An examination of collegiality in selected Christian schools in Oregon, Washington and Idaho: Evaluating the effects of the Christian School Leadership program
An examination of collegiality in selectedChristian schools in Oregon, Washington and Idaho:Evaluating the effects of the Christian School Leadership programGary Kilburg and Scot Headley, George Fox University
A scholarly agenda regarding professional development of educators in Christian SchoolsHeadley, W. S. (1996). “The Role of Teacher Education In-service teacherDepartments of Christian Colleges in In-Service Teacher education, howEducation” Nurturing Reflective Christians to Serve in Public and who?and Private Education Symposium, Azusa Pacific University,Azusa, CA.Headley, W. S. (2003). “Professional development policiesand practices in schools affiliated with the Association of School-basedChristian Schools International”. Journal of Research in professionalChristian Education. 12 (2) pp. 195-215. developmentBirky, V., Shelton, M. and Headley, S. (2006). “AnAdministrator’s Challenge: Encouraging Teachers to be Teacher LeadershipLeaders”. NASSP Bulletin, 90 (2) pp.1-15.
A scholarly agenda regarding professional development of educators in Christian SchoolsHeadley, W. S. (2008). The academic preparation of educators Preparation ofin the K-12 schools of the Association of Christian Schools educators inInternational. Private School Monitor, 29 (2) pp 1-10. Christian schoolsShelton, M., Birky, V. D., & Headley, W. Scot. (2008). EncouragingEncouraging teacher leaders. In W. K. Hoy & M. DiPaola teacher leadership(Eds.), Improving schools: Studies in leadership and culture:Vol. 7. Research and theory in educational leadership (7th ed.,pp. 169-191). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Shelton, M., Headley, W. S. and Birky, V. (2008, May). School-basedDiscernment in decision making: implications for leaders. decision makingPresentation made at the International Community ofChristian Teacher Educators Conference, Gordon College:Wenham, MA.
Kilburg, G. and Headley, S. (2009). The Christian school Mentoringleadership mentoring program at George Fox University: A programs inministry of service and encouragement. In C. Wong (Ed.), Christian schoolsProceedings of the 2009 Mentoring Conference (pp. 104-111).Albuquerque, NM.Kilburg, G. & Headley, S. (2010, May). Christian School University-basedLeadership Program. Paper presented at the International professionalCommunity of Christians in Teacher Education Conference. developmentLetourneau University, Longview, Texas. programmingKilburg, G. and Headley, S. (2012, May) An examination of Collegiality incollegiality in selected Christian schools in Oregon, schoolWashington and Idaho. Paper presented at the ICCTE improvementconference, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA.
From a scholarly point of view, this project has significance thatgoes beyond the work being done in the Pacific Northwest. SinceHeadley’s (1997) initial work in the late 1990s additional scholarlywork along similar lines has occurred in New York, Illinois andVirginia.Finn, D. E., Swezey, J. A., & Warren, D. P. (2010). The perceivedprofessional development needs of Christian school teachers.Journal of Research on Christian Education, 19(1), 7-26.Looney, J. (2008). Developing comprehensive induction programs atChristian schools. The ICCTE Journal. Retrieved February 23, 2009,from http://icctejournal.org, 3(1).Neuzil, L., & Vaughn, M. (2010). An examination of professionaldevelopment activities available to teachers in the Mid-Americaregion of the Association of Christian Schools International. TheICCTE Journal, 5(1).
Our previous research showed that PK-12 Christianschools in the Northwest were offering minimalmentoring and professional development work. Further,only about one-half of the educators at those schools hadformal preparation in teacher education, with less thanone-fourth receiving preparation at a Christian institutionof higher education.Ongoing service work in Christian schools, as well as ourengagement with the professional and scholarly literatureregarding professional development of educators has ledus to believe that:
• Individual and group professional growth goals and activities are sorely lacking in Christian schools;• Effective Christian school leadership is a process (not just a role) and a series of commitments involving an interplay between organizational mission and vision and professional relationships focused on accomplishing agreed upon ends;• Collegiality (as described by Barth, 2006) is a robust conceptual model for creating a climate of effectiveness and accountability within the school community; and• Collaboration between schools has great potential for providing sustained commitment to professional growth of educators in Christian schools.
Collegiality is about getting [educators] to play together, aboutgrowing a professional learning community. When I visit a school andlook for evidence of collegiality among teachers and administrators—signs that educators are "playing together"—the indicatorsI seek are: •Educators talking with one another about practice. •Educators sharing their craft knowledge. •Educators observing one another while they are engaged in practice. •Educators rooting for one anothers success. (p. 11)Barth, R.S. (March 2006). Improving Relationships Within theSchoolhouse, Educational Leadership, Vol. 63, No. 6, 8-13.
The Christian School Leadership (CSL) Program PurposeThe CSL professional development program is funded by the MJMurdock Charitable Trust, a Northwest Philanthropic organization,based in Vancouver, WA. The CSL program is designed to supportappropriate leadership in PK-12 Christian schools by promotingcollaborative leadership and shared responsibility andaccountability. The program is administered by faculty in theSchool of Education at George Fox University.We are grateful to the Trust for their support of this and severalsimilar projects funded in the Northwest serving the needs of PK-12 Christian schools.
