Academic journal article New Waves

Developing Leadership Competence in Early Childhood Educators

Academic journal article New Waves

Developing Leadership Competence in Early Childhood Educators

Article excerpt

The importance of developing leadership competence has not been sufficiently recognized in the early childhood field (Goffin & Janke, 2013). Current circumstances demand that early childhood educators exert leadership. Whether they notice it or not, early childhood educators' work requires the exercise of leadership, which encompasses a range of interactive behaviors and practices. Directly in a classroom or indirectly through decision-making, it is the responsibility of early childhood educators to ensure that high quality experiences are designed and implemented for young children's positive learning and developmental outcomes.

In this context, Jillian Rodd's contribution to advancing the field's discussion around the topic of developing leadership has been instrumental. This book shares ideas with practicing and aspiring leaders, scholars and students in academia, and all stakeholders who are involved in early childhood services regarding what leadership in the early childhood field means, what roles it plays, what skills are associated with developing leadership competence, and how it can contribute to professionalizing the field.

This book is composed of three parts. Part I explores the concept of leadership and presents various theories, models, and styles of leadership. In an effort to help readers understand the complicated concept, the book highlights the differences between leadership and management, and outlines key concepts related to leadership such as influence and motivation, vision and goals, and collaboration. Leadership is conceived as a process to identify, establish, and actualize a vision for a group of people, in collaboration with its people, to achieve a common goal. Part II discusses the skills and characteristics of effective leaders in early childhood practice, which include: communication skills and meeting others' needs; meeting personal needs and managing stress; conflict resolution and mediation; decision-making and problem-solving; cultivating the culture of collaboration and collective responsibility; supporting professional development of its team members as a supervisor, mentor, and/or coach; and coping with and leading change. Part III presents issues related to the responsibilities of leaders in early childhood in four aspects: (1) knowing the benefits of research, having positive attitudes toward research, encouraging a research culture and participating in action research; (2) understanding the importance of and challenges in engaging families and communities, advocating for them, and becoming politically active; (3) leading ethical practice, protecting the rights of children and families, and ensuring quality services for them; and (4) building leadership capacity of early childhood educators and preparing for succession.

Theoretically and practically, this book is a great addition to the literature on leadership in early childhood in many aspects. First, it approaches the concept of leadership from both a general framework and an early childhood specific framework. After presenting a general understanding of the concept, the book discusses the uniqueness of the early childhood field, in terms of the possibilities of taking the leadership roles and positions at earlier stages of one's professional career in comparison to other fields. Second, basic principles and guidelines for identifying and building leadership characteristics and skills are provided throughout the book. In terms of its practical applicability, these basic elements, principles and guidelines described in the book allow readers who may have a diversity of educational background, training, and experience to understand and apply them to meet their various needs. Third, insightful arguments are based on the author's research and expertise on the topic over the past decades, along with her interaction with numerous formal and informal leaders in various countries. …

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