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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Glocal Perspectives on Leadership in Education

Last night was the final night of the Master of Education course I have been teaching this fall: Leadership in Education. I initially proposed the course about three years ago and taught it for the first time this fall. I intentionally did not entitle it School Leadership because one of my objectives was to emphasize the idea of everyday leadership that teachers (and others) can enact. However, after having taught it for the first time, I think I should have added the Glocal Perspectives phrase to the title. Here's why...

As our university president (Dr. Max Blouw) reminded us in our class last night, there is a tendency to be provincial in our focus. I'm not sure that this is necessarily a characteristic of Ontario teachers and leaders (or of educators for that matter). I have certainly experienced this parochial perspective in my work in, and interactions with, educators in other parts of Canada, the US, Haiti, Thailand, and beyond. However, just because that's the "way it is" shouldn't mean that that's the "way it should be." We need to develop a broader, global perspective of educational leadership to enrich our practices here.

An example of this broader perspective was provided last week by Caleb Lucien, the founder of a number of schools in Haiti. Caleb has been engaged in creative leadership in Haiti. He did not do this overtly but he certainly challenged the M.Ed. class to consider lessons in leadership which were based on his vision and experience for education in Haiti. In last night's class, numerous students referred to statements he had made and made connections to a new vision/perspective they have for their work as educators in Ontario as a result.

A second example was provided by another guest we enjoyed in the course, Bruce Rodrigues, CEO of the Educational Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) office of Ontario. Bruce provided a glimpse into the standardized assessments used in Ontario but with a broader understanding of global tests such as TIMS and PISA. There are significant concerns over the nature and purpose (and ideological stances) of these assessments but, like them or not, we have to have a global understanding of the phenomenon to better understand our immediate context.

So leadership in education is not "school leadership in Ontario." Leadership can be formalized and ascribed through roles such as principals and department heads. Yet, that is too narrow of a focus as teachers themselves are engaged in instructional leadership, mentoring of students and peers, and action research. Teachers have the potential to be transformational leaders as much as someone who has been given a position as a leader. So too, we have to consider a more glocal perspective on leadership to have a more robust understanding of the why, what, and how of what we do.

The name of the course will likely not change but I am committed to providing that glocal perspective as I continue to teach courses such as Leadership in Education.

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