Herrington, david national recommendations for deconstructing educational leadership coursesDocument Transcript
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL VOLUME 26, NUMBER 4, 2008 National Recommendations for Deconstructing Educational Leadership Courses: Re-centering to Address the Needs of Students David E. Herrington, PhD William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Tyrone Tanner, EdD Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University Member of the Texas A&M University System Prairie View, Texas________________________________________________________________________ ABSTRACTThis article reexamines the current state of educational leadership instruction witha vision for introducing a post-modern perspective into traditional graduate levelcourses. The authors emphasize the role of context and connectedness in bringingabout greater administrator success in leading schools. Specific areas examinedinclude: Instructional Leadership, Human Resources Development; School Law;School Finance; Organizational Theory; Use of Technology; Data Based Decision-Making; Socio-Economic Political and Cultural Foundations; Leadership School inReform. _______________________________________________________________________ Introduction The scope and sequence mission of educational administration courses andactivities have changed considerably during the past two decades. The prior emphasis oncommunity politics and on managing the day-to-day routines of a school and communitypolitics has given way to a theory-based approach that focuses more broadly onleadership as defined by Burns. A proliferation of “best practice” literature and standardshas been adopted at state and national levels. Rubrics and standards of practice enforcedby monitoring systems have enjoyed a healthy growth during this era. Universitycompliance with ISSLC (now ELCC Standards have been monitored by NCATE; 1
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONALADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL2_____________________________________________________________________________________attainment of individual mastery of state professional standards for principal practice isnow measured by high-stakes testing systems; competency-based testing has been used toidentify learning gaps between sub- populations of state mandated curricula. Theserubrics and standards have shaped and provided direction for graduate programs inprincipal preparation, but they have not sufficiently addressed the real needs of 21stCentury schools, teachers, and students. Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to reexamine the current state of educationalleadership instruction with a vision for introducing a post-modern perspective intotraditional graduate level courses. Such an approach is directed at focusing administratorattention on ways to include the perspectives of silent populations of students, parents, orother significant but forgotten constituencies in decision-making regarding instruction,discipline, curriculum, and school safety. The courses selected are those commonlyfound in preparation programs. This article will lay out an approach that deemphasizesthe central importance of prior administrative experiences that stem from “war stories”that may not be relevant to current realities or theories that are validated in populationsdissimilar to the population of interest within a school. Best Practice Theories Not Addressing Learning Crisis in Schools No Child Left Behind mandates have made federal education funds to localeducation agencies contingent upon student attainment of minimum competency skills.The local education agencies in turn look to universities to prepare educators who areknowledgeable in best practice standards. Yet the standardization certification,standardization of public school curriculum, standardized discipline models, and cookiecutter instructional approaches have been disappointing in their ability to deliverincreased student performance, particularly with student populations that have not beenexamined closely. Overly-generalized research findings and meticulously appliedtheories of best practice have not addressed the learning crisis in public schools. Ifschools were filled with other worldly, stereotypical teachers, parents, and children, onecould make a strong argument for the standardization of curriculum, instruction, anddiscipline. We live in a world that is increasingly variable due to our ability to identifyand attend to the variances that people bring into any situation. The psychologicallearning characteristics of children who have been traumatized by violence,homelessness, or major changes in family financial circumstances are quite different fromthose whose lives are less complicated. These fragile learners require a complete
DAVID E. HERRINGTON, WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS, TYRONE TANNER_____________________________________________________________________________________3reexamination of the teaching and learning process. These learners and their families willteach educators more about the nature of schools than any other source. Challenges for Professors of Educational Leadership The key to knowledge about any school will be found in the principal’s ability toelicit from teachers, parents, and students aspects of the learning context that are beingoverlooked. School learning must one of perspective – of being open to new explanationsof things, withholding judgment, reframing issues on a weekly, daily, and sometimeshourly basis until we get it right. Herein is the challenge that faces professors ofeducational leadership. How do aspiring school leaders become skilled readers of contextso that they can properly facilitate the learning environment needed for the variouspopulations they serve? What kinds of learning experiences must university professors ofeducational leadership provide to build these kinds of skills? Instructional Leadership The single most important mindset and guiding principle for instructionalleadership is that of “team learning.” Teachers must learn how to learn together. Whenteachers, parents, and administrators share mental models with one another regarding thelack of student achievement the following advantages become clear: 1. Multiple perspectives can be examined and evaluated before coming to closure on the learning capacity of a student or the best way to teach that student. 2. As a team, the teachers collectively may alter interventions or interaction patterns with a student that has been ineffectual. 3. Teachers may test collectively new models of how to reach the needs of a particular student. 4. Teachers and principals can collaborate to realign curriculum, evaluate student learning needs, and re-teach content in different ways to ensure the learning of students whose learning needs have not been met. 5. Having teachers work as teams to investigate the learning needs of the “invisible” populations – homeless, foster, unaccompanied, or indigent children as required by the McKinney-Vento Act and other legislation that requires special attention to their needs. When team learning is employed as a guiding principle teachers become much more effective change agents in the lives of children.When administrators can lead teachers down the path of team learning as a guidingprinciple, they will become a far more significant force in the lives of students they teach.
