Innovative Leadership for Twenty-First Century Skill-Building: The Principal’s Role in Establishing Futures-Oriented Teacher and Student Learning Cultures and Practices

By Susanne Owen.

Published by The International Journal of Educational Organization and Leadership

Format Price
Published online: August 6, 2015 $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many teachers are exploring more innovative pedagogical approaches in the classroom but to maximise the benefits for students, whole school and sustainable approaches and leadership from the principal is essential. Innovative schools and classrooms in the public and private systems focus on developing 21st century skills for students to prepare them for futures-oriented work and life, skills such as independent learning, creativity, problem solving, social and communication skills. There is little research evident in the school leadership literature about the role of principals who are committed to establishing a 21st century learning culture throughout the school, similarly supporting teachers in building these skills as they engage in very different teaching approaches. This paper presents some findings from research in some significantly innovative schools in the South Australian context, with a particular focus on the role of the principal. The research was conducted using mixed methods including document study, surveys, and interviews. Findings are that principals can support teacher change and the development of 21st century skills through nurturing staff ownership and commitment to a futures-oriented vision and through establishing data-focused teacher action research professional learning teams. Provision of funds and time for collaborative and innovative pedagogical experimentation also supports skill-building. Other findings relate to encouraging leadership skills development and teachers becoming co-learners with students and colleagues. There are implications for leaders working in whole school significantly innovative contexts to focus on not only the 21st century skill building processes for students but also in using innovative leadership approaches and providing similar opportunities for teacher professional learning and growth.

Keywords: Innovative Leadership, 21st Century Learning, Changing Teacher Work Roles

The International Journal of Educational Organization and Leadership, Volume 22, Issue 4, December, 2015, pp.45-56. Published online: August 6, 2015 (Article: Print (Spiral Bound)). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 425.576KB).

Dr. Susanne Owen

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Division of Education, Arts, Social Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia