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Article

Academic Optimism  

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Collective Efficacy and Teacher Collective Efficacy  

Khaliza Saidin, Aizan Yaacob, and Nurul Shahidah Ahmad Nasir

Efficacy is a person’s degree of beliefs and confidence to implement a task and produce a positive change. Efficacy can be divided into two aspects, namely self-efficacy and collective efficacy. In the context of education, the focus of research on efficacy is on teacher self-efficacy and collective teacher efficacy. Teacher self-efficacy is teachers’ belief in their own ability to carry out a task in order to bring positive changes, while collective teacher efficacy is the shared belief of teachers from different backgrounds and competencies in their ability to achieve the same goal. Collective efficacy depends on teacher self-efficacy to create collective beliefs in ensuring the achievement of the school’s vision and mission. Studies on collective teacher efficacy have brought positive effects on student performance and achievement and become an indicator of student performance. However, the research trend has shifted to focus on the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and teacher leadership. It was found that collective teacher efficacy not only influenced student performance and achievement but also affected teacher leadership. In the Malaysian context, studies on collective teacher efficacy are still scarce and they mostly focused on demographic levels, factors affecting teacher collective efficacy, level of collective teacher efficacy and the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and student achievement. As teacher quality is an important factor in educational improvement, it is proposed that future studies in the Malaysian context emphasize the relationship between teacher collective efficacy and issues regarding teacher leadership as they eventually bring positive effects on students’ academic achievement. Therefore, more research is needed to address the role of teacher collective efficacy on teacher leadership in promoting quality of teaching and learning. A large scale radical improvement in the educational field is highly needed.

Article

Developing and Supporting Educational Leaders for Successful Community Partnerships  

Carlos Azcoitia, Karen Glinert Carlson, and Ted Purinton

Effective community school leaders build strong, reciprocal, and sustainable partnerships to support student growth, as well as to strengthen families and communities. Developing authentic alliances among teachers, parents, and community stakeholders creates a climate of trust and positive relationships that strengthens democratic schools. Community schools are an effective way to support families and students, as well as to mobilize the support needed to engage the community in developing effective partnerships. Yet in particular, it is community school leaders who cross traditional role boundaries and build cross-cultural fluency while balancing managerial concerns, navigating politics, dealing with external accountability pressures, and fostering shared accountability. They are the people who make community schools successful, and in turn, their leadership promotes positive growth in areas not traditionally perceived as falling in the domains of education. When school leaders engage in community-organizing strategies to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods, as well as to empower parents to take active roles in the education of their children, they inspire positive holistic changes within their schools and communities. Successful leaders make this look easy, yet the interplay of a leader’s knowledge base, skill set, and disposition is complex. A developmental model based on knowledge, skills, and dispositions that cultivate reciprocal sustainable partnerships is presented within the context of national leadership and community school standards.

Article

Educational Leadership as Practice  

Jane Wilkinson

In the first part of the 21st century there has been a turn to practice in the social sciences including organizational studies, critical management sociology, philosophy, and some domains of education inquiry. Despite a rich tradition of epistemological and ontological debates, educational leadership scholarship has been slow to recognize the productive nature of the practice turn. This is partly due to its historical location in North American pragmatic traditions and a concomitant privileging of more instrumentalist, positivist, and functionalist accounts of how we come to know, be, and learn to go on in the social world that constitutes educational organizations. Educational leadership scholarship has had two dominant tendencies when it comes to explaining the phenomenon of organizational change. The first relies on individualist and frequently decontextualized accounts that privilege individuals, for example, the hero leader who turns around a “failing” educational organization. The second draws on dominant societist accounts that foreground systems, for example, principals as role incumbents in schools. In so doing, the latter privileges the system above the lifeworld of educational organizations. In contrast, a practice account of leadership or leading draws our attention to the materiality and “happeningness” of leading practices as social phenomena, unfolding in the ontological specificity of particular sites at particular times, rather than as a set of espoused ideals. It foregrounds the cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements or practice architectures that hold in place particular educational practices, and that in turn create the kinds of enabling or constraining conditions for educational transformation to occur. By understanding the practices and arrangements that hold particular kinds of educational practices in place, we are better able to understand possibilities for educational change and transformation.