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONALADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL4_____________________________________________________________________________________ Human Resources Development Teacher and administrator professional development is essential for improvingtheir capacities to respond to emerging inner-city circumstances. The following adultlearning principles are critical for any successful intervention with adult learners,including teachers and administrators: 1) Adult learning theory – adult learning experiences must be engaging and participative. 2) Adult learning theory – adult learning must be a social activity if it also is to an effective learning activity. 3) Adult learning theory – Learning experiences must be practical problem-solving – related to learner’s work or personal needs. 4) Adult learning theory – Learning must be engaged in identifying and developing relevant skills needed for improving identified job-related performance. 5) Adult learning theory – Adult learners must feel physically and psychologically safe in decision to participate in learning activity.When professional development fails to engage teachers, a lot of time and money iswasted. More significantly, an opportunity for teachers to take charge of their ownprofessional growth is lost. This can be detrimental to their career development and to thelearning of the students they serve. School Law The legal foundations for educational leadership continue to reinforce the need tolearn more about the sub-populations of students we serve. Ethical practice calls forequitable and ethical treatment of students. Knowledge of the law: 1) Ensures more equitable treatment and opportunities for all students. 2) Ensures that teachers become more knowledgeable of their legal duties and responsibilities to address t4he special learning needs of all students. PL 94-142 Free and Appropriate Public Education; McKinney-Vento Act, homeless children. 3) Ensures that administrators remain within the legal and policy requirements while serving the needs of each student.
DAVID E. HERRINGTON, WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS, TYRONE TANNER_____________________________________________________________________________________5 School Finance Traditional approaches to school finance have involved macro-economicapproaches, including the history and politics of school finance in light of changingsocietal needs, emerging case law, and legislative mandates, particularly the No ChildLeft Behind Act. It also included budgeting as mandated by the state and local policiesand was prescriptive at the highest levels regarding how funds should be allocated.Instruction tended to be state-specific and was formulaic in nature. A more recent approach has been one of consulting all who have a stake inindividual student learning. This approach has become more universal. The charge ofschool administrators has become one of addressing campus-specific learning needsthrough site-based decision-making committees or campus improvement planning teams.The emphasis has become one of identifying these campus-specific learning and teachingneeds prior to allocating resources. This requires a new skill set for the schooladministrator including: 1) How to direct campus assessment of student learning. 2) How to build and lead teams and how to use data gathering, analysis, and dissemination methodologies. 3) Allocating available resources to improve teachers’ capacity for responding to learning needs – professional development, materials, time allocation. Organizational Theory Administrators need to understand the history of modernistic thinking about howschools are organized, including philosophical underpinnings that continue to form thethinking of formal schooling. The theory base of management and leadership that arecommon to public and private sector organizations provides a framework within whichadministrative behavior and organizational responses can be explained and predicted withimplied recommendations for administrative action. A more postmodern approach is one in which future administrators come tounderstand current contexts of urban areas, homelessness, brain research, and ethniccomposition of their schools before they can begin to understand and refocus teachingand learning within the community they serve. The need for field-based learning andauthentic problem-solving is essential to educational leadership within any selectedcontext.
