice which promotes the understanding of the process of doctrine and training. Leadership is the process of management of certain people or their groups. Pedagogical leadership is the leadership in the process of the doctrine and training, its studying and improvement of the educational results of pupils (Coughlin & Baird, 2013, p. 1).

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A pedagogical leader is a facilitator, an observer of the educational process and its active participant, together with other teachers, children, and their parents. The main function of a pedagogical leader is to involve others in the educational process (Alameen et al., 2015, p. 125). It is represented by pedagogical reflection promoting solvation of problems of the pedagogical activity (Coughlin & Baird, 2013, p. 1). Cordeiro and Cunningham (2014) emphasize the importance of the constant learning and mastering of the professional skills of teachers:

Being an effective school leader requires a deep understanding of how parents learn. It is important for school administrators to not only recruit and hire teachers but also to ensure that all teachers continue to have optimal opportunities to learn so they can improve their teaching practices (Cordeiro & Cunningham, 2014, p. 129)

The balance between the role of a manager and a leader is one of the most difficult tasks of not only a head but also a teacher of the educational institution. Quite often, the possibility of such balancing is questioned, because, for one person, it is difficult to give the due attention to both defined tasks. The culture of educational leadership, including the setting of the common goals, beliefs, and attitudes, is the ambitious process (Mills, 2008, p. 83). The most difficult task includes not only the development of a common vision for a school, where the key role belongs to a director and a teacher but also to ensure the agreement among all school members for the implementation of the future, working together to achieve the planned changes. In the context of pedagogical leadership, the shared vision, goals, and values ??determine the choice of various teaching practices to meet the needs of students (Coughlin & Baird, 2013, p. 2).

The implementation of visions, goals, and values ??through the joint planning of the educational institution is the proof of the conscious actions of a school staff and the key to the progress in the school improvement. Pedagogical leadership is not an end in itself in the context of the implementation of school reforms. The most important indicator that shows the effectiveness of pedagogical leadership includes the improvement of the academic performance of students and the feeling of safety and comfort of each school member (Shields, 2010, p. 561). Pedagogical leadership can be seen as only one component of school leadership or as its separate alternative type (Fonsen, 2013, p. 182). Despite the dominant point of view, the effective school leadership is a set of specific characteristics of a director, staff, rituals, and practices adopted in a particular school. Pedagogical leadership presupposes the presence of a number of abilities in students, including the ability of teachers to make the common vision of the process of study, the mission of a school, to use the checked knowledge of pupils, studies and socialization in the course of study (Fonsen, 2013, p. 183). Moreover, it includes the involvement of teachers in the process of creation, development, and implementation of a school mission, the expansion of their rights and duties, the use of positive achievements and experience of all school teachers, as well as the increased role of a teacher as an educational facilitator and tutor.

My Philosophy

Reflecting on the course of life and pedagogical activity in my life, I perfectly understand that I cannot draw the distinction where work comes to an end, and my private life starts. For me, pedagogy is everywhere as a pedagogical leader can be effective if promoting his or her ideas through the life. Besides, the tendencies of mutual isolation of philosophy and pedagogics in the 20th century have two opposite results. According to Mills (2008), first, it is the intra-disciplinary isolation of pedagogics built on the beliefs in its self-sufficiency. In this regard, the situation characterized by the boundless ‘pluralism of opinions’ on the vast majority of questions of the educational theory and practice was formed. Second, the strengthening of anti-pedagogics positions is supported by the argument of the postmodern philosophy seeing the expression of forces of destructive aggression of the power in all types of the institutional educational activity (Mills, 2008, p. 84).

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To my mind, philosophy and pedagogy reflect the substantial content of society’s activity, belong to the number of its main spheres directed at the reproduction of a person and the sociocultural conditions of his or her existence. The explanation of interrelations between philosophy and pedagogics becomes more particularly important activities for the education of younger generations and will become the main branch of social production.

Owing to the spontaneity of communications between the crisis phenomena of the Saudi culture and the quality of education, the interests of the intellectual search for the last decades concentrate on the research of problems of the philosophy of pedagogics (Shields, 2010, p. 563). The meaning of any pedagogical innovations as well as the current reforms of the Saudi education system can be correctly understood only by clarifying their philosophical premises or by the philosophical grounds.

