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The Importance of a High Level Leadership in Kindergarten Education

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Leadership is crucial in early childhood settings. Educational leadership is a collaborative process that joints the talents and forces of teachers, students, and parents. The goal of educational leadership is to improve the quality of education and the education system itself. The educational leader acts an influential role in promoting positive outcomes for children, families, and teachers. Effective educational leadership inspire, motivate, affirm, challenge, and extend staff practices and pedagogies so as to develop the capacity of educators. Inquiry and reflection support ongoing learning and professional development are a joint effort among teams. The success of a school depends on the principal fundamentally because the principal is the person responsible for monitoring the teachers’ pedagogies and children’s learning performance.

The leader takes responsibility for the whole set. As the school leader, the principal will set a direction for teachers, ensure the professional development of teachers, and encourage teachers to share and learn from each other to improve personal teaching effectiveness, thereby affecting the effectiveness of students learning.

Under effective leadership, the principal identifies and articulates a collective vision, and ensures shared understandings, meanings, and goals. The goals of school education need to be clear and consistent with the objectives of kindergarten education in Hong Kong, which aims to nurture children to achieve balanced development in five domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills, and aesthetics. According to its vision and mission, the school has set school-based development goals, laying the foundation for children’s lifelong learning.

The principal works in close cooperation with major partners (school councils, staff, and parents) to jointly plan kindergarten policies, establish a proper administrative system and enhance management effectiveness. The school management committee has a clear statute to illustrate the school’s mission, the school management committee’s roles and responsibilities, and the approval and support of the school’s colleagues. It is composed of various stakeholders in composition, membership accountability, and mutual cooperation. Through regular meetings of consultation, members understand the needs of the school and the teaching team. In accordance with the actual situation, they formulate long-term goals and major policies of the school so that it enhances the transparency and accountability of governance. The establishment of a clear mechanism can effectively monitor and support the implementation of a variety of plans. Based on its educational goals, development, and resource availabilities, the school flexibly establishes and improves its organizational structure to develop and implement different plans. It clearly defines the division of labor and the responsibilities of each employee. Under effective leadership, schools review work progress regularly and make appropriate improvements and follow-ups in order to achieve self-improvement. 

A leader is able to build a teamwork culture and lead co-workers to face challenges and changes and move towards quality kindergarten education. According to teachers’ abilities, strengths, experiences, and qualifications as well as the school’s own development needs. The school considers their desires and properly arranges the teaching and non-teaching tasks. The principal assigns experienced staff to support newly recruited or inexperienced teachers to help them adapt to the working environment and daily routines. School staff is encouraged and supported by the school so that they work collaboratively with effective communication. The leader provides diverse communication channels to release information and collect feedback. Through open communication, the leader deals with staff’s opinions and reaches a consensus. Creating a pleasant working atmosphere, staffs are satisfied with the working environment and willing to put more effort. The staff builds a rapport to achieve the school’s objectives.

The principal enhances the personal quality and promotes kindergarten development through staff training and performance appraisal. The principal assists staff in understanding their roles and cooperating with each other so as to boost work effectiveness and efficiency. The school formulates school-based training programs and encourages staff to receive relevant training which caters for the needs of children’s diversity. The school encourages staff to further their education by providing relevant information and opportunities. It also promotes professional development and fosters quality of work through a wide range of training strategies such as lesson observation and peers’ discussion or discussion with the management. It suggests teachers for improvement and builds a learning community culture. Besides, the staff’s appraisal system is fair and transparent with a self-evaluation assessment. It emphasizes staff’s accountabilities. The staffs recognize the content and criteria of the mechanism. Staff can better understand their strengths and developmental needs through a clear performance appraisal system. A fair and open promotion mechanism is established by the school. It prompts staff to unleash their potential, enhances their professional level and morale, and promotes school development.

The school develops self-evaluation mechanisms, strategies, and procedures. It actively encourages staff to participate and enhance kindergarten effectiveness via self-evaluation work in the “planning, implementation, and evaluation” cycle. When the school self-evaluation mechanism is mature, it can review the holistic development as a whole. It evaluates the policies and activities implemented according to its own development process, characteristics, and resources. The principal is properly empowered to enhance team capacity and objectively evaluate schoolwork’s effectiveness. The leader utilizes the results of self-evaluation and analyses the school’s performance from multiple perspectives in order to design appropriate development plans which refine the school itself. 

