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Leaders Or Managers: What Do Schools Need?

The past couple of months have been busy with travel to some schools and planning/ giving presentations at conferences. While organising the presentations I had a lot of time to think and had lots of random ideas and thoughts (that I will share in future posts). However there’s one thing that I did spend a lot of time thinking about - about independent schools, where we are, where we should be, and the challenges and opportunities.

The opportunities for independent schools to evolve are amazing – there has never been a better time in the history of education when several forces have come together to transform the teaching/learning process.

Over the past couple of years I’ve observed a change in independent schools — there is now a greater acknowledgment of the urgency to move forward and embrace the changes.

The schools that will be front-runners will be those whose leadership has the gumption to think differently and “lead” change at their schools. Which brings me to the question that school leaders and leadership teams need to ask themselves – do we individually and collectively have the guts to think big and lead change? Thinking big is not tinkering around the edges, but creating a different mold and facilitating transition to the new mold. There are many different designs to support the creation of experimental spaces, new roles, etc. However these require each of us thinking and acting like “leaders”, and not managers. Each school leader has “management” type responsibilities that are an important part of their work. We need to pause and think if this is all schools do – if all we do is “manage” our divisions and departments,

then who is doing the “leading”?

author credits


Educator, Consultant, Presenter DR. SHABBI LUTHRA is empowering educators, students, & parents, & building powerful 21st century learning environments. She is currently the Director of Research & Development, at the American School of Bombay.

Image Source: Ken Whytock

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