Executive Editors Dr. Sharon Ross, Assistant Professor, Coordinator M.Ed. in Educational Administration & Superintendent Certification, Tarleton State University Dr. Jennifer S. Jones, Director of Guidance and Counseling, Tyler ISD & Adjunct Professor, Stephen F. Austin State University Reviewers Mrs. Tanya Larkin, Pampa ISD Superintendent Dr. Caprica Wells, Assistant Principal, Churchill High School, North East ISD Dr. Valerie Baxter, Assistant Superintendent, Pine Tree ISD Adjunct East Texas Baptist University
JTWSE provides a forum to promote the development of women school executives through scholarly research and practice. JTWSE recognizes the diversity of talents and skills of women school
Copyright 2020 by the Texas Council of Women School Executives All rights reserved. ISSN 2166-112X
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The Journal of Texas Women School Executives (JTWSE) The Journal of Texas Women School Executives (JTWSE) is an official publication of the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE). The purpose of JTWSE is to provide a forum to promote the development of women school executives through scholarly research and practice, as well as recognize the professional knowledge and wisdom of practicing and aspiring women school executives, higher education faculty, and other significant partners in education. Since leadership is both art and science, JTWSE solicits creative works that promote the journal purpose. The journal solicits original submissions in three categories to recognize the diversity of talents and skills of women school executives (see Categories of Articles). Because of a commitment to leadership development and scholarly school women executives, Texas Council of School Women School Executives previously published an annual monograph until 2008. In January 2011, President Lu Anna Stephens and the Executive Board, commissioned Dr. Genie Linn and Ms. Karen Saunders to serve as co-editors to design and launch a new professional publication for TCWSE to be published in an electronic format with the first publication to be unveiled at the Annual Conference in January 2012. JTWSE is a double-blind, peer-reviewed, open access e-journal publishing original scholarly research and creative works. The JTWSE, although originated by Texas women school executives, it serves as a national scholarly journal. For membership information: https://tcwse.org/membership/. At present, all editorial, Board, and reviewer services are provided without cost to JTWSE or its members by volunteer scholars and practitioners.
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From the Founding Mother To the 2020 TCWSE Conference Attendees Greetings to all of you, TCWSEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s extraordinary women, What a joy to see the networking, enthusiasm, and camaraderie among women leaders during last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s conference! Excitement, hugs, professional presentations, laughter, and strong support permeated the atmosphere. The growth of this organization rests on the shoulders of the creative women who with the guidance of Ann Halstead added their goals and specific accomplishments to the organization year by year to bring us to 2020. This year we have the creative leadership of President Karla Moyer and her team. How fortunate to be here with extraordinary women and all these opportunities available. Each of us brings our own expertise, ideas, successes, and challenges. Each person is one of a kind, uniquely designed by God Himself. Use these gifts with confidence as you make your own footprints along the pathway. This is a safe place to express yourself as you greet old friends and make new ones. Speaking of new friends, I, along with other founding women executives commend you on welcoming over 190 first time conference attendees. That is absolutely amazing! A dream come true! As you return home, please share your experiences with women still in the shadows. Support these women and your regional group. Commit to helping your regional director increase membership! Share the networking, the enthusiasm, and the joy! See you in 2021! Dr. Margret Montgomery Sheffield
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From the President Dear TCWSE Members, Dr. Margret Montgomery Sheffield had a dream. Her dream became her vision. Her vision inspired her calling, purpose, and mission. And, her dream became reality: the Texas Council of Women School Executives. Dr. Montgomery Sheffield steadfastly committed to her purpose: “to help women enter administrative positions and to advance to higher positions.” She never deviated from the constancy of her mission: “create and maintain a united community of professional educational executives by promoting equity and quality in leadership through renewal, mentoring, and career advancement support.” Utilizing the knowledge and support of key women and men across the state, Dr. Montgomery Sheffield’s leadership team created the Texas Council of Women School Executives. For the past thirty-six years, women aspiring to and those in educational leadership positions have benefited. Dr. Montgomery Sheffield and the first TCWSE Board of Directors were committed to offering members robust services. One of the members’ services was the opportunity to publish in a peer-reviewed journal. The original peer-reviewed TCWSE Journals were bound books. Today, our peer-reviewed journal, the JTCWSE, is available online. Dr. Margret Montgomery Sheffield had a dream. What is your dream? What do you want? What is your commitment, purpose, mission, vision, and calling? Turn your dreams into your realities with a clear vision in 20/20. If you are not sure of the what or the how, our TCWSE mentors are here to support you. Here is my commitment to TCWSE members. My purpose is to educate, inspire, and empower. My mission is to foster individual’s uniqueness and purpose. My vision is to cultivate individual’s unique gifts & purpose through holistic wellness in order to live with joy, peace, and abundance. My calling is to help us remember that we each have different gifts for doing certain things well – our calling. Be Daring! Dream BIG! Attain your Vision! Karla Moyer, Ed.D. TCWSE 2019 President
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From the Editorial Staff
20/20: A Clear Vision! Whether it’s a visit to the optometrist or to the ophthalmologist, the reason is usually due to changes in one’s vision. The visit could be due to decreased vision, irritated or blurred vision, or even a problem in which one sees specks or something blocking and interfering in the vision. In all cases, there is cause for the expert to examine and determine the root cause of the problem. Choosing a reputable eye doctor is paramount to saving one’s sense of sight. And so it goes with school operations and school leadership. The Board of Trustees’ will hire a reputable visionary, an expert, to ensure A CLEAR VISION drives student success. That leader must be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with the entire Professional Learning Community and all stakeholders to ensure the VISION is realized and lived daily. Proverbs 29:18 says Where there is no vision, the people, (and we added our version) school improvement plans and a continuous increase in student achievement will perish! As we read through the submissions, a clear picture of a visionary pathway unfolded. From the beginning entry to the last, we were able to follow a pathway for leadership considerations. The opening perspective inspires thought and reflection for 20/20 Leadership and what it will take to move forward in and beyond 2020. Throughout the journal we followed a pathway for leaders to clearly see the need for data informed leadership, being a culturally relevant leader, developing partnerships with universities and colleges, preparing high school students for college level courses, passionately loving what you do and communicating at all times using various resources available to us. We hope you are inspired and motivated from the research and scholarly perspectives to push through and continue the journey on a clear pathway. Remember: “vision is knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey.” Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner Full Steam Ahead! Sharon Ross, Ed.D. & Jennifer S. Jones, Ed.D. Executive Editors v | JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
Research is the hallmark of educational professionalism and scholarship. The following articles reflect the scholarship of women school executives from universities and school districts. While university professors research issues that are vital to women as leaders and support women educators, district and campus authors share applied research from their experiences in the field. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines research as a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover new information or reach a new understanding. May you read with 20/20Vision and understand a new journey requires a fresh faith and a fresh fight to: • Creatively collaborate with the intent to connect communities, universities, colleges and schools that prepare all students for success • Intentionally operate as a culturally relevant, data-driven leader • Collaboratively redesign programs that inspire and propel students beyond their wildest dreams and imagination • Unapologetically owning a passion and love for the journey and the work required to sustain success • Continuously advocating for all children • Consistently providing communication of the organizations vision and work related, including successes along the way Scholarly research builds leadership capacity and strengthens our voices.
Professional and Scholarly Perspectives offers research both scholarly positions and professional understandings. The contributors represent the diversity of TCWSE members who are university professors, district administrators, and aspiring administrators. It is critical to include and consider perspectives that offer a view to education from inside hearts and minds of our various levels of leadership. It is with pride that we accept and cherish each life role as more evidence of our amazing capacity for leadership. We are leaders. We are learners. We are women.
Creative Works Picture this…
We are always inspired and amazed at the creativity of women school executives. The following author combines creativity and personal reflection in a way that enriches our understanding. Metaphor is the bridge to new understanding. We make meaning for ourselves and share the pictured meaning with others.
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Call for Special Issue Papers Journal of Texas Women School Executives Women Leading in P-20 Educational Contexts: #Women’s Leadership Matters Guest Editors: Dessynie Edwards, Ph. D., Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi Deena Khalil, Ph. D., Howard University Detra Johnson, Ph. D., University of Houston A Special Issue from the Journal of Texas Women School Executives. Editor(s): Sharon Ross, Ed.D., Tarleton State University and Jennifer S. Jones, Ed.D., Tyler ISD & Adjunct Faculty at Stephen F. Austin University. With much attention on the increased diversity of the student population in the U.S. and the urgency to recruit, cultivate and retain equity-oriented and social-justice minded educators and leaders prepared to meet their diverse needs, there has been a significant concern around the continued lack of diversification among leaders in P-20 educational contexts. Most notable is the lack of research around how women (and nonbinary) leaders, in the year 2020, are continuing to face the glass (and often cement) ceiling that hinders their aspirations and attainment of progressively upward educational leadership roles. Despite achieving a proportionate representation of women in the principalship, there is limited research that illuminates the limits and possibilities of their leadership experiences, and fewer still that narrate those critical moments of creative insubordination where women leaders interrogate, navigate and negotiate barriers. These instances and others may provide salient leadership lessons that can better inform both scholars and practitioners. The Special Issue will highlight scholarship that examines women's leadership experiences and what can be learned from them to better inform the field of educational leadership. Women's leadership dispositions and specific leadership assets are particularly undervalued, and their unique experiences, which are influenced by challenges and obstacles and informed by their triumphs because of gender and other social constructs of difference, remain underrepresented in published scholarship. We invite paper proposals from scholars and practitioners from across the country that examine issues pertaining to women district-level leaders, school leaders and teacher leaders, higher education leaders (from both academic and student affairs) and leadership education scholars who focus on gender studies, specifically related to: • • •
The role of identity, multiple identities or intersectional identities in the formation of leadership identity The recruitment, development, and retention among and for women leaders, particularly the role of mentorship Theoretical, conceptual or innovative methodological understandings of women in educational leadership
Proposals should conclude with recommendations for policy and practice to assist practitioners/scholars/leadership preparation programs in the application of the knowledge gained from this special issue. vii| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
• • •
Proposal Submission Instructions: 3-pg abstract, 1-pg with discussion and policy or practice recommendations, and 1-pg references (APA format; 5 total pgs.) Include cover page with name(s), contact info, and brief bio for author(s) (no more than 100 words)
Due to Editors by April 12, 2020 via email: Drsdross55@icloud.com Additional Submission Information: • • •
We welcome creative, culturally-authentic, scholarly writing utilizing various methodologies and frameworks. Accepted papers will undergo a blind review process; complete papers will be between 5,000 to 7,500 words (excluding references) All submissions should be sent electronically as Microsoft Word documents (.doc/.docx)
Inquiries can be sent to the Editors via email: Drsdross55@icloud.com Tentative Timeline: Call for paper proposals: January 2020-April 2020 Submission of 3-page abstract, with 1-page reference list and cover sheet- February 20, 2020 Letters of acceptance to contributing authors- by March 12, 2020 Submission of proposals to Editors-April 12, 2020 Blind peer review of chapters- April 13 -May 12, 2020 Author revisions to papers- May 12-June 1, 2020 Editors review revised papers- June 2-June 20, 2020 Author final edits due- May 31, 2019
Call for Annual Journal Submissions Journal of Texas Women School Executives Conference: January 2021 Conference Theme: Love, Serve, Lead…#Find Your Joy Deadline for Submission – JUNE 30, 2020 The Journal of Texas Women School Executives (JTWSE) is a national double-blind peerreviewed, open access e-journal publishing original scholarly research and creative works. JTWSE is an official publication of the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE). The purpose of JTWSE is to provide a forum to promote the development of women school executives through scholarly research and practice, as well as recognize the professional knowledge and wisdom of practicing and aspiring women school executives, higher education faculty, and other significant partners in education. We welcome single-study investigations, research addressing teaching and learning, educational leadership, policy and finance, school law, and other professional and scholarly perspectives. To recognize the diversity of talents and skills, JTWSE also solicits professional and scholarly perspectives as well as creative works that promote the journal purpose. Creative works include poetry and artwork. Submitting Manuscripts/Submissions to JTWSE Manuscripts and submissions should be sent to: email@example.com Subject line: JTWSE 2021 #FindYourJoy Submission Each submission is reviewed by the editors and evaluated as appropriate for review and then sent to reviewers for double-blind peer review. Editorial decisions will be made typically within four to six weeks after receipt. Manuscripts should follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th Edition. The typical article submission is equivalent to 5 to 15 pages single-spaced. If selected, you may be asked to revise and re-submit. It is the responsibility of the author to adhere to deadlines provided at that time. Please be sure to carefully read all guidelines and prepare accordingly prior to submission. Document Preparation Your manuscript/submission should consist of the following: •
Cover Sheet – Title and information of authorship; name of author(s), current position contact info, and brief bio for author(s) (no more than 100 words); email address, postal address, phone number.
Include a statement confirming that the submission has not been published, is not under review for publication and will not be submitted elsewhere while being considered for approval with JTWSE. In cases in which the research involves human subjects, confirm that the IRB
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(Institutional Review Board) has exempt the study from any further review or that it has approved the investigation.
Abstract – Place on a separate sheet. The title should be placed at the top of the page. The text following should be no longer than 200 words and should summarize the purpose, methodology and findings briefly.
The body of the paper
Charts, tables and/or figures
List of References
Use 12-point font (Times New Roman is preferred)
Prospective authors may view copies of past submissions and themes of the JTWSE at tcwse.org Questions regarding the JTWSE may be directed to Co-Editors. Dr. Sharon Ross Tarleton State University College of Education Assistant Professor of Ed. Leadership/Tech Drsdross55@icloud.com
Dr. Jennifer S. Jones Tyler ISD Director of Guidance and Counseling Adjunct Professor, Educational Leadership Stephen F. Austin University Jennifer.Jones@tylerisd.org
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Vision is a lot more than putting a plaque on the wall. A real vision is lived, not framed. ~ Ken Blanchard & Jesse Stoner, Full Steam Ahead
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Table of Contents In This Issue
20/20 Leadership Vision in 2020
Valerie L. Walker Data Informed Leadership Practices and Implications for Student Achievement
Dr. Barbara Ybarra Dr. Kaye Shelton What Does It Mean to Be A Culturally Relevant School Leader?