The principal not only manages school administration but also encourages and facilitates family and community partnerships. The principal establishes partnerships with parents, including maintaining reciprocal communication and encouraging them to engage in kindergarten affairs. It also remains in close relationships with external organizations to make good use of social resources to promote the development of kindergarten. It allows children to enrich themselves to develop their potential by participating in activities.

The leadership styles are diversified, choosing which leadership style depends on the team characteristics. The principal is the leader of a kindergarten. The way of leadership is related to school development. I would suggest Marge adopt a charismatic leadership style. As a leader, Marge must make her subordinates being obeyed and willing to do their duties if she wants them to be satisfied. Charismatic leadership examines the relationship between leaders and their followers. Leaders inspire eagerness in their team and motivate staff to move forward. Leaders rely on their charisma to mobilize and inspire their subordinates to boost the development of the entire organization. The charisma comes from the conviction, respect, and gratitude of the subordinates to the leaders.

Marge needs to be people-oriented. She can be a role model and utilize her charisma to exert her influence in speech and behavior, motivate teachers’ teaching enthusiasm, and give incentives and care toward teachers’ needs. For instance, Marge can establish formal and informal communication channels to unite teachers’ consensus on the school’s vision. She may communicate with teachers in a variety of ways, including listening to teachers’ views and giving teachers appropriate care and assistance, which can reduce the cognitive gap between the principal and teachers. Meanwhile, it unites each other’s consensus of school vision and enhances a sense of belonging for the school. In addition, Marge can create a supportive environment and enhance the function of teachers’ professional learning communities, such as arranging time and space for teachers to cooperate and dialogue, giving relevant resources and equipment, providing opportunities for sharing and communicating, and giving care, support and recognition to teachers. Staff is motivated by the love and care of the leader.

Moreover, Marge can have continuous learning. A basic competent requirement to be a leader is to have knowledge and talent. Only when leaders continuously enrich themselves with knowledge, they can do well and have a lasting charisma of leadership. Continuing professional development activities include systematic learning such as taking courses, attending seminars or lectures, and other continuing professional development activities such as mentoring other teachers, conducting research, or voluntary participation in professional work related to kindergarten education. Despite knowledge, Marge needs to cultivate innovation capacity. When Marge becomes innovative, the followers think that she is unique and willing to follow her.

Leadership is an influence process developed by individuals and teams that interact with each other, and their changes reflect a common vision and goals. It is both an individual moral responsibility and a collective moral responsibility. Leadership in early childhood settings affects the quality of kindergarten service, thus affecting child development. The leader ought to build a rapport with staff, parents, and children. Through mutual communication and interaction, the leader can reach the objectives together. Effective communication leads to the efficiency of kindergarten development. Leadership used in kindergarten education is better not to be authoritarian because it is a service to people. If the environment is stressful and lacks communication, either the principal or staff will not satisfy in that working environment.

References

  1. Education Bureau. (2017). Performance indicators (Kindergarten). Retrieved from https://www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/edu-system/preprimary-kindergarten/quality-assurance-framework/performance-indicators-pre-primary-institutions/PI_KG_EN.pdf
  2. Lewis, J., & Hill, J. (2012). Quality in Early Childhood Settings. What does leadership look like in early childhood settings? 53(1), 5-7. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/our-publications/every-child-magazine/every-child-index/every-child-vol-18-4-2012/leadership-look-like-early-childhood-settings/Schools.
  3. Strehmel, P. (2016). Leadership in early childhood education–Theoretical and empirical approaches. Journal of early childhood education research, 5(2), 344-355.
  4. STU Online. (2018, August 7). The Art of Charm: The Charismatic Leadership Theory. Retrieved from https://online.alvernia.edu/articles/charismatic-leadership-theory/
  5. Top Education Degrees. (n.d.). What is Educational Leadership? Retrieved from https://www.topeducationdegrees.org/faq/what-is-educational-leadership/
  6. Wu, M., & Wang, J. (2012). Developing a charismatic leadership model for Chinese organizations: The mediating role of loyalty to supervisors. The International Journal of Human Resource Management: Whither Chinese HRM? Paradigms, Models and Theories, 23(19), 4069-4084.

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