School LEADERSHIP is more important now than ever before. The COVID-19 has changed schools’ reality in general and the concept of teaching in particular. School leaders are looking for a new world of teaching that will cater to the diverse needs of their students. Learning to operate in challenging and unpredictable circumstances, principals need to create a culture for innovation within their organizations. CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, argued that “the only thing that’s going to enable [you to keep] building new capabilities and trying out new concepts long before they are conventional wisdom is CULTURE.
School Leadership and Culture
School leadership is dynamic and ever-changing. The leadership style employed by principals plays an important role in developing the culture in a school. Principals need to be transformative leaders in order to support a collegial and innovative culture that fosters teachers’ empowerment. As such, they influence teachers’ motivation, commitment, and can strengthen the collective efficacy beliefs of their educational staff. COVID-19, which is currently putting the global education system to the test, creates stress that can undermine teachers’ self-confidence. Turning crisis into opportunity, school principals are required to decide whether they want to make lemonade or do more of the same.
Building an innovative school culture means not relying on past experiences or known practices, but rather thinking about uncertainty as an advantage, not merely an impediment. Innovation comes through people who share their ideas collaboratively. This effective dialogue focuses on asking questions and exercising critical thinking without always expecting immediate answers. This requires both supportive school leadership and teacher community. The interaction between the individual (e.g., the school principal) and the school community (e.g., the educational staff), arouses the question ‘what if?’ while exploring multiple possibilities. Therefore, meeting the demands of 21st-century reality requires school principals and teachers to collaborate and doubt their teaching and learning practices (Schechter & Ganon-Shilon, 2015). Through a collaborative framework, school doubting, principals and teachers inquire about their routine, habitual perceptions and assumptions, to improve their effectiveness. This new perspective, school doubting, calls for a shared doubting practice through which educators examine their knowledge and beliefs while leading school change. Especially, school doubting is understood as a two-way interaction, both shaping and shaped by the school faculty – the principal and the educational staff.
Leveraging a school doubting process can serve as a beneficial framework through which principals and teachers collaboratively navigate complexity and uncertainty while implementing new teaching practices. From a practical perspective, the school doubting approach may contribute to principal preparation programs while promoting collaboration and creative problem-solving skills. Future inquiry calls into question what makes a school-doubting process critical to schools’ ability to implement organizational changes? How can policymakers encourage principals and teachers to promote school-doubting processes?
Developing a culture of innovation is directly attributed to leadership behavior. Accordingly, school leaders must act in ways that promote and support organizational innovation. As transformational leaders, principals must focus on fostering school-doubting processes and personal commitment while leading their educational staff to change their teaching practices. Moving people towards new challenges emphasizes the transformational approach to leadership which calls for emotional support, interpersonal relations and creating a safe environment, which allows both right and wrong answers. Growing a culture of innovation is about helping your colleagues to think differently and work in new ways to face challenges. How can school leaders stay alive and march their schools ahead? It seems that the key is to slow down, reflect and collaboratively approach the situation in an unconventional way.