Dr. Pamela L. Gray Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Love Got to Do with Educational Leadership? A Case Study in Principal Practice
Dr. Dessynie Edwards Dr. Israel Aguilar Dr. Juan Manuel Nino It Takes a Village: Developing a Sustainable Partnership between University Preparation Programs and School Districts
Dr. Stacy Hendricks To Lead Others and to Be Led
Dr. Jill M. Siler TCWSE: My Inner Circle
Accelyn Williams 20/20 A Clear Vision: Keeping the Vision Alive!
Dr. Kathyrn Washington
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In this Issue The research and perspectives in this issue were prepared with the Visionary leader in mind. It takes a clearly articulated vision to lead beyond 2020! 20/20 Leadership Vision in 2020, by Valerie L. Walker. Valerie’s perspective regarding efficacy, culture, equity, root cause analysis – The Why, PLC’s, and Foresight being the New Hindsight is a creative introduction for the rest of the articles. Dive into 2020 armed with a few key foundational ideas that will positively impact the work you do this year. Data Informed Leadership Practices and Implications for Student Achievement, by Barbara Ybarra and Kay Shelton. Ybarra and Shelton share that campus and district leaders can use this study to fine-tune their own leadership practices for fostering data-driven decisionmaking in the school organization. One leadership practice critical to the urgency of school success is setting a shared vision of why and how the data will be used for school improvement. What Does It Mean to Be A Culturally Relevant School Leader? By Dr. Pamela L. Gray. Gray offers some of the characteristics of culturally relevant teachers from the book “The Dreamkeepers” by Gloria Ladson-Billings. School leaders have approached their roles in the same manner: promoting equity, engagement and excellence in education through culturally relevant leadership. What’s Love Got to Do with Educational Leadership? A Case Study in Principal Practice, by Dr. Dessynie Edwards, Dr. Israel Aguilar, and Dr. Juan Manuel Nino. Edwards, Aguilar, and Nino conceptualize the need for schools as a place to foster human connections and relationships in which leaders demonstrate an ethic of care and social justice efforts through professional love for their employees, students, and external community members. It Takes a Village: Developing a Sustainable Partnership between University Preparation Programs and School Districts, by Dr. Stacy Hendricks. Doors that had previously been closed between the school district and the university were opened under the leadership of a newly hired superintendent who was actively seeking a new direction for the district. One principal noted during the process that there was a definite need for constant communication. It also takes a family, the entire educational community and partnerships, the village to produce productive and supported educational reform. To Lead Others and to Be Led…by Dr. Jill M. Siler. Dr. Siler’s perspective on leadership captures the essence of leading and being led. When it comes to leading in our fields, part of that sacred responsibility is raising others up along the way. Gandhi noted that “a sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” TCWSE: My Inner Circle, by Accelyn Williams. Williams encourages us to hold fast to our vision through connections by share our knowledge, skillsets and experiences, our unique approaches and brand to lead us to a new direction and the next level leadership experience. 20/20 A Clear Vision: Keeping the Vision Alive! by Dr. Kathyrn Washington. Washington shares the importance of communication and sharing what we are passionate about.
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“20/20/vision will require our most vulnerable leadership. It will not be easy, but our customers – the students whose very lives we influence – are worth it. You have what it takes! You won’t know it all, but you have what it takes to learn it! Yes, our children are worth it! Every. Single. One. Of. Them.” ~ Valerie Walker
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20/20 Leadership Vision in 2020 Valerie Walker, M. Ed. Pflugerville ISD The fireworks color the sky and smiles and laughter fill rooms across this great nation as fellow countrymen and countrywomen proudly belt out versions of “Auld Lang Syne.” We toast to what was and excitedly anticipate what is to come. We resolve to crush goals that we previously considered elusive. We clear the clutter, remove the junk food from the refrigerators, and ensure rooms and closets in our homes reflect the same clarity of moving into the new year with fresh perspective. Then comes the first day back to school! Whether we participate in professional development or a workday, I believe the same holds true with organizational and instructional leadership. We come back ready to clear the clutter, remove any distractions and clearly plan for success in the final semester of the school year. As we dive into 2020 armed with data and resources to support our campuses’ journeys, let’s all remember a few key foundational ideas that will positively impact the work we do this year. Leadership Efficacy is Critical As a campus, district, or regional leader your belief in yourself matters. We tell teachers, “Your belief that you can improve student learning is the greatest determining factor of their success,” but do we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “My belief that I can improve student learning, adult learning, and overall school culture and climate is the greatest determining factor in the success of my campus”? If you already say and believe this, high five! If not, spend some time in the beginning of 2020 doing the heart work necessary to discover your “why” and to get clear on strengths you bring to the leadership table. Will you be willing to call that colleague, visit that school, read that book, and/or study that concept so your increased learning positively impacts student and adult learning? You have what it takes! You won’t know it all, but you have what it takes to learn it! The people around you need you to know you are equipped to lead them, even when you don’t know all the answers immediately. Culture Speaks During the Christmas holidays, I took a moment away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy some craft caffeine and sugar-blends from a well-known coffee shop. When I walked in, I was immediately greeted and given the opportunity to customize my drink. Although my friends jokingly call my order insanely detailed, the barista did not bat an eye, nor did she make me feel uncomfortable for the specificity with which I placed my order. I watched like a mama hawk as my drink was being prepared. About halfway through, one of the barista’s said, “Whoops, nope,” and she poured it out and began again. It was the wrong milk. She fixed it before it got to me. She didn’t accept that mistake and simply try to pass it along to me hoping I hadn’t noticed. She called me by my name (that day, I was Steel Rose), and she smiled saying, “We’ll see you next time.” From that experience, she told me what her company believes is important for customers to experience with reciting their values. She told me with her actions. Do we think of our campuses and districts this way - as opportunities for stakeholders to experience what we believe? Are we willing to write our visions of campus culture down, share them with staff, practice what they 3 | JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
look and sound like, then teach children the same? Are we willing to revisit those expectations and practice them again until everyone who visits our campuses can tell others what we value without even hearing our values from us verbally? What does your campus culture tell others you believe? This year let’s take a look at opportunities to align or realign what our culture says to people - what they experience - with what we say we believe and value. Equity is Alpha Growing up, there was a communication style my mom taught me that required no words. She spoke with her eyes, and it was very simple for me to learn. She would ever-so-slightly raise her eyebrows and look at me with wonder, as if to ask, “Do you realize you’re doing something you know you’re not supposed to do? Will you fix it, or do you need my help?” There was no smile, so I knew it was an opportunity to fix myself without consequence. There was another eye she spoke with that was much more of a command. It was a squint accompanied by a low, furrowed brow that meant, “You better stop what you’re doing right now.” Am I by myself? Were you instantly transported back to a mischievous moment in your childhood? When I was a new teacher, I tried the same strategy on most of my students who required redirection. For some of my students, it worked like a charm, and I didn’t even have to use words to guide them back on task. The others? Ha! What a joke! I felt like I couldn’t have a reputation any less than that of the Red Queen! I mean, I tried building relationships, Love and Logic, ignoring, phone calls home, parent/teacher/student conference, Capturing Kids’ Hearts, and the list goes on. What worked for some didn’t work for the others. While some needed minimal assistance, others needed access to different resources to meet my expectations, and it was my responsibility to figure out what they needed in order to grow into the leaders I pictured them being in my classroom and in their adulthood. How long will academic and discipline data continue to tell us that different groups of children in our classrooms need access to different resources before we use our leadership influence to effectively transform their learning experiences and meet their needs? Let’s make 2020 the year where we accept nothing less than ensuring equity is at the forefront of our decision-making. All of our lived experiences shape how we make academic, behavioral, and organizational decisions on our campuses and across our districts. We owe it to all students to consider which student groups our decisions will negatively impact, inadvertently hurt, or leave out. We owe it to all students to ensure that they are represented at the decision-making tables. We owe it to all students lift the rug and sweep out the dirt on policies and practices that exacerbate or inadvertently promote disproportionality and disparities. Of course, no one purposefully promotes such, but we have to use the privileged positions we have in our roles as leaders to guide equitable thinking and practices in the circles of influence and control given to us. What will you do about it? Be the change. Inspire the change. Expect the change. Support the change. Demand the change. Make it happen! Get to the Root There is no shortage of data in education, be it qualitative or quantitative. What do you do with it? I remember working with a principal once who would say, “Bottom line it for me.” This individual absolutely had an interest in growth, and that interest was focused on the overall campus rating. Do we go straight to the overall grade level approaches/meets/masters percentages? Are we tracking subpopulations for the root cause of the differences we see in their data? It’s the most vulnerable work I believe I have ever done in education, but the practice of
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asking “why” until there is nothing else to ask “why” about is the most thorough way to achieve visible gains in “moving the needle”. It is elbow-deep into this work that teams begin to discover true causes of the outcomes they see, and it is here that teams can begin to develop solutions working back up the chain of “whys” until the larger concern is resolved. Getting to the root requires some heart work. Are we willing to admit when we have missed the mark? In 2020, will we be willing allow ourselves to learn from other teammates and colleagues who have a proven track record of instructional or organizational leadership in areas we may need to improve? Will we be willing to present and share our findings when we have resolved or discovered something from which others can learn? Are you all-in for this work? It is necessary, and you have what it takes to see it through. PLC not PDC I know. I ripped a Band-aid, but it is absolutely necessary to lift the rug on this one. If we are moving into 2020 excited that our teams got “a lot of stuff done” during Professional Learning Community, we should just call it Professional Doing Community. We must continue to champion the notion that we are better together! Our combined learning creates a synergy that improves our students’ chances to receive the best attempt at teaching and learning the very first time around, which minimizes the amount of students who need to be re-taught. In turn, we are able to offer more individualized and targeted Tier 2 instruction and, if needed, Tier 3. This is the sauce that school improvement is made from. Are you ready to close opportunity and achievement gaps? It’s time to get laser-focused on the process of improving student learning by improving adult, organizational learning - together. Foresight is The New Hindsight Now, picture me standing on a balcony shouting these next words into a megaphone over more educators and educational leaders than you can count because I passionately mean what I’m about to write. In 2020, 20/20 vision will require our most vulnerable leadership. It means being certain we believe we are equipped to do this work. It means we inspire our teachers to look for the impact of their shared learning in their student outcomes. It means we have the foresight to express, model, and expect adult and student behaviors that share our visions of welcoming environments where all people have value and are worth giving our very best. It means digging until the unknown becomes known. It means ensuring that all really means all. It will not be easy, but our customers - the students whose very lives we influence - are worth it. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Valerie Walker, M.Ed. is currently an assistant principal in Pflugerville ISD. Having led at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels, Valerie is passionate about creating equitable educational opportunities that cultivate life-long learning, creative thinking, and problem-solving in all students. Valerie.Walker@pfisd.net
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“Unquestionably, successful high-poverty schools had leaders that more clearly articulated a vision and rationale for data use as evidenced by teacher responses. Additionally, school leaders should take note of the quality of professional learning related to data use and the staff’s opinion of its effectiveness.” ~ Dr. Barbara Ybarra & Dr. Kaye Shelton
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Data-Informed Leadership Practices and Implications for Student Achievement Dr. Barbara A. Ybarra Lamar University Dr. Kaye Shelton Lamar University Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine data-informed leadership practices at high-poverty schools and investigate the differences between campuses rated as Met Standard and Improvement Required. Through the use of Jimerson’s (2015) Survey of Data Use and Professional Learning (S-DUPL), it is possible to examine the extent to which the conditions on a campus are advantageous for data-informed decision-making and the resulting outcome on student achievement and accountability ratings at these sites. This study utilized quantitative analysis in the form of the chi-squared test of independence and descriptive statistics to analyze the responses from Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses on the S-DUPL. Further, the Cramer’s V test was used to determine the effect size of the results of significance. Ultimately, 874 staff members from 56 high-poverty campuses in Texas submitted responses on the S-DUPL. This paper seeks to further the understandings surrounding academic achievement in high-poverty schools and the data-informed leadership practices necessary to make a positive impact on student outcomes. Met Standard campuses showed statistically significant differences in six of the seven leadership practices that foster data-informed decision-making as compared to Improvement Required campuses. Introduction Leaders at the global, national, state, and local levels are inextricably linked to continuous improvement through data-informed leadership and monitoring progress towards identified goals (United Nations, 2015; UNESCO, 2015; United Nations, IEAG, 2014; Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA], 2015). School leaders are focused on using data to inform decision-making and customizing the instructional program to better meet student needs. Further, high stakes testing has created a sense of urgency for all students to succeed at equal rates regardless of the student’s personal circumstances (Birdwell, 2012). Granted, leaders must possess the skill set to use data in decision-making, but must also foster the use of data in the organizations they lead (Blau & Pressor, 2013; Farely-Ripple, & Buttram, 2014; Honig, 2012; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Jimerson, 2014; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Park, Daly, & Guerra, 2012; Wayman, Jimerson, & Cho, 2012). Ultimately, data can help educators better meet the needs of students and provide evidence of impact on student achievement. This provides accountability that each and every student’s learning needs will be addressed, and teachers will provide equitable services to ensure a quality education that is evidenced in outcomes (Datnow & Park, 2014; Park et al., 2012).
