Effective Leadership in Early Childhood: Theory and Behaviors

Leadership exists within context. As presented in the Learning Resources in this module, consideration of context is essential when thinking about both theories of leadership and leadership behaviors. Early childhood settings are complex, dynamic, fluid environments rich with diversity and dependent on human connection. Strong leadership is an essential component of these dynamic contexts, and navigation skills, visionary capacity, and the ability to move a collective forward as a unit are necessary. How one chooses to lead might vary based on factors that include temperament, values, and the challenges that individual situations present. However, leadership should always be grounded in the ethics of the field and guided by theory and effective practice.

In this Discussion, you will consider the leadership theories and behaviors presented in the Learning Resources, critically reflecting on the ones you find personally compelling. As you reflect, consider who you are presently as a leader, who you would like to be as a leader, and what knowledge and skills you need to acquire to support your ongoing development.

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To prepare:

  • Examine the major theories of leadership and related behaviors presented in this module’s Learning Resources.
  • Reflect on an early childhood context with which you are familiar. Within this context, have you observed behaviors that you have found effective?  Ineffective?
  • With the same early childhood context in mind, what theories of leadership and related behaviors do you feel would be most effective? How do these theories and behaviors complement or address what you identified as effective or ineffective?

By Day 4 of Week 1

Post a brief description of two leadership theories or behaviors from the literature presented that you find personally compelling. Include in your post a description of each of the theories or behaviors you selected and an overview of why, in terms of your values and beliefs as an educator, you were drawn to these. Then, provide an example of a situation in an early childhood setting where you experienced the presence or absence of the theories or behaviors you selected. Based on the example you provide, outline how the theories or behaviors were applied or could have been applied in a way that reflected effective leadership.

I would like to be a leader in Education one day. I have work with the Head Start Program for many years. And now I would like to be the leader of my on program.

Learning Resources

Note: To access this module’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Resources

Amanchukwu, R. N., Stanley, G. J., & Ololube, N. P. (2015). A review of leadership theories, principles and styles and their relevance to educational management. Management, 5(1), 6–14. doi:10.5923/j.mm.20150501.02

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Beyer, B. (2012). Blending constructs and concepts: Development of emerging theories of organizational leadership and their relationship to leadership practices for social justice. Retrieved from http://cnx.org/contents/CZKCR71m@4/Blending-Constructs-and-Concepts

Bloom, P. J. & Abel, M. B. (2015). Expanding the lens—leadership as an organizational asset. Young Children, 70(2), 10–17. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/yc

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Hallet, E. (2013). We all share a common vision and passion: Early years professionals reflect upon their leadership of practice role. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 11(3), 312–325. doi:10.1177/1476718X13490889

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Hard, L., & Jónsdóttir, A. H. (2013). Leadership is not a dirty word: Exploring and embracing leadership in ECEC. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(3), 311–325. doi:10.1080/1350293X.2013.814355

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Leeson, C. (2014). The pressures of leading early years services in a changing world. In J. Moyles, J. Payler, & J. Georgeson (Eds.), Early years foundations: Critical issues (2nd ed., pp. 143–154). Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264688756_  

Lewis, J., & Hill, J. (2012). What does leadership look like in early childhood settings? Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/our-publications/every-child-magazine/every-child-index/every-child-vol-18-4-2012/leadership-look-like-early-childhood-settings/

McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. (2015, Summer). An international perspective on early childhood leadership. Research Notes. Retrieved from http://mccormickcenter.nl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/RN-Summer-2015.pdf

Munuz, M., Boulton, P., Johnson, T., & Unal, C. (2015). Leadership development for a changing early childhood landscape. Young Children, 70(2), 26–31. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/yc

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2015). Professional standards for educational leaders. Retrieved from http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2015/ProfessionalStandardsforEducationalLeaders2015forNPBEAFINAL.pdf

Orr, T., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2015). Appreciative leadership: Supporting education innovation. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4), 235–240. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v16i4.2467

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Ramey, M. D. (2015). Out from under the radar: Making leadership visible. Young Children, 70(2), 6–10. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/yc

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Sharp, C., Lord, P., Handscomb, G., Macleod, S., Southcott, C., George, N., & Jeffes, J. (2012). Highly effective leadership in children’s centres. National College for School Leadership, Nottingham.

Van Wart, M. (2013). Lessons from leadership theory and the contemporary challenges of leaders. Public Administration Review, 73(4), 553–565. doi:10.1111/puar.12069

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Wanaganayake, M. (2014). Being and becoming early childhood leaders: Reflections on leadership studies in early childhood education and the future leadership research agenda. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, 3(1) 65–81. Retrieved from http://jecer.org/

Document: Leadership Problems at Valley Hill (PDF)

Professional Organization Websites

Save the Children Action Network. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2016, from https://www.savethechildrenactionnetwork.org/

American Educational Research Association. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.aera.net/

National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/

Zero to Three. (2016a). Retrieved from http://www.zerotothree.org/

National Association of Elementary School Principals. (2016). Retrieved from  http://www.naesp.org/

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/

National Institute for Early Education Research. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.nieer.org/

Harvard Family Research Project. (2016). Early childhood education. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/early-childhood-education

Required Media

California Department of Education (Producer). (2013). Invitation to leadership in early childhood [Video file]. Retrieved from http://ececompsat.org/competencies/lead/lead.html

Note: This video is part of a series of California ECE competencies

Laureate Education (Producer). (2013b). The characteristics of effective early childhood leaders and advocates [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 11 minutes.

Accessible player  –Downloads– Download Video w/CC Download Audio Download Transcript

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016). Jerlean Daniel’s my advocacy journey [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

Accessible player  –Downloads– Download Video w/CC Download Audio Download Transcript

TED Conferences, LLC (Producer). (2010). Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership?language=en

The Wallace Foundation (Producer). (2012). Great school leaders in action [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Pages/VIDEO-Great-School-Leaders-in-Action.aspx

Optional Resources

Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (Producer). (2015). Supporting principal leadership pre-K-3rd grade learning communities [Video webinar]. Retrieved from http://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/30386?q=leadership

Christie, M., Carey, M., Robertson, A., & Grainger, P. (2015). Putting transformative learning theory into practice. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 55(1), 9. Retrieved from https://www.ajal.net.au/

DeMatthews, D. E. (2014). How to improve curriculum leadership: Integrating leadership theory and management strategies. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 87(5), 192–196. doi:10.1080/00098655.2014.911141

Heikka, J., Waniganayake, M., & Hujala, E. (2013). Contextualizing distributed leadership within early childhood education current understandings, research evidence and future challenges. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(1), 30–44. doi:10.1177/1741143212462700

Rodd, J. (2013). Reflecting on the pressures, pitfalls and possibilities for examining leadership in early childhood within a cross-national research collaboration. In E. Hujala, M. Waniganayake, & J. Rodd (Eds.). Researching Leadership in Early Childhood Education (pp. 31–46). Retrieved from http://ilrfec.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/art_01Rodd.pdf

Rupprecht, E. A., Waldrop, J. S., & Grawitch, M. J. (2013). Characterizing effective leader behaviors for the future. Retrieved from http://www.slu.edu/Documents/professional_studies/OHI%20-%20Effective%20Leadership.pdf

Smith, W. K., Besharov, M. L., Wessels, A. K., & Chertok, M. (2012). A paradoxical leadership model for social entrepreneurs: Challenges, leadership skills, and pedagogical tools for managing social and commercial demands. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11(3), 463–478. doi:10.5465/amle.2011.0021


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