The Roles and Barriers of Curriculum Leaders
Published 18 Jan 2018
Leadership is experienced everywhere in the world, it is seen in organisations, schools, governments, small groups as well as in families. It enables a system to run well, effectively and with a sense of direction. Leadership therefore is not about power, accomplishments or what we do but it is about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen their understanding of reality and become more capable of participating in the world and creating new realities.
The functions that enables school systems and the schools to achieve goals and ensure quality of student’s in what they study and learn is therefore referred to as curriculum leadership. Supervisors, principles, classroom teachers and team leaders can all work together to discharge these responsibilities as the functions are goals oriented and the ultimate goal is to maximise student learning by providing quality learning content therefore making a distinction between curriculum, that is what is learnt and instruction which is the content taught. (Fullan 2004)
Several theories in regard to leadership have been developed by philosophers from different schools of thought. (Gary 2001) came up with various leadership theories which focus on characteristics and behavioural success of leaders. These theories try to explain leadership and the different approaches used by leaders to effectively lead others.
Contingency theory developed by Fred Fielder focuses on situations which affect a leader’s effectiveness. The situations are such as leader-member relationship, which refer to the degree of confidence subordinates have in their leader. Another situation is task structure which refers to the degree to which followers’ works is routine in contrast to non routine and the final one is position power which include rewards and punishments associated with leaders formal authority, position and support that he or she receives from supervisors.
The second theory is contingency theory which states that the most successful leaders are those who increase subordinate motivation by making sure they have control of outcome, reward them for their performance, encouraging them to achieve group and organisational goals and take into account their characteristics and the type of work they do. This theory explains why people perform well where their efforts are recognised by their leaders. For example in institutions where students are rewarded for their good work, there is usually stiff competition for the reward and this therefore improves the performance of the students
Leader-style theory by Vroom and Yetton describes ways which leaders can make decisions and guide them to determine the extent to which subordinates should participate in decision making. The theory holds that organisational decisions should be of quality and subordinates should accept and be committed to the decisions made.
The final theory is Hersey and Blachard theory which identifies three dimensional approaches for assessing leadership effectiveness; leaders should exhibit leadership and task behaviour, leader effectiveness depends on how his or her leadership style interrelates with the situational finally willingness and readiness of an employee to do a task.
Leaders are on day to day basis faced with many roles which make them to be effective. These roles enable them to be able to handle the students and persons who are their juniors and allow them interact directly with team members. Curriculum leaders have both managerial roles as well as leadership roles. Managerial roles stresses on the role of leaders as custodians of institutions and also as a source of control of their institutions. The leaders should be able to manage all the curriculum activities of their institutions and ensure that they are running well and well adopted by the students.
On the other hand, leadership roles stress on being the role model and making sure that there is discipline and sanity in the institutions. This creates a good picture to the community surrounding them and therefore holds a high level of respect from the people dealing with them as well as the community at large. This role also deals with improvement of instructional practice and performance which enables the curriculum leaders to be coalition builders as well as brokers among the perse interests of both the students and teachers of their institutions.
Another role of curriculum leaders include monitoring team members’ behaviours and take action if needed in respect to team performance (Hackman 2002). The leader is meant to monitor performance and progress towards task accomplishment and if problems are discovered the leader should gather information to determine the nature of the problem and use it to implement an effective solution (Hackman 2002).
Another role of curriculum leaders includes focusing on the enactment of team orientation which includes factors with motivational implications (that is promoting shared goals creating positive effect and shaping perceptions). Orientation represents effective bonds that connect members to the team and its mission. Team coherence represent team members collective bond and is also part of this role and includes development of linked inpidual goals checking team strategies and a compatible network of role expectations across team members.
As (Koslowski 1996a) states team leaders have the role of building a new team. He or she should develop them into a coherent, seamless and well integrated work unit as the ongoing teams experience outflows and inflows overtime. Therefore as new replacements are brought to the team, there is need to socialise, assimilate them and make sure that they fit in the team.