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Unfortunately, a lack of documented research exists that provides clear feedback on the practices necessary for fostering effective data-informed decision-making in the school organization that positively impacts student achievement, in particular at high-poverty campuses. Ultimately, the successful implementation of data-informed leadership may positively impact student achievement (Klar & Brewer, 2013; Shen et al., 2012). Through the use of Jimerson’s (2015) Survey of Data Use and Professional Learning (S-DUPL), it is possible to examine the extent to which the conditions on a campus are advantageous for data-informed decision-making and the resulting outcome on student achievement and accountability ratings at these sites. Leaders could use the evidence of this research to fuel their own data-informed improvement efforts at the schools they serve. Purpose and Research Questions The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which data-informed leadership practices were present at high-poverty schools in Texas and the differences in responses between Met Standard and Improvement Required (TEA, 2015) campuses on Jimerson’s (2015) S-DUPL. The following research questions were used to guide this study. 1. What are the differences of staff responses on Jimerson’s (2015) S-DUPL for campuses rated Met Standard and Improvement Required? 2. What data-informed leadership practices are evident at campuses rated Met Standard as compared to campuses rated Improvement Required? Literature Review Certainly, literature regarding the leadership practices that foster data-driven decision-making in public school settings is extensive. Seven leadership practices key to the development of datainformed practice in a school context were evident in the literature. Each of these leadership practices was explored through an exhaustive examination of the literature. Setting a Shared Vision and Goals. A clear, shared vision of why and how data will be used to improve the educational organization is essential to a successful school (Blau & Presser, 2013; Datnow & Park, 2014; Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Jimerson, 2014; Marsh, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow; 2009; Schildkamp, Karbautzki, & Vanhoof, 2014; Vanhoof & Schildkamp, 2014; Wayman et al., 2012). With regard to this, Farley-Ripple and Buttram (2014) found the vision for data use originated with the central office leadership and then transferred to the school leadership to grow throughout the organization. Further, the schools where leadership and faculty worked together for shared understanding and ownership of the process produced collaborative data teams that were more focused and more likely to positively impact student learning. Pursuing this further, the establishment of a shared vision of data-driven decision-making was framed within a context of equity of learning outcomes for all students (Datnow & Park, 2014; Park et al., 2012). Thus, by delineating a motivating rationale for the implementation of datadriven decision-making, a synergy was formed and carried through all levels of leadership (Datnow & Park, 2014; Horton & Martin, 2012; Park et al., 2012). Further, the leadership created a collective ownership and accountability for the success of all students (Horton & JANUARY 2020| 8
Martin, 2012). Unquestionably, a vision of data use in schools was void of meaning and impact if it was not also accompanied by a goal or outcome that could be measured (Datnow & Park, 2014; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Wayman et al., 2012). Hence, the examination of data without a conversation of continuous improvement, or an analysis of needs and potential actions to address the needs, would be futile (Datnow & Park, 2014; Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007). Questioning Skills Supporting Data-Driven Decision-Making The instructional leader of a school or district must possess various skills to effectively lead a process of data-driven decision-making (Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). To be sure, questioning is a foundational skill that should not be overlooked; it sets the stage for the work of the collaborative data teams (Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Wayman et al., 2012; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Notably, school organizations have access to extensive amounts of data that can be analyzed and disaggregated in a multitude of ways (Blau & Presser, 2013; Lai & Hsiao, 2014). A shift to an inquiry approach in data use had the teacher pose a question or problem statement to be explored through the use of data (Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Thus, approaching data through a lens of continuous improvement, questioning, and inquiry assisted in narrowing the data and discussion to target the collaborative analyses on specific actionable outcomes (Honig, 2012; Hubbard, Datnow, & Pruyn, 2014; Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Park et al., 2012; Vanhoof & Schildkamp, 2014; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). District Leadership and Support. Unquestionably, district leadership was critical in establishing effective and sustainable systems of data use in school districts (Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Wayman et al., 2012). Assuredly, vision and clear expectations for data use and evidence-based outcomes were an important first step in district leadership for data-based decision-making (Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Wayman et al., 2012). Following this further, Anderson, Leithwood, and Strauss (2010) emphasized district leadership for data use through modeling of data-based decision-making by district leaders as well as the establishment of expectations that all schools set performance goals that were linked to data-based inquiry. Beyond the vision and expectation of data use, district offices provided several other conditions favorable to the development of data-driven decision-making (Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Wayman et al., 2012). First, the district office typically provided a data management system that organized both student information and assessment data and allowed for various reports that were customizable (Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Lia & Hsiao, 2014; Wayman et al., 2012). Second, district leaders operated as coaches for campus principals. Honig (2012) found that central office leaders functionally served to foster the development of instructional leadership in principals. Specifically, district leaders provided support and coaching in all aspects of instructional leadership, including data-driven decision-making. Further, an important aspect of this coaching came in the form of accountability where principals learned to frame questions that cause teachers to reflect on their instructional practices and results (Honig, 2012). Third, districts provided dedicated time for principals to collaborate with other leaders across the district in order to share and analyze data (Honig, 2012)
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School Culture and Principal Communication Developing schools that effectively use data to improve student achievement rests on the establishment of an ethos of continuous improvement (Datnow, Park, & Kennedy-Lewis, 2012; Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Park & Datnow, 2009). In fact, Park and Datnow (2009) articulated four leadership practices identified from their study of four urban schools. First, the leaders used data in non-threatening ways that promoted continuous improvement. Second, leaders modeled effective use of data and operated as instructional leaders focused on building capacity of others. Third, leaders enabled others to act on a data through distributed leadership. Finally, leaders structured collaborative sharing times and fostered the development of trust. No doubt, a continuous improvement mindset was predicated by a foundation of trust between the leader and the school organization (Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Marsh, 2012). Certainly, the examination of performance data in the absence of trust was found to be threatening to leaders and teachers (Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Marsh, 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009). Further, the work of data analysis is collaborative and necessitated the development of collegial trust (Cosner, 2012). Ikemoto and Marsh (2007) found that teachers were open to identifying specific improvements to their instructional delivery when trust was present in the collaborative data team. Additionally, teams that focused on inquiry and also established a high level of trust regularly confronted colleagues with tough questions and supported their views with evidence. Dunn, Airola, Lo, and Garrison (2013), noted that mitigating teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; anxiety fostered the adoption of data-driven decision-making. Professional Development and Support The implementation of data-driven decision-making is wrought with concerns regarding the unpreparedness of leaders and faculties to employ these practices and the need for professional development targeted at bridging the gap in these data literacy skills and foundational concepts (Dunn, Airola, Lo, & Garrison, 2013; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Vanhoof & Schildkamp, 2014). Leaders focused on nurturing a data-driven culture provided meaningful opportunities to grow in a trusting environment (Bush & Glover, 2012; Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Marsh, 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009). Along these lines, Wayman and Jimerson (2014) and Murray (2013) both found that job-embedded professional development that focused on the immediate application of newly acquired data skills that were aligned to district goals proved to be the most meaningful to teachers. Furthermore, Honig (2012) also identified job-embedded professional development for principals to be an effective strategy in supporting principals as they build capacity as instructional leaders. In the same way, job-embedded support in the form of professional coaching was found to be a viable option for providing meaningful support for data literacy to teachers (Marsh & Farrell, 2014). Specifically, Marsh and Farrell (2014) found that when leaders considered the implementation of data-based interventions, a key concern was the level of support that would be available to teachers and if these support structures were designed to be effective for adult learners. Their study of instructional coaches provided insight into how these coaches supported data-driven decision-making with teachers and improved the teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; data literacy.
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Collaborative Teams In the context of the school organization, data-driven decision-making exists as a process of collaboration rather than in isolation (Horton & Martin 2012). Equally important, Datnow, Park, and Kennedy-Lewis (2012) found that the leader provided a structure where teachers worked collaboratively to analyze data and determine a course of action. Accordingly, Wayman and Jimerson (2014) underscored the importance of employing collaborative teams as a core component of the data-driven decision-making framework at all levels of the school organization. The researchers noted the leader specified a framework and frequency for the teams to collaborate. Lachat and Smith (2005) suggested the work of these teams is the most impactful when using an inquiry-based approach that considered the problem from multiple perspectives and data points. Similarly, research conducted by Farely-Ripple and Buttram (2014) identified that the schools where leadership and faculty worked together for shared understanding and ownership of the process produced professional learning communities (PLC) that were more focused and more likely to positively impact student learning through the use of data. Data Accessibility and Quality Assuredly, access to a variety of data sources is an assumed component of fostering data-driven decision-making (Murray, 2013). By the same token, Lachat, and Smith (2005) identified both data quality and access to data as key factors that supported data use. Additionally, educators needed to be able to disaggregate the data to eliminate assumptions and highlight areas of need. Truly, accessing the data was often inextricably linked to the technology skill of the individual (Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). According to Wayman and Jimerson (2014), educators reported that competence and skill in accessing data came through repeated use of the data system and familiarity with the interface. Certainly, data quality was a paramount concern when implementing data-driven decisionmaking (Lai & Hsiao, 2014). In fact, Lia and Hsiaoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2014) findings reflected the need for targeted professional development on managing data and practices to ensure high quality data. In like manner, Blau and Presser (2013) emphasized the demand for data to be immediately available. Synthesis Clearly, the literature reviewed acknowledged leaders that were found to foster data-driven decision-making shared key strategies and actions (see Table 1). First, the leader set a shared vision and measurable goals while providing a motivating rationale of educational equity to support the data-driven decision-making teams (Blau & Presser, 2013; Datnow & Park, 2014; Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Jimerson, 2014; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Marsh, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow; 2009; Schildkamp et al., 2014; Vanhoof & Schildkamp, 2014; Wayman et al., 2012). Second, the leader dedicated time to moving data team questioning skills from basic to inquiry in order to provide for more meaningful and impactful conversations and actions (Honig, 2012; Hubbard et al., 2014; Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Vanhoof & Schildkamp, 2014; Wayman et al., 2012; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Third, the district leadership set vision and expectations for data-driven decision-making and provided the infrastructure of data systems to make the process possible 11| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
(Farley-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Honig, 2012; Honig & Venkateswaran, 2012; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009; Wayman et al., 2012). Fourth, the leader established an ethos of continuous improvement with a strong foundation of trust and communicated in ways that focused the team on meaningful action (Bush & Glover, 2012; Datnow et al., 2012; FarleyRipple & Buttram, 2014; Levin & Datnow, 2012; Marsh, 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009). Fifth, the leader organized job-embedded professional development for data-driven decision-making so that teacher and staff could immediately apply the new skills in authentic situations (Honig, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Murray, 2013; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Sixth, the leader employed distributed leadership through the establishment of collaborative teams for data-driven decision-making (Honig, 2012; Horton & Martin, 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009). Seventh, the leader ensured that the collaborative teams had immediate and easy access to high quality data in order to carry out data-driven decision-making (Blau & Presser, 2013; Lia & Hsiao, 2014; Murray, 2013; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Methodology The data utilized in the study consisted of a combination of publicly available accountability data files from the Texas Education Agency and the responses of administration and staff of highpoverty campuses on Jimersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Survey of Data Use and Professional Learning (S-DUPL) (Jimerson, 2015). Ultimately, the population for this study was narrowed to the campuses contained in the fourth quartile of economically disadvantaged students. Thus, the target population for the study consisted 1755 schools serving the highest numbers of students of poverty. Further, 20% of the 1755 campuses were rated as Improvement Required and 80% as Met Standard. Since the ethos of data-use on a campus is a reflection of the leader and the purposeful arrangement of conditions to encourage data use (Jimerson, 2015), responses from a large faculty would be overrepresented in a survey analysis that did not control for the size of the faculty. If unattended, this would prove problematic in an analysis of survey results and potentially confound the results. Consequently, the target population was further refined by the enrollment size of the campus. All 1,755 campuses in the fourth quartile of economically disadvantaged students were arranged from smallest enrollment to largest enrollment and separated into quartiles once more. Thus, only the professional faculties of the 878 campuses in the interquartile range were finally identified as the target population in the study. The target population was comprised of 878 campuses. In 2016, 799 of these campuses were rated Met Standard and 79 were rated Improvement Required. Ultimately, 67 campuses in the target population agreed to participate in the study. However, only 56 campuses submitted responses to the survey. Of the 56 participating campuses, 47 were rated as Met Standard and 9 were rated Improvement Required for 2016, 84% and 16% respectively. Ultimately, 874 professional staff members from 56 high-poverty campuses submitted responses on the S-DUPL via SurveyMonkey. This study utilized quantitative analysis in the form of the chi-squared test of independence and descriptive statistics to analyze the responses from Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses (Creswell, 2015; Sullivan, 2015). Further, the Cramerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s V test was used to determine the effect size of the results of significance. Finally, two open-response questions on the survey were coded according the to the 7 leadership practices identified in the review of the literature and analyzed to further examine the differences JANUARY 2020| 12
between Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses. Annotations were used to tag significant statements and then used to provide textural and structural descriptions of the experience (Creswell, 2013). Major Findings and Conclusions From the review of literature, seven leadership practices key to the development of datainformed practice in a school context were identified: setting a shared vision and goals, questioning skills supporting data-driven decision-making, district leadership and support, school culture and principal communication, professional development and support, collaborative teams, and data accessibility and quality (See Table 1). Professional staff responses on the SDUPL were used as the evidence of the extent to which the leadership successfully implemented the practices identified by the literature as critical to the quality use of data in school settings. Ultimately, 14 of 18 survey scales and items resulted in a statistically significant difference between staff responses on the S-DUPL and the accountability rating of the campus. (see Table 2). Further, Met Standard campuses showed statistically significant differences in six of the seven leadership practices that foster data-informed decision-making as compared to Improvement Required campuses. However, it is important to note these differences did not indicate causation of an accountability rating, but rather a statistically significant difference between Met Standard and Improvement Required staff responses related to data use. The Importance of a Shared Vision and Goals Without question, the leader’s ability to set a shared vision and goals related to data use has been identified as critically important (Datnow & Park, 2014; Horton & Martin, 2012; Park et al., 2012). This study found differences in the presence of a shared vision and goals related to data use at Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses (see Table 3). In fact, campuses that failed to meet the state’s accountability measures, and were rated Improvement Required, had statistically significant difference in their responses related to a shared vision and goals for data use and reported higher levels of disagreement regarding the leader’s establishment of a shared vision and goals. Whereas, Met Standard staff members reported higher levels of agreement with a shared vision for data use. One faculty member remarked, “Our principal makes regular decisions based on data. From the use of bringing in outside tutors to rotating teachers based on their strengths. Our principal also consistently has conversations that are centered around the frequent assessments our students take.” The Importance of Questioning Skills Supporting Data-Driven Decision-Making Next, the leaders’ development of an inquiry approach to guide the collaborative analysis of data for continuous improvement was well supported in the literature and this study (Ikemoto & Marsh, 2007; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). Staff at both Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses reported high levels of confidence in the area of data use. Further, the only statistically significant difference between the two types of campus was related to the individual teacher generating their own data to answer their own instructional questions. Improvement Required staff reported higher levels of disagreement with their generation of data to answer their own instructionally related questions.
