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Article

Water Conservation in Schools  

Olga María Bermúdez and Marcela Lombana

Water is indispensable to life because all the functions of living beings rely on its presence: breathing, nutrition, circulation, and reproduction. Water forms part of all living bodies, both animal and vegetable. It is a natural resource necessary for human life. This natural resource has been threatened by climate change and its scarcity has been reported in many locations worldwide. According to the FAO, in 2014 almost 50 countries were faced with water shortages: Africa is the continent with the highest percentage of water stress (41%), while Asia has the highest percentage of countries with total water shortage (25%). Confronted with this critical problem, it is necessary that people of all ages, races, and cultures become aware of the value that water represents and take action in both the individual and collective spheres. To ensure that the next generation understands water’s properties and functions, and learns to value and take care of it, this action should start in schools, which play a fundamental role in the education of children and young people.

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

Dynamic Cognitive Assessment for Preschool Age Children  

David Tzuriel

Dynamic assessment (DA) is guided by theoretical conceptualization about the nature of cognitive modifiability and needs to construct diagnostic measures for children who do not reveal their learning potential in conventional static tests. The development of DA was stirred by inadequacy of conventional testing to provide precise answers for individual differences in learning ability, learning processes, cognitive functions, and non-intellective factors that are responsible for cognitive modifiability. The rationale for developing DA for preschool children is that early identification of children’s learning potential and deficient cognitive functions would facilitate development of mediation strategies to overcome their learning difficulties and actualize their learning potential. DA is defined as an assessment, by an active teaching process, of a child’s perception, learning, thinking, and problem solving. DA is aimed at modifying an individual’s cognitive functioning and observing subsequent changes in learning and problem-solving patterns within the testing situation. Development of DA was driven by criticism of standardized testing: (a) bias toward minority groups and children with special needs, (b) selective administration procedures of children with high-risk for being labled as intellectualy disabled, (c) lack of consideration of motivational and emotional factors, (d) lack of information on learning and metacognitive processes, and (e) inadequate recommendations on specific intervention strategies and prescriptive teaching. The main goals of DA are to assess learning potential, deficient cognitive functions, amount and nature of mediation required for change, and transfer of learning. The main mediation strategies used in DA are establishing prerequired thinking behaviors, self-regulation of behavior, enhancement of reflective and analytic processes, teaching task-specific concepts, feedback on success/failure in learning processes, and development of basic communication skills. DA of preschool children is more challenging than that of older children because executive functions and communication skills of young children are less developed. The best known DA approaches for young children are those of Lidz and Tzuriel; both are based on the theories of Vygotsky and Feuerstein. Lidz’s approach is focused on objectives that reflect curriculum demands of educational settings. Her Application of the Cognitive Functions Scale indicates the degree of mastery on cognitive tasks, responsiveness to intervention, and non-intellective factors. Tzuriel’s approach is characterized by innovations of instruments, assessment procedures adapted for developmental stages, mediation strategies, behavior checklists, and a recording and scoring for clinical and measurement versions. Tzuriel’s approach is characterized by 10 aspects: Adaptation of test materials to child’s developmental level, “bridging” of concrete operations to abstract operations, communication aspects, clinical and measurement versions, preliminary phase component of DA, scoring methods for the measurement version, transfer problems, comparison of modifiability across task dimensions, assessment of non-intellective factors, and creativity in construction of problems. A growing body of theory and research on DA supports the crucial role of the DA in: (a) reflecting better the learning potential of children than standardized testing, (b) confirming that the quality of mediation within the family, school, and peers systems is a strong determinant of cognitive modifiability, and (c) demonstrating DA as a powerful approach in revealing the implicit effects of intervention cognitive programs on cognitive development.

Article

Educational Administration in the Middle East  

Khalid Arar

The globalization of education has had a tremendous impact on what is taught and tested in different education systems and on organizational forms of schooling. This information explosion has even affected less developed societies of the Middle East (ME). In the 21st century, ME governments provide varied models of governance and consequent educational policies. Yet, all styles of governance are challenged by the current geo-political upheavals. Although this is an era of rapid global technological development, instability prevails in the ME, engendered by the revolutions of the Arab Spring and civil wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and their consequences. Due to these crises, spillovers of refugees and economic problems flood neighboring states such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. Over the last decade, the education systems in the ME have been faced with a state of emergency, dealing with enduring dilemmas concerning the provision of education for the masses of children, who have become asylum seekers and refugees (Arar, Örücü, & Ak-Küçükçayır). This tense and dynamic reality poses serious problems for the education policy-makers, practitioners and scholars, who attempt to plan and perform education programs that would meet the needs of both local and refugee student populations. This paper investigates practices in Education Administration (EA) in the Middle-East (ME) following the uprisings of the Arab Spring. It describes the development of EA as a discipline and the way in which EA has developed in the ME, facing the challenges of this volatile region, plagued by rapid political changes, regime instability and wars. The chapter provides new knowledge on EA in a less researched territory, where socio-cultural norms and structures differ significantly from those of the "Western" world, where most EA theories were developed. Implications are drawn for educational leaders and researchers, including the need for critical reconsideration of educational curricula and the need for local culture-relevant initiatives at all school levels. Based on conceptual analysis, this paper identifies current trends, and socio-political forces, asking pertinent questions and indicating directions for future research dealing with education administration in the Middle-East. Implications are drawn for policymakers, educational leaders, practitioners and researchers.

