What’s more important: strong leadership or a strong program structure in which you really believe?
I’ve been wrestling with this lately. I’ve always believed that strong leadership that is run with integrity and honesty is incredibly valuable, but the last year and a half in a dual language structured program has seemingly clouded my vision.
I’m in a school where I firmly believe in the program structure — a Spanish dual language immersion school where students are receiving instruction in both English and Spanish on a daily basis. Students are learning and growing in their biliteracy capabilities, which in turn leads to stronger growth AND performance outcomes as they get older. I’ve been kind of fixated on this concept of sticking within the confines of a bilingual education realm (though it really doesn’t feel confining), when ultimately, my bigger concern is strong, supportive leadership.
There are certainly times where I feel leadership is strong at my school, and there are many times I feel supported, but what I’m lacking is clear, efficient, transparent communication that is consistent. For me, a leader must be able to communicate effectively with others and do so in an open manner. (S)he must be open to feedback and also must listen to the needs of others.
A strong leader also shares responsibility and delegates to others. I think the concept of a school leadership team is great, and I sit on my school’s leadership team right now, but what’s the point of a leadership team if the same issues are brought up month after month and still nothing has changed? Where does the balance of power come into play here? Where is the accountability?
This afternoon I went to Monuts Donuts to grab a snack and grade some papers, and I parked in an elementary school parking lot across the street. I sat in my car before leaving, watching the sun melt behind the old school’s outline, and I kept thinking about the importance of a supportive, compassionate, student-centered leader who is driven by passion and practices that are best for students. I thought about other leaders I worked for/with and came to the realization that my desperate hold on a good program structure was something fleeting — I can implement any program structure in my classroom under good leadership because a good leader recognizes that it takes risk to succeed.
After about 20 minutes, I ended up answering my initial question: strong leadership is more important than a strong program structure.