The other roles of curriculum leaders in schools are;
One is to create a moral purpose which is a social responsibility to others and to the environment. School leaders with a moral purpose make a difference in the lives of their student. They are determined to close the gap between high performing and lower performing schools and students as they have the intension of making a positive difference in their schools.
Another role is to improve relations as it leads to betterment of schools. The leaders should build relationships with perse groups and people who think differently. As cultural change principal knows that building relationships and teams is a difficult skill, he or she should therefore work hard to develop full range of emotional intelligence domains and self management of emotions and empathy towards others.
This not only boost scores for the next year but also lays a foundation for two years and beyond (Fullan 2004) knowledge creating and sharing is another role of leaders. Leaders should share and seek knowledge to ensure continual learning which add to students’ knowledge base. Curriculum leaders should appreciate that it is a both intellectual and moral profession therefore he or she should remember that they are engaged in practising, studying and refining the teaching craft.
Effective leaders should be coherent makers (Fullan 2004), understanding the change process, ability to build relationships and creating and knowledge sharing help create coherence through checks and balances embedded in their interaction. Leaders with deep moral purpose provide guidance but can also be blinders if their ideas are not challenged by change dynamics, give and take relationships and ideas generated by new knowledge.
Leadership and sustainability is another role faced by curriculum leaders. They can attain sustainability by developing social environment, learning in context, cultivating leaders at all levels and enhancing the teaching profession.
According to (Collins 2001), an organisation cannot flourish for long with the top leader alone, schools therefore need leaders at many levels, curriculum leaders therefore has the responsibility of developing leaders from the lowest to the to level of education. To be able to deal with complex problem leaders need many years of experience and professional development of the job and to a certain extent, a school leader’s effectiveness in creating a culture of sustained change will be determined by the leaders he leaves behind. Leadership succession is also likely if there are many leaders at all levels hence organisations should set their sight on continual improvement at all levels by nurturing, cultivating and appointing successive leaders who are moving in a sustained direction.
It is also the role of curriculum leaders to set policies which should be followed by students. The policies can be achieved by setting performance targets, approve standards, monitor school performance, adjudicate conflicts over design performance issues, administer rewards and buffer non instructional issues, this enables smooth running of the system and therefore reduce their work load.
Curriculum leaders also have professionals which include developing standards and setting new instructional practices, design pre-service and in-service learning, conducting model professional development and creating benchmarks for practice and content.
The final role of curriculum leaders in schools is to enhance the teaching profession. This is because there will only be a pool of quality principals and leaders if we have a large pool of quality teachers who form ranks of the quality principals (Elmore, 2000).
Despite the important leadership and managerial roles experienced by curriculum leaders, there are several barriers that they experience which hinders the full implementation of their roles. One of the barriers is the problem with the standard setting in curriculum which is set by staff officials who are already removed from schools and free from accountability. These standards are often not supported with other systematic changes like new approaches to teacher education therefore the standards are often fragmented and contradictory making it difficult for curriculum leaders, (Woolfolk 1994).
In conclusion, the curriculum system complication is also another barrier which represents an almost impossible task for curriculum leaders. The complications faced also force the students to master several benchmarks which therefore make the system hard for both the student and the curriculum leaders.Curriculum leaders of late experience cultural barriers and difficulties when undertaking their leadership roles, this is due to lark of training on the many different cultural values and practices for different students and this therefore creates a misunderstanding between the student and his or he leader. The leaders should therefore have their own lessons on different cultures and how to handle students of different levels and races so as to ensure easy management of his or her duties.
- Elmore Richard 1996, Restructuring in the classroom: teaching, learning and school management, Jessey Bass, Sanfransisco.
- Michael Fullan 2004 Moral imperative of school leadership, Corwin press ISBN 1412914779.
- Richard Hackman 2002, leading teams, Harvard business school press, London
- Richard .F Elmore 2000 Building a new structure for school leadership, Albert Shanker institute New York.
- Woolfolk Hoy, A. & Hoy, W. K 2006 Instructional Leadership: A research-based guide to learning in schools 2nd ed.Boston MA: Allyn & Bacon.