Article

Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Learning in Higher Education  

Karri A. Holley

Interdisciplinary curricula provide students the opportunity to work with knowledge drawn from multiple disciplines. Following suit, interdisciplinary learning requires interaction of knowledge from different disciplines; integration of knowledge from different disciplines; and an overarching topic, theme, or problem that shapes the learning experience. Since the university curriculum is commonly structured by academic disciplines, and faculty are socialized to their respective disciplinary norms, interdisciplinarity is a complex endeavor for colleges and universities. These endeavors include developing interdisciplinary courses, sustaining interdisciplinary initiatives, and financing interdisciplinary programs. Given the multiple challenges facing 21st-century society, the question of interdisciplinarity is urgent. How knowledge is defined and disseminated; how and what students learn; and how higher education can be responsive to its external environment are crucial issues facing educators. Responding to these issues does not diminish the role of the discipline in education, but rather acknowledges that knowledge is unbounded and potential discoveries lie outside compartmentalized structures.

Article

Mentoring Epistemologies Beyond Western Modalities  

Carol A. Mullen

Commitment to mentorship, while necessary to benefit mentoring parties, is insufficient to work with the complexities of contemporary educational settings, especially in pursuit of engagement and learning for all. Mentoring that makes a profound difference for all participants, worldwide, is oriented at the outset to call into question such organizational constraints as hegemony, hierarchy, and culture. Traditional versus alternative approaches to mentoring is a critical binary that can be differentiated in the abstract. However, context and culture are existing organizational realities for which mentoring forms, enactments, and activities (such as mentoring circles) either perpetuate the status quo or produce significant change. Thus, alternative mentoring approaches work within both the traditional view of mentoring and any alternative to it.

Article

Politics, Power, and Social Hegemony  

William Kyle Ingle and Lora Cohen-Vogel

In education, politics, power, and hegemony pertain to the ways actors with competing values work to forward their perspectives on social policy related to schools and schooling. Central to politics is conflict over scarce resources and influence. Politics is endemic in the education system. In the United States and other federations, it is manifest at multiple levels of that education system; it operates at the international, national, state, district, and school levels. Adding to this complexity, a wide array of actors shape the politics of education. As a field of study, the politics of education draws from and contributes to theories that help unpack this complexity and answer questions about how governments work and policy decisions get made. In the context of educational administration and organizations, power is a broad concept with many definitions, but at the core is control. There are many sources of power in schools as organizations, including reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, and expert power. Scholars in education have also classified power as formal or informal, personal or professional. Regardless of its source, there are problems and pitfalls with the use of power by educational leaders, and an overreliance of one source of power can come at the expense of another. The overwhelming hold of power and domination of one group over another is the definition of social hegemony. Social hegemony in education has taken various forms, showing up in student-assignment and school-discipline policies, hiring norms and practices, and reforms that purport to broaden opportunity and expand civil rights. Scholarly approaches like critical race theory and feminist critical policy analysis have worked to expose hegemonic devices, procedures, and practices that help explain persistent inequities in educational systems around the world.

Article

Poststructuralism and Educational Leadership and Administration  

Richard Niesche

Poststructuralism is broadly considered to be a particular movement of thought that emerged in France during the 1960s in response to a range of philosophical approaches such as modernism and structural linguistics. Poststructuralism has been extensively explored across philosophy, cultural studies, politics, and numerous other fields. It has also received significant attention in education, particularly in relation to education policy, although much less so in relation to educational leadership and administration. Nevertheless, it is important to identify some of the main thinkers who have been associated with poststructuralism, examples of how their work has been used and drawn from in educational leadership, and explore how these ideas might be useful in providing alternative perspectives to much of the existing research in educational leadership and administration.

Article

Principals’ and School Leaders’ Roles in Inclusive Education  

Barbara Pazey and Bertina Combes

The United States and other developed countries have acknowledged and supported the rights of students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education for decades. The role of the principal and school leader in overseeing educational programs and ensuring these entitlements become a reality for students with disabilities has taken center stage. Discussions related to principals and school leaders fulfilling the roles of leader and manager on behalf of students with disabilities linked the complementary disciplines of general and special education leadership. The leadership approach they adopted led to debates surrounding the concept of inclusion and the provision of an inclusive education on behalf of students with disabilities. Current definitions of inclusive education are typically linked to concepts of equity, social justice, and recognition of the student’s civil right to be granted full membership in all aspects of the educational enterprise. The processes involved in creating an inclusive school environment require principals and school leaders to examine the values and beliefs that influence their own thinking and behaviors before they can communicate a vision of inclusion. Principals and school leaders must be willing to act in concert with others to create the type of school culture that unanimously and positively responds to difference so every student can achieve full membership and feel welcomed and valued.

