The presence of a specific learning problem that poses a constant impediment to studying, or a certain disability that limits the opportunities of a student, necessitates the introduction of unique education strategies for a special need. Therefore, it is paramount for teachers in special education to utilize the latest and the most advanced strategies in supporting learners with special needs and encouraging them to build the required skillset (Coleman and Glover 12). However, special education teachers also need guidance due to the increasing pressure of managing the special needs of many learners and the necessity to introduce a homogenous teaching framework while catering to each child’s unique requirements (Coleman and Glover 14). Therefore, teacher leadership in special education is a vital tool that guides educators and learners toward acquiring new skills and managing emergent challenges. By promoting interprofessional communication and data management based on innovative digital tools, one will be able to create a uniform approach toward managing a team of special education teachers while encouraging the latter to develop new skills and inspire their learners.
This essay will explore the unique approaches to leadership in special education. Additionally, the strengths and weaknesses of the available approaches will be assessed and considered carefully. Specifically, the paper will seek to discuss the following questions:
- Is educational leadership unique or special?
- What skill should a special education teacher have?
- What are educational leadership practices?
- How is educational leadership related to school effectiveness?
- What are the six leadership styles in education?
Educational leadership shares quite a range of characteristics with other leadership types, yet its unique focus defines its specific properties that are not characteristic of other leadership types. The uniqueness of educational leadership, in general, and educational leadership for teachers addressing the needs of special learners, in particular, is defined by the use of social justice as one of the main tools in making decisions as an education leader (Coleman and Glover 30). Additionally, the application of educational leadership suggests that the principles of diversity are followed closely since the presence of a diversity-oriented approach is especially important in understanding the special needs of the target audience (Coleman and Glover 38). Moreover, Coleman and Glover explain that the management of conflict in educational leadership suggests active discussion and the emphasis on participation, especially with regard to team members with polarizing opinions (105). Thus, constructive solutions can be found when managing an issue in the educational setting. Finally, educational leadership suggests creating a professional atmosphere of collaboration, where a delegation of responsibilities occurs seamlessly and where all participants are motivated to support students as well as each other (Coleman and Glover 108). Therefore, educational leadership introduces multiple chances for shaping the performance of a team of teachers.
In addition to the complexities of managing the target setting and arranging the work of special education teachers, one must also develop the qualities that will contribute to effective leadership. As a rule, to manage the issues in the special education setting, a school administrator must work toward building community, empowering teachers, and managing data and resources properly (Coleman and Glover 24). Most importantly, true educational leaders have a clear plan that they use to create inclusive academic environments. Finally, a good educational leader is passionate about the work, sets a proper example, maintains lifelong learning, and is willing to take risks (Coleman and Glover 65). By developing the specified qualities, one will be able to navigate the complex and often unpredictable context of special education. Namely, one will be able to apply educational leadership practices such as using questions to promote reflection, introducing case studies to illustrate complex notions, and encouraging conversations to share knowledge and ideas (Rushton 132).
Research also indicates that there is a clear connection between the application of educational leadership and the extent of school effectiveness. For instance, the research by Maggin et al. proves that the introduction of educational leadership promotes higher rates of employee engagement and motivation in teachers, who, in turn, inspire learners to succeed in their academic performance (6). Moreover, the researchers emphasize the importance of collaboration between special education teachers and administrators so that the latter could manage the former based on the nuances of the context in which special education teachers work (Lathan).
However, becoming an effective educational leader implies developing several crucial skills that are principal to motivating staff members and keeping the management processes consistent. The School of Education emphasizes the importance of being selective in the decision to apply a particular leadership style and provides a description of six key options. These include the coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching approaches to leadership. Remarkably, the six frameworks listed below can and should be combined depending on the situation so that their effects can be amplified and so that these styles can be adjusted to create a welcoming and educational environment for teachers. Specifically, the democratic approach will build decision-making skills and self-sufficiency in special education teachers. The specified approach can be balanced out with the affirmative framework that will place the needs of teachers quite high, keeping their job satisfaction rates high. The Democratic strategy will encourage teachers to contribute to the dialogue, therefore, recognizing their role in the education process. Pacesetting will establish a model that teachers can follow to increase their productivity, whereas the concept of coaching will provide teachers in special education with much-needed support. Lastly, the principles of coercive leadership can be applied to the target context as long as the leader ensures that a teacher is ready to accept direct instructions and will not take them personally (“Six Highly Effective Education Leadership Styles”). Therefore, one must give credit to the flexibility of teacher leadership in special education. Specifically, a leader may choose one or any combination of the six styles typically applied to shaping the leadership process.
The focus on interprofessional communication and incremental learning as the basis for incorporating innovative solutions to approach the needs of special education learners is bound to produce a largely positive effect on the quality of teaching and the level of students’ performance. Namely, the promotion of the proposed combination of the transformational, Situational, and Visionary leadership approaches is believed to encourage teachers to develop high levels of motivation in addressing special learners’ needs, as well as to seek unorthodox and highly efficient solutions for problems that target learners face. An overview of the existing sources on the subject has shown that educational leadership, while seemingly disconnected from the learning process, has a direct effect on its outcomes, shaping teachers’ perceptions of learners and their needs. By promoting continuous professional transformation and inspiring educators to approach students with special needs with due care and attention, an educational leader will create a strong foundation for positive change.
Lathan, Joseph. “10 Traits of Successful School Leaders.” University of San Diego, n.d., Web.
Maggin, Daniel M., et al. “School Administrators’ Perspectives on Special Education Teacher Leadership.” Journal of Special Education Leadership, vol. 33, no. 2, Sept. 2020, pp. 78–89. Web.
Marianne Coleman, and Derek Glover. Educational Leadership and Management: Developing Insights and Skills. Open University Press, 2010. Web.
Rushton, Kenzie. Instructional Leadership: The Art of Asking Questions to Promote Teaching Effectiveness. University of Calgary, 2017.
“Six Highly Effective Education Leadership Styles.” School of Education, 2019, Web.