Most schools are not structured to sustain collegiality, thereforeprofessional development and mentoring provides a means ofaddressing the need of assisting schools in moving towardcollegiality.To strengthen leadership and promote a culture of collegiality, theCSL program design emphasizes these key principles: •Shared vision, mission, and goals •Collaboration within and across school boundaries •Shared leadership and decision making •Enhanced knowledge and support for professional growth •Shared knowledge and support of best practices within schools
Design of specific professional development activities includes: •A negotiated process of determining need and response to need in consultation with CSL staff •Offering of protocols and procedures based on best practices within the field of professional development and consistent with CSL purpose and philosophy •A proposed school-specific plan with acknowledged challenges and benefits •An assessment of program implementation
The Program has provided professional development andmentoring support for Christian school leaders and personnel for 4years. During this timeframe, 31 schools and approximately 200Christian school educators serving an estimated 2000 studentshave been impacted by the program.The type of specific support provided includes •mentors for novice administrators and teachers, •an administrators’ bimonthly collaborative support network, •Professional Learning Communities at school sites, •credit-bearing coursework, •mentor institute seminars, •professional development seminars, •resource materials, •accountability and assessment processes, and •consultations with GFU faculty on school-specific concerns.
Trust-Mandated and Managed External and Summative Evaluation of the ProgramTo determine the impact of Trust investment on Christian schoolsin the Northwest. Of interest to the Trust are the following: •School Achievement Data •Program Elements (are they consistent with the literature base) •Transformational and Sustainable New Practices adopted as a result of program participation •Characteristics of Successful and Unsuccessful SchoolsMixed methods approach with a combination of site visits, schoolsurvey through self-study, gathering of institutional data fromwebsites and documents, interviews with key stakeholders. Acombination of external evaluator and CSL personnel conductingthe study
School Achievement DataAlthough an analysis of comparable standardized test scores is limited,recorded school scores do evidence successful outcomes and highachievement in the areas of college readiness, college admission andgrade-level performance.Schools that use ACT, SAT, and ITBS standardized tests report scoresexceeding the academic performance of most public schools. Forexample, the ACT composite mean score for college readiness is 21. Allreporting schools achieve mean scores between 22 and 26.High schools report 85% -100% of their graduates attend 2 or 4-yearcolleges in contrast to 60% of Oregon public school graduates. TheOregon governor’s goal is to raise the public school standard to 80%~ astandard already surpassed by CSL project high schools.
Program Elements•From one-shot teacher workshops to structured professionalscaffolding and accountability over months and years (i.e., monthlylogs, administrator regional meetings, mentor instituteconferences).•From teacher isolation to structured collegiality within the school(i.e., Professional Learning Communities (PLC) of teachers,committed time during school hours to meet and plan forimplementation of best practices in administration and teaching, in-school mentoring and classroom observations).
Program Elements•From teacher and administrator isolation to structured collegialitybeyond the school (i.e., cross-school mentoring and classroomobservation, administrator support network, consultation with GFUstaff).•From a “one size fits all” model of PD to needs assessment byschools as their foundation for requests, funding, and consultation.•From limited help-seeking and help-offering patterns of interactionto sanctioned and encouraged communication between novice andveteran educators committed to the integration of Christian faithand learning.
Transformational and Sustainable New Practices•Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) focused on connectingcurriculum and instruction with student learning and assessment•Pilot programming to whole-school adoption of PLC planningstructures including allocated in-school v. after-school planning time•Cross-school administrator support network meetings facilitated byGFU and focused on personnel issues, board relations, budget,policies/procedures, and professional growth of leaders•Online resource identification including PD webinars•Increased trust and confidence in sharing areas of expertise byveteran and novice educators
Transformational and Sustainable New Practices•Renewed sense of calling and commitment to teaching and/oradministering in Christian schools•School-wide professional development seminars provided byknowledgeable educators from GFU and other institutions of higherlearning (requires funding)•Mentor assignments, accountability structures, and mentor training(requires funding)•Regional invitational seminars hosted by schools (requires funding)•Stipends for PD leadership roles within schools such as lead teacherposition, outside consultant position, and mentor roles (requiresfunding)
Characteristics of Successful (28) and Unsuccessful Schools (3)SuccessfulSupportive administrative leadershipFocused goals aligned with teacher growth and student learningSupport structures of accountability (mentor logs, reportprocedures, etc.)Norms of professional collegialityUnsuccessfulPolitical discord within the school’s administrative leadershipPoor planning that resulted in school closure before it could openFinancial constraints exacerbated by the economic downturn
Top 5 sustainable transformations•Administrator cooperation and collaboration between schools inidentifying and discussing shared areas of concern and interest•Teacher-leadership development through mentoring, ProfessionalLearning Communities, and structural changes to facilitate during-school planning time•Accessibility to CSL-developed online resources and materials, CSLTeam leadership and training•Participants’ trust and confidence in their abilities to both seek helpand offer help to other educators resulting in greater collaborationversus isolation•Participants’ renewed sense of calling in their commitment toteaching and/or administering in Christian schools
The Murdock Trust funding has allowed the Christian SchoolLeadership program to offer leadership support for school-identified needs over several years in contrast to the moretypical one-shot workshop approach to staff training. Throughthis sustained effort, relationships foundational to professionaldevelopment within and between schools have beenestablished.IntentionInterventionIncentiveTrusting RelationshipsChanged BehaviorChanged CultureImproved Outcomes