Article

School Boards and Their Role in the Governance of Education  

Jacqueline Baxter

School governors play an important part in the democratic governance of education in a number of countries and forming a middle tier of accountability between state and schools. They carry out their role in a voluntary capacity. School governors are drawn from a range of backgrounds, including parents, school teachers, local politicians, business people, and professional groupings. They have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the country in which they are based. Their responsibilities can include, among others: developing a strategy for the school, monitoring the school budget, setting disciplinary strategy, setting school fees. Some members of the school board are elected, while others are co-opted or serve in an ex officio function—for example, head teachers. Political, social, and economic changes—based largely on shifts to the political economy of capitalism facilitated via organizations such as The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the late 1970s—have resulted in changes across education systems, leading to the globalization, privatization, and deregulation of public policy as a whole, and have affected the role and competencies of school governors. This is particularly the case in England and South Africa.

Article

School Choice and Educational Pluralism  

Giuseppe Bertagna and Francesco Magni

The early 21st century is an age in which freedoms seem to expand continuously and without limits; in addition to the traditional market freedoms, there is freedom of choice related to gender, to sex, to family, to health, to life and to end of life—to name just a few domains that have embraced the ethos of individual freedom. Nonetheless, in this context of growing freedom for everybody, there is a particular freedom whose “domain” has been limited, especially in Italy: the freedom of choice related to school and education. The constraints placed upon freedom of educational choice defaults, perhaps unintentionally, to a standard orthodoxy enforced by the state and its supposedly omniscient bureaucracy. What is meant by “school choice”? It means the freedom to choose the school, the teachers, the educators, the experiences, and the educational pathways that one supposes best for one’s children, without incurring legal and economic penalties. It also means accepting that the government may regulate the system of state and non-state schools (i.e., it sets out the rules and main goals in terms of the learning and educational values with which teaching institutions should comply). Yet, to balance this, the government, except in cases of exceptional and regulated substitution according to the subsidiarity principle, may not ordinarily manage the organization and functioning of state schools and—more evidently—of non-state schools through a centralized governmental administration. These activities should be left to the individual responsibility of schools, families, companies, private investors, and the institutions of civil society. Last but not least, “school choice” means that the government bears the key responsibility of checking that schools comply with the established rules and values, and that students receive a satisfactory education, and of then making the results of those checks transparent and available for the public. This way, the government can give families very useful information that equips them to make their school choice responsibly.

Article

Self-efficacy of School Principals  

Yael Fisher

The term school principals’ self-efficacy has changed over the past three decades because principals’ roles and duties have changed. Given that professional self-efficacy deals with competence in the profession, if the nature of the profession changes, the level of one’s professional self-efficacy will change as well. There have been found connections between self-efficacy and choosing a career and that efficacy is a robust contributor to career development. People seek a match between their interests and occupational environments. Thus, self-efficacy is believed to be a situational rather than a stable trait. Therefore, understanding that the term principals’ self-efficacy includes certain level of confidence in one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities, which are associated with the task of leading. This has a great importance with respect to the overall managing of schools. Self-efficacy should not be confused with self-esteem or self-concept since it is a task-specific evaluation. In contrast, self-esteem and self-concept reflect more general affective evaluations of the self. Research on principals’ self-efficacy usually includes measures of multidimensional self-efficacy, which enables to capture the various elements of the principals’ work. Few studies have been conducted on the measurement of school principals’ self-efficacy, and most of these are based on the quantitative methodology, emphasizing instruments and scales that describe situations and areas of the principal’s work. Understanding principals’ self-efficacy could assist policymakers with decisions concerning continuing professional development.

Article

Status, Content, and Evaluation of Lesson Study in Japan on Teacher Professional Development  

