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Supporting Leaders for School Improvement Through Self-Care and Wellbeing

Edited by:
Bradley W. Carpenter
Julia Mahfouz
Kerry Robinson

A volume in the series: Leadership for School Improvement. Editor(s): Sonya Hayes, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Call for Chapters

The turnover of school leaders has reached absolute crisis levels in the United States (Tran, 2017). This is particularly problematic for local communities, as, next to teachers, quality school leaders are the second most important factor on student academic outcomes. While school leaders play a central role in the success of students, the job of the school leader has rapidly evolved, and the additional responsibilities and workload-related issues associated with this position has made the principalship more physically and emotionally stressful (Carpenter & Brewer, 2012; Chaplain, 2001; Darmody & Smyth, 2016; Wang, Pollock, & Hauseman, 2018). Subsequently, there has been a notable decline in school leaders’ quality of life and well-being and an alarming increase in principal turnover.

When principals and assistant principals are stressed and experiencing the effects associated with professional burnout a school's staff and students are negatively impacted and the overall quality of the school experience often deteriorates (Darmody & Smyth, 2016; Devos, Bouckenooghe, Engels, Hotton, & Aelterman, 2007). For school leaders to fully realize their ability to positively influence student outcomes they must be physically, mentally, cognitively, and emotionally healthy. This level of well-being occurs in the absence of any kind of physical, social, psychological, emotional, economic, and cognitive distress (La Placa, McNaught, & Knight, 2013).

To flourish—or, at the very least, survive—in a challenging environment, many school administrators have made cognitive, emotional, and behavioral efforts to cope with work-related pressure and occupational stress. Among the many coping strategies that school leaders develop to promote their health and wellbeing, mindfulness and other wellbeing interventions/strategies may help foster healthy lifestyles, relieve stress, and promote resilience (Aviles & Dent, 2015; Mahfouz, 2018; Wells, 2015). Recently, there has been a growing body of research that focuses on integrating well being practices in education through professional development programs for teachers and school administrators and in course content for students in preparation programs. For example, research efforts have focused on how incorporating mindfulness practice promotes positive adaptive skills, stress resilience, and social and emotional skills needed in a school environment (Jennings, Snowberg, Coccia, & Greenberg, 2011; Benn, Akiva, Arel, & Roeser, 2012; Jennings, 2015; Meiklejohn et al., 2012; Dvořáková et al., 2017; Mahfouz et al., 2018). New understandings about the relationship between school administrators’ well-being and mindfulness could ignite debate and interest within the field.

Market/Audience for Book

A quick scan of the current media landscape in other fields (books, magazines, podcasts), suggests this book has the potential to reach large numbers of persons within the field of educational leadership and beyond. The chapters in this book specifically target school boards, school district central offices, policymakers, and higher education (via leadership preparation programs), as it intends to provide readers with critical insight into the important, yet often-neglected, connection between principal wellbeing and the sundry of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and understandings school principals need for successful school leadership. The insights provided within these chapters could have a definitive impact on school district policies in terms of the selection, preparation, hiring, retention, and continued development of principals.

Possible questions to be answered by the chapters:

1. What is the landscape of wellbeing for school leaders look like in USA and across other countries?

2. What wellbeing and mindfulness interventions are available for school leaders, lead teachers and other positions of leadership within the school community? How, if at all, does this vary from region to region?

3. How can we encourage the development of frameworks and analytical tools to understand and support school leaders’ wellbeing and mindfulness in different school and community contexts?

4. How do education policy, policy-making, and educational reform efforts influence wellbeing and mindfulness for school leaders? What could be done to achieve the goal of ’being well’ for school leaders?

This book focuses on expanding the field of educational leadership with rich and applicable research. This volume, therefore, is an effort to encourage scholars to (a) consider more vigorous conceptual, methodological, and analytical approaches to leadership research; (b) to inform educational leadership practice about school leaders beyond their assigned role; and (c) to continue this effort for the purposes of contributing additional knowledge to the scholarly discipline of educational leadership.

Proposed Book Outline

Introduction and Significance

Section 1: Understanding the Landscape of Wellbeing in Educational Leadership
• Leadership stressors
• Leadership fatigue/burnout
• Leadership turnover/churn
• Leadership shortages

Section 2: Solutions to Address School Leader Wellbeing
• Mindfulness/ EI professional development programs
• Integration of Social emotional learning
• personal and leadership dispositions of wellbeing
• Shifts in school culture
• Change in systems thinking

Section 3: The Empirical Connection to Leadership Wellbeing and Student Success
• Academic
• Social-emotional
• Culture and climate
• Flourishing adults and students
• Parent/Caregiver involvement

Proposed Timeline

February 1, 2020: Authors submit abstracts to editors.
April 1 – May 31, 2020: Authors submit full manuscripts to editors.
August – October 1, 2020: Manuscripts undergo peer review.
October 30, 2020: Editors submits feedback to authors.
January 1, 2021: Authors submit revised final drafts to editor.
July, 2021: Targeted publication.

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