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The Importance of District Leadership and Support District leadership and support was identified in the literature as the district’s establishment of an expectation for data use and provision of collaborative support coupled with individualized coaching on the use of data to inform decision-making (Anderson, Leithwood, & Strauss, 2010; Honig, 2012; Honig & Venkatesaran, 2012). The S-DUPL effectiveness scale highlighted a statistically significant difference between Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses (see Table 3). Improvement Required staff indicated a more negative view of the quality of staff development. Further, question one of the visions and rational block directly targeted the individual’s opinion of the district’s rationale for data use (see Table 2). Campuses rated Improvement Required reported statistically different responses from Met Standard campuses. Further, Improvement Required staff had an overall neutral responses and unexpectedly higher levels of disagreement. The importance of school culture and principal communication. Of course, the leader’s use of effective communication that resulted in a culture of trust and continuous improvement was prevalent in the literature and in this study (Dunn et al., 2013; Park et al., 2012). Interestingly, the study showed that both Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses did not see data as a punitive tool (see Table 3). However, Met Standard campuses reported statistically significant differences related to data anxiety (see Table 3). In fact, Met Standard campuses showed higher levels of data anxiety as compared to Improvement Required campuses. Further, Met Standard campuses responded more positively to use of a variety of elements to inform instruction. Finally, both Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses overwhelmingly supported the use of data with students. The Importance of Professional Development and Support Certainly, the literature highlighted the need for the leader to ensure teachers were provided quality, job-embedded professional development and instructional coaching to improve data literacy (Honig, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2014; Murray, 2013; Marsh, Sloan-McCombs, & Martorell, 2010; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). While Met Standard and Improvement Required staff both felt confident in their use of data, there were statistically significant differences in their opinions of the effectiveness of professional learning targeted at data use (see Table 3). In fact, Improvement Required campuses reported more disagreement and dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of professional learning related to data use. Further, faculty responses indicated that the professional development pertaining to data use was facilitated by other support specialists rather than the principal. One Improvement Required staff member commented, “Our Curriculum Specialists keeps all this information and meets with our team to discuss our students’ strengths and weaknesses and helps us to find ways to help our students grow.” In contrast, Met Standard campuses reported a higher number of experiences where the principal directly led the professional development pertaining to data use. A Met Standard staff member shared the following about the principal’s leadership, “In almost every meeting he shows us the data and where we want our students to be. He goes over the data and tells us what it means. He will even give ideas to help us in the classroom.” The Importance of Collaborative Teams The literature clearly illuminated the importance of the leader’s design of collaborative teams, or PLCs, focused on the analysis of data to guide instruction and decision-making (Datnow et al., 2012; Farely-Ripple & Buttram, 2014; Taylor & La Cava, 2011; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). JANUARY 2020| 14
While participant comments were positive regarding collaboration and PLCs, the study showed statistically significant differences between Met Standard and Improvement Required responses (see Table 3). In fact, Improvement required campuses responded more negatively to the collaboration scale items. Further, each question of the PLC block showed statistically significant differences. First, Improvement Required staff participated less in PLCs all together. Additionally, the staff reported less agreement with the establishment of dedicated time for PLCs, a lower rate of meeting frequency, and higher responses of “Never” and “Rarely” when asked to share how often data was used during a PLC. Whereas, a Met Standard faculty member noted the presence of collaborative teams focused on data use and the transparency of results, “My campus principal sets aside time for every teacher to examine their own data and the data of others on their teams.” The Importance of Data Accessibility and Quality. The literature review identified the need for the leader to provide immediate and easy access to high-quality data (Blau & Presser, 2013; Lai & Hsiao, 2014; Wayman & Jimerson, 2014). The study found staff from both Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses felt confident in their ability to access and use data (see Table 3). In fact, both types of campuses were overwhelming positive in agreement to the confidence scale items. However, teacher responses from Met Standard campuses showed more evidence of the effective use and presence of the seven practices that foster data-informed leadership. Only one of the seven practices, data accessibility and quality, showed no difference between Met Standard and Improvement Required campuses. Implications for Practice This study contributes to the literature surrounding academic achievement in high-poverty schools and the data-informed leadership practices necessary to make a positive impact on student outcomes. Granted, there is no singular solution to overlay on high poverty struggling campuses, rather a comprehensive school reform approach has surfaced as a more pragmatic method of school reform in these contexts (Klar & Brewer, 2013). While the specifics of the reform efforts vary from school to school, an underlying mechanism of data-informed leadership practices to monitor and evaluate reform implementation and effectiveness was present (Klar & Brewer, 2013; Ladd, 2012; Parsons, 2013). Campus and district leaders can use this study to fine-tune their own leadership practices for fostering data-driven decision-making in the school organization. Ultimately, successful high-poverty schools had leaders that more clearly articulated a vision and rationale for data use as evidenced by teacher responses. Additionally, school leaders should take note of the quality of professional learning related to data use and the staff’s opinion of its effectiveness. Further, principals should consider the importance of personally leading teachers through data analysis and the potential impact this could have on instruction and student outcomes. Next, successful schools had clearly established Professional Learning Communities, dedicated time, met more frequently, and used data during these meetings. Finally, this study mirrored the literature and noted the importance of effective principal communication that resulted in a culture of trust and continuous improvement was prevalent in the literature and in this study (Dunn, et al., 2013; Park et al., 2012; Park & Datnow, 2009). Interestingly, the study highlighted one important difference. While the principal must develop a culture of trust and 15| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
continuous improvement, it is also advised that this be accompanied with some level of expectation regarding student outcomes that results in a sense of urgency for teachers and staff.
Table 1 Seven Practices for Fostering Data-Informed Leadership Leadership Practice Description Setting a shared vision and goals
The leader collaboratively sets a shared vision with a motivating rationale, such as equity of learning outcomes, which are connected to a measurable goal of attainment.
Questioning skills supporting data-driven decision-making
The leader employs an inquiry approach to guide the collaborative analysis of data for continuous improvement.
District leadership and support
District leaders set an expectation for data use and provide collaborative support coupled with individualized coaching on the use of data to inform decision-making.
School culture and principal communication
The leader utilizes effective communication that results in a culture of trust and continuous improvement.
Professional development and support
The leader ensures teachers are provided quality, jobembedded professional development and instructional coaching to improve data literacy.
The leader designs collaborative teams, or professional learning communities, focused on the analysis of data to guide instruction and decision-making.
Data accessibility and quality
The leader provides immediate and easy access to highquality data.
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Table 2 Summary of Statistical Analysis and Effect Description
Chi Square Test for Independence
Not Significant p < .01
p < .01
Not Significant p < .05
Collaboration Vision/Rationale - District Rationale
p < .01
p < .01
Vision/Rationale - Principal Rationale
p < .01
Vision/Rationale - Individual Understanding of Data Use Vision/Rationale - Campus and District Goals PLC - Participation
p < .01
p < .01
p < .05
PLC - Dedicated Time
p < .05
PLC - Meeting Frequency
p < .05
PLC - Data use at PLC
p < .01
p < .01
P < .01
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Table 3 Seven Leadership Practices for Fostering Data-Informed Leadership Correlated to the S-DUPL Leadership Practice
Research Question and S-DUPL Correlation Construal Scale* Beneficence of Data Scale Vision and Rationale Block**** Discontinuity of data collaboration*
Setting a shared vision and goals
The leader collaboratively sets a shared vision with a motivating rationale, such as equity of learning outcomes, which are connected to a measurable goal of attainment.
Questioning skills supporting datadriven decisionmaking
The leader employs an inquiry approach to guide the collaborative analysis of data for continuous improvement.
Confidence Scale Independent data use*
District leadership and support
District leaders set an expectation for data use and provide collaborative support coupled with individualized coaching on the use of data to inform decision-making.
Effectiveness Scale* Vision and Rationale Block****
School culture and principal communication
The leader utilizes effective communication that results in a culture of trust and continuous improvement.
Professional development and support
The leader ensures teachers are provided quality, job-embedded professional development and instructional coaching to improve data literacy.
Construal Scale* Data Anxiety Scale** Data as punitive Student Involvement Confidence Scale Effectiveness Scale*
The leader designs collaborative teams, or professional learning communities, focused on the analysis of data to guide instruction and decisionmaking.
Culture of Collaboration Scale* PLC Block***
Data accessibility and quality
The leader provides immediate and easy access to high-quality data.
* p < .01. ** p < .05. ***Multiple questions individually analyzed resulted in mixed levels statistical significance p < .01 and p < .05. ****Multiple questions individually analyzed resulted in statistical significance p < .01.
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References Anderson, S., Leithwood, K., & Strauss, T. (2010). Leading data use in schools: Organizational conditions and practices at the school and district levels. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9(3), 292-327. doi:10.1080/15700761003731492 Birdwell, S. (2012). School leadership: Lessons from the lived experiences of urban teachers. Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research 7(2), 52-63. Retrieved from http://www.jeqr.org/ Blau, I., & Presser, O. (2013). e-Leadership of school principals: Increasing school effectiveness by a school data management system. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(6), 1000-1011. doi:10.1111/bjet.12088 Bush, T., & Glover, D. (2012). Distributed leadership in action: Leading high-performing leadership teams in English schools. School Leadership and Management, 32(1), 21-36. doi:10.1080/13632434.2011.642354 Cosner, S. (2012). Leading the ongoing development of collaborative data practices: Advancing a schema for diagnosis and intervention. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 11(1), 26-65. doi:10.1080/15700763.2011.577926 Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Creswell, J. W. (2015). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education. Datnow, A., & Park, V. (2014). Data-driven leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Datnow, A., & Park. V. (2015). Data use for equity: Meaningful use of data in schools means giving all students the opportunity to achieve at high levels. Educational Leadership, 75(5), 48-55. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org Datnow, A., Park, V., & Kennedy-Lewis, B. (2012). High school teachers’ use of data to inform instruction. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 17(4), 247-265. doi:10.1080/10824669.2012.718944 Dunn, K. E., Airola, D. T., Lo, W., & Garrison, M. (2013). Becoming data driven: The influence of teachers’ sense of efficacy on concerns related to data-driven decision making. The Journal of Experimental Education, 81(2), 222-241. doi:10.1080/00220973.2012.699899 Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, P.L. 114-95, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq. (2015) Farley-Ripple, E. N., & Buttram, J. L. (2014). Developing collaborative data use through professional learning communities: Early lessons from Delaware. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42, 41-53. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.09.006 Honig, M. I. (2012). District central office leadership as teaching: How central office administrators support principals’ development as instruction leaders. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(4), 733-774. doi:10.1177/0013161X12443258 Honig. M. I., & Venkateswaran, N. (2012). School-central office relationships in evidence use: Understanding evidence use as a systems problem. American Journal of Education, 118(2), 199-222. doi:10.1086/663282 19| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
Horton, J., & Martin, B. (2012). The role of district administration within professional learning communities. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 16(1), 55-70. doi:10.1080/13603124.2012.671366 Hubbard, L., Datnow, A., & Pruyn, L. (2014). Multiple initiatives, multiple challenges: The promise and pitfalls of implementing data. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42, 54-62. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.10.003 Ikemoto, G., & Marsh, J. A. (2007). Cutting through the “data-driven” mantra: Different conceptions of data-driven decision making. In P. A. Moss (Ed.), Yearbook of the national society for the study of education (pp. 105-131). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7984.2007.00099.x Jimerson, J. B. (2014). Thinking about data: Exploring the development of mental models for “data use” among teachers and school leaders. Studies in Educational Leadership, 42, 514. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.10.010 Jimerson, J. B. (2015). How are we approaching data-informed practice? Development of the survey of data use and professional learning. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 27(2), 1-29. doi:10.1007/s11092-015-9222-9 Kennedy, B. L., & Datnow, A. (2011). Student involvement and data-driven decision making: Developing a new typology. Youth & Society, 43(4), 1246-1271. doi:10.1177/0044118X10388219 Klar, H., & Brewer, C. (2013). Successful leadership in high-needs schools: An examination of core leadership practices enacted in challenging contexts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(5), 768-808. doi:10.1177/0013161X13482577 Kress, S., Zechmann, S., & Schmitten, J. M. (2011). When performance matters: Consequential accountability in public education. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 48(1), 185-234. Retrieved from http://harvardjol.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/KressZechmann-Schmitten-Article1.pdf Lachat, M., & Smith, S. (2005). Practices that support data use in urban high schools. Journal for Education of Students Placed at Risk, 10(3), 333-349. doi:10.1207/s15327671espr1003_7 Ladd, H. (2012). Education and poverty: Confronting the evidence. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 31(2), 203-227. doi:10.1002/pam.21615 Lai, M. K., & Hsiao, S. (2014). Developing data collection and management systems for decision-making: What professional support is required? Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42(2014), 63-70. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.12.006 Levin, J., & Datnow, A. (2012). The principal role in data driven decision-making: Using case study data to develop multi-mediator models of educational reform. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 23(2), 179-201. doi:10.1080/09243453.2011.599394 Marsh, J. A. (2012). Interventions promoting educators’ use of data: Research insights and gaps. Teachers College Record, 114(11), 1-48. Retrieved from http://www.tcrecord.org/content.asp?contentid=16805
