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Transformational School Leadership to Dismantle Inequitable Systems  

Deirdra Preis

A key reason for the failure of U.S. school leaders to challenge systems of inequity is the lack of exposure to the theory and skill development needed to manage the resistance and political challenges that inevitably occur when interrogating unjust traditions of practice. As preparation programs aim to improve their candidates’ future success in addressing inequitable educational access, it is critical that they develop in their students the self-efficacy around relational practices and strategies needed to manage the micropolitics of transformative work. Examining how transformative K–12 school leaders effectively challenge structural inequities and manage to sustain their leadership positions during turbulent times can help to inform such curricular and instructional revisions. Some of the key practices identified by successful transformative K–12 leaders include engaging in reflection around their positionality, developing racial literacy, effectively facilitating shared visions and collective responsibility for social justice advocacy, building the capacity of stakeholders, developing critical alliances through transparent and authentic community involvement, and participating in supportive professional peer networks that offer ongoing reflection, study, and support. By providing such content and skill practice, and ensuring that instruction and mentoring are provided by faculty who are experienced in transformative leadership, leader candidates can be better prepared for the realities of this challenging work, increasing the likelihood that they will act transformatively upon assuming school leadership roles.

Article

Professional Socialization in Schools  

Asiye Toker Gökçe

Socialization is a process through which someone learns to become a member of society. Individuals learn how to perform their social roles, internalizing the norms and values of the community via socialization. Professional socialization is a type of adult socialization. It is a process through which newcomers internalize the norms, attitudes, and values of a profession. They receive instructions, and they learn the knowledge and skills necessary to satisfy professional expectations they are supposed to meet. Thus, they can adjust to the new circumstances and new roles of the profession. Individuals gain a professional identification and feel a commitment to a professional role during the process. In some way, the interpretation of newcomers, the agents of the profession, and the organization produce this. New teachers participate in the community of educators, and they learn how to be a member through the socialization process. They learn new skills, such as how to teach, and internalize new values, such as believing there will be cooperation among colleagues. They learn regulations and organizational contexts, while they develop a style of teaching. As a consequence, they construct a professional identity by internalizing values and norms of the profession and redefining it.This sometimes happens regardless of the school in their professional socialization process. Despite the many challenges inherent in the profession, new teachers are expected to be socialized while performing their duties. Thus, new teachers try to develop an identity and survive in the job through interaction and communication with other teachers. Some adjust easily, while others do not and leave the profession. Some use situational adjustments, while others prefer to strategically redefine the situation within the process. In addition to teachers, new school principals also need to be socialized in their roles in their first year. Becoming a school principal requires different procedures than teachers’ socialization. Nevertheless, models about the socialization of teachers and school principals explain professional socialization as happening through anticipatory, preservice, and in-service.

Article

Values-Based Leadership and the Quest for Inclusive Organizational Practices  

Heather Rintoul and Anthony H. Normore

Values-based leadership is, at its core, decisional leadership. Traditionally, educational leadership has tended to fall into a range of rationality dealing with consequences and consensus. This “do things right” approach has come under intense scrutiny by decision makers searching for more ethically justifiable responses through a new vision of education and schooling, a “do the right thing” style of decision making. Decisions based in principle—that is, morals and ethics—are commonly deemed as being authentic, fulfilling, and more justifiable than decisions based on rationality and preference. Embedded in this new moral urgency lies an inherent tension in that “to do the right thing” routinely begs the question “the right thing for whom?” Differences have arisen in terms of what values-based leadership and inclusion means—whose values, who is included, how to address leadership for inclusive practices, thus rendering conceptualization and implementation of inclusive practice qualitatively different according to context. The achievement of all students must be viewed both as an economic and values-oriented imperative consistent with inclusive practices. The term, inclusion is socially constructed and can carry with it stigmatizing and exclusionary effects that ultimately result in perpetuating oppressive forces on already marginalized individuals. Values-based leadership has an emphasis on school settings that are welcoming and affirming to all students, especially those most at risk for failure. Its underlying beliefs and assumptions guide practices and policies of inclusive practices and sound moral decisions. Moral decisions are made, not in isolation, but rather through a journey of interaction and association with others. Unfortunately, this interpersonal journey is often fraught with anxiety because everyone’s experience is sourced in a different worldview. Unravelling the intricacies of resolution possibilities has become increasingly complex because often there may be several equally appropriate responses to any dilemma; therefore, the decisional challenge becomes how to adjudicate between and among possibilities. Values-based leadership for inclusive practices concerns various marginalized groups including English-language learners, those who experience gender discrimination, those who are in the foster care system, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. The broader conceptualization of inclusive schools adds to extant discourses about students with exceptional needs and provides effective strategies that school leaders operating from a social justice framework can implement to create more inclusive school environments for all students.

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.