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Avoiding School Leadership Burnout

Posted: August 14, 2018

Avoiding School Leadership Burnout by Baruti K. Kafele

Pressures on school administrators are now epic. To keep from collapsing, leaders need to keep a grip on their "why."

It is my strong opinion that we are living through what is probably the toughest era ever to be an educator in the United States—whether as a classroom teacher or a building administrator. In my travels around the country as an education consultant (who led secondary schools for years), teachers and school leaders often engage me in intense discussions about the topic of avoiding burnout. This isn't surprising, considering what educators are now being asked to do. In terms of lifting school achievement, educators are expected to work miracles daily. Whatever the hand that's dealt to the educators of a given school, they are expected to produce—and quickly.

The Squeeze on Teachers …
Pressures on classroom teachers to perform at higher levels and ensure that every student meets highly ambitious achievement goals come from multiple layers—the federal and state government, the district, the local school board, the community, and parents. Every one of these stakeholders is communicating to the teacher, "I expect you to reach our goals," despite the fact that the necessary resources that would make the expected gains a possibility and reality are nonexistent in far too many cases. As this pressure continues to mount, many teachers feel alone with nowhere to turn. They start to question whether or not teaching is something they want to do over the long haul.

… And Leaders
But it's important to keep in mind that school leaders face the same if not greater pressure. A new principal of a low-performing, high-poverty school may be given the keys to the front door and informed that he or she has three to five years to turn the school around.

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Save the Date: 2019 Leadership Summit!

Posted: August 14, 2018

Mark your calendars! The 2019 NSELA Leadership Summit will happen in St. Louis, Missouri on April 10 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis At The Arch.



Click Here For More Information! 


"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: August 14, 2018

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) informs workers, employers, and occupational health professionals about workplace chemicals and their hazards.  It is a great resource for science teachers at one easy location.

Check it out at:


For current safety updates five days a week,
 follow Dr. Ken on Twitter @drroysafersci. Also follow Dr. Ken on Instagram at Drkensafetyjob1.


Subscribe To The New Online Journal Connected Science Learning

Posted: August 14, 2018

Connected Science Learning is an online journal highlighting STEM education experiences that bridge the gap between in-school and out-of-school settings. It features articles about highly effective preK–12 STEM learning programs that promote collaboration between the in-school and out-of-school communities, and shares research that supports such efforts. Please visit for more information. 


Lead or Follow: What Sets Leaders Apart?

Posted: August 8, 2018

Leaders are more willing to take responsibility for making decisions that affect the welfare of others. In a new study, researchers at the University of Zurich identified the cognitive and neurobiological processes that influence whether someone is more likely to take on leadership or to delegate decision-making.

Which school should I send my child to? Do I need to scale back the workforce in my company? Should the soldiers launch an attack tonight or wait until tomorrow? Parents, company bosses and army generals as well as teachers and heads of state all have something in common: They all have to make decisions that do not just affect themselves, but also influence the welfare of others. Sometimes the consequences will be borne by individuals, but sometimes by whole organizations or even countries.

Responsibility Aversion makes all the difference

Researchers from the Department of Economics investigated what it is that sets people with high leadership abilities apart. In the study, which has just been published in the journal Science, they identify and characterize a common decision process that may distinguish followers from leaders: Responsibility aversion, or the unwillingness to make decisions that also affect others.

Controlled experiments and brain imaging

In the study leaders of groups could either make a decision themselves or delegate it to the group. A distinction was drawn between "self" trials, in which the decision only affected the decision-makers themselves, and "group" trials, in which there were consequences for the whole group. The neurobiological processes taking place in the brains of the participants as they were making the decisions were examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

People who take on responsibility need more certainty

The scientists tested several common intuitive beliefs, such as the notion that individuals who are less afraid of potential losses or taking risks, or who like being in control, will be more willing to take on responsibility for others. These characteristics, however, did not explain the differing extent of responsibility aversion found in the study participants. Instead they found that responsibility aversion was driven by a greater need for certainty about the best course of action when the decision also had an effect on others. This shift in the need for certainty was particularly pronounced in people with a strong aversion to responsibility.

Theoretical concept for different leadership types

"Because this framework highlights the change in the amount of certainty required to make a decision, and not the individual's general tendency for assuming control, it can account for many different leadership types," says lead author Micah Edelson. "These can include authoritarian leaders who make most decisions themselves, and egalitarian leaders who frequently seek a group consensus."

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