Takashi Nagashima

In Japan, various styles of Lesson Study (LS) have been born over 140 years. The first issue is what should be the focus of observation in the live lesson. There are two trends with regard to the target of observation. One is teacher- and lesson-plan-centered observation since the Meiji era (1870s), and the other is child-centered observation since the Taisho era (1910s). The former is closely related to administrative-led teacher training. The latter is more complex and can be further divided into five types. The second issue is which activities are given priority in the LS processes: observation of the live lesson itself, preparation before the lesson, or reflection after the lesson. Furthermore, each activity can be designed as a personal or a collaborative process. Thus, there are roughly six types of LS in Japan related to this issue. Which type is adopted depends on the period, lesson-study frequency, and school type. In addition, it is noteworthy that the type of LS implemented is closely related to which of demonstration teacher or observers are regarded as the central learners. The third issue is whether to regard LS as scientific research or as literary research. Teachers and researchers in 1960s Japan had strong interest in making lessons and lesson studies more scientific. On the other hand, as teachers attempt to become more scientific, they cannot but deny their daily practice: making improvised decisions on complicated situations without objective evidence. Although lesson studies have been revised in various forms and permutations over the last 140, formalization and ceremonialization of lesson studies has become such that many find lesson studies increasingly meaningless and burdensome. What has become clear through the discussions on the three issues, the factors that impede teacher learning in LS are summarized in the following four points; the bureaucracy controlled technical expert model, exclusion of things that are not considered scientific, the view of the individualistic learning model, and the school culture of totalitarian products. To overcome obstruction of teachers’ education in LS and the school crisis around the 1980s, the “innovative LS Cases” has begun in the 1990s. The innovative LS aims not for as many teachers as possible but for every teacher to learn at high quality. In the innovative LS Case, what teachers are trying to learn through methods of new LS is more important than methods of new LS itself. Although paradoxical, in order to assist every single teacher to engage in high quality learning inside school, LS is inadequate. It is essential that LS address not only how to actualize every single teacher to learn with high quality in LS but also through LS how to improve collegiality which enhances daily informal collaborative learning in teachers room. Furthermore, LS cannot be established as LS alone, and the school reform for designing a professional learning community is indispensable. Finally, the concept of “the lesson study of lesson study (LSLS)” for sustainable teacher professional development is proposed through organizing another professional learning communities among managers and researchers.

Article

Theories of Educational Leadership  

Gabriele Lakomski and Colin W. Evers

From its beginnings in the 1940s, leadership research has been conducted as a scientific activity, with the aim of discovering the essence of leadership that, once found, would provide social–organizational benefits. However, no essence has been discovered, and research continues undeterred. Leadership theories old and new rely on the conception of science, known as logical empiricism, to support their claims. The identification of logical empiricism with science, however, is a mistake as empiricism is no longer considered valid, a mistake perpetuated in contemporary education leadership theories that present their accounts as alternatives to science. A better account of science, “naturalistic coherentism,” is able to advance the theory and practice of education leadership by growing knowledge, not by denying it.

Article

Transformative Leadership  

Carolyn M. Shields

Transformative leadership theory (TLT) is distinct from other leadership theories because of its inherently normative and critical approach grounded in the values of equity, inclusion, excellence, and social justice. It critiques inequitable practices, oppression, and marginalization wherever they are found and offers the promise not only of greater individual achievement but of a better life lived in common with others. Two basic propositions (or hypotheses) and eight tenets ensure the comprehensiveness of TLT. The first hypothesis is that when students feel welcome, respected, and included, they are better able to focus on learning and, hence, distal academic outcomes improve. The second hypothesis is that when there is a balance between public and private good emphases, and students are taught about civic participation, democratic society is strengthened. To fulfil these hypotheses, TLT is neither prescriptive nor instrumental; it does not offer a checklist of actions, but instead offers eight guiding tenets to ensure responsiveness to the needs of specific organizational and cultural contexts. The origins of TLT lie in a rejection of primarily technical approaches to leadership that do not adequately address the diversity of 21st-century schools and that have not been able to reduce the disparities between dominant and minoritized groups of students. Transformative leadership theory, like transformational leadership, draws on Burns’s concept of transforming leadership, although the two have sometimes been confused and confounded. Transformational leadership has more positivist overtones and focuses more on organizational effectiveness and efficiency; TLT has been operationalized as a values-based critical theory, focused both on beliefs and actions that challenge inequity and that promote more equity and inclusive participation. TLT draws on other critical theories, including critical race theory, queer theory, leadership for social justice, and culturally responsive leadership, as well as transformative learning theory, in order to promote a more equitable approach to education. Thus, it takes into account the material, lived realities of those who participate in the institution as well as organizational contingencies. To do so, the following eight specific interconnected and interrelated principles have been identified from the literature: • the mandate for deep and equitable change; • the need to deconstruct and reconstruct knowledge frameworks that perpetuate inequity and injustice; • the need to address the inequitable distribution of power; • an emphasis on both private and public (individual and collective) good; • a focus on emancipation, democracy, equity, and justice; • an emphasis on interdependence, interconnectedness, and global awareness; • the necessity of balancing critique with promise; • the call to exhibit moral courage. Questioning, dialogue, free-writing, reflection, deliberative and distributive processes, and relationship-building are central to the successful implementation of TLT. TLT in education is a proven way to address the persistent opportunity and achievement gaps between dominant and minoritized students and of enhancing democratic participation in civil society. In other areas, such as business, non-profits, social services, or sociocultural support agencies, TLT offers a comprehensive way for leaders to reflect on how to provide equitable, inclusive, and excellent environments for both clients and employees.