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Article

Place-Based Educational Leadership  

Noelle W. Arnold

Understanding, shaping, and mediating the unique contexts and communities in which schools are located offers a unique approach to educational-leadership preparation. The emerging frame of PLACE describes a place-based leading and learning framework for educational-leadership preparation that uses a combination of concept-based curricula that includes practice and problem-solving in context, bridging culture and community, arts and humanities pedagogies, creative evaluation and engagement, and leadership for context rather than for region that includes followership models. Place-based educational leadership focuses on context-based professional practice that has a direct bearing on the well-being of individuals in the school ecology and the larger ecologies in which they live and work.

Article

Profiles of Maladministration in Higher Education  

Autumn Tooms Cyprès

Maladministration is the performance of leadership relative to the considerable mismanagement of official functions centering on conduct described as incompetent, but not illegal. Understandings of maladministration in the literature are extended through portraits of everyday acts of maladministration within university schools and colleges of education. These are meant to complement the existing research on various psychologies of dysfunctional leadership through the specific lens of day-to-day leadership actions. In this article, an examination of organizational symptoms of maladministration is offered along with its overall impact on organizational culture. For purposes of this article, maladministration is defined as the performance of leaders relative to the considerable mismanagement of official functions that centers on conduct described as incompetent, but not illegal. Specific portraits intended to deconstruct maladministrators in their everyday efforts are described. Then, concluding thoughts outline a set of diagnostic tools and advice for those looking to navigate their careers around and even transcend leaders who are guilty of maladminstrative practice. Like the disciplines of medicine and the law, leadership is a professional endeavor built on translating bodies of research, professional skill sets, and dispositions into daily practice. As with other professions, the struggle to define the difference between appropriate practice and substandard work is challenging. Arguably, more attention in the literature has been given to examining the hallmarks of skilled leadership rather than the contours of malpractice. A term used in various global contexts to reference the failed execution of leadership responsibilities is maladministration. For purposes of this discussion, maladministration is defined as the performance of leaders relative to the considerable mismanagement of official functions that centers on conduct described as incompetent, but not illegal. This article extends understandings of maladministration by presenting portraits of everyday maladministration within university schools and colleges of education. Understandings of maladministration in the literature are extended through portraits of everyday acts of maladministration within university schools and colleges of education. These are meant to complement the existing research on various psychologies of dysfunctional leadership through the specific lens of day-to-day leadership actions. This article begins with an examination of organizational symptoms of maladministration along with its overall impact on organizational culture. Next, specific portraits intended to deconstruct maladministrators in their everyday efforts are outlined. The concluding discussion outlines a set of diagnostic tools and advice for those looking to navigate their careers around and even transcend leaders who are guilty of maladminstrative practice.

Article

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and School Leadership in Action  

Tomoko Takahashi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) was a geographer, elementary school teacher and principal, and educational reformer, who was active in the early-to-mid 1900s in Japan. As a school leader and scholar-practitioner guided by a passion for supporting teachers and improving education for the happiness of children, Makiguchi scrutinized pedagogy as a science and proposed a number of reforms of the Japanese education system, key elements of which, he believed, were failing teachers and students alike. His proposals included, among many: the establishment of standards of competency expected of school principals as well as a system of examination to uphold these standards; the abolition of a government-led school inspection system that pressured and restricted teachers from freely conducting teaching activities; and the establishment of an “education research institute” and an organization for the training of teachers. The growing number of modern educational scholars and practitioners paying attention to Makiguchi’s work and philosophy find his ideas not only valid and applicable to education in the 21st century but also remarkably innovative and insightful. His proposal for school leadership was still but a voice in the wilderness in the 1930s. It was also a bold and audacious attempt for him, especially at the time of the militarist regime. Makiguchi is often compared with his contemporary John Dewey (1859–1952). Evidently, Makiguchi and Dewey were both visionaries, passionate school leaders, and fearless reformers. Bearing this in mind, Makiguchi deserves much more attention than he has received thus far—at least as much as Dewey, if we are to balance the historical account of progressive education as a transnational phenomenon.

