Using Lifemaps to Build Capacity for Educational Leadership

Heather Williams
Boise State University

Esther Enright
Boise State University

This study examines the impact of a pedagogical strategy using individual life mapping as a foundational piece of a graduate educational leadership program. We argue that active learning opportunities, like life mapping, allow educational leadership students to explore more fully their sense-making processes about systems leadership, which is foundational to their developing mindsets and leadership skills. J├Ąppinen (2014) suggests that educational leadership programs should aim to allow students to make sense of the complexity around them and study the viewpoint of collaborative non-linear human interactions in their journey to leadership. Data and artifacts were collected from 41 graduate students; their ages ranged from 29 to 65 with the median age being 46. All the participants were enrolled in the closed-cohort, executive educational leadership program working toward an Educational Specialist degree and superintendent certification. The final condensing of the initial categories into macro-level themes illustrated that students perceived the life mapping activity as a catalyst for learning about themselves and others, building a successful cohort, and affirming their decisions to become systems leaders.

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