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Marsh, J. A., & Farrell, C. C. (2014). How leaders can support teachers with data-driven decision making: A framework for understanding capacity building. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 43(2), 269-289. doi:10.1177/1741143214537229 Marsh, J. A., Pane, J. F., Hamilton, L. S. (2006). Making sense of data-driven decision making in education. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2006/RAND_OP170.pdf Marsh, J. A., Sloan-McCombs, J., & Martorell, F. (2010). How instructional coaches support data-driven decision making: Policy implementation and effects in Florida middle schools. Educational Policy, 24(6), 872-907. doi:10.1177/0895904809341467 Means, B., Padilla, C., & Gallagher, L. (2010). Use of educational data at the local level: From accountability to instructional improvement. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#edtech Murphy, J. Smylie, D., Mayrowetz, D., & Seashore-Louis, K. (2009). The role of the principal in fostering the development of distributed leadership. School Leadership and Management, 29(2), 181-214. doi:10.1080/13632430902775699 Murray, J. (2013). Critical issues facing school leaders concerning data-informed decisionmaking. School Leadership and Management, 33(2), 169-177. doi:10.1080/13632434.2013.773882 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, P.L. 107-110, 20 U.S.C. Â§ 6301 et seq. (2001) Park, V., Daly, A. J., & Guerra, A. W. (2012). Strategic framing: How leaders craft the meaning of data use for equity and learning. Educational Policy, 27(4), 645-675. doi:10.1177/0895904811429295 Park, V., & Datnow, A. (2009). Co-constructing distributed leadership: District and school connections in data-driven decision-making. School Leadership & Management, 29(5), 477-494. doi:10.1080/13632430903162541 Parsons, C. (2013). Challenged school â&#x20AC;&#x201C; challenged society: Stacking the odds against the poor. Educational Review, 65(3), 267-283. doi:10.1080/00131911.2013.772127 Schildkamp, K., Karbautzki, L., & Vanhoof, J. (2014). Exploring data use practices around Europe: Identifying enablers and barriers. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42, 15-24. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.10.007 Schildkamp, K., & Kuiper, W. (2010). Data-informed curriculum reform: Which data, what purposes, and promoting and hindering factors. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(3), 482-496. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.06.007 Shen, J., Cooley, V. E., Ma, X., Reeves, P., Burt, W. L., Rainey, M., & Yuan, W. (2012). Datainformed decision making on high-impact strategies: Developing and validating an instrument for principals. The Journal of Experimental Education, 80(1), 1-25. doi:10.1080/00220973.2010.550338 Sullivan, M. (2015). Statistics: Informed decisions using data, Fourth Edition [Digital Edition]. Retrieved from www.pearsonetext.com 21| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
Taylor, R. T., & La Cava, G. S. (2011). Urban principals’ second order change leadership. Planning and Changing, 42(3), 224-240. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ975994.pdf Texas Education Agency (2015). 2015 Accountability Manual for Texas Public School Districts and Campuses. Retrieved from http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2015/manual/manual.pdf United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved from the United Nations website: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], (2015). Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. Retrieved from the UNESCO website: http://en.unesco.org/world-education-forum2015/incheon-declaration United Nations, Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development [IEAG], (2015). A world that counts: Mobilising the data revolution for sustainable development. Retrieved from United Nations Data Revolution website: http://www.undatarevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/A-World-ThatCounts2.pdf Vanhoof, J., & Schildamp, K. (2014). From ‘professional development for data use’ to ‘data use for professional development’. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42, 1-4. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2014.05.001 Wayman, J. C., Cho, V., Jimerson, J. B., & Spikes, D. D. (2012). District-wide effects on data use in the classroom. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 20(25), 1-27. doi:10.14507/epaa.v20n25.2012 Wayman, J. C., & Jimerson, J. B. (2014). Teacher needs for data-related professional learning. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 42, 25-34. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.11.001 Wayman, J. C., Jimerson, J. B., & Cho, V. (2012). Organizational considerations in establishing the data-informed district. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 23(2), 159-178. doi:10.1080/09243453.2011.652124 Barbara A. Ybarra, Ed.D. is the associate superintendent of Teaching & Learning at Bryan ISD and serves as adjunct faculty in the College of Education and Human Development at Lamar University. 9460 King Oaks Dr., Iola, TX 77861. firstname.lastname@example.org Kaye Shelton, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the College of Education and Human Development Center for Doctoral Studies, Educational Leadership at Lamar University. 4400 MLK Blvd, PO Box 10009, Beaumont, TX 77710. email@example.com
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“The term “culturally relevant leadership” encompasses the characteristics of several school leadership styles with the goal of creating positive and inclusive learning environments that embrace excellence for all students.” ~ Dr. Pamela L. Gray
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What Does It Mean to Be A Culturally Relevant School Leader? Dr. Pamela L. Gray New Mexico State University Introduction Various models of school leadership have recently been identified from the concept of “social justice leadership,” to “community leadership,” to “culturally relevant leadership.” Demographic shifts, deepening racial conflicts and more diverse students and families who are disengaged from the educational process reveal the need for more educational leaders who embrace a culturally relevant leadership style. As political, societal and economic changes impact families and communities, principals must have the courage to change the mindsets of communities so that they feel connected and encouraged to bring their talents, interests and concerns from the home into the school environment. The term “culturally relevant leadership” encompasses the characteristics of several school leadership styles with the goal of creating positive and inclusive learning environments that embrace excellence for all students. Educational administrators are key in establishing the culture and climate of their schools, their epistemologies, and attitudes concerning race and culture and their implications for learning (Horsford, Grosland & Gunn, 2011). As early as the 1970’s, educators have advanced research on multicultural education and the importance of culture in learning, literacy, curriculum and instruction (Horsford, et al, 2011). Based in part on the work of Ladson-Billings (1994), the concept of culturally relevant pedagogy was widely recognized. Culturally relevant pedagogy is defined as pedagogy that “empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes (Ladson-Billings, 1994, p. 18). In her seminal book, “The Dreamkeepers”, Ladson-Billings identified six characteristics of culturally relevant teachers. They are: 1. They have high self-esteem and high regard for others. 2. They see themselves as part of the community; they see teaching as giving back to the community; and they encourage their students to do the same. 3. They see teaching as an art and themselves as artists. 4. They help students make connections among their community, national, and global identities. 5. They believe that all students can succeed. 6. They see teaching as “digging knowledge out” of students. School leaders have built on the concept of culturally relevant teaching and approach their roles as principals in the same manner – promoting equity, engagement and excellence in education through culturally relevant leadership. Culturally Relevant Leadership Dimensions To describe the components of culturally relevant leadership, Horsford et al (2011) created a framework emphasizing four dimensions critical to the successful leadership of schools in diverse settings. The framework is illustrated below in Figure 1. JANUARY 2020| 24
Pedagogical Approach Culturally relevant and antiracist
Personal Journey Cultural proficiency
Political Context Demographic divide; competing values, ideologies, and perspectives
Professional Duty Leading for equity, engagement, and excellence
Figure 1: Framework for culturally relevant leadership (Horsford, et al., 2011) The first dimension of the framework, political context, describes the overarching social and political context of public education in the United States. Achievement gaps, racial disparities, and federal and district policies frame the work of school leaders. Understanding the various needs of urban students whether they be the overidentification of students of color in special education, closing the achievement gap, the education of migrant students, and programs to address mental health needs of students are examples of the important issues facing public schools (Horsford, et al., 2011). Culturally relevant school leaders must be attuned to the political environment that surrounds their work. The second dimension, pedagogical approach, highlights the need for school leaders to establish a school culture and climate that advances student learning while valuing each studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; learning style, culture and ethnic heritage. The personal journey, the third dimension, challenges the principal to measure and assess her/his own beliefs and assumptions concerning students who represent different backgrounds or experiences than their own. The last dimension, a professional duty, highlights the need for school leaders to successfully monitor and mediate cultural conflicts by modeling effective cross-cultural communication through dialogue and mediation (Horsford, et al., 2011). This framework for culturally relevant leadership informs the practice of educational leadership and speaks to the perspectives of urban school leaders with the aim of increasing academic achievement for all students. Implications for School Leaders Beachum (2012) conducted a grounded theory study to define and describe the concept of culturally relevant leadership. Participants in the study included classroom teachers, curriculum specialists and high school principals who worked in public education in a Midwestern state. Three themes emerged from the research: 1) culturally specific practice; 2) consciousness and 25| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
awareness; and 3) the dilemma of deficit thinking technicians. An administrator participant provided the following definition for culturally relevant leadership: â&#x20AC;&#x153;advocating for and emphasizing positive perspectives on parents, students, and families; knowing various cultures, traditions, norms and families and looking from a lens of respect and equity and helping colleagues to do the same; asking the hard questions, and not being afraid of conflict; believing each student has their own unique set of skills, talents, and abilities.â&#x20AC;? A culturally relevant agenda in schools is about achieving equity and excellence in education for all children regardless of their racial, cultural, linguistic, gender, sexual orientation background (Jean-Marie, Normore & Brooks, 2009). Facilitating this change often takes time and patience on the part of the principal but it is necessary in order to address the injustices that continue to interfere with the educational development of many students in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s schools.
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References Beachum, F. (2012). Realizing they don’t know: Investigating culturally relevant leadership. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the University Council on Educational Administration (UCEA), Denver, CO. Horsford, S. D., Grosland, T., and Gunn, K. M. (2011). “Pedagogy of the personal and professional: Toward a framework for culturally relevant leadership.” Journal of School Leadership 21.4: 582–606. Jean-Marie, G., Normore, A. H., and Brooks. (2009). J. S. “Leadership for social justice: Preparing 21st century school leaders for a new social order.” Journal of Research on Leadership Education 4.1. Khalifa, Muhammad (2012). A reNewed paradigm in successful urban school leadership: principal as community leader, Educational Administration Quarterly, 48, 424-464. Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.
Pamela Gray, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership and Administration program at New Mexico State University. Dr. Gray is a former teacher, assistant principal and principal in Texas with over 25 years of experience as in public school education. Her research interests include culturally responsive school leadership and women’s school leadership. firstname.lastname@example.org
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;People have the potential to authentically care for each other. As educators and educational leaders, we need to embrace the need to practice professional love (justice and the ethic of care) as a strategy/process to achieve school improvement and discover how to meet the varied needs of our diverse school demographics.â&#x20AC;? ~ Dr. Dessynie Edwards, Dr. Israel Aguilar, & Dr. Juan Manuel Nino
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What’s Love Got to Do with Educational Leadership? A Case Study in Principal Practice Dessynie Edwards, Ph.D. Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi Israel Aguilar, Ph.D. University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley Juan Manuel Nino, Ph.D. University of Texas - San Antonio Abstract The pressure to close the student achievement gap compounded by federal mandates and laws forces principals to hyper-focus on accountability as one of the major technical aspects of the profession; however, principals who can balance the technical (systems world) with the relational (lifeworld) and facilitate authentic care over aesthetic care, are warranted so that the achievement gap can be understood for what it really is, an opportunity gap. Thus, it’s important to document the processes, strategies, dispositions, or beliefs of school leaders who employ authentic care so that principal preparation programs can teach these as skill sets for preservice leaders and other in-service leaders. The researchers conceptualize the leader´s processes, dispositions, and beliefs of professional love as acts of authentic care. This critical case study highlights the efforts of one female principal whose work is informed by her racial and/or gendered identities and social justice orientation. Social justice leaders who exercise professional love, can facilitate authentic care to maintain the lifeworld of an organization. The purpose of this qualitative critical case study is to understand the following research questions and use the findings as a heuristic to inform principal practice and preparation: what specific processes, strategies, dispositions, and beliefs does one school leader use to establish an environment conducive to meetings the needs of faculty and staff while also assuming responsibility of the technical aspect of the profession? How does a principal´s identities as a woman and/or woman of color inform her work? Keywords: principals, preparation programs, care, social justice, love
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Introduction State and federal accountability guidelines force schools to privilege high test scores as the sole measure of academic success (Waite, Boone, & McGee, 2001). As a result, schools become preoccupied with standards and the technical aspect of teaching and learning in order to remain in compliance with local, state, and federal performance targets. While standards and assessments may be necessary for accountability purposes, these metrics often perpetuate the achievement gaps used to define the performance bands of students, in the first place. As such, principals who can balance the systems world ( Nelson, S., de la Colina, M., & Boone, M. 2008) with the lifeworld (Sergiovani, 2000) and facilitate authentic care over aesthetic care, are warranted so that the achievement gap can be understood for what it really is, an opportunity gap. Thus, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to document the processes, strategies, dispositions, or beliefs of school leaders so that principal preparation and principal development programs may access and teach these aspects to support skill-development for both preservice and in-service leaders. Statement of the Problem Accountability measures effectively highlight performance differences on standardized tests, but minimally address the differentiation needed and required for diverse student populations to ensure progress. Schools around the country have begun to operate more than ever before from a technical, rational viewpoint, which stresses the importance of workplace coordination, predictability, and accountability for compliance. Yet, operating from this viewpoint often comes at the expense of excellence (Ingersoll, 2003), relational aspects and human capital development. To this end, educational leaders are also tasked to support and develop teachers and staff so that they effectively meet the needs of diverse learners, while also prioritizing standards and meeting accountability targets. However, in the maintenance of an accountability hyper-vigilance, there is limited attention given to specific actions or efforts (i.e. processes, strategies, dispositions, or beliefs) a leader employs to create the conditions and an environment that promotes and achieves excellence, beyond efficiency. When there is so much emphasis on the end-products rather than the processes, school improvement is not achieved, while also creating dissonance for social justice. Purpose and Research Questions The dual purposes of this qualitative critical case study is to understand the following research questions and use the findings as a heuristic to inform principal preparation and development programs: what specific processes, strategies, dispositions, and beliefs does one school leader use to establish an environment conducive to meetings the needs of faculty and staff while also assuming responsibility of the technical aspect of the profession? How does a principalÂ´s multiple and intersecting identities inform her work? Literature Review Accountability in Schools The pressure to close the student achievement gap compounded by federal mandates and laws (ESSA) forces principals to hyper-focus on accountability as one of the major technical aspects of the profession. Nelson, de la Colina, and Boone, (2008) found that some principals identify the need for increased knowledge related to the technical management applications of school leadership, such as budgeting, materials and resource allocations, transportation, campus JANUARY 2020| 30
