Principals, deans, and school administrators play a crucial role in the field of education. These individuals facilitate collaboration amongst faculty members, oversee campus activities, work closely with administrative personnel to secure funding and approve curriculum programs, and perform other managerial duties that keep schools running smoothly.
Educational leadership is the most common course of academic study for these professionals, and they are encouraged to supplement their classroom learning by utilizing various online resources. This article will discuss professional organizations, journals and industry magazines, blogs, and other tools that aspiring educational leaders can access online.
Attending conferences, networking with professionals in the same field, and keeping up with the latest industry trends are three driving factors behind career success – and membership with a professional organization enables you to do all three. The following organizations cater to principals, superintendents, deans, administrative staff, and other educational leadership professionals.
- American Association of School Administrators (AASA): Founded more than 150 years ago, the AASA boasts a membership of more than 13,000 superintendents, school administrators, financial officers, and other educational leaders. The organization promoted advocacy initiatives like Educating the Total Child and holds several conferences throughout the calendar year. Membership is $463 per year, although discounted rates are given to certain members (such as retirees and ‘small-school’ district leaders).
- National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP): This association caters to educational leaders who oversee middle and high schools in the United States. Members may take part in school improvement research, venroll in professional development courses, and/or work with fellow members to promote advocacy initiatives. NASSP publishes several periodicals (which are available in a digital format on the site) and recognizes outstanding principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators across the country in an annual awards ceremony.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP): The NAESP focuses on the same goals and efforts as its sister association, the NASSP, albeit at the elementary level. In addition to improvements in curriculum, standardized test scores, and administration strength, this organization also targets issues that are common among learners, such as identifying special needs students and fostering literacy among young children.
- National Association of School Superintendents: Superintendents often serve as the go-between for school officials and district administrators. The NASS strives to provide networking opportunities for superintendents and their supportive staff at public schools across the country. Annual membership is $179, but members may also opt for a lifetime option (which does not require renewal) priced at $499.
- Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges & Undergraduate Studies (AD&D): The goal of this organization is to “establish a community of professional colleagues responsible for academic programs and services for undergraduates.” Any dean, director, assistant or associate professor may become a member for an annual due of $175. AD&D holds a national conference every spring (the 2014 meeting will be held in Williamsburg, Va.)
In addition to formal college courses taken as part of an accredited degree program, today’s students also have access to opencourseware. These specialized online courses are often taught by faculty members at world-renowned schools like Yale, MIT, and Stanford, and virtually all of them are free-of-charge to anyone who wishes to take them.
- Economics of Education – MIT: Whether an educational leader is charged with an elementary school or a four-year university, maintaining a balanced, sustainable budget is one of his/her top priorities. Using economic theory and institutional texts, Prof. Frank Levy explores the various financial challenges faced by today’s school systems. Other topics include the educational labor market, strategies for boosting a school’s rate-of-return for teachers, and the role new technology plays in employee skill demand.
- Concept-Centered Teaching – MIT: Many educational leaders become well-versed with various learning theories during the course of their academic studies. Concept- centered instruction emphasizes repetition and retention of key ideas of fundamental value to a particular subject or course. Although this open course focuses on science education, the topics can apply to virtually any academic department.
- Entertainment Education for Behavior Change – Johns Hopkins University: Young learns in particular can benefit from education that stimulates their creativity through games, multimedia presentations, and other entertainment-based platforms. This course is taught by Esta de Fossard, an entertainment-education specialist who discusses what she calls the “ingredients of successful entertainment” – emotions, empathy, efficacy and empowerment – and how they may be applied in today’s classrooms.
- Gifted and Talented Education: Seminar Series – UC Irvine: Curriculum approval is a serious consideration for public school leaders. Classroom materials must not be too difficult for the majority of students to digest – but by the same token, the curriculum should also challenge young minds, particularly those that are considered ‘advanced’. This course explores strategies that help principals and administrators identify the appropriate curricular pathway for ‘gifted and talented’ students.
Open Access Journals
Most academic journals are today available in a digital format, but many of these titles are exclusively available to students, faculty members, and paid subscribers. In contrast, open access journals are free-of-charge and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Here are some of the leading open access journals geared toward educational leaders.
- AASA: Journal of Scholarship & Practice: This is the official journal of the American Association of School Administrators, and the publication focuses on “methodologically sound research” that educational leaders can use to improve the overall performance of U.S. schools. Past entries concern topics like core state standards, the administrator’s role within their school’s community, and methods of preparing students for mandated testing.
- Behavioral Sciences – Open Access Psychology & Cognition Journal: In public and private schools of all levels, educational leaders must often take on a disciplinarian role when students are poorly behaved. This journal explores the scientific and psychological motives behind different types of behavior, as well as potentially effective solutions for poor behavior (such as cognitive therapy and positive reinforcement).
- Current Issues in Comparative Education: The field of comparative education focuses on school systems that vary between countries, states, and even neighboring communities. This journal examines the cultural, political, and financial factors that influence not only schools, but also work-study programs, on-the-job trainings, NGOs, and other educational alternatives for adults and children around the world.
- Current Issues in Education: Sponsored by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, this catch-all journal explores trends in curriculum, institutional leadership, policy, and other major areas of educational leadership. The CIE archive dates back to 1998; past entries have focused on Pre-K, K-12, and higher education-related topics.
- International Journal of Multicultural Education (IJME): Educational leaders in the U.S. must adopt strategies that address and incorporate our nation’s diverse cultural dynamic. The IJME publishes journal entries that identify problematic trends in American schools where ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are concerned, and propose solutions that promote inclusivity, tolerance, and mutual respect.
