Top Educational Leadership Styles in Teaching

Aavni Desai
July 16, 2024
4 min read

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.“ ~ Rosalynn Carter

Leadership has always been all the rage; from books to seminars, and TedTalks to workshops, people have always been eagerly curious and fascinated with what leadership is all about. Leadership can be tricky to define and is also a hard skill to master. A good leader isn’t just someone who leads the way; a good leader guides, encourages, uplifts, and empowers. While the first image that comes to most of our minds when we hear the word ‘leader’ is of a person (maybe in a suit?) leading an organization or a company, we tend to forget that teachers are leaders too. Teachers lead by example in the way they act and react, in the way they care for, support and motivate their learners and colleagues, in the way they impact the community.

A teacher needs to pick one out of several types of educational leadership if they hope to train students well and wish to see them work together.

An educational leader must pick the most suitable educational leadership style based on the type of students they teach, their learning styles and the level they teach at (whether at a school or college, whether middle school or high school). They must also pick a style that matches their teaching skills, strengths and personal preference.

If you’re interested in learning more about what these styles are and how you, as an educator, can make the most of them to enhance the teaching and learning process, this guide can be of great help.

 a woman with glasses standing in front of the camera as her team brainstorms in the background

What Is Educational Leadership?

Simply put, educational leadership involves guiding and managing the educational process to ensure effective teaching and learning environments. Educational leaders are influential individuals who assist students in becoming better versions of themselves. They guide students toward the best learning path and help them determine how they can attain their goals. This also includes providing students with relevant information sources, opportunities, guidance, or direct instructions. Educational leaders also ensure that:

  • All students have the necessary resources and information to succeed.
  • Students feel safe and accepted and are willing to participate in class discussions.
  • Students bloom into the best version of themselves both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Students have an inspiration or role model to look up to, in the form of their teacher, who makes the goal and path easier to see and the journey more rewarding.

a woman placing her hand atop the hands of her teammates

The Importance of Strong Leadership in Education

Just like any other organization, strong leadership can significantly influence the efficacy and success of an educational institution. Great leaders inspire and motivate teachers, staff, and students, promote a positive and inclusive school culture, and drive constant improvement and innovation. As such, the impact of strong leadership behaviors cannot be overstated.

  • Students can easily adapt to modern teaching methods and effectively use the provided information and resources to succeed.
  • Strong leadership ensures that students and teachers work together harmoniously. Teachers have clear guidance on what to do and when, while students find it easier to follow instructions under an expert's watch.
  • Students feel safe at school and secure in the school environment and learn to respect their peers and teachers.
  • Students understand the importance of education, contributing to a more focused and engaged learning experience.
  • Strong leadership enables the development of essential teaching skills such as classroom management, handling diverse student needs, and facilitating productive discussions among teachers, making them feel supported and empowered to create a positive learning environment.

students in a classroom raising their hand to answer a question asked by their teacher who is standing in the front of the class

Top Educational Leadership Styles

1. Instructional Leadership

Considered as one of the most effective leadership styles in education, the instructional leadership style is focused on student development and instruction.

The main idea that this type of educational leadership revolves around is the use of a teacher's existing expertise and knowledge to teach students effectively. Teachers are not given exact guidelines on how to behave or teach in class; they are given autonomy which enables them to use their skills and judgment to allow students to learn new skills, topics, and techniques.

a teacher offering support to a student writing an assessment in the classroom

Instructional leaders work on understanding how students learn, what teaching methods suit each student, and how this data can be used to create an effective classroom environment. Due to this, most teachers often use this teaching style along with managerial or motivational leadership styles.

Many think that this teaching style is chaotic, but the truth is that it helps create a classroom environment where everyone is in the know; both teachers and students know what they are doing and why. It also encourages a sense of respect and ownership, promotes responsibility for individual actions, and enables students to strive for excellence.

2. Transformational Leadership 

“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Transformational leadership in education focuses on inspiring and motivating teachers, staff, and students to achieve their highest potential and exceed their own expectations.

Transformational teachers support, encourage and inspire students to think outside the box and look for innovative ways of achieving a goal. They are also responsible for empowering students to develop the required skills to reach their goals. This leadership style is great for teachers as it gets students excited to learn, helps them stay focused, creates a sense of trust, makes challenges less complicated, and makes students more willing to follow given advice or instructions.

The best part about transformational leadership is that teachers not only build strong relationships with their students through this style, but they are also able to foster great relationships with staff members, which makes them even better leaders in the long run.

a teacher guiding a group of young learners through a hands-on activity

3. Constructivist Leadership 

In today’s day and age, the acquisition of soft skills can be considered as, if not more, important as the acquisition of knowledge. As a result, the constructivist style of leadership can be viewed as a vital tool in aiding students build these skills and equipping them to thrive in this modern era.

Constructivist leaders encourage students to collaborate and share their unique ideas and solutions to a problem, so that the class can work together to find the best possible solution to a given problem. This form of learning is called constructivism, as it gears students to understand what they are learning through interaction and exploration of a perspective through several eyes. Activities are conducted in groups and allow students to realize how everyone thinks differently. It empowers students and pushes them to use the given opportunities to discover, create, explore, and develop skills for success in later education and practical life.

This leadership style has proven effective in helping build confidence and social skills as well as problem solving abilities. Teachers also aid in enabling critical thinking skills through this teaching style by asking the right questions and probing for answers.

The constructivist style has proven effective in producing better student scores and academic performance.

a group of university students brainstorming in a classroom

Leadership in education can make all the difference in nurturing bright, resilient and curious learners for the real world. Understanding the various leadership styles can allow teachers to craft the perfect strategy for managing classrooms and building quality students. This approach not only enhances academic performance but also equips students with essential leadership skills, enabling them to excel in various fields in the future.

If you are an educator dedicated to making students future-ready, Classcard can help you in your journey. With its easy-to-use software that allows you to manage classes and bookings, track payments and schedules and much more, you can streamline operations and boost efficiency!

Teaching and Learning
Student success
Aavni Desai

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