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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

Leadership Practices and Managerial Accountability in Italy  

Angelo Paletta, Christopher Bezzina, and Genc Alimehmeti

The changes that are affecting public education imply the need to incorporate into principal’s leadership practices two opposing forces: on the one hand, the accountability systems, which require responsibility for centrally managed achievement testing, compliance with standard procedures of self-evaluation, planning teaching improvement, and reporting of the results; and on the other hand, the expectations that come from within the school, namely those of teachers, students, families, and other stakeholders. This presents the challenge of coproducing authentic learning (problem solving, soft skills, civic knowledge, and citizenship) that is not easily measurable and therefore difficult to bring to light, rationalize, systematize, and report. Principals react differently to the demands of centralized policy-making initiatives. Some see them as opportunities for growth and only formally adopt them, whereas others entrench themselves into particular practices aimed at focusing on the immediate, on being conservative and minimizing risk taking and setting less ambitious goals that can take their schools forward. Managerial accountability can end up “colonizing” the organizations (and those who lead them), with the consequence that time and attention is devoted to what is being measured or observed by the central administrative systems. The “colonized” leaders develop or bend their managerial practices primarily in response to the expectations of accountability systems. On the opposite side, accountability systems can produce the effect of “decoupling”: the actual activities are separated from the rituals of accountability requested by the central or local government. In this case, school principals conform only formally to the demands of accountability systems. Other school leaders can capture opportunities from an accountability system, integrating it into a comprehensive management approach that balances opposing requests and organizational principles into a “systemic” model. Thus, the accountability practices in the field of education introduced in Italy can leave both a positive or negative impact on the way school principals lead their organizations. Studying the impact that the introduction of such policies can have on individuals as a result of the way leaders execute such directives are deemed important as they shed light on the link between policy and practice, and help us gain deeper insights into the so-called theory and practice divide. The move toward greater forms of accountability presents an ideal opportunity for policy makers and educational leaders working at different levels to appreciate the importance of systemic leadership and engage in a discourse that enlightens its value to school improvement initiatives. Rather than focusing on the self, on merely following directives and working independently, the school principal that is able to understand how things and people are connected and can come together to transform their schools can make a difference to school development and school improvement. Bringing policy makers and implementers together can help in understanding the realities faced by educators at the school level, the former often oblivious to the challenges educators face on a day-to-day basis.

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

Selection Methods and Professional Development of School Leaders in Greece  

Evageloula A. Papadatou

The effective operation of a school unit relies on various factors, the most critical of which is leadership, as it this which shapes the working environment through which the school succeeds or fails. Indeed, an effective leader can inspire vision and promote educational policy in the interests of the school and other stakeholders. This leadership role in schools is undertaken by head teachers, who are called to act as supervisors of the school’s human resources in parallel with their purely administrative work. In order for school leaders to achieve these outcomes, however, they must be adequately trained so as to be competent in undertaking the arduous task of leading a school unit. Consequently, in order for school leaders to carry out their daunting tasks successfully—in other words, achieve the best possible results with the fewest sacrifices and least effort—they must possess certain knowledge and aptitudes. For this reason, the staffing of the school units in any country (and hence in Greece) with capable school leaders should be the top priority of the State, while measures should be taken to ensure that the processes for selecting school leaders and for their professional development remain objective and systematic, if the country intends to implement an educational policy efficiently and effectively. Taking into account that the school leader is not born but becomes, and that school leaders are central to the administration of a country’s educational system, it is vital that a system of selection and development of schools’ head teachers be institutionalized.

Article

Preparation Programs for School Leaders  

Bruce G. Barnett and Nathern S.A. Okilwa

For over 50 years, school leadership preparation and development has been a priority in the United States; however, since the turn of the century, school systems, universities, and professional associations around the world have become more interested in developing programs to prepare aspiring school leaders and support newly appointed and experienced principals. This increased global attention to leadership development has arisen because public or government school leaders are being held accountable for improving student learning outcomes for an increasingly diverse set of learners. Because school leadership studies have been dominated by American researchers, global program providers tend to rely on Western perspectives, concepts, and theories, which may not accurately reflect local and national cultural norms and values. As such, calls for expanding research studies in non-Western societies are increasing. Despite relying on Western-based leadership concepts, leadership preparation programs outside the United States differ substantially. Cultural norms and values, infrastructure support, and social and economic conditions influence the availability and types of programs afforded to aspiring and practicing school leaders. As a result, there is a continuum of leadership development systems that range from: (a) mandatory, highly regulated, and well-resourced comprehensive programs for preservice qualification, induction for newly appointed principals, and in-service for practicing school leaders to (b) non-mandatory, minimally regulated, and moderately resourced programs to determine eligibility for positions and induction to the role to (c) non-mandatory, poorly regulated, and under-resourced programs, which are offered infrequently, require long distance travel, and participants costs are not covered.

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.