There are significantly fewer book titles geared toward educational leaders than there are for teachers. However, the titles listed below are specifically geared toward principals, superintendents, deans, and administrative staff. The authors discuss topics like curriculum, financial management, community presence, and other pivotal aspects of educational leadership professionals.
- School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results: This 2005 title takes an academic approach to educational leadership. Authors Robert J. Marzano, Timothy Waters, and Brian A. McNulty consulted 69 different case studies, some dating as far back as 1970, and a nationwide survey of more than 600 principals to craft a list of “leadership responsibilities” that influence student involvement and performance.
- The Principal as Instructional Leader: A Practical Handbook: This work by leadership expert Sally Zepeda is geared toward principals and assistant principals. Zepeda discusses strategies for evaluating classroom performance (for both students and teachers) and addressing problem areas, as well as creating a positive culture within the school for all faculty members.
- The Essential Academic Dean: A Practical Guide to College Leadership: The author of this 2007 title, Jeffrey L. Buller, has held positions at four U.S. higher-learning institutions, and currently serves as the dean of the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University. The Essential Academic Dean is based on a series of workshops facilitated by Buller that address various concerns in modern college administration and management.
- Funding Public Schools: Politics and Policy: Budgetary cutbacks, levy failures, and other financial woes burden just about every school administrator at some point. This 1999 work from Kenneth K. Wong explores the connection between fiscal management of public school systems and the policies enacted by federal and state-level lawmakers. Wong also notes the rules and regulations that dictate educational resource allocation at different levels of the U.S. government.
Online Industry Magazines
Industry (or ‘trade’) magazines target a niche audience united by the same profession. Industry magazines aimed at educational leaders discuss strategies for improving the ways in which teachers, students, and administrative staff work together; and many also include information about professional organizations, conferences and seminars, continuing ed courses, and other opportunities for career advancement.
- Principal Magazine: This bi-monthly publication is the official magazine of the NAESP. Common topics include childhood mental and physical health, burgeoning educational technology, disciplinary tactics, and promoting cultural understanding and tolerance to impressionable young learners. Archives of Principal Magazine date back to the 2004-05 academic year, and every issue is available on the website in a digital format.
- School Planning & Management: Aimed at teachers and educational leaders for grades K-12, SP&M primarily focuses on cost-effective strategies for managing a successful learning institution. Each issue includes feature articles, product blurbs, and columns that tackle more specific topics like school maintenance, safety and security, classroom technology, and finance.
- University Business Magazine: Solutions for Higher Education Management: In addition to news blurbs and feature articles, UB offers web seminars, industry case studies, and an extensive employment directory. Overarching topics include enrollment and retention, campus management, and financial analysis. Archived issues (dating to 2004) are available on the website in a digital flipbook format to readers who register for a free subscription.
- U.S. News & World Report: In recent years, USNWR has earned worldwide acclaim for its annual, comprehensive list of college rankings based on a wide range of different factors, including quality of education, cost of tuition, campus diversity, online offerings, and return-on-investment for students who earn undergraduate and/or graduate degrees. College administrators can use this magazine to gauge their school’s strengths and weaknesses compared to other institutions across the country.
Blogs provide another perspective on the role of educational leaders in the American school system. Regardless of the kind of insight you’re looking for, these blogs can provide you with network of like-minded contributors, as well as a platform from which you can start a discussion of your own.
- Darcy Moore- learning leadership technology: Winner of the 2012 Edublog Award for ‘Best School Administrator or Principal Blog’, this blog focuses on different ways that educational leaders can promote cutting-edge technology and online teaching resources at their schools. Ms. Moore is an Australian citizen who serves as the deputy principal for the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
- Confessions of a Community College Dean: This informative, often humorous blog is maintained by a blogger known as ‘Dean Dad.’ He discusses various strategies and techniques for effectively leading college educators and creating a positive learning environment for students. The blogs extensive archive dates back to June 2004.
- Connected Principals: This shared blog contains posts from more than 70 principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators. Posts cover a wide range of topics, but the blog generally focuses on best practices for engaging, supporting, and retaining students. Educational leaders are welcome to contact the site about making future contributions.
- School Finance 101: This blog is maintained by Bruce D. Baker, a professor at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education who has also authored books about educational finance and budgetary policy. Many of his posts tackle fiscal issues at public and private institutions at all educational levels, from charter elementary schools to graduate-level universities.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Twitter (love it or hate it) is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, and virtually every major company, higher-learning institution, and private organization maintains at least one active account. Here are some Twitter handles geared toward educational leaders.
- US Dept of Education: The official Twitter account for the USDOE, this is a handle that every school administration official in the country should be following (and not surprisingly, more than 317,000 Twitter users already are). The majority of posts are links to news stories concerning nationwide education initiatives, articles that discuss school leadership strategies, and various multimedia resources that can be used to promote positive learning environments.
- Arne Duncan: In addition to the USDOE account listed above, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan maintains this Twitter handle with more than 120,000 followers. In addition to news and multimedia links, Sec. Duncan posts several quotes and personal messages to his fanbase each day.
- AASA: This is the official Twitter account of the American Association of School Administrators. The handle, which boasts nearly 10,000 followers, strives to “[support and develop] effective school system leaders dedicated to high-quality public education for all children.” On average, administrators post more than a dozen links and photos each day.
- Edutopia: Edutopia, an organization that “promotes and celebrates innovation”, was founded by the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1991. The organization boasts several Twitter handles; this flagship account has roughly 318,000 followers, and administrators post up to two dozen article links, video tutorials, and other resources related to educational leadership on a daily basis.