Article

Preparing Teaching Assistants for Including All Learners  

Rob Webster, Paula Bosanquet, and Peter Blatchford

The early 21st century has seen a considerable increase in both the number and presence of teaching assistants (TAs) and learning support staff in classrooms. In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, TAs have assumed responsibility for teaching lower-attaining pupils and especially those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). This drift has occurred in a largely uncritical way and has attracted little attention because of the attendant benefits additional adult support has for teachers. However, evidence from research in the United Kingdom and the United States have revealed troubling and unintended consequences of this arrangement in terms of impeding pupil progress and increasing the likelihood of pupils’ dependency on adult support. Of particular concern are research findings that show how a high amount of support from TAs for pupils with high-level SEND leads to a qualitatively different experience of schooling compared to pupils without SEND, particularly in terms of having fewer interactions with teachers and peers. Heavy reliance on the employment and deployment of TAs to facilitate the inclusion of pupils with often complex learning difficulties in mainstream settings can be seen as a proxy for long-standing and unresolved questions about how teachers are prepared and trained to meet the learning needs of those with SEND and the priority school leaders give to SEND. Future efforts to meaningfully educate pupils with SEND in mainstream schools must attend to teachers’ confidence and competence in respect of this aim. In addition, extensive and collaborative work with schools in the United Kingdom is offering a more hopeful model of how TAs can supplement this endeavor. Improving how teachers deploy TAs and how TAs interact with pupils, together with addressing persistent problems relating to the way TAs are trained and prepared for their roles in classrooms, schools can unlock the potential of the TA workforce as part of a wider, more inclusive approach for disadvantaged pupils.

Article

Sustaining and Sustainable Superintendent Leadership  

Michael Wright and Rosemary Papa

The educational environment of the 21st century is complex and dynamic, placing demands on school leaderships that are both considerable and constant. Societal challenges such as school shootings, drugs, alcohol, and other problems are more frequently finding their way into U.S. classroom settings, which only further complicates the role of the superintendent. At times, superintendents may believe U.S. public schools are under attack, especially given prevailing political forces driving the marketization and privatization of schools. The elements connected to the sustainment and sustainability of superintendents, especially superintendent turnover, as a result of the following pressures are defined: school safety and security, social media, less parental involvement, and increased federal influence; continued divestment in public education and declining student enrollment; and pressure to perform by public school administrators. Superintendent departure research further considers: factors contributing to longevity and the cost of turnover; differences between superintendents and board members; reasons superintendents leave; stakeholder expectations and political pressures; increased accountability; and differences in expectations between the board and superintendent. Sustainable leadership is required between the superintendent and the board. Teamwork leads to greater effectiveness. Overall, the result of increased competition and dwindling levels of federal and state school funding very often means superintendents face complicated choices and difficult dilemmas—particularly relating to the allocation of scarce financial resources. For instance, school leaders nationwide are frequently forced to balance the tension existing between academic and non-academic programs, in a time when funding is woefully insufficient. Superintendents must often forgo hiring additional teachers, or purchasing required classroom support materials, and forgo school facility repairs, in order to enhance school safety and security. The increased accountability for school performance also weighs heavily on administrators, faculty, and staff, and especially the superintendent. Such pressures increase the level of superintendent turnover.