operations and discipline management to effectively focus teaching and learning. This perspective raises an interesting question for principals: is organizational performance and social interaction more impacted by technical management or direct human relations? Principal preparation programs, too, must grapple with this question to teach aspiring leaders and to develop effective principals who can also advocate for social justice (Hawley and James, 2010). While accountability is paramount for school compliance, it should be noted that schools are not fixed binary spaces in which students either pass or fail, without any other efforts to diminish this binary relationship. Instead, schools are fluid contexts where teaching and learning are always dynamic (Ellsworth, 2005), as human actions and emotions are at play within this supposed binary scope. Yet, according to hooks (2003), “Emotional connections tend to be suspect in a world where the mind is valued above all else, where the idea that one should be and can be objective is paramount” (p.127). And while romantic love is often discouraged in the workplace, the authors contend that professional love by leaders should not be dissuaded in schools. The construct of professional love is a pairing of an ethic of care (Noddings, 2007) and justice (Starratt, 1991). Thus, the authors purport that professional love actualized by principals has purpose and a place in effective school leadership. Wheatley (2006) writes, that if we are machines, controlling us makes sense, but because we are not machines, it is “suicide” to try to control humans (p.25). According to Max Weber (1947), the efficiency of a bureaucracy may propel an organization’s ends; however, “the rigidity, inflexibility, and inhumanness created by rationalization locks humans in an iron cage” (p.31). The excessive paperwork inherent in accountability, creates rigidity, inflexibility, and inhumanness, which are characteristic of organizations that stress the importance of workplace coordination and accountability for the success of collective enterprises and these current school practices reflect an obsession with testing to measure students’ learning (Biesta, 2011; Waite, Boone, and McGhee, 2001). However, leaders, specifically school leaders, who build relationships with others by providing attention to the relational aspect of the profession sustain life within the organization (Wheatley, 2006). Additionally, Wheatley (2006) offers a new paradigm of leadership, one which challenges the traditional forms of absolute knowledge and certitude that hinder organizations from becoming ones of human possibility and creativity. This paradigm invites humans to interact and evolve, as opposed to ensuring humans blindly accept structure and predictability as a way of being. Love and Leadership According to Crawford (2009), emotionalizing organizations brings out new interpretations and understandings, for emotions serve as lens to view leadership and influence organizing actions. Moreover, Crawford’s 2009 research contends that leadership is more than just management or administration, it is inseparable from emotion. Leaders in schools today must possess a clear sense of the true and evolving purpose of education and more saliently, be cognizant of educational leadership ambiguities. Although the role of a principal is mostly ambiguous, it is often carried for the maintenance of the status quo. Therefore, principals must negotiate technical management within instructional leadership in addition to cultivating relational components, such as the construct of love in practice (Nelson & Aguilar, 2011). Thus, it is important for leaders to understand how to care and how their leadership identity or other identities support or not support an ethic of caring. For example, Waite, Nelson & Guajardo (2017), faculty in principal preparation, who model self-study by employing 31| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
autoethnography for research, ask, “Who are we as people, leaders, and/or educators? What are our responsibilities?” (p. 200). These faculty members understand their own individual identities and how these influence their teaching and preparation of school leaders. As such, by understanding their identities, and how these identities inform their desire to exhibit a social justice orientation and an ethic of care, these faculty members are in a better position to prepare school leaders for professional love and an ethic of care through a social justice research agenda. While it has become imperative that school principals engage professional love for effective leadership, Nelson, de la Colina and Boone’s (2008) study of four novice principals over four years suggests that the current climate of efficiency and accountability is contributing to the socialization of principals who focus on the technical aspects of administration rather than the relational aspects of leadership. Nelson et al. (2008) and Sergiovanni (2000) cite that the “systems world” (accountability) cannot possibly drive the “life world” (people) in schools. Waite and Nelson (2005) explicated how school organizations are entrenched within the bureaucratic hierarchy of state agencies. Because of accountability, they view principals, as agents of the state who need to mediate between the welfare of the individual—whether that be an individual student, teacher, parent, or whomever—and that of the organization. Waite and Nelson (2005) further purport that administrators may privilege the organization over the individual, but they suggest that leaders and supervisors who exhibit agency are less prone to such manipulation and hegemony. Supervisors, who do not occupy administrator line positions, have more degrees of freedom. Unlike administrators, supervisors are more apt to follow their individualized professional dictates and their own moral compasses. To exhibit professional love requires individual agency. In another study by Day, Harris and Hadfield (2001) administrators who were most successful in school improvement were those who used morality, emotion, and social bonds to stimulate staff motivation and commitment. This research suggests interdependencies are possible and effective when principals operate from a care perspective. Another study completed by Ackerman and Maslin- Ostrowski (2004) observed that while principals do well to help others, there was room for emotional fall-out or burn out. Care Moreover, the challenge to care about faculty members and students individually is illustrated by the conceptualization of two conflicting forces at play within schools, authentic care and aesthetic care (Valenzuela, 1999). According to Valenzuala (1999), aesthetic care refers to care for an individual based on adherence to procedural aspects of organizations such as structures, norms, rules, and duty. Therefore, one who demonstrates aesthetic care does so with a universal, technical, and rational logic, rather than being motivated by what is good for individuals based on their individual differences (Noddings, 2007). An overemphasis of aesthetic care can marginalize individuals who do not meet the standards, do not fit the norm, or those who do not follow the rules. Aesthetic care of this kind is often juxtaposed with authentic care, which is care based out of love or regard for individuals as unique beings (Noddings, 2007). As such, authentic care can be best understood as a care for learning, a care for individual learning needs, and a care for the indvidual’s subjective reality. While educators and educational leaders may display both forms of care or embrace one form of care over another, educators ought to recognize the tension between both types of care and
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how strict adherence to the systems world perpetuates aesthetic care while the lifeworld cultivates authentic care (Sergiovanni, 2000). Using Noddings’ (2007) model of an ethic of care, society as a whole can create a guide of action long enough to restore ethical interactions between humans as spontaneous acts. She maintains that for caring to be naturally occurring, individuals must model care as being genuine. We must demonstrate in our behavior and our practice, that we care. Noddings (2007) refers to “dialogue” as a means by which we evaluate the effects of our attempts to care. Furthermore, “practice” is necessary if we want to produce people who will care for one another. Through interactions, she further asserts that we can all learn cooperatively and to care for each other (Noddings, 2007). Finally, “confirmation”, as an act of affirming and encouraging the best in one and others, allows trust and continuity to form long lasting relationships. Thus, the ethic of care is easy for one to demonstrate because care is in fact a matter of principle: “Always act so as to establish, maintain, or enhance caring relationships” (Noddings, 2007, pp. 223). The ethic of care is valid and relevant to school leaders today because it “guards against exploitation by emphasizing moral education. [It] binds careers and cared-fores in relationships of mutual responsibility” (Noddings, 2007, pp. 225). Identity and Leadership Preparation for Social Justice In addition to helping preservice and in-service leaders understand accountability; love, and an ethic of care within schools, has relevance for the recruitment, mentoring and retention of women and leaders of color in educational leadership. However, according to Tillman (2004) universities, colleges, schools, and departments of education have played a major role in perpetuating the dominance of White men in administration and have generally failed to provide adequate support, (an ethic of care) for aspiring leaders of color in professional preparation programs. For example, leadership preparation programs are the environments that have the greatest opportunity for early identification of leaders of color who will ultimately be selected or encouraged to self-select school and district leadership as a career option (Tillman & Cochran, 2000), yet the issue of under-representation of school leaders of color continues. Although there have not been studies that have specifically examined the impact of leadership preparation programs for women of color, research has documented the experiences of Black women aspiring to leadership positions. For example, Brunner and Peyton- Caire’s 2000 study explored the reactions of a Black female graduate student, aspiring to the superintendency, to the narrative data of one Black female superintendent. The purpose of the study was to identify the structural barriers facing a Black woman enrolled in an educational administration preparation program. The researchers (Brunner & Peyton-Caire, 2000) identified these three structural barriers related to leadership role ascendency: narrow perspectives, risky research and curriculum, and the lack of literature about Black female superintendents. Narrow perspectives referred to the dominance of White men in both educational administration programs and dominance of their perspectives in the curriculum. Risky research and curriculum related to the notion that topics focused on women and women of color are risky business for professors’ instruction, curriculum, and research agendas. The third barrier, lack of literature about Black women in school leadership positions, was explained as further evidence that they are scarcely represented in the ranks. According to Brunner and Peyton-Caire (2000), Black women’s scarcity in school 33| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
districts makes their practices in the superintendency and principalship almost invisible to most Black women who are preparing for and aspiring to the positions. The educational administration programs are the environments and entities for leadership preparation. They have also served as recruiting grounds for the position of superintendency and principal. It is noted that if the preparation programs have so few Black women, then their recruitment as superintendents or principals, will remain limited. Recruitment is inextricably linked to hiring practices (Tillman & Cochran, 2000) and applicant pools. Theoretical Framework For this study, Black feminist thought (Collins, 2009) provided the theoretical/conceptual grounding. Knowledge is an important component in the social relations of domination and resistance (Collins, 2009). As such, “Black feminist thought demonstrates Black women's emerging power as agents of knowledge” (p. 221). The tenets of Black feminist thought are: a. lived experiences as a criterion of meaning b. the use of dialog in assessing knowledge claims c. an emphasis on the ethic of caring d. an emphasis on the ethic of personal accountability e. an emphasis on positionality as an agent of knowledge, and f. the recognition of “truth” and the complexity of the pathway toward the truth. (Beard, 2012, p. 62) Collins (2009) portrayed African American women as self-defined, self-reliant individuals who constantly encounter race, gender, and class oppression. Afrocentric feminist thought articulates the importance that knowledge plays in empowering oppressed people. Black feminist thought (Collins, 2009) supports centering the experiences of Black women leaders. Conversely, this study highlights the perspectives of one Black woman leader, to centralize her professional experiences and practices as she relates to potential structural, racial and gender oppressions. The conceptual paradigm of intersectionality (Collins, 1998; Crenshaw, 1991) is the secondary framework that undergirds this inductive, qualitative study. Intersectionality is based on the premise that social constructs, such as identities intermingle and work in groups. Therefore, the focus is on the formation of social identities. This study documents the female leader’s perceptions of how race, gender and/or the intersection of these social constructs influence her principal practices. Intersectionality best supported the conceptualization of the experiences of one Black woman school leader because it created a frame to view race and gender influences from the participants’ own perspectives of her experiences. Methods For this qualitative study (Glesne, 2011), the researchers elicited the perspective of one female principal of color, as a single case study. By borrowing ethnographic techniques (Murchison, 2010) such as interviews, observations, and document collection, the authors triangulated all data points to answer the research questions. Interviews were semi-structured, audio-taped, and
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transcribed. The transcripts were provided to the participant for member checking purposes and then verified by the three researchers. The research team collected and reviewed more than one hundred documents that contained information about the participantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, life, and own professional development (Patton, 2002). By shadowing the participant over the course of the study, for three months, the research team conducted observations and kept anecdotal notes in an ethnographic journal. Employing WolcottÂ´s (2009) three step process, the research team first described the work of the principal and identified patterns, themes, and concepts. Second, the team analyzed the descriptions for evidence of themes. Lastly, the researchers provided an interpretation of the data. Thus, the findings are represented in a narrative write-up. Participant Selection Our participant for this case study was Sarah (pseudonym). She earned a Master of Arts in educational administration and a Bachelor of Arts in a non-educational discipline. Both degrees were earned at a private, university in Texas. She also earned special education teacher, administrator, supervision and superintendent certifications. She received all her certifications and degrees from institutions in Texas. She had more than 20 years of experience in educational leadership at the time of the study. Some of her professional experience in education included service in the following positions: elementary principal, interim assistant superintendent of special education (district level position), curriculum and instruction coordinator (district level position), bilingual education coordinator, inclusion specialist (district level position), charter school principal and director, high school academic coordinating teacher/administrator, high school department chair, and high school special education teacher. Prior to entering education and obtaining a teaching certificate she worked as a mental health specialist, lab assistant, grant writer and child-care assistant. She reported that her educational mentors were Black, Hispanic, and White females and males and her professional mentors have been White, Hispanic, and Black males, and Black and Hispanic females. She is married and has one adult daughter and two teenage sons. Setting At the time of the study, the urban elementary school where the principal was employed has been in good academic standing with the state agency, based on previous four-year accountability measures. The school has a high percentage of student attendance (above 97%). The average years of experience for teachers at this school is 22 years. The student population consists of 389 students. The following data indicates the accountability demographics: 87% Limited English Proficient, 89% At-Risk, 6% Special Education, 97% Student Attendance. The campus was selected to participate in an innovative leadership support initiative and study, in which a School Administrator Manager (SAM) was provided to assist the principal in completion of technical and operational administrative tasks and duties. Findings This study highlights the processes, strategies, dispositions and beliefs of Principal Sarah, a female elementary school leader who met the relational (professional and personal) needs of faculty and staff members while also assuming responsibility of the technical aspects of leadership. The researchers identified the following three themes within the data: 1.) 35| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
