Educational leadership and teacher recognition

November 29, 2020

In this article, Sylvia reflects on educational leadership and how leaders can support and encourage teachers.   

Educational leadership and teacher recognition



We have all heard about the importance of leadership in all sectors of a country. Some of us have read material from prominent leaders (like Simon Sinek, Robert Iger, Richard Boyatzis, Safi Bahcall, Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Warren Bennis, John Wooden, Steve Jamison, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, David Goleman, and many others) who have written various books on the wider topic of leadership. However, today I will dwell on “educational leadership”.

Who is considered a school leader? “School leaders in OECD countries are facing challenges with the rising expectations for schools and schooling in a century characterized by technological innovation, migration, and globalization. As countries aim to transform their educational systems to prepare all young people with the knowledge and skills needed in this changing world, the roles and expectations for school leaders have changed radically.” (OECD, 2020)

A great leader is one who is self-aware, understands the importance of communicating with community members and works towards building community. Leaders are collaborative in nature, open to new ideas, are capable of leading by example, believe in setting new examples and harnessing the power of teaching and learning.

There are different educational leadership styles: authoritative (the leader leads the team towards one direction and is the one who makes decisions), affiliative (the leader is empathetic, more inclined towards building relationships through teams to make educators feel connected), democratic (the leader includes other team members and teachers to make them highly engaged in projects and decisions), coaching (the leader gives plenty of instruction and feedback), and finally visionary (a combination of the first three styles).

From my point of view, a great educational leader should be open-minded and have other qualities such as integrity, empathy, self-awareness, an ability to delegate, learning agility, be an innovator, global communicator, critical thinker, knowledge constructor and developer of emotional intelligence.

Generally, as soon as new governments take power, one of their main goals is to improve education in an attempt to achieve excellence. To accomplish this, they always suggest an increase in their education budget to enable them to review educational programs and to achieve educational equity.

There are always complaints about the limited budget allocated to acquire new technology educational resources, to offer different programs, to buy furniture or to improve facilities, but I humbly ask myself: is it necessary to ask for more budget? Is it worth buying more technology resources when teachers are not prepared to use them? Shouldn’t we focus on preparing teachers and update their knowledge, strategies and skills so they can implement existing resources?

I consider that it should be a priority to transform the educational system so teachers are able to achieve professional development equitably. There is no need to spend a lot of resources on supplies when educators are not prepared to carry out an educational transformation. Countries which offer a quality education request their teachers to have between 100 and 240 hours of professional development every year. If other countries want to achieve the same, shouldn’t they start with that?

Internet connection plays a vital role in countries that have an educational network and promotes a collaborative culture. This tool allows teachers around the world to be updated and share their knowledge in order to provide students with a better education.

So, what’s the purpose of having more resources if teachers don’t know how to use them? There are professionals in different countries who are well prepared and love researching, however, they are self-taught and go unnoticed in the educational system. If countries want to achieve educational excellence, they should focus on teachers’ professional development, foster an educational culture as well as value those who are trained and be proud of the results they obtain from their students.

After taking power, educational authorities promise many things, from the Minister to the school directors. One of them is to give priority to education, especially to teachers, who must be respected and valued according to their meritocracy and competitiveness. Those kinds of speeches are repeated many times. I’ve listened to the phrase “teacher’s role is essential to achieve the goals and a qualified and excellence in education”…

Unfortunately, those are only words which are often repeated in many countries across the world.




When a teacher leaves a school, he or she is generally more interested in the love and recognition that he or she receives from the students than performance data.

Leaders or authorities who have important roles act the same way when somebody leaves or decides to retire. They often do not take into account what that educator has done for the institution or students. It doesn’t matter if that teacher has worked 5, 10, 20, or more than 30 years giving his or her best to that organization. Often the effort that has been put into developing professionally is neglected too.

Generally, leaders don’t make any difference between an average or an excellent teacher. In my opinion, that is a lack of recognition. If we want to promote outstanding teachers, we should value their job. As a passionate global educator who will continue researching and giving my input to improve global education until my last days, I ask myself, where is this recognition? Are the speeches put into practice or are they merely promises and words?

Great leaders do not tar everyone with the same brush. A good leader knows when to make exceptions, for example, when a principal gives a special award to a teacher or mediates with higher authorities because an educator should be distinguished from others. Another good example of this is that countries that obtain excellent results in the PISA tests usually recognize their teachers according to their meritocracy and competitiveness.

In conclusion, it seems true that to provide a quality education, we need very good teachers, but if they exist they must have special recognition. Those who lead should begin to execute the words they preach with a practical model. It seems perfect to be demanding but also to value educators. I consider that both leaders and educators play a fundamental role in achieving quality education. Leaders and authorities must reward those teachers who stand out and are involved and committed to achieve education of excellence. Teachers are heroes and must be recognized as such because the world is in their hands.


OECD. “Improving School Leadership – Home.” OECD, 2020,

Educational Leadership

1 Comment

  1. Claudia



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