The Crux of School Leadership: Managing Dilemmas, Paradoxes, and Complexity

ORG LP706 - The Crux of School Leadership: Managing Dilemmas, Paradoxes, and Complexity

Credits: 2

Schools are complicated places where effective leadership involves serving the needs of students and often involves making decisions within a context of competing values, limited resources, multiple constituencies, and inequitable circumstances.  In this course, we will examine rich educational dilemmas as a way of gaining insight into system dynamics, organizational challenges, and the role that leaders and educators must play within these ongoing struggles to achieve effective outcomes. Too often educators assume that decisions can be guided by precise and complete data.  Practice reveals that challenging issues are often dilemmas where all choices involve loss, risk, value conflicts, and hard ethical decisions.  Gaining practical wisdom and experience managing dilemmas is essential practice for effective educators and leaders.

In addition to exploring the complexity of confronting dilemmas, this course will also examine how educational leaders can develop and strengthen a culture that embraces shared decision making.   Specifically, we will investigate recent research on how administrators and teachers can “co-perform” leadership. While shared decision making does not provide easier choices when faced with dilemmas, it does offer the benefits of collective thinking and the transparency that often nurtures trust within the organizational culture.  It is this trust that helps to mitigate some of the organizational losses and setbacks that can occur from the difficult decisions that must be made.