What is Educational administation?
Definition of Educational Administration
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Educational Administration is a discipline within the study of education that examines the administrative theory and practice of education in general and educational institutions and educators in particular. The field ideally distinguishes itself from administration and management through its adherence to guiding principles of educational philosophy.
Educational administrators can hold a variety of different jobs and work in many different capacities in an education office, an education department, a school district or a school. Educational administrators' jobs may vary, but ultimately they serve to lead and manage both teachers and learners.
o Education administrators have been in schools since the 1800s. Prior to this, most students were taught in one-room schools with mixed ages, abilities and grades. Once the U.S. population began to grow and school services began to grow and become more specialized, a clear need for administrative and clerical work emerged. Around 1850, the idea of the "principal teacher" developed. Principal teachers were the head teachers in high schools first, and eventually the trend continued through the primary grades. As populations and schools grew, the the teaching duties of these individuals were eliminated and administrative responsibilities grew. They soon became known as "principals" instead of "principal teachers."
Other education administrator roles also grew during this time. Eventually, a "superintendent of schools" position developed. This term grew out of other leadership positions of the time including railroad superintendents and plant superintendents.
o Educational leadership positions vary according to the age of the student. Preschool administrators, sometimes known as day care or early childhood administrators, have a wide range of job duties, as these positions require management of day-to-day activities, hiring, employee management, expenditures and the supervision of students. Assistant principals and principals in elementary schools also share similar tasks; however, specialization can sometimes occur as larger schools may require one principal to be in charge of discipline or student services while the others have different duties. Assistant principals and principals in secondary schools typically also have more specialized roles to balance work loads and support the many needs of staff and students.
At the district level of education, assistant superintendents have highly specialized positions ranging from human resources to student services to curriculum and instruction. They, along with head superintendents, manage principals, schools and students. District administrators also oversee the maintenance and care of the schools, are public voices for their particular districts, are managers of student data and curricular standards and are the liaison between the buildings and the school board. Educational administrators in universities have some duties similar to those of public school superintendents, as their roles are specialized.
3. Education and Experience
o Educational administrators have education backgrounds similar to school guidance counselors, librarians, curriculum coordinators, educational specialists and teachers. Understanding the requirements and expectations of various other educational jobs helps administrators lead others in an empathic capacity. Educational administrators usually have advanced degrees in teaching, administration or educational leadership. Most administrators have many years of experience as teachers, leaders and mentors. Additionally, many educational administrators are required to participate in ongoing training and professional development to learn new methods and policies of school leadership.
Educational administrators must be licensed in K-12 public school jobs, and the certification requirements vary from state to state.
o Salaries of education administrators depend on several factors, including the location and enrollment level in the school or school district, the level of education achieved and the type of school or university. Most K-12 administrators make the highest salaries, with postsecondary educational administrators making salaries slightly below the K-12 positions. Preschool administrators typically make the lowest annual salaries; in many cases, these salaries of half of their K-12 counterparts.
Prevalence and Job Outlook
o Opportunities in educational administration vary in the different geographical regions of the United States. Because school enrollments have been steadily growing in the West and South, administrators have many prospects in those areas. Additionally, school administrators are needed in rural or urban areas more frequently than in the suburbs, since those jobs tend to have higher salaries.
Most education administrators work in public or private educational institutions, while the remainder work in day-care centers, religious schools, training centers, or as human resources trainers. Because of federal and state laws, administrators are now held more accountable for student performance than they were in the past. As a result, the need for administrators can be greater in areas with poor academic performance.
Problems in Educational Administration
The educational system will not function effectively with weak school administration. Effective administration begins with leaders who know how to motivate teachers and students. Good administrators also know how to enlist the help of the community in improving schools for all concerned. If administrators allow personal relationships or ambition to dictate their decisions, the school environment will become one of distrust. This lack of unity and teamwork will result in low student achievement.
o Problems in educational administration stem from lack of leadership. School administration officials are usually former teachers or principals who have worked hard to qualify for their positions and have many years of experience. But experience does not necessarily qualify one to be a leader. Educational administrators must adhere to policies, even if they do not personally agree with them. If exceptions are made, they are done so with the stated purpose of serving a higher good. Good leaders compromise without sacrificing the integrity of the system.
o Confusion results when administrators do not have regular and open lines of communication with their teaching staff or with their superiors. Because of overwhelming responsibilities, principals tend to become less accessible, which leads to less face-to-face interaction, which is important for the teachers and students. Instead, issues usually are addressed in general meetings because of time constraints. Faculty tends to perceive that they are being preached at, instead of involved with meaningful discourse. This method if not effective with students in the classroom; administrators cannot expect that it will work with their staff.
o The teach-student classroom environment is relatively sheltered. The relationship is a close one that is nurtured by everyday interaction. A disconnect can result when a similar level of familiarity between teachers, principals, and district leaders is not maintained. This causes resentfulness on the part of teachers, who perceive a lack of concern and distorted priorities on the part of their superiors. When teachers become indignant, their performance suffers along with student achievement. This disconnect will also be felt in the community if the school district is seen as an adversarial enterprise.
o A major problem can occur in schools when certain teachers, parents or community leaders are shown favoritism based on their degree of influence or relationships with administrators. Many times, this bias is not intentional; it is easier to placate rather than spend a lot of time in a battle of the wills with someone who is known to be vocal about his discontent or who threatens to call district and state education leaders. An effective administrator will make decisions based upon what is deemed to be best for the student and will stand firm in her position as advocate for children.
o In schools that have elected leaders and school boards, competition and fierce ambition can cause a problem when these concerns override the main purpose of education. Principals who prefer one candidate over another may try to persuade teachers to be like-minded. Some candidates may use low test scores and high drop out rates as weapons to force current leaders out of their positions, thereby casting the district into a negative light. If communities do not see their educational leaders as people of integrity, the motivation to participate in school improvement projects is diminished, thereby negatively affecting the future of their children's education.