Article

School Boards  

Michael Ford

School boards are a fixture of America’s public education system. The vast majority of public school students obtain an education overseen by one of over 13,000 locally elected school boards. Yet scholars and advocates continue to debate the legitimacy, efficacy, and even need for school boards. Supporters argue that school boards are bastions of local control designed to represent citizen values. Critics dismiss school boards as under qualified, overly political, and generally not up to the task of improving student outcomes. Key areas of school board research include board zones of discretion, superintendent relations, the link between school board governance and outcomes, and role of special interest groups in board elections. All of these research areas relate to the larger question of whether school boards are the appropriate model for the oversight of public education.

Article

Development of Cross-School Professional Learning Communities  

David Middlewood and Ian Abbott

Effective schools are widely recognized as those in which the adults who work there are committed to their own learning and where learning is at the heart of everything undertaken, in effect learning organizations. In such learning cultures, there is a perpetual process of change and development and such schools have become known as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Such PLCs are discovering that one of the most successful ways of supporting continuous development is through the use of in-house structured research which identifies relevant learning needs at all levels and strives to meet these needs through the school’s provision. In the 21st century, very few schools operate in isolation and collaboration between schools or groups of schools has become essential for their improvement and for the development of the education system as a whole. The use of in-house research both within and across schools increases the validity of both the learning and the collaboration, which, at its most effective is based on willing participation, trust, and notions of professional partnerships, where all parties are willing to learn from each other, whatever their official or apparent status. Although barriers to this development of cross-school PLCs through in-house research do exist, notably pressures from a competitive environment with a focus on measurable outcomes, a lack of resources including time, the growth of such communities is proving powerful through the use of student voice, staff involvement and leaders’ firm beliefs. Furthermore, a new kind of educational leadership is emerging which depends much less on hierarchical structures and more on openness to new ideas, acceptance that progress is often uneven and rarely simplistic, and a recognition of the importance of personal qualities of all those involved, including the leaders.

Article

Marketization and Educational Institutions  

Pedro Nuno Teixeira

The way education is perceived socially and politically has changed significantly over the last half century. The growing pervasiveness of economic analysis in education has contributed significantly, among other societal and political factors, to a reformulation in the way educational organizations are conceived, particularly due to the economic and social effects of their activity. One of the major dimensions of that change has been the strengthening of a discourse that emphasized the advantages of market and competitive forces over public regulation and of privatization and quasi-private rationales over public ones. Despite significant social and political resistances, the education sector has been experiencing a growing influence of market and competitive forces, and this is particularly visible in the higher education sector. Hence, several policy developments have led to the strengthening of market forces and competition in higher education. This encompasses changes in the contextual conditions through which market forces have been strengthened and the subsequent impact of marketization, competition, and privatization policies at the institutional level. However, this faces resistance, not least due to the peculiarities of educational sectors and institutions, that begs reflection about the potential and limitations of approaching education institutions as economic organizations.