Principles of Pedagogical Leadership

Pedagogical leadership allows building the system of relationships in the pedagogical process, based not on the fear inherent in the authoritative pedagogical system but on love, trust, and partnership. According to Fonsen (2013) and Coughlin and Baird (2013), pedagogical leadership is grounded on the following principles. First of all, there is the principle of the academic progress of students, revealed in the focus of a teacher and his students on the creation of opportunities for the individual growth and success. Second, it is the principle of the active content of education, allowing students to develop their critical thinking. Third, it is the principle of the basic education presupposing the coverage of the main educational modules representing the training base. Fourth, the principle of efficiency of education consists in the indispensable condition of the development of individual system of education, significant for each student and its realization (Fonsen, 2013, p. 182; Coughlin & Baird, 2013, p. 4). Therefore, the above-mentioned basic principles of pedagogical leadership show the importance and efficiency of implementation of the concept in the schooling practice.

Pedagogical Innovation

The pedagogical innovations compose the synthesis of theory and practice. The pedagogical innovations compose the branch of pedagogical knowledge and use both the general and special methodology of pedagogics. The process of creation of innovation, its development, and introduction into the work of educational institutions is the subject of pedagogical innovations. The pedagogical innovations pass the same steps of the development of other branches of pedagogical science: explanatory and creative. It concentrates the efforts to the detection of features of the innovative process, justification of the principles, content and methods of the organization’s development and introduction (Hamida, Maaloul, & Hamida, 2016, p. 25). Pedagogy is an integral part of the pedagogical innovation and methodology. Therefore, pedagogical innovations apply the methods of pedagogics.

Pedagogical innovations compose a part of pedagogical leadership. The pedagogical innovations are understood in a broad sense as introduction of something new, a change, and improvement of the existing ones. They mean the novelties in the educational process, improving the current and results of teaching and educational process. Some innovations can brake the development of the educational system. The questions related to the results of introduction of novelties in education also belong to the field of pedagogical innovations. The New Horizon English College in Saudi Arabia should apply the latest innovations in its educational process, allowing to improve pedagogical leadership.

The content structure of the innovative process in the college assumes the birth, development, and mastering of pedagogical innovations, educational work, the organization of the teaching and educational process, etc. In its turn, each component of this system has a complex structure. The innovative process in education presupposes innovations in methods, forms, and means (technologies), the content of education, its purposes and conditions (Algarni & Male, 2014, p.53). The subject structure of innovations in the educational institution includes the innovative activity of all educational subjects, including not only a head and teachers but also students, parents, sponsors, consultants, etc. (Hamida et al., 2016, p. 27). This structure considers the functional and role ratio of all participants on each stage of the innovative process.

Changes in the New Horizon English College due to Pedagogical Leadership

Due to effective implementation of pedagogical leadership in the school, the following changes were made. A pedagogical leader is a facilitator and an observer of the educational process. The pedagogical leader studies together with other teachers, children and their parents (Coughlin & Baird, 2013, p. 3). The main function of the pedagogical leader is to involve others in the research process of education. The most important change is to teach a teacher to be pedagogically reflexive. It will promote overcoming the problems of pedagogical activity. Pedagogical leadership in the college allowed me, as well as other teachers, to reconsider the approaches to the ways and methods I use in my lessons.

How It Works

The students of the New Horizon English College become more interested and involved into the educational process. Having achieved some growth in pedagogical leadership, I stimulate curiosity, openness, persistence, and desire to concentrate on students. I try giving enough time and resources to my students for them to be able to analyse their study and discuss the prospects of their development. Students learned to constantly ask questions which affect teachers emotionally, challenge them and urge to check the theory in practice and the practice by the theory. The consideration of a teacher as a pedagogical leader became the main result of pedagogic leadership challenge in the college.

My experience in the New Horizon English College allowed me to learn about the challenges of pedagogical leadership. The challenges were caused by some factors, including globalization, the advent of new technologies, unstable economic situation in the country and patriarchal views of the Saudi society. It caused the necessity of changes in the New Horizon English College. Pedagogical leadership is vital for the effective implementation of the changes within the educational establishment. Thus, the pedagogical leaders have global philosophical and cultural approaches. They foresee the potential of each student, a joint vision of the educational process, and development of personality and abilities of students. Pedagogical leaders possess sufficient skills for the development of the learning curiosity and involvement into the educational process as well as the sense of partnership. Leaders in pedagogy welcome the changes, demonstrate the knowledge of educational technology, encourage creative and constructive challenge, act in accordance with the proclaimed cultural values, develop and enrich their own activities.

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