Redefining Leadership: Lessons from an Early Education Leadership Development Initiative
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This study examined how experienced early educators developed as change agents in the context of a leadership development program. Unlike in many other professions, experienced early educators lack opportunities to grow throughout their careers and access the supports they need to lead change in their classrooms, organizations, the profession, and beyond. This qualitative study brings a relational and entrepreneurial leadership theory lens to its analysis of the experiences of 43 early educators as they co-created pathways forward as leaders for change. The study defines leadership as a process of influencing change to improve early care and education, and not reserved just for those with a formal leadership position. Results show how educators came to see themselves as leaders and pursued different paths to making change and driving improvement. The study offers a new conceptual mapping of a leadership development ecosystem for supporting educators’ capacity to identify as leaders as well as lead improvement and innovation. The paper concludes with lessons learned and recommendations for strengthening the leadership infrastructure to support early educator leadership for change and innovation.
KeywordsEarly education leadership Teacher leadership Child care Leadership Change Leadership development Innovation
Funding was provided by Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (Grant No. CTEEC0900ISAEECRTTT0806UMB13A).
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