Navigating Conflict in Public Schools

Do you remember a school leader who inspired your growth as an educator? Maybe an experienced teacher helped you build confidence as a novice teacher, or an administrator who led your school through the pandemic fueled your interest in a leadership career.

As the pandemic fades from headlines, battles over topics such as curriculum and instruction continue across the country. The changing public education landscape calls for leaders who do what is best for students and teachers while navigating conflict and controversy.

The Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Leadership with a concentration in P-12 Education program gives graduates the confidence to lead in times of calm and chaos. This online degree program, designed for teachers not seeking advanced certification, prepares candidates for roles such as teacher leaders, department chairs and directors of curriculum.

What Is the Public Education Climate?

Conflict and controversy are not new to public education. Textbook controversies, for example, began long before today’s national debates on curriculum.

These political and cultural conflicts add a new layer to public education leadership. As the nation debates what kids should learn, leaders must create a school culture that values and promotes effective instruction and student success.

How Can Leaders Keep the Peace While Managing Conflict?

A day in the life of any leader includes managing conflict. But the controversies impacting school communities today pose new challenges.

Three areas of preparation can help future leaders build learning communities where teachers and students thrive, even in difficult times:

1. School Law

School law pertains to schools, teachers and students in health services, privacy and technology, disability, curriculum, assessment, athletics and school board practices.

From disputes related to special education requirements to student-filed “right-to-education” lawsuits, there is a lot to keep up with in the world of court cases affecting public education. As a result, school leaders stay updated with school law to make informed decisions.

The School Law course in the FGCU online M.A. Educational Leadership, P-12 Education program builds knowledge of court decisions that affect public schools, emphasizing Florida state statutes.

2. Data-Driven Decision-Making

School leaders make countless routine and unexpected decisions every day. As with the business world, effective school leaders use data to identify needs, prioritize goals and guide decision-making.

A typical example is visualizing student data to promptly identify and address learning gaps. On a related note, research-driven instructional practices such as inquiry-based learning can improve student engagement with a high-quality curriculum. Educational leaders should use research data to promote understanding of curriculum and instruction decisions and support desired outcomes.

Relevant courses in the FGCU online M.A. Educational Leadership, P-12 Education program:

  • Instructional Leadership prepares curriculum leaders to make research-based decisions related to curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment.
  • Data and Analysis in Education Theory prepares graduates with the skills to gain valuable insight from data.
  • The Learning, Accountability and Assessment course equips students with necessary skills in curriculum development, continuous school improvement and the ways curriculum, learning, accountability and assessment work together.

3. Effective Leadership Practices

Teachers make informed decisions daily regarding evidence-based instruction, assessment and classroom management. They build productive relationships with colleagues and administrators, engage in professional development, mentor novice teachers and manage tough conversations with families. Teachers are leaders, and their classroom skills and experiences can support transitioning to leadership roles.

Relevant courses in the FGCU online M.A. Educational Leadership, P-12 Education program (in addition to Instructional Leadership, above):

  • Principles of Educational Leadership examines the leadership of educational systems as a profession.
  • Organizational Development explores historical and current best practices in leadership and change theory.
  • Tech for Educational Leadership empowers aspiring leaders to model and guide the competent use of technology. Topics include content management systems, student information systems and spreadsheet software.
  • Educational Leadership Internship provides leadership-level experience in school systems.

If you are a forward-thinking educator seeking leadership opportunities, the FGCU online M.A. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in P-12 Education program can prepare you for success. With targeted coursework that builds a foundation in effective school organization, management and leadership, you can graduate with the knowledge, skills and credentials to take your educational leadership career to the next level.

Learn more about the FGCU online M.A. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in P-12 Education program.

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