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONALADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL6_____________________________________________________________________________________ Uses of Technology Emphasis on technology during the past 15 years has been on buildinginfrastructure, developing applications, training, and overcoming resistance to the uses oftechnology. Computer technology, specialized applications, and connectivity havebecome an established part of the teachers’ and administrators’ professional lives. New emphasis has turned toward how to improve communication among thosewho have a stake in individual student learning. Access to information for improvingpractice, teaching resources, professional development opportunities, instructionaldelivery, on-line data, and publication of research findings have become routine.Computer technology learning for administrators now focuses upon some of thefollowing: 1) How to communicate with parents, teachers, and other publics through use of available technologies – websites – emails – blogs – electronic newsletters – micro-casting and publishing; 2) How to encourage and support teachers in using available technologies to improve classroom instruction; 3) How to use available technologies to manage data and facilitate the flow of information and make data-driven decisions about what is best for all students. Data-Based Decision-Making Before data-driven decision-making became part of the educational lexicon,informal, selective data gathering and interpretation of data were commonplace amongadministrators and teachers in public and private education. Professional opinions andassessments were seldom questioned. Today, the approach to decision-making is moreformalized. Formal statistical research designs and emergent qualitative research designsthat involve data gathering and interpretation provide a more equitable approach toassessing teaching and learning to ensure that individual prejudices do not form the basisfor decision-making about teaching and learning. Personal characterizations andidiosyncratic judgments no longer are sufficient for schools that must deal with multiplepopulations of learners. Data now are collected from state-generated data bases, locallygenerated data bases, and campus-specific data generated from surveys and test results. Some skill sets required of administrators to achieve more informed decision-making: 1) How to design and implement practical, context-specific research and evaluation models that address problems identified by parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members. These data become critical for instructional improvement;
DAVID E. HERRINGTON, WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS, TYRONE TANNER_____________________________________________________________________________________7 2) How to analyze data from these research efforts and present to stakeholders in a useable form; 3) How to access and disaggregate and interpret data from state mandated tests that have been disaggregated locally to identify achievement gaps among different ethnic groups; 4) How to formulate viable interventions to close the gaps identified. Socio-Economic, Political, and Cultural Foundations Traditional approaches to teaching cultural foundations to education have comefrom applied anthropological, sociological, political, psychological research. Anunderlying assumption is that educators, by understanding other ethnic groups throughclassroom experiences that often include preparation and eating ethnic cuisine, listeningto ethnic music and listening to folk tales, educators will develop an appreciation for thecultures of their students. The connection between these experiences and the deeper cultural differences thatcome from discrimination and exclusion often go unaddressed. The fact that the bestpredictor of academic success is a well-organized and affluent home reveals a need tolook beyond culture and address the issues related to poverty and non-traditional homeexperiences. The reality is that every student has a unique set of circumstances andproblems that cannot be addressed through simple cultural explanations. The reality is that only through becoming connected with the community of thelearner can the administrator or teacher begin to understand and intervene in a way thatwill provide the needed stability, support, and placement for the student to begin to thriveacademically. No doubt, engaging the family to partner with the school is paramount. Leadership in School Reform In each of the educational leadership areas identified above leadership in schoolreform are implicit. To achieve school reform the following perspectives and skills areessential: 1) The ability to assess the match between campus direction, performance, and capacity with community needs and student learning needs and the match between federal and state mandates – and the campus ability to address mandates. 2) The ability of a faculty to work in teams to achieve consistency between actual and desirable conditions within the school that will affect higher levels of achievement among all student populations.
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONALADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL8_____________________________________________________________________________________ Concluding Remarks We believe the current state of educational leadership instruction needs to have aclearer purpose and vision for the future. By introducing a post-modern perspective intotraditional graduate level courses, students will be provided a more global understandingof the many challenges and opportunities they will encounter. By re-centering our focusin leadership preparation programs, our future school leaders will be better prepared toprovide leadership in the areas of instructional leadership, human resources development,school law, school finance, organizational theory, technology, data based decision-making, social-economic political and cultural foundations, and leadership in schoolreform.________________________________________________________________________Formatted by Dr. Mary Alice Kritsonis, National Research and Manuscript PreparationEditor, National FORUM Journals, Houston, Texas. www.nationalforum.com