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Medium 9781475811858

Parents’ Networking Strategies: Participation of Formal and Informal Parent Groups in School Activities and Decisions

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

CAROLYN L. WANAT

ABSTRACT: This case study examined parent groups’ involvement in school activities and their participation in decision making. Research questions included the following: (1) What is the nature of parent groups in schools? (2) What activities and issues gain parent groups’ attention and participation? (3) How do parent groups communicate concerns about school policies and practices? (4) What differences, if any, exist between formal and informal parent groups? Social network theory provided the framework for analysis. Seventeen parents in one K–6 elementary school participated in semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed with analytic induction. Participants’ interactions around shared activities created dense networks that supported school activities and influenced school leaders’ decision making.

An extensive body of research has documented the benefits of parents’ involvement in their children’s schools, particularly on students’ academic achievement (Epstein, 2001; Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Research has examined individual parents’ involvement, with fewer studies focusing on the collective involvement of parent groups (Sheldon, 2002). Yet, studies using parent groups as the unit of analysis have shown improved student attendance (Sheldon, 2007), increased parental involvement (Sheldon, 2005), and more parental participation on decision-making committees (Sheldon & Van Voorhis, 2004). In studies that use schools as the unit of analysis to study the benefits of parents’ social networks (Sheldon, 2002) and the relationships of school structure and environment on parental involvement (Griffith, 1998, 2000), researchers collected data on parents’ perspectives about their involvement as individuals. Departing from this approach, this study examined parents’ perspectives about the collective involvement of parent groups.

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Medium 9781475829761

How EdTPA May Help Preservice Teachers Understand Children

Teacher Education and Practice Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

THOMAS HUSTON

ABSTRACT: In conducting this study, I sought to contribute to the scholarly discourse of understanding how preservice student teachers experienced evaluation via teacher performance assessments. More specifically, to gain insight into Midwest University’s teacher performance assessment process, I explored preservice student teachers’ experiences completing the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA). Additionally, I examined informants’ interpretations and impressions from their involvement in the EdTPA program. Through extensive interviews and thematic data analysis, this study generally supported the contention that the process of completing EdTPA deepened student teachers’ understanding of their educational experience in a number of domains, in turn suggesting a broader awareness and appreciation of the complexities of learning to teach. Data indicated that identified “realms of understanding” fell into four areas of insight related to education: understanding children, understanding instructional strategies, understanding via collective learning, and understanding self as teacher. These findings lead to several practical ways in which teacher education might be improved, particularly in the area of better understanding children.

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Medium 9781475823707

Committees and Conflict: Developing a Conflict Resolution Framework

Journal of School Public Relations Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

ANGELA SPAULDING

ABSTRACT: Just as committee work is an undeniable and inescapable reality of life in schools, so is conflict within the life of a committee. The goal of this article is to provide suggestions and direction toward committee development of such a framework and to remind committee members how to understand, direct, guide, and support conflict to achieve the objectives and goals of committee work.

With the move toward increasing community participation in school-level governance, numerous community and school members are finding themselves thrust into new committee roles. As they strive to successfully participate in school-based decision making, they face an undeniable and inescapable reality of committee life—that of conflict. Conflict is a natural by-product of human interaction. Conflict will originate from within the committee itself, and committee members will bring conflict that originated elsewhere into the committee dynamics. But no matter where it originates, conflict has the potential to negatively or positively impact committee success, depending upon the manner in which it is dealt. Dealt with effectively, conflict becomes functional and enhances the performance of a committee. Dealt with ineffectively, conflict becomes dysfunctional and will harm the relationship between committee members as well as hinder attainment of committee goals or objectives. However, many committee members see conflict as purely negative, but that is not always true. What is always true, however, is that conflict does not manage itself. To effectively deal with conflict, committees must have a well-established and understood framework for resolving conflict.

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Medium 9781475811957

The Reflective Teacher Leader: An Action Research Model

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP R&L Education ePub

LEENA FURTADO
DAWNETTE ANDERSON

ABSTRACT: This study presents four teacher reflections from action research projects ranging from kindergarten to adult school improvements. A teacher leadership matrix guided participants to connect teaching and learning theory to best practices by exploring uncharted territory within an iterative cycle of research and action. Teachers developed the philosophy of critical pedagogy through the reflective practice of journal writing and highlighting innovative teaching strategies. Finally, participants collaborated through peer dialogue and mentorship to accept change and ownership of the action process and student learning outcomes. Excerpts from participants’ reflective journals exemplify growth in teacher knowledge, confidence, personal empowerment, and enhanced professional leadership.

In recent years, there is an increased acceptance of teachers to function as leaders for school improvement at the instructional level of practice. Improvement at the instructional level requires leadership by teachers in the classrooms and with colleagues (Darling-Hammond, Bullmaster, & Cobb, 1995; York-Barr & Duke, 2004). This study is intended to illustrate the way in which action research can be utilized as an inquisitive, natural approach to instructional changes in the classroom. Additionally, the practice of reflection is illustrated as an innovative way to address student needs while enhancing teacher leadership and teacher learning (Dick, 2007; Hendricks, 2009). Reflections from four instructional interventions serve to describe the development and implementation of action research that includes systematic reflective journal entries chronicled throughout the process. The element of the participants’ continuous reflection enabled the researcher and a McNair scholar/researcher1 mentee to examine teacher growth and learning that took place personally and professionally. The teacher participants, their classrooms, and the mentor/instructor are all within a diverse urban educational setting.

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Medium 9781475811926

The School Leader Communication Model: An Emerging Method for Bridging School Leader Preparation and Practice

JOURNAL OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

BENJAMIN H. DOTGER

ABSTRACT: School leaders make countless decisions but do not receive adequate preparation for communicating their decisions to parents, students, and teachers. Building on the need to prepare school leaders for a variety of complex professional situations, this article introduces the medical education pedagogy of standardized patients to the field of school leader preparation, outlining how simulated interactions serve as a pedagogical bridge between school leader preparation and practice.

School leaders often engage in complex interactions that shape the support of parents, the engagement of students, and the effectiveness of teachers. As school leaders interact with their school communities, they are frequently challenged to make and communicate good decisions. Making thoughtful principled decisions, however, requires a set of skills distinctly different from those required to communicate such decisions.

The purpose of this article is to outline an emerging methodology for helping novice school leaders practice complex interactions with parents, teachers, and students. Drawing from a well-established pedagogy in medical education, I outline how simulated interactions within leadership preparation programs can help novice school leaders prepare for the complex communications they will face as active school leaders. I begin by reviewing the literature on leaders’ communications within schools and how future school leaders are prepared to interact with others. Next, I review the medical education pedagogy of standardized patients, focusing on the recent diffusion of this pedagogy from medicine to teacher education. Then, I highlight the school leader communication model (SLCM), a clinical model designed to enhance the preparation of school leaders. After outlining the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the SLCM, I describe in detail its general procedures and considerations for implementation. I close this article by discussing the significance of the SLCM’s simulation methodology, focusing on the value that it adds beyond traditional methods employed within leadership preparation.

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