No one can deny that the Educational leader is like a beating heart that pumps life in every aspect of school in order to foster suitable learning and teaching opportunities for students by preparing a fertile soil for them to grow mentally, socially, emotionally, psychologically and physically. Gibboney wrote: "Leadership in education must be rooted in the fundamental enlightenment of thought. The intellectual and moral center of education is learning and teaching. All else is secondary and supportive." To consider Gibboney's philosophy as a cornerstone in the school mission, understanding the terms "leadership," "instructional leader" and some of the characteristics needed for an instructional Leader, creating a school vision and drawing a distinct school culture are very important elements for centers of teaching and learning. First of all, what is leadership? "Leadership is an interpersonal influence exercised in a given situation through the communication process, toward the attainment of a specified goal or goals" ( Gezi, 1986). I believe that the most important attributes of Educational leaders are the ability to be fair and decent and to make student welfare their primary concern. An Educational leader fosters a clear sense of purpose, well formulated instructional goals, an orderly environment, collegiality in a spirit of common objectives, high student expectation and above all a passion of the fundamental enlightenment of thought. Effective Educational leaders tend to emphasize achievement by setting instructional goals, developing performance standards for students, and expressing optimism about the ability of students to meet instructional goals. Therefore, principals need to be proactive and develop and articulate a vision of the school and where it is going, and keep that vision in mind in the course of their numerous daily interactions. Second, who are the instructional leaders? The instructional leaders are like candles that light the pathway for others as goals relating to learning and teaching are worked toward and eventually achieved. They observe teachers and provide feedback, monitor students' progress by reviewing test results with teachers, and work with teachers to build a coordinated instructional program. They also promote staff development by securing resources and opportunities for growth, communicate to teachers their responsibilities relating to student achievement and act as an informational node and instructional resource person by regularly discussing matters of instruction with individual teachers and at faculty meetings. Therefore, Educational leaders have to face the fact that our methods of teaching and testing depend on memorizing, so they are asked to find suitable solutions to help students to convey their learning outside the walls of the schools by applying their learning into real life situations. Teachers are also asked not to concentrate on memorizing but to instruct students to think about their learning. As a result, teachers need to be developed to get rid of their traditional performance. A comprehensive vision of staff development was proposed by Schaefer, who envisioned schools involving students in driving inquiry, and involving teachers in continuous study of teaching and learning application (cited in Clarke & Snow, 1991). In addition, what are some of the characteristics needed for an effective instructional leader? It is a true fact that outstanding principals are not born as effective leaders. An Educational leader needs certain personal attributes such as character, intellect, temperament and personality. Knowledge needed for Educational leaders are acquired in the course of being a good teacher because nearly all principals were once teachers who know a great deal about education, about curriculum and pedagogy, about the history and philosophy of education, about learning styles, about testing and assessment and about application of students' learning beyond the classroom in the real daily life situations. Another important attribute is that Educational leaders can help focus their teachers on the importance of teamwork in creating the school curriculum. They can develop enabling behaviors that make a school‑wide impact and use these behaviors to ease communication with teachers and students, create an open, encouraging school climate where teachers are free to give inputs. They also can build a collective curriculum vision with staff and be effective and positive curriculum leaders for their teachers. Principals will find out how working with teachers can result in more meaningful curriculums for classrooms and can raise the level of learning and teaching in their schools. Moreover, what is the school vision? The Educational leader's vision is a thoughtful blueprint of what his or her school is to become. The school vision is the product of a process which involves the observation of the current state of affairs in a school. This observation leads to thoughtful evaluation as to whether or not the current state of the school is satisfactory. Implicit in the leader's judgment of his school's condition is some standard of goodness or vision of what his school can become. An Educational leader can create a shared vision by discussing values and seeking attitudes and beliefs among school personnel. The shared vision is built as teachers and principal discover their areas of agreement and what value they can support. The school leader is the author and choreographer of the school vision. But the interpersonal competence of the principal is central to his articulation of the vision. The accomplishment of the school goals will hinge on a shared sense of mission, and the principal's ability to empower everyone creates an incredible synergy. Teachers, students and parents can all articulate and share a comparable vision. This vision serves the best interest of all the children in the school. In 1994, Senge wrote: The practice of a shared vision involves the skills of unearthing a shared picture of the future that fosters genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance. In mastering this discipline (building shared vision), leaders learn the counter productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt. (cited in Jacobson, 1998) I think that effective leaders can see the picture together because vision involves change and it helps Educational leaders to find solution to their problems. As T. E Lawrence stated: All men dream; but not equally Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds Awake to find that it was vanity; But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, They may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible. (cited in Buell, 1992) Furthermore, what is the school culture and what is the relationship between the principal and the school culture? The instructional leader functions as the " high priest" who seeks to strengthen the values and beliefs that make the school unique. It is important for school leaders to know the role of values as the fuel of the school improvement. If the core values are the fuel, then school culture is the engine which is driven by a successful school leader. The principal is the key figure in creating and presenting the school culture which he shares with the school community. The norms and values which characterized the school community into a more cohesive identity, pertain to both the academic function of the school, as well as to the nature of the day‑to‑day interaction and social relation among teachers and students. A healthy school culture can support a safe and collaborative learning environment. But what is the importance of school culture? An effective school is distinguished by its culture which is a structure, process and climate of values and norms that channel teachers, staff and students in the direction of successful teaching and learning. Culture has a powerful influence on schools effectiveness because it tells people in the school what is truly important and how they are to act. I believe that a positive school culture is associated with higher student motivation and academic achievement. Moreover, I personally believe that instructional leaders can create a school culture that supports and nurtures the success and authentic accomplishments of students. But what is a positive school climate? How important is it? An effective school climate is a positive attitude on the part of the entire teachers, staff and student body exhibited through their overt behavior that creates a warm, orderly learning environment to increase students' achievement. There is no magic formula to create this climate overnight. It takes strong leaders to act as role models, set a climate of expectation, and be willing to take necessary risks to improve innovative programs that recognize the self worth of every student. They are also motivating teachers for teaching and supporting cooperation, caring and committed to affective education with a philosophy which states that students are very important people. A school with a warm climate is like a beautiful painting which attracts the attention of all visitors as soon as they enter the school. In this picture, the Leader, the students, teachers, staff and community are walking hand in hand along a green pathway toward a shining horizon of success, trust, confidence, love, interaction and uniqueness. As Watsen wrote: Teaching is to me an emotion‑filled, moment by moment experience with the magnificence of students. They serve as fuel which I must ignite to thinking, to seeing, to observing and performing. I walk refreshed by the awakening senses of the learning. The student who wishes to comprehend is the drop of clean rain that gathers, perhaps throughout their life of travels until we meet upon the shores of the gathered sea of knowledge‑‑ spoken of as wisdom. In conclusion, Educational leaders, professional teachers, staff, motivated students, cooperative parents, clear school vision, warm school climate and unique culture interact with each other like bees in a hive where team spirit, collaboration, and devoted members all come together to produce a very valuable sweet honey to our future generations. Dr Mohammed Abu Mallouh January 2005
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