June 9, 2017
As this school year comes to a close, school leaders from across the U.S. will have the opportunity to demonstrate their edudexterity. By definition edudexterity is a school leader’s ability to effectively lead a school organization of today while simultaneously implementing a strategy of exploration for the schools of tomorrow. The annual rite of passage from one school year to the next is an obvious point at which a school system’s present and future most clearly intersect. What a school leader does when standing at these crossroads is but a small test of his/her edudexterity.
At the end of a school year, in and among other things, school leaders must ensure that all student grades are submitted, teachers check out of their classrooms, final staff evaluations are completed, and that their budget and other annual reports have been filed. While completing these year-end tasks, school leaders must also simultaneously plan for the coming school year by filling staff vacancies, compiling new class lists, completing purchase orders for supplies, finalizing a draft calendar of school events, and submitting their school and individual leadership goals. For an edudexterous school leader, the present and future are easily kept in balance, and this transition from one school year to the next is seamless and orderly. And, although these two terms imply the absence of change, edudexterous leaders by their nature embrace change, and understand that it is central to the k-12 mission.
However, there are times when school leaders face disruptive changes in transitioning from one school year to the next. School closings, teacher layoffs, budget cuts, and the implementation of new state and federal mandates each having the potential for fundamentally altering a school system’s structural and operational underpinnings. It is under these more extreme conditions in which the mettle of a truly edudexterous school leader can be measured. Being edudexterous also requires that a school leader envision successful schools from both educational and business perspectives. Certainly, budget cuts and school closings test these core leadership competencies. And, challenges such as navigating a school system through employee layoffs requires a school leader to excel in multiple educator roles from Human Resources Professional to Social Worker.
Whether in the best of times or in the worst of times, edudexterous school leaders possess the ability to “see today with the eyes of tomorrow.” It is through this lens that k-12 public schools can regain their prominence as a world leader in education.
Robert J. Harris (@edudexterous) is the Founder of Edudexterity.