Article

Action Research as Continuous Professional Development in Southeast Asia  

Sarimah Shaik-Abdullah, S. Kanageswari Suppiah Shanmugam, and Mohan Chinnappan

The quality of education in any country rests on school communities as a whole. However, the real implementers of innovations and changes in curriculum are teachers. Teachers, as practitioners, are the ones most often held accountable for successes and failures in educating schoolchildren. The way to facilitate teachers in handling challenges and keeping up with curriculum renewals is through constant support in the form of continuing professional development (CPD) by means of action research. Action research as CPD has been viewed as a critical platform for advocating change, which is the outcome of teachers’ ability and autonomy to lead in making informed decisions about their own practices. Given its usefulness, action research is found well established, vastly practiced, and widely published in Western countries. This has raised the question of the widespread use of action research as CPD in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. Preliminary analysis reveals that in some SEA countries, such as Timor Leste, there is limited literature on action research, while in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, action research has been well documented. At the same time, there is an emerging trend in SEA countries to adopt different models of action research. In Malaysia, for instance, action research has been primarily classroom based, whereas in Indonesia, a critical and community based approach to action research seems to be prevalent. This suggests that the kinds of action research conducted in the different SEA countries may reflect variations in cultural, economic, and geographical landscapes. Given the importance of action research to teacher practitioners and school leaders, and in providing an identity to the action research approaches conducted in Southeast Asia, the historical trail of action research presents a window into the nature of CPD concerns of each country, as well as the successes and challenges of conducting action research as CPD for sustained impact.

Article

Challenges to Educational Leadership and Equity in México  

Marta Sánchez

Challenges to Mexican educational leadership and equity fundamentally have to do with class struggle and shaping the national identity to conform to one of two competing narratives: México as a country that strives to ensure its place in the first world, subordinating itself to the demands of external bodies and forgoing its own history; or México as a country that sustains and advances its historical struggle for social justice. México’s democratic teachers represent an important voice of educational leadership, as they struggle for educational equity for their students and through active resistance to reforms that rob teachers of their labor rights and intellectual autonomy, and rob students of their rights to the vast epistemological resources that their languages, history, culture, and identity represent. Facing new forms of colonialism that neoliberal education reform ushered in, the teachers fight in contested space that the Mexican curriculum is; they do so with renewed commitments to defeat education reform efforts that have more to do with the restructuring of their labor rights than the education of children in the classroom.

Article

Data Use in Recent School Reforms  

Sølvi Mausethagen, Tine S. Prøitz, and Guri Skedsmo

Typically involving the use of test scores, grades, and other forms of assessment in various educational contexts, the concept of data use has developed in parallel with the introduction of new managerial approaches to school governance, including performance management and accountability measures. This use of data for governance purposes is one way in which national authorities coordinate activities across administrative levels to improve education quality and effectiveness. Policymakers’ and researchers’ frequent use of the concepts of data and data use also usually parallels this development. However, based on systematic research mapping, the present findings identify differing ideas about data use in national and local contexts, including the role that data play and should play in school reform. Such differences relate to variations in school systems, teachers’ status, school governance traditions, curricular traditions, and research traditions. Moreover, characteristic of the literature on data use is an emphasis on the organization and development of effective data use practices. This is somewhat paradoxical, as both earlier and more recent studies emphasize the need for a stronger focus on the actual practices of the involved actors if data are to be of value in school development processes. Three important needs are important when considering data use in policy, research, and practice: the need for greater awareness of the epistemic aspects of data use; the need for context sensitivity, as data use is often presented as a universal concept across national and local contexts; and the need for researchers to communicate with other related fields to improve theory and practice.

Article

Decolonization of Environmental Education from the Perspective of Southern Environmental Thinking  

Ana Patricia Noguera de Echeverri, Diana Alexandra Bernal Arias, and Sergio Manuel Echeverri Noguera

A bet, a clamor, an algid need, to “thinking us” (as a collaborative, and reflexive thinking in a prospective way) about environmental education, or better, the environmentalization of education, in a decolonization that helps us think: How do we inhabit “this South that we are” in times of environmental crisis? Thinking us, in this environmental crisis, that is civilizatory. Thinking about it, and thinking us from an “environmental turn” (a change in the way we look at everything, far from seeing life as a resource, and far from devastating capitalism): from the environmental as an object to the environmental as deep and complex symbolic–biotic relationships between ecosystems and cultures. It is an environmental turn that recognizes the felthinking() Body-Earth (Noguera, 2012) that we are in an aesthetic, sensitive transit, in which the polyphonic voices of these lands emerge in the South Environmental Thought. Our paths are many, however. One of them that we wish to name Methodesthesis as the path of feeling, where the sensitive, the sensibility, the sense, the senses, and the sentient allow an understanding of the language of the Earth and the permanent aesthetic creations of the Earth-Nature-Life that we are, in a radical dissolution of the cognitive subject and the measurable object. It is an ontic, epistemic-ethical-aesthetic-political proposal, but above all it is an urgency, an enjoyment, a poetic flourishing of life itself, of the Earth and of us as life and land, in a decolonized southern environmental education and decolonizing that allows transitions for a more poetic dwelling in this South than we are.