The role of the speech- language pathologist is critical to the success of any school, and in a leadership role, this professional brings a rich background of experiences, skills, and vision to school-based practice. Leadership has many characteristics, but good schools are created and guided by teamwork, values, and a vision for excellence and change. This four-part leadership forum will explore the components of effective school-based practice and take a critical look at how vision and values combine to fuel instructional leadership and promote clinical and educational excellence in the schools.
The articles in this series are based on four presentations at a plenary session on "Vision and Values: What Works!" at the 2006 ASHA Schools Conference in Phoenix. The session featured nationally known—and dynamic—speakers in the educational speech-language pathology world: Judy Montgomery, Barbara Ehren, and Nickola Nelson. I had the good fortune to serve as a moderator and then deliver a keynote address on "Instructional Leadership: A Vision for Excellence and Change." The overwhelmingly positive response to the presentations inspired these articles in The ASHA Leader.
This series will include five articles that will examine how vision and values form the bedrock elements of instructional leadership, and how leadership fuels excellence in school-based practice. In this issue, Judy K. Montgomery shows how school SLPs can retool themselves to become effective leaders. She reviews the key elements of evidence-based practice and discusses how SLPs can retain the best interventions from the past while they incorporate the most effective and efficient strategies of today.
In the next issue, Barbara Ehren focuses on adolescents with disabilities in communication, language, and literacy. She examines how SLPs can thrive—not just survive—as professionals at the secondary level, and how they can likewise help their students thrive in school and in life. Ehren shows how clinicians should employ a "backward design" by starting with the end in terms of student success. More importantly, she stresses how intervention should focus on the "language underpinnings" of the school curriculum and engage adolescents as partners in the intervention.
The next installment in the series will include two articles that will put leadership theory into practice. My article will examine the nature of school-based leadership, commonalties among exceptional leaders, and how instructional leadership works to build effective schools. A companion article by Steve Griffin, my former student at Ohio State University, describes the step-by-step process by which he acted upon his leadership beliefs to transform the language and literacy programs in his schools.
The series concludes with an article by Nickola Nelson, who describes eight "be-attitudes" that clinicians can use to guide transitions in what they do and how they are seen. In a work setting that is full of new challenges and opportunities, clinicians who reconceptualize the nature of their work and make conscious choices about how they spend their time will find it easier to stay mentally healthy, relevant, and productive.
Much of what I teach in my classes or workshops I've learned from the other participants in this forum. They all have a passion for what they do, and without question, they all have a vision for excellence and change.