prioritizing people before the paperwork, 2.) having dialogue and communication and 2.) providing care and facilitating social justice support are. Because Principal Sarah centered her leadership practice on placing people first and ensured follow-through on commitments and supports for others; we conceptualize the leader´s processes, dispositions, and beliefs as acts of professional love. Social justice leaders who exercise professional love facilitate authentic care to sustain the lifeworld of the organization. As such, Principal Sarah cultivated relationships by prioritizing people before paperwork/accountability in order to achieve school improvement and advance towards social justice, as part of her overall process and her strategy to achieve school improvement. According to Sarah, “being a leader WITH the people and taking care of people as a priority, affects their relationship with the leader.” Furthermore, the research participant confidently reports that prioritizing people over the plethora of paperwork and accountability constraints allows her resist deficit points of view or thinking about her faculty and staff, in favor of humanistic notions inclusive of an ethic of care and professional love. Prioritizing People over Paperwork Building relationships with faculty and staff members in an era of accountability seems to be a challenge, especially if schools operate like bureaucracies that discount relational leadership aspects. Principal Sarah, however, considers accountability as conditional because for her “the paperwork, which will never go away, is what accountability is.” Therefore, how the participant cultivates relationships with faculty and staff may be best represented by her prioritization model that guides the relational aspects of her work: “Priority, People, Paperwork,” (Three P’s). According to the study’s participant, Sarah, who maintains these aspects in the specific order noted, “people are in the middle because people have to play back and forward between the priorities and the paperwork”. She explains, “My priority is for them to get their emotionality in place to be better teachers.” She further explained, I believe that people will follow the person before they follow the plan. For me, when educators have an emotional connection to their leader and colleagues, they are more willing to follow plans (related to the leader) that require changes in their practice to improve and enhance both teacher effectiveness and student learning. I believe that emotional connections are the foundation of relationships. Trust is a key emotion in collegial, professional relationships, because trust opens the lines of communication and cultivates inter-dependence. Sarah’s prioritization model suggests that while accountability/paperwork is important for the school to measure and document gains, she considers people’s needs first, because humans are the drivers and vehicles of school improvement and success, while accountability /paperwork is only the vehicle manual. By considering people’s (faculty and staff) needs first, Sarah contends she can prevent an educator’s physical absence or emotional detachment from affecting teaching and learning. She asserts: “I can’t have a teacher that is going to be most effective, dealing with (challenged by) a health issue that has gone unattended, so when I think about priority, I really think what is priority in (your) life right now.” When we asked Sarah about the implications, if any, accountability had on the prioritization of the school goals, and the effect it had on her relationships with faculty and staff; Principal Sarah stated: When a campus has a low accountability rating, it brings down the morale. When a campus has a high accountability rating, it brings the morale up. But I have seen how JANUARY 2020| 36
accountability can create a climate of complacency. And that is where my campus was. Staff (faculty) members were complacent because we were “acceptable” to the state, which is fine, but there was still room for growth and that is where accountability can really (cause a) twist. So, I focus on the three P’s. Additionally, Sarah asserts that centering her practice of the three P’s stems from her foundational goal of education. When we asked how her philosophy of education influences her practice. She replied: Educational beliefs are cultivated and instructional practices are implemented to foster a community of leaders, teachers and learners who have a passion for teaching and learning, authentic love and respect for students and a shared laser-like focus on academic, intellectual, emotional, social, moral and physical growth for all students. I believe that school leaders are responsible for supporting high expectations for staff (faculty) and students, closely observing students at work, identifying students’ strengths and building on them and celebrate staff and student successes. The principal, as chief learner, should consistently and frequently visit and participate in classrooms, to focus on student and teacher learning and provide feedback. This statement suggests that Principal Sarah is committed to helping teachers become better learners and life-long learners, as she describes herself as the “chief learner” of the school. Sarah seems to assert that the school encompass educators who see every moment as a teaching and learning experience. As such, when we asked Sarah how she describes her relationship with the teachers at her school, she indicated: I believe they would describe our relationships as one of reciprocity; giving/receiving, teaching/learning and leading/(following) together. I provide my teachers with numerous opportunities to lead within the school environment because I believe in the power of teacher-leaders. I build rapport with my teachers by collaboratively planning lessons and co-teaching in their classrooms. My practice of planning and co-teaching has assisted us in engaging in feedback that supports reflecting on (reflection upon) and critiquing our practices. The participation of the principal in co-teaching is often counter-intuitive because some principals are accustomed to their role as manager or as coach. Dialogue and Communication Sarah discussed one incident in which she a her actualized her Three P’s Prioritization Model, which helped her strengthen a relationship with one a faculty member who was concerned about a district mandate. That faculty member sent an email to Sarah requesting clarification. Although though the email was sent to Sarah late in the evening, she explained that she responded to the teacher, with detailed and extensive clarifications soon after receipt. Sarah did not notice that her reply email was sent to the teacher at 3:20 a.m. The next day, the faculty member was moved by the promptness of Sarah’s response as she explained, “The teacher spread the word to his colleagues about how he believed Sarah lived up to her own expectations and cared enough to respond (regardless of the time the communication was received).” According to Sarah, the teacher now serves as a “prophet” for other faculty and staff members. He tells them that if they have questions, concerns, or ideas for Sarah, she will be responsive to them, even if she responds very early in the morning or late in the evening. In the end, Sarah explained, “that incident could have been viewed as negative, like ‘when does this lady sleep?” 37| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
However, for Sarah, the chance incident was a reinforcement of how effectively and efficiently she responds to her faculty members’ communications. She purported, From one email, this teacher realized that (first), I do care, and (secondly) I do model what I expect of them and (third) it’s these types of opportunities to have (these types of) dialogues and discussions, that in my opinion, builds the team and (cultivates) the relationships. This event suggests how Sarah fosters dialogue and communication at all hours (of the day and/or night) in order to cultivate, enhance and sustain relationships with campus faculty and staff members. When the researchers asked Sarah about a typical day in her job, she reported, “I see my role as the master communicator. I am in constant communication (with my faculty) and it is not just written communication, but there is a lot of verbal communication.” Whether it is on the cell phone during her commute to work, checking voice mail or stationed in her “anchor spot,” every morning as teachers and students enter the school, she stated she is able to convey that she is not only visible, but accessible and available to and for her faculty and staff members. In considering both parents and community members, Principal Sarah states she makes concerted efforts to establish a vehicle of communication in order to build enduring and trusting relationships with the parents and community representatives. When asked how else she uses communication in her school, she replied, “I’ve used communication most effectively to build relationships when I scheduled Principal’s Coffees, to ensure that parents, guardians and community members had monthly opportunities to engage in informal group forums or conversations with me regarding topics that were of interest to them.” Additionally, I ensured that invitations were provided in English and Spanish and that a language interpreter was present for each session (Principal’s Coffees). “Mi habla Español un poquito. (I speak very little Spanish).” However, “I understand the language better than I’m confident to articulate and conduct the conversation in Spanish”, she explained. Because Sarah is accessible and in constant communication with staff, parents and community members, she is most likely to know her faculty and staff members on both professional and personal levels. Caring and Supporting Sarah reports seeing her staff, not from a deficit point of view, but rather highlighting their strengths and conducive skill-sets: As an effective leader, you almost have that unconditional and professional love for your staff in that you might have staff or faculty member who are not as effective, ineffective, or having some performance concerns, but if you are operating and leading in love, your first response will be, “How can I support?” or “How can I help?” not “How can I remove (you).” This statement suggests Sarah views her faculty and staff members as living and breathing beings, who are capable of evolving, rather than as cogs in a machine. Additionally, Principal Sarah considers herself a resource and she takes responsibility for the development of all educators in her school. Sarah invites her faculty to be active participants in the learning process to foster a climate of trust and care. As such, she asserts: Teaching and learning with a sense of love and care means that the educators maintain high expectations for all students and develop a strategic process of enhancing learning, intervening for (students) and preventing learning deficits for all students. JANUARY 2020| 38
We engage in the use of strategies needed to provide quality and differentiated teaching and learning to our diverse population of students. By ensuring the school is an “intellectually stimulating and caring environment,” Principal Sarah engages her staff in book studies and together they think about and reflect upon how to use the professional scholarly literature in their school initiatives and classroom activities: They have confidence in much of the literature that I provide to them, and I feel that they have confidence in what they receive because they see the utility of it and the things (ideas and perspectives) we are bringing to the table. And when they disagree with some of the constructs, tenets, or text, they let me know. Fostering a supportive learning environment that also encourages intellectual discourse and dissonance, suggests how Sarah builds trusting professional relationships with her faculty and staff. Sarah demonstrates how she can be a critical friend to her staff members and care for them as well. Principal Sarah critical friendships appear to be much like how a parent exhibits unconditional love during critical or contentious situations. She shares, As a parent, you love your children unconditionally, and I think even in education as an effective leader you almost have that unconditional and professional love for your staff in that you might have staff (a faculty member) that (who) is ineffective or having some performance concerns. It’s that unconditional love that (will ensure the leader’s support) even when they (faculty or staff) are not on target with performing such as objectives; you still care about them and you still feel this duty to support. This type of open dialogue and professional dissonance, between the participant and her faculty/staff indicates that the participant builds capacity, facilitates professional development and expects her faculty and/or staff members to develop and act as “scholar-practitioners,” much like a parent anticipates growth and progression in his/her child. Like children who respond to their parents and form a loving bond, faculty and staff members also develop professional bonds and create relationships based on the premise of the leader’s unconditional professional love. Discussion/Interpretation School leaders who exercise professional love facilitate authentic care to maintain the lifeworld of the organization. For the study’s participant, principal Sarah, who also maintained a social justice orientation, she was also cognizant of the social justice landscape conducive in sustaining the lifeworld. Sarah envisioned and enacted school improvement as a process, not an end-product. Therefore, she focused on people first and believed that the resulting product, scores, would naturally be constructed by the people who are prioritized. Such an act of courage and confidence in the unknown requires agency and resistance of the iron cage of technical rationality in school leadership. While accountability metrics is how a school as an organization and how Principal Sarah are measured, she vehemently believed that prioritizing her care for people within the organization and facilitating social justice are other salient variables that are also valuable, but unfortunately, are not directly measured by accountability standards.
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Implications for Research and Practice The School Administrator Manager (SAM), a short-term (one calendar year) private grant funded position was particularly important for Sarah because she was able to better facilitate the priorities of the lifeworld to then move towards school improvement and social justice efforts. The SAM assisted the study participant/Principal Sarah by completing much of the technical aspects or paperwork/accountability related tasks, so that the participant/Sarah could focus more on instructional issues and relational aspects, such as co-teaching, mentoring and feedback. According to Holland (2008), in addition to building relationships and demonstrating support for staff, the SAM initiative gives principals a broader perspective about the instruction and learning occurring in their schools. Furthermore, she writes, “Principals can’t and shouldn’t do it all.” The participant’s experiences confirm Holland’s research, regarding the time that is needed to build relationships with faculty and staff members. Thus, engaging in the technical aspects of school leadership, such as accountability and paperwork is a job that may be more conducive for a school administrative manager, rather than for a school leader/principal, who effectively and efficiently focuses on the high yield instructional and relational work in schools. While school budgets and fiscal constraints are not inclusive of a school administrator manager (SAM) to mitigate administrative technical work in order for the principal to foster relationships; the more salient task of an effective principal is to not only designate time to build relationships, but to also find value in the work associated with building these relationships. As such, principals ought to reflect on school improvement both as a process and as a product and evaluate what they privilege and prioritize. Principals need to understand that in addition to identity, the nature of their reality (ontology) and/or that their ways of knowing (epistemology) informs their beliefs and actions with and for people, as well as their own goals, beliefs, and positionalities. To further ensure that principals generally, and specifically in Texas are equipped with the resources to achieve school improvement, and actualize a social justice leadership orientation, and meet new state principal exam certification licensure standards measure, preservice and in-service leaders must have access to pre-assessment resources (TEA, 2019) as well as self-evaluate tools to assess their competence as an effective and efficient instructional leader. Aguilar (2017) maintains that faculty of principal preparation programs and other educator preparation and development programs across a college of education have the responsibility to first undergo self-study to then be able to teach preservice principals how to demonstrate care and how to facilitate social justice. Principal preparation program faculty can and should implement processes and practical strategies (i.e. autoethnography) for principals to immolate, adopt and enhance for social justice and lead with professional love. Yet, further research is needed to better understand professional love in other contexts and within other accountability systems, as these vary from state to state. Conclusion Rationalizing schools might maximize efficiency for meeting accountability targets. However, human capital development is component of school improvement that also informs and influences the end-product of scores and accountability ratings. Rather than perpetuate the iron cage of technical rationality, schools should be places that foster human connections and JANUARY 2020| 40
relationships where leaders demonstrate an ethic of care and social justice efforts through professional love for their employees, students, and external community members. People have the potential to authentically care for each other. As educators and educational leaders, we need to embrace the need to practice professional love (justice and the ethic of care) as a strategy/process to achieve school improvement and discover how to meet the varied needs of our diverse school demographics. This research is of importance, given the socio-political climate in which our nation’s schools currently exist. The explication of one African American female principal’s quest for accountability compliance undergirded by her professional love for all, contributes to an understanding of the everyday leadership practices implemented in schools. We conceptualize Sarah’s work as professional love because she exhibited social justice leadership and encompassed with an ethic of care. As the nation continues to grapple with diversity, inclusion and unity, how public-school leaders connect with others through professional love may provide new perspectives and insights for what love has to do with school leadership.