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

Leadership and Teacher Education in Oman  

Sulaiman M. Al-Balushi, Mahmoud M. Emam, and Khalaf M. Al'Abri

Leadership is conceptualized in various ways. In general, however, leadership is defined as a transaction between leaders and followers. In 2016, the College of Education at Sultan Qaboos University successfully obtained the international accreditation by the U.S. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which is now known as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Such achievement was recognized nationally by policymakers and was commended internationally by expert educators. In fact, the journey toward international accreditation was so challenging that without the contribution of sustained leadership it could not have been completed. The college leadership contributed considerably and played an inspirational role to achieve that goal. In the early stages of the process, the college leadership conducted a thorough needs assessment in which opportunities, assets, and risks were identified before a decision regarding seeking international accreditation was made. When national accreditation was first established in Oman, the college leaders focused on communicating the vision and mission clearly to the college faculty and administrative staff as well as students. This was followed by leading change within the institution through a careful inspection of the resources that could be deployed and the incentives that could successfully promote the new accreditation culture and build positive attitudes. Through forming teams of leaders within the institution as part of the distributed leadership, the college was able to set up an action plan in which various gaps could be covered. The college leadership adopted different approaches to lead the college, its faculty, staff, and students toward the attainment of international accreditation. A combination of distributed, transactional, and transformational leadership approaches was used by the college leadership in order pursue and accomplish accreditation. The college relied on the AASC as a form of distributed leadership. The AASC included faculty members with experience in academic accreditation and assessment and represented focal points for other faculty members. The college leadership restructured the roles and responsibilities of the Heads of Departments as a form transactional leadership to embed accreditation work within the normal flow of operations. The college provided constant feedback on performance, adhered to equity and equality principles, considered personal differences among staff and students, and responded to their diverse needs. As a form of transformational leadership, the college worked on creating the culture for accreditation, stimulating innovation and creativity, encouraging scholarship and research activities, and sharing potential risks. The college sought to build a community of practice by creating a positive collegial atmosphere for teamwork and capacity building. The adoption of a combination of successful leadership styles helped the college to overcome the potential ambiguity and conflict between academic duties of faculty and the demanding tasks of accreditation. Additionally, it helped faculty members, staff, and students to change from being passive observers to positive players. In short, the achievement of international accreditation, though a tough journey, was possible only because the college leaders thought it could come true and worked for it.

Article

Leading Through Conflict With Credibility  

Thomas R. Hughes and Frank D. Davidson

Even though conflict is increasingly finding its way into school settings, there is evidence that school leaders do not view themselves as being adequately equipped to meet the growing challenges. Training on short-term approaches to dealing with immediate issues may be available to practitioners through professional development offerings, but there is more involved in successfully and sustainably dealing with conflict than getting through a tense moment. School leaders need to be able to understand the causes and complexities—as well as navigate time elements—associated with ongoing conflict that can take place at the personal as well as organizational levels. Beyond understanding these concepts, administrators themselves need to increase the capacity of their staff and their organizations to assist in their development. In addition to learning how to recognize patterns and underlying causes advancing adversity, administrators would do well to invest in long-term conflict diminishing approaches such as building trust and improving interpersonal and organizational capacity as ways to increase credibility within and outside of the school itself. Finding people who can think critically and work adaptively to solve problems could prove to be a real advantage for educational leaders who strive to reduce the stress of the workplace and create a more collegial climate within the schools they serve. Building trust and the ability to “come through” capably for others even in tough situations increases the credibility of leaders. Leading through conflict with this credibility in turn helps to sustain a positive climate in schools.

Article

School Networks  

Denise Mifsud

It is evident that in many educational systems there has been a partial dissolution of the traditional single school model towards more flexible modes of organizational link-up, taking the form of increased collaboration among schools. The early 21st-century climate of rapid technological change creates a need for collective knowledge creation and information sharing at classroom, school, and system level. Different forms of networks, collaboratives, and federations have become an established part of many educational landscapes and have arisen for a number of reasons. Some have been “imposed” on schools, others have been “incentivized” by the offer of external funding, but many have arisen because of the efforts of educational leaders who want to “make a difference” in their locality, which assumes their essential “good.” Within education, networks are regarded as one of the most promising levers for large-scale reform due to their potential to re-culture both the environment and the system in which policy-makers operate through increased cooperation, interconnectedness, and multi-agency. School networks contribute to capacity-building across the education service through the production of multiple solutions for potential, multifaceted, and intractable problems. Networks foster innovation, providing a test bed for new ideas while offering a platform for gradual innovation, distributing the risks and the workloads among different schools. Moreover, they provide capacity-building, reflective practice, and an inquiry frame of mind besides raising achievement and enhancing student outcomes through the sharing of resources and professional expertise. Networks enable schools to overcome their isolationism and move to form community relationships. Notwithstanding the benefits generated by collaboration, some of the ambiguities surrounding the setting up of school networks focus on: network purpose; collaborative inertia; collaboration and accountability; trust and relationships; conscription and volunteerism; identity and autonomy; competition and cooperation; lateral agency; and power inequality. There is no simple, single solution to leading networks, due to the very nature of a network making it difficult to define who its leaders are, resulting in leadership that is defined by activity rather than by formal position.