Leadership Development in Independent Schools: A Needs Assessment and Recommendations for the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools
Given an increasingly volatile landscape for independent schools over the last decade, the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) recognizes the need to assist member schools with the retention and development of prospective leaders. In this project, I sought to understand the alignment between the current leadership development practices and the future leadership needs of CAIS member schools. I also sought to understand what aspiring CAIS school leaders need in order to develop their practice of leadership. I conducted a survey of CAIS member school heads and interviewed seven current CAIS school administrators, and analyzed the data using the conceptual framework of opportunities to learn as affordances for learning (Greeno & Gresalfi, 2008). I found that current school leaders do not think that their schools’ efforts are sufficient for identifying and preparing successors to senior leadership positions. School leaders identified on-the-job learning experiences, sponsorship, opportunities to expand their perspective on school operations, and self-reflection as key practices in their development as leaders. From these findings, I made informed recommendations to CAIS for programming to help member schools develop succession plans, enable more employees to expand their perspectives on school operations, and cultivate mentorship cultures that will yield more equitable and inclusive sponsorship.
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