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Educators around the world work tirelessly for their students. And at the helm of every school is a leader working to steer the hopes of students and their parents, manage the needs and career aspirations of teachers and staff, all while checking off an ever-growing to-do list of compliance activities. As the kids say, “It’s a lot”. In this context, it’s time to check in with all the education leadership trends forecast to be news for the next 12 months. This week on School Stream, we’ve been all over the internet to bring you this overview of three big trends in educational leadership. (Spoiler alert: wellbeing is going to be key).

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Keeping an eye on the future

Schools are dynamic and agile by nature, as are their leaders, who adapt and pivot to meet the changing needs of their students, community, and to stay aligned with their school’s vision and purpose. The leadership trends being touted now as the ‘ones to watch’ will be impacting the PD offerings in the next year and beyond, so it’s worth casting an eye over what could be in store.

1. Leading for Wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is emerging across all sectors as a key metric when it comes to retaining staff. Teaching is no different. Teacher (and Principal) wellbeing is a topic close to our hearts here and, in a school setting, this can be more complex than it sounds. Beyond offering standing desks, on-site yoga or the equipment to make healthy lunch prep easy in the staff room – although these are all fantastic – wellbeing in its current wave is also understood as a better connection between staff and leaders. As an article in Forbes Magazine stated in April this year, when wellbeing and happiness are prioritised and promoted as a cultural norm, staff feel supported and are more likely to view the principal as an ally, which leads to improved well-being, mental health, as well as increased engagement, trust and productivity. In other words, a happy and healthy staff are less likely to seek out greener pastures. 

2. Working Collectively

In the words of Bridget Garing in Teacher Magazine: As teachers, we perform myriad roles, but we do not need to, nor should we try to perform them alone.”  Expect to hear lots of talk around the idea of harnessing the collective expertise of staff to support whole-school wellbeing this year. Harnessing the collective knowledge of staff and educational specialists like speech pathologists, school psychologists and literacy educators to work collaboratively to support children is going to become even more embedded in education practice, potentially through a model such as a Needs Protocol.  Research shows that a child’s social and wellbeing are the biggest indicators of their success and that it is both personal and environmental – which can be strengthened through effective support and intervention.  

3. Empowering Others for Collaborative Leadership

Collaborative leadership is forecast to be big news when it comes to leadership trends in education. 

So, actually looking at the leaders in our team, empowering them to grow more, to step in more, to be vulnerable and to be really active in the innovation space and knowing all the time that they have my support to do that.”

Teacher Magazine 

The idea of leading collaboratively is a natural fit with the previous two trends we’ve already mentioned, in that it comes with a strong emphasis on wellbeing. Collaborative leadership works on the basis that when school leaders empower others to step up, it creates an inclusive culture where teachers are highly valued for their expertise and encouraged to reach their full potential. Everyone wins. In fact, research shows that when it comes to the wellbeing of teachers, cooperative and skilled staff are one of the most valuable forms of support. Edutopia speaks to how empowerment and collaboration work in a school leadership context: 

“Most of what happens in organisations is carried out by individuals other than those in formal leadership positions. Therefore, the more skilled they are, the more they feel confident in their abilities and competent to make decisions, raise questions, see new possibilities, and disagree respectfully with others at all levels of the organisational hierarchy, the stronger and more successful the organisation will be.” 

Students Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

With a through line of wellbeing running through all the education leadership trends, it seems the challenges of running a school during the past two years in the midst of a pandemic are reflected in these trends. But, as we all know only too well, the success of a school and its students relies on its most important resources: its people. When it comes to running a school – it really does take a village. 

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