The Role of Administrators in Instilling Confidence in Diverse Student Populations
Administrators must hold high expectations for educators, staff, and students to ultimately create a welcoming campus climate that values a culturally diverse atmosphere. School leaders must provide positive direction and exercise positive influence, and help the institution develop shared goals (Leithwood, Louis, Anderson & Wahlstrom, 2004), such as promoting and appreciating campus diversity. It is important to note that professional development, professional learning communities, and innovative ideas that promote parent/ guardian and student engagement in decision-making can all benefit an institution.
Staying up-to-date with teaching strategies and skills, advances in technology, and other trends in education through professional development is imperative to create a successful educational environment. Providing instructional guidance can be achieved through setting standards, assessing work, and ongoing professional development for educators (Leithwood, et. al., 2004). Along with diversity training, administrators should consider providing additional professional development opportunities for teachers that provide strategies to enhance students’ self-esteem and confidence.
Administrators have the responsibility to empower faculty and staff to collaborate and create significant decisions for campuses (Leithwood, et. al., 2004). School leaders can also encourage the implementation and successful use of professional learning communities that allow for a segment of teachers’ discussions to heavily focus on ensuring that the school’s and community’s young Muslim students are given support and guidance. Collaboration is essential to create programs and initiatives for student support. For example, departments at the elementary, middle school, and secondary levels can complete an analysis of best practices Islamic schools and other religiously affiliated institutions around the nation implement to enhance students’ religious and ethnic identity development. Departments can also create a list of challenges students must overcome to develop confidence in their identity and strategies to tackle these issues. After each department of an institution complies a list addressing the issue of diversity and ethnic identity development, department heads and administrators can create a larger list combining strategies and recommendations from all departments. This drafted list should be presented to faculty and staff during the school’s regular staff meeting and any last suggestions from faculty and staff should be utilized to create a final list. Strategies placed on
this list should provide all administrators, faculty, and staff, with practical methods of implementation that can be utilized in the classroom and as a campus at large.
Faculty, staff, students, and their families depend on school leaders to create and implement strategic school improvement plans. Administrators must productively develop plans based on student and teacher performance and effectively implement plans with staff input (Leithwood, et. al., 2004). To further shed light on diversity issues and identity development, administrators can creatively develop ways in which teachers, students, and parents/guardians can get involved in decision making regarding efforts to enhance student confidence in their identity. For instance, students can complete anonymous surveys regarding the level of confidence they feel in their identity and common struggles they encounter that inhibit their identity development, along with suggestions on how their Islamic school can support them through challenges they encounter as young Muslim Americans. Parents can also complete anonymous surveys for which they provide alternate opinions and views, however these surveys must be easily accessible by using printed surveys, automated phone calls, and/or emails.