School is the centerpiece of the community. School leaders must not take for granted that the community is a vital part of the success or lack of success, that any school experiences. Failure to communicate the needs of the community will bring about several “roadblocks” created by disgruntled community members. Individual leaders are faced with a dilemma, the school leader must ask whether people must earn their respect, or if respect is inherent. When respect is to be earned, the process is comprised of negativity influenced interpretations about variance. Leaders must assume that misrepresentation will ensue. Respect that is inherent comes to pass based upon the constituents interpretation of the strengths that are worthy of recognition. Trust is integral to the successful development a community of learners; “We must internalize the importance of placing trust in others’ abilities to enhance a learning community” (Wilmore, 2001) Thus, members of a learning community must be diligent about work-related outcomes. This, according to Burns, is the mode of transformational leadership; “Burns (1978) stated that transformational leadership is a process within which “leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation [p. 20]” Therefore, the transformational leadership process must help the community, both school and residential, begin to care intrinsically for the “peace” of others.
The strategies for developing a community within the school and through the neighboring community involve several factors. According to Leithwood (1992), “Transformational leadership is a form of consensual or facilitative power that is manifested through other people instead of over people.” Three elements of this leadership are as follows: a collaborative, shared decision-making approach; an emphasis on teacher professionalism and empowerment; and an understanding of change, including how to encourage change in others. Communication in regard to this is integral.
Diversity of race, gender and socioeconomic background must not be an excuse for lack of student performance. Every teacher must hold students to a high standard of achievement. Leaders must be certain that rationalizations are never accepted. The community expects this and so do the students, “the administrator must be proactive at all times. Because school and community demographics will never be static again, it makes no sense to continue treating school leadership and governance as we have in the past” (Wiltmore, 2001). Administrators must keep a constant eye on issues and problems that schools currently face and will face in the future. Proactive administrators must work together with staff and community to develop common values. Everyone has a part in their development. Leaders will no doubt face increasing demands on their skills and resources in the future. According to Janas, “Mastering the art and science of communicating is a basic step in responding to the evolving tapestry of diversity in our nation’s schools” ( Janas, 2001) With all of the labels assigned to groups, classes, schools, students, or neighborhoods, the immediacy of the individual is most vital. Leaders must seek opportunities to communicate the needs among individuals, groups, and communities in order to build a solidified and successful future.
Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row.
Janas, M. Getting a clear view. Journal of Staff Development v. 22 no. 2 (Spring 2001) p. 32-4.
Leithwood, K. (1992). The move toward transformational leadership. Educational Leadership, 49 (5), 8-12.
Leithwood, K. Leonard, L., and Sharratt, L. (1998). Conditions fostering organizational learning in schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 34 (2), 243-276.