Mirza Hasan Mir Dainik
Change and innovation are the key words of today’s dynamic society. Change is a continuous process and its impacts on the societies are also gradual and unceasing. The impact of change initiative directly or indirectly influences individuals and institutions of the society. Resultantly, the needs of the societies are changing with the passage of time as well. Like all other institutions, schools are the units of society, their needs, challenges and choices are also altering with the passage of time. Thus, it is required that the school should well equip all its inhabitants with the basic skills and knowledge to cope with these changing trends. In my opinion, a visionary and self-motivated school leader can direct and envisage the young minds to be prepared to walk along with the process of change. In the coming lines I am going to argue how school leadership (school Principal or school head) influences students’ learning outcomes.
First of all, it is generally believed that school leaders are the key players in beginning and bringing any change initiative in an organization. Any change initiative starts from the individuals (leaders) who have vision, dream and commitment to bring about reforms in the existing situations. School leadership has become a priority in education policy agendas internationally. It plays a key role in improving learning outcomes by influencing the teachers’ motivations and building the capacities of teachers and improvising the school climate and environment using the available resources. Effective school leadership is essential to improve the efficiency and equity of schooling (OECD, 2009).
It is also believed that every individual has the capacity to initiate reform but s/he requires to be developed and must have some basic skills. The development of the individuals is the sole way to get the better learning outcomes of students in the schools. The effective school leaders believe on development of themselves and their fellows as they acknowledge that through the development of individuals, students’ effective learning can be ensured. OECD (2009) highlights the four characteristics of a school leaders which lead to the better students’ learning outcomes. According to it, an effective school leader 1) monitors and evaluates teacher performance; 2) conducts and arranges for mentoring and coaching; 3) plans teacher professional development and 4) orchestrates teamwork and collaborative learning.
Secondly, effective leadership is all about inspiration. High quality school leaders inspire the people (both students and teachers) with whom they work. Moreover, they set goals and work out in the right direction to achieve their goals. They chart out a clear course that everyone understands and own. They establish an environment of high expectations. They encourage people do their best and trust on their capabilities. They have had also the information and data to track progress and performance of individuals (Leithwood, Louis, Andreson & Wahlstrom, 2004). By reading the literature and reflecting on personal experiences, I comprehend the importance of school leadership in ensuring the effective students’ learning. When I reflect upon my own experiences as a students and as a teacher, I feel that transformative individuals have great impact on developing individuals and institutions.
The third important thing about effective school leadership is, believing on personal and professional growth of the people who work along with you. Effective leaders assist the school community with the necessary professional support and training to succeed. The professional development of school community directly impacts on their practices and students’ learning outcomes (Guskey, 2002).
Fourthly, motivation is the key factor that leads to personal growth and higher achievements of students. Research findings have suggested that motivation is an important psychological construct which affects students’ learning behaviour and achievements (Kwok Wai, Kit Yi Wong, & Siu Chung Lo, 2012). In school’s improvement generally, and in improving students’ learning outcomes particularly, motivation of both teachers and students in teaching and learning process, is deemed as key element. In this regard, in developing the motivation among them, the role of an effective school leaders cannot be denied. The effective school leaders help arouse the motivation among teachers and students. Resultantly, the teaching standards of the teachers improve. According to Moldovan (2014), the motivation is an important leverage in the self-adjustment individual process, a driving force behind the entire psychic and human development. So, the inspirational trait of an effective school leader become a source of motivation for students and teachers in the system.
Lastly, resources are the crucial element in effective learning outcomes of students. We cannot dissociate one from another. Affective learning possibly takes place in a conducive, resourceful and enabling learning environment where all required resources are available. Effective school leaders promote enabling learning environment through effective management of both human and material resources. They make the atmosphere interactive where pupils grow as a result of interaction with each other and with the environment.
Above all, it is a convincing fact that school leadership is a key trait in improving the learning outcomes of students. Effective school leaders inspire others. They encourage innovations and creativity and make the system work. When the system works as a living being, students’ learning is automatically influenced positively. Effective school leaders are conscious about continuous growth of themselves and others who work along with them. For this purpose, they promote professional growth of the school community. All in all, effective school leaders are passionate, committed, lifelong learner, cooperative and collaborative and create learning environment. All these factors influence the learning outcomes of students in one or another way.