LEADING CHARACTER: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CHARACTERISTICS AND EFFECTIVE PRACTICES OF CHARACTER EDUCATION LEADERS
In this collaborative Dissertation of Practice we examined the leadership frameworks, leader characteristics, and effective character education practices that can help foster students’ intellectual, moral, performance, and civic character development. The project used a mixed-methods approach to study the relationships among: (a) three frameworks of character education leadership, (b) effective character education practices, and (c) school and student outcomes. Three members of the team focused on a specific set of leadership characteristics: (a) a newly created framework called Vulnerable Leadership, (b) the existing model of Transformational Leadership, and (c) a newly created framework called Professional Growth Leadership. The fourth member examined effective character education practices using a new measure called the Effective Character Education Score (ECES). The team measured outcomes to include performance data (academic, behavior, attendance), climate data (parent, student, staff), and character education recognitions or awards. Significant correlations were found between each of the leadership frameworks and the ECES, among the three leadership frameworks, and between ECES and the outcomes. Ultimately, this work proposes a taxonomy of effective character education practices and a paradigm shift for effective school leadership; the suggested new model is called The Connected Leader. The Connected Leader includes three components: personal growth, positive school culture, and caring relationships. This new model stresses that an effective character education leader should connect with self, staff, students, and stakeholders of a school community.