Problems in School Administration
Strong leaders make effective candidates for school administrative positions.
School administrators are responsible for developing and preserving the educational experience of teachers and students. Their duties range from selecting appropriate curriculum models to managing school finances to collaborating with community partners. However, not all school administrations are effective at what they do. Problems may arise that can lead to a breakdown in the education system and diminish the learning experience of students.
1. Poor Leadership
o Poor leadership can be the downfall of school administration. Strong leaders possess the ability to formulate progressive and realistic objectives, devise organizational strategies, maintain regular communication with others and work collaboratively with staff in a positive and encouraging way. Many times, those who are elected into school administrative positions are faculty who have demonstrated outstanding work over the course of many committed years to the school. However, they may not have leadership experience behind them or understand the fundamental elements involved in academic leadership and the politics that come with it. Consequently, poor leadership can disrupt the school environment and make it difficult for teachers and students to get what they need out of the academic experience.
Lack of Administrative Involvement
o When school administrators are not involved at the classroom level, they are unable to fully understand how their teachers' classrooms are managed. This works as a disadvantage because it creates a breakdown between the administrative and academic sides of a school. Administrative involvement with teachers and classrooms can help school leaders understand what types of improvements must be made, and the information they learn can be valuable in shaping teachers' classroom budgets. Administrative involvement also shows teachers that the leaders of the school have an interest and appreciation for the work that is being done by faculty and students.
Weak Community Relations
o School administration leaders must work with community members to create strong partnerships that will be mutually beneficial. When administrators fail to establish ties in the community, they miss out on working with others who could potentially help the school with fundraising activities or charitable donations for school improvement efforts. Administrators may see the results of weak community relations in the thinning of their school year budgets.
o School administrators must be neutral, unbiased and not show favoritism toward particular teachers, faculty, students, parents or community partners. While some politicizing may be inescapable, problems can arise when academic leaders do not exert fair and impartial relations. Teachers may become less committed to the school if they feel like they are being treated less fairly than other teachers, or parents -- with similar feelings regarding their children -- may react by switching their children into other schools.
o Ethics pertain to social concepts of what is right and what is wrong. Every school has an ethical code by which staff must adhere. If school administrators break the ethical code, they risk bringing hardship to the school as well as their own careers. Ethical issues can include facing conflicts of interest, conducting inappropriate relations with other individuals or laundering money from the school budget.
What are the Functions of Theories in Educational Administration?
o Educational administrators use their knowledge of theories to make better decisions. Beautiful Woman Thinks with Pencil & Notepad. image by Andy Dean from Fotolia.com
Educational administration is the field of study and practice concerned with the management of educational institutions. Positions in this field include principal, assistant principal, dean, program director and curriculum coordinator. For anyone involved in educational administration, theories provide an explanation of how things work, guide research and inform practice.
o Most theories applied to educational administration originated elsewhere—mainly the business world. The most commonly applied theories come from the field of organizational theory, which originated with a focus on individuals and groups in an organization and how to increase their productivity. Later movements focused on the social and psychological needs of people in an organization as a way to help an organization meet its goals. Contemporary organizational theories have been developed that emphasize the need to balance the organization’s needs for productivity with the individual’s needs within an organization. More recent theories also account for the complexity of social groupings and communication in modern organizations, including schools and educational institutions.
o Theories can help leaders by giving them the benefit of different perspectives. Administrators can compare their observations against theories that have combined and synthesized the experiences of others. An educational leader limited by his interpretation of the facts of a given situation can use knowledge of theories to overcome this by gaining a broader perspective and re-examining available information in this context.
o Theories allow educational leaders to predict the outcome of their decisions. By examining relevant theories, an administrator has an idea of what reactions and outcomes to expect from certain actions or policies. The leader is then able to make a more informed decision that weighs the anticipated response or result. For example, a school leader may use the theory of planned behavior to decide if providing expensive professional development to a team of struggling teachers in the English department is likely to be worthwhile. The theory of planned behavior considers a person’s attitudes and perceived abilities to determine whether the person has an intention to engage in a specific behavior. The principal would consider his observations of the teachers’ attitudes and evidence of the teachers’ self-efficacy to gauge whether the teachers are likely to engage in the new teaching behaviors they would learn at the expensive training.
o Using theories as models, educational leaders can communicate more clearly and maintain a more consistent focus and message than if they were “playing by ear.” They can discuss the employees, work systems and objectives of their organization using unambiguous terminology. When an administrator refers to all the teachers, students, parents and community members of a campus as “stakeholders”, for example, she is using a term from stakeholder theory meant to also communicate the value the administrator places on these groups. Educational administrators use theories to mold their personal leadership and communication styles as well, benefitting from the expertise of others and affording them a model against which to continually compare themselves.
o Policy makers use theories to provide succinct explanation, evidence and solutions for a given problem. Theories provide ideals or models on which to base initiatives. Additionally, when a theory doesn’t exist or is inadequate to address a question or problem, this serves researchers in educational administration by revealing needed areas of research.