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Fullan, M. (1993). Why teachers must become change agents. Educational Leadership, 50(6), 1- 13. Glesne, C. (2011). Becoming Qualitative researchers: An introduction. Boston, MA: Pearson. Holland, H. (2008), Out of the office and into the classroom: An initiative to help principals focus on instruction. Retrieved from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/KnowledgeCenter/KnowledgeTopics/CurrentAreas ofF ocus/EducationLeadership/Pages/an-initiative-to-help-principals.aspx hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York, NY: Routledge. hooks, b. (2000). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Cambridge, MA: South End Press. Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Austin, TX: SEDL. Ingersoll, R. M. (2003). Who controls teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work? Power and accountability in Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Leithwood, K.A. & Louis, K.S. (2000). The learning school and school improvement: Linkages and strategies. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets and Zeitlinger. Maxwell, J. A. (1994). Diversity, solidarity, and community. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, April 1994. Murchison, J. M. (2010). Ethnography essentials. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Nelson, S.W., & Aguilar, I. (2011). Leadership based in love of people and place. In M. Cowie (Ed.), New primary leaders. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Nelson, S.W., de la Colina, M., & Boone, M. D. (2008). Lifeworld or systems world: What guides novice principals? Journal of Educational Administration, 46. Noddings, N. (2007). Philosophy of education (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Westview. Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Sarason, S.B. (2004). And what do you mean by learning? Portsmith, NH: Heinemann. Senge, P. (2001). Schools that learn. New York, NY: Doubleday. Sergiovanni, T. (2000). The lifeworld of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Simpson, D. J. and Stack, S.F. (2010). Teachers, leaders, and schools: Essays by John Dewey. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Starratt, R.J. (1991). Building an ethical school: A theory for practice in educational leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 27(2), 185-202. TEA (2019). Principal Certification Redesign https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Educator_Initiatives_and_Performance/Principal_ Certification_Redesign Tillman, L.C. (2004). (Un)intended consequences?: The impact of the Brown v. Board
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of Education decision on the employment status of Black educators. Education and Urban Society, 36(3), 280-303. Tillman, B. & Cochran, L. (2000) Desegregating urban school administration: A pursuit of equity for black women superintendents. Education and Urban Society, 33(1), 44-59. Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. Albany: State University of New York Press. Villenas, S. (2006). Pedagogical moments in the borderlands: Latina mothers and teaching and learning. In D. Delgado Bernal, C.A. Elenes, F. E. Godinez, & S. Villenas (Eds.). Chicana/Latina education in everyday life. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Waite, D., Boone, M., & McGhee, M. (2001). A critical sociocultural view of accountability. Journal of School Leadership, 11(3), 182-203. Waite, D., & Nelson, S. W. (2005). Educational leadership reconsidered. La Revista Española de Pedagogía, 63(232), 389-406. Waite, D., Nelson, S. W., & Guajardo, M. (2007). Teaching and leadership for social justice and social responsibility: Home is where the struggle starts. Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations, 18 (1&2), 200-223. Webb, L. D. & Norton, M. S. (2008). Human resource administration: Personnel issues and needs in education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Weber, M. (1947). The theory of economic and social organizations. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Wheatley, M.J. (2006). Leadership and the new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Wolcott, H. (2009). Writing up qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage. Dessynie Edwards, Ph.D., lead author, currently serves as assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction. She has been a member of TCWSE for numerous years. Dessynie.email@example.com Israel Aguilar, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Aguilar's professional experience include serving as a school administrator in Dallas, and as a teacher in Austin and Brownsville. firstname.lastname@example.org Juan Manuel Niño, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Niño's public educator experience include secondary science teacher, ESL teacher, athletic coach, campus and district leader. His primary research focuses on school leadership for school improvement. email@example.com
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“College of Education partnerships with school districts should be happening across the United States…those partnerships provide a link between those who prepare young learners and those who will one day prepare them for their professional identities.” ~ Dr. Stacy Hendricks
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It Takes a Village: Developing a Sustainable Partnership between University Preparation Programs and School Districts Dr. Stacy Hendricks Stephen F. Austin State University Abstract When school districts initiate improvement endeavors, one of the first steps taken is the completion of an introspective examination of current practices. This review of existing conditions often includes a curriculum audit that explores instructional practices, at both the campus and district levels. This article details the investigatory process used by the university, the preparation of the findings, the presentation of those findings, and the implications for both entities responsible for preparing educators and administrators. The processes involved in this experience, the findings, and the trusting relationships that developed during this endeavor contribute significantly to the base of literature regarding the importance of the school districts and university partnerships. Introduction In 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law to replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) from 2002. While there were many differences, one similarity of both laws was the idea that schools had to improve the performance for all students and challenging academic standards were required for all schools (Hunt, 2015). Therefore, school districts began to determine their strengths and weaknesses. While doing so, it was important for the districts to complete an introspective examination of current practices. During this examination, a curriculum review or audit that explored current instructional practices at both the campus and district level was needed. To avoid bias, the best plan of action was for a school district to include an outside source to complete the evaluation. Partnering with university professors to complete a curriculum audit for a school district established a foundation of trust, collaboration, research-based practices, and a reciprocal relationship that promotes sustainability for both the district that maintains instructional effectiveness and the entity that was responsible for preparing quality teachers and administrators. The purpose of this article is to share the experiences of how a collaborative effort between a school district and university faculty developed through the completion of a curriculum audit. Gray and Streshly (2008) contend that â&#x20AC;&#x153;building relationships is understandably essential for an environment that embraces collaboration, communication, and professional learning communities in schoolsâ&#x20AC;? (p. 10). The development of university and public-school teams may well serve as a means of improving the educational focus for both organizations. Doors that had previously been closed between the school district and the university were opened under the leadership of a newly hired superintendent who was actively seeking a new direction for the district. The assistance he sought was from university faculty who would examine the current condition of the school district from an unbiased point of view. This article details the investigatory process used by the university faculty to examine district data, curriculum documents, and the perceptions and beliefs of teachers and administrators regarding the district and their campuses in identified areas.
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Theoretical Framework In the realm of education, there continues to be “an urgent need to improve educational opportunities…” (Rosenquist, Henrick, & Smith, 2015, p. 42). School districts are continuously held accountable for learning, teacher effectiveness, course curriculum, and student success. The evolution of these efforts requires unbiased introspection, purposeful use of quantitative and qualitative data, and continuous restructuring that addresses student needs. Schools are held directly responsible for also meeting public expectations where these concepts are concerned (Gray & Streshly, 2008). The completion of a curriculum audit by an outside agency, such as a university, allows scrutiny to take place with a sense of safety and at the same time strengthens the working relationship between both the school district and the university system. Noguera (1998) stated that “collaboration between schools and universities is essential because it allows for the strengths of the university and schools to be matched for research-based problem solving and mutual benefit” (para. 12). Additionally, Jenkins (2002) maintained that collaborative, efforts when done effectively and purposefully, are essential when planning and implementing any change in the educational process that could have the greatest impact on student success. Moreover, Ubben, Hughes, and Norris (2011) suggested that assistance from university faculty would be beneficial to those in public schools. Specifically, faculty who are involved in the preparation of educators might provide school district personnel with resources on the following: understanding the complexities of student learning, recognizing effective teaching and leadership practices, providing technological support for analyzing and using data, and establishing positive school climates (Ubben, Hughes, & Norris, 2011). Furthermore, university and school partnerships provide a means of collaboration that impacts educator preparation programs. By working closely with public school systems, such as the completion of a curriculum audit, an interdependence develops that provides a link between those who prepare young learners and those who will one day prepare them for their professional identities (Luter, Lester, & Kronick, 2013; Noguera, 1998). Also as stated by Noguera (1998), universities have a great influence over public education and its practices. By utilizing the expertise of university faculty, school districts establish a resource link to assist them in making research-based decisions, analyzing school and student data, and sources for professional development opportunities that directly impact school improvement (Saunders, 2001). Also, the collaborative partnership between school districts and universities provides a “research-practice” partnership that is productive to both organizations (Goldstein, McKenna, Barker, & Brown, 2019). In this way, university faculty also provide a wealth of research-based information that relates to educational improvement and student success (Noguera, 1998). Additionally, by working with school districts, the university faculty members stay abreast of practitioner issues and concerns. While the essence and intent of research serves a different purpose for school districts and the university, there exists a value in the research process itself that does impact both entities for the better (Gomez-Johnson, Nebesniak, and Rupnow, 2019; Noguera, 1998). Therefore, a collaborative partnership is a win-win for all involved. In addition to school improvement and student success, university-district collaborative partnership is of great importance. In order to be effective, Deal and Peterson (2009, 2016) note that the district, as well as its campuses, must share the same beliefs and vision as all the stakeholders involved. In terms of collaboration, the relationship that develops between the 47| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
entities also depends on the individuals involved and how they relate to one another (Green, 2010). Green also suggests that a healthy, positive, and continuing relationship will “engage in some sort of exchange. It’s a feeling or sense of emotional bonding” (2010, p. 133). The nature and effectiveness of the partnership that develops between the district and university depends on several additional variables. Jenkins (2002) implies that “the dynamic nature and scope of a partnership makes it difficult to describe what an educational partnership is” (p. 64). The key in developing a connection where both entities reach their intended goals lies in the reciprocal impact each has on the other (Jenkins, 2002). Noguera (1998) refers to this symbiotic relationship as reciprocity. This must be in place in the joint venture. One variable that oftentimes sabotages the efforts of both groups is a lack of commitment. Saunders (2001) believes intentional partnerships, not token ones, will have a greater impact on both of the educational communities. Authenticity establishes a sense of trust between the partners that improves over the continued relationship. Noguera (1998) refers to this as a “prolonged engagement” (para. 32) and failure can result if both parties do not follow through with the commitment to the partnership. Sergiovanni (2007) mentioned that authentic leadership requires a principal to make “deep changes in a school’s basic theory and culture” (p. 97). In this particular state, the initial intent of the superintendent revolved around a study of the district’s curriculum practices; however, school leadership also became an important aspect of the audit. A somewhat new responsibility for school administrators is that of becoming a knowledgeable curriculum leader. Principals and district personnel are held responsible for creating a school vision that encompasses instructional strategies that impact a quality education for all students. Consequently, the superintendent recognized that in order to fully examine the identified areas of the audit, addressing the needs and concerns of district administrators was also vital. Data retrieved from the audit would provide a means for the district’s administrative team to become transformational leaders focused on campus improvement and student success (Blase & Kirby, 2009). The partnership with the university involved in preparation programs would also be provided an opportunity to experience leadership in action as the collaborative efforts progressed. With the ever-changing curriculum and assessment demands in addition to less funding for public schools, it is necessary for universities to assist and support districts whenever possible. It is impossible for school districts to address all of the academic issues alone; instead, there must be collaborative partnerships between school districts and universities (Anderson-Butcher, Iachini, Ball, Barke & Martin, 2016). While some research exists on university and school partnerships, it is important that these two entities continuously collaborate for the betterment of the children in the community. William Greiner, former president of the University of Buffalo, stated, “The great universities of the 21st century will be judged by their ability to solve the city’s most urgent problems” (as cited in Taylor, 1992, p. 21). Of course, a quality education for all children in the community is certainly an urgent problem. University educator preparation programs can help school districts by assisting in a variety of ways. Method During the signing of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a local school district in east Texas and a university counterpart began a collaborative relationship to improve instructional practices and the success of all students. Previously, the relationship between these two entities had been JANUARY 2020| 48
strained to the point that interns from the university’s teacher preparation programs were denied access into the schools. With the hiring of a new superintendent and the need to address curricular issues in the district, a collaborative partnership between the district and the university was initiated. To begin the process of rebuilding the broken relationship between the school district and the university, the superintendent contacted faculty members of leadership preparation programs at the local university to complete a curriculum audit. Using university faculty would serve two purposes: (1) provide an outside examination of the district’s curriculum efforts; and (2) provide the university an opportunity to create a positive collaborative partnership with the district. After initial contact was made between the local school district and the university located within the district, the superintendent requested the completion of a curriculum audit that would take place in a six-month time frame. The superintendent requested a review of four primary areas as they related to curriculum: curriculum documents, teacher and teaching effectiveness, administrative leadership, and professional development. Two primary auditors from the university faculty were chosen as lead investigators, both program coordinators of leadership preparation programs. They established four individual teams with team leaders to investigate the four areas. The team leaders were university faculty with expertise in the assigned area. The curriculum team reviewed district documents that included board policies, teacher’s lesson plans, forms used to collect district information from the campuses, state accountability information, and demographic information. The team assigned to teacher and teaching effectiveness was led by two faculty members and included four additional faculty members. This team examined the first six weeks lesson plans from 52 randomly selected teachers. The lesson plans were collected from the core classes and examined for connectivity between classroom practices, curriculum expectations, instructional methodologies, and performance outcomes. Twenty-one individual teacher (nine elementary, seven middle school, and five high school) interviews also took place concerning the existing curriculum, instructional practices, professional development opportunities, and school and district climates. Each teacher’s responses were coded based upon 9 criteria and goals. The nine areas were: understanding vision, understanding curriculum alignment, understanding assessment/instruction, understanding diverse learners, supported with resources, supported by colleagues/administration, implementation of rigor, provided relevant professional development, and continuous growth and reflection. The teacher responses were then coded quantitatively using a range of 0 (no evidence presented) to 3 (exemplary evidence presented). For example, in order to determine the teacher’s understanding of the vision, teachers were asked questions concerning the vision of the campus and district. Similarly, the understanding curriculum alignment was determined by asking questions such as “How is curriculum aligned with lesson planning?” On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the teachers were also asked to rate eight topics regarding their beliefs about their campuses and districts including: yourself as a teacher; your content knowledge; your ability to teach all learners; your ability to adjust instruction; the climate of the district; the climate of your campus; the district overall; and your campus overall. The mean average of this rating was determined. The administrative team consisted of two faculty members who interviewed each principal (n=10) in the district using a survey with open-ended questions as well as rating specific topics that addressed; vision, curriculum, teachers and teaching effectiveness, instructional awareness, 49| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
evaluation and accountability measures, and professional development. “How is curriculum aligned with instruction?” and “Describe primary instructional strategies used in your classrooms?” are just a couple of questions asked of principals. The interviews were taped and later transcribed for an analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data. Themes were identified from the collection of responses. In regard to professional development, the team interviewed central office personnel responsible for providing professional development opportunities for the district. Thirty-one questions were asked that addressed issues of curriculum, campus planning, community involvement, instructional design, teaching effectiveness, special programs, and evaluation standards. For example, central office personnel were asked questions such as, but not limited to, “How do you use your district plan?” and “How are professional development activities aligned with the district/campus plans?” The responses were collected from taped interviews and transcribed for the purposes of completing the audit. When all of the information was collected, a final report was presented to the school board during a monthly meeting. Multiple data sources were used in this curriculum audit. Data sources used to complete the curriculum audit included a variety of reports. External reports such as the state accountability reports and demographic data for the district provided from the Texas Education Agency were provided to assist with the audit. Teacher lesson plans, curriculum documents and six weeks grade reports of students, such as benchmarks and report cards, were also used. Campus and district approved interview questions for teachers, administrators, and district personnel, as well as research-based literature, supported the findings. Findings Each team involved in the curriculum audit completed an individual report to the team leaders that included supportive literature, information collected and analyzed from the scheduled interviews, and suggestions and recommendations for the superintendent and the school board. In addition to their findings, each team of university faculty members presented ways in which they could serve as mentors and advisors as the district sought to enact the suggestions and recommendations provided. Curriculum Documents In the area of curriculum documents, the university team found the majority of the interviewed school district personnel (teachers and administrators) were uninformed about the curriculum planning and implementation beyond the required state standards. Also, the district lacked a comprehensive professional development plan to address curricular needs throughout the district. Without this comprehensive plan, the core content curriculum across the district was disjointed and lacked alignment and cohesiveness. Through the interviews, it was apparent the campuses throughout the district had limited experience with horizontal and vertical planning and monitoring the curriculum efforts at specific grade levels and content areas. Additionally, formative and summative assessment measures were not aligned to the curriculum beyond state testing efforts. Through the interview responses, it was evident that teachers that were involved in developing the curriculum documents were able to articulate what a curriculum was versus those that had not participated in the process. For example, one teacher noted her understanding of the definition of curriculum as “philosophy along with practicality; it’s what we believe about why we are here and where we are going. It’s also how we carry that into the classroom and into JANUARY 2020| 50
the materials we use.” Those not involved in the process where unable to elaborate beyond describing it as the scope and sequence. Teacher Effectiveness. In the area of teacher effectiveness, the university team found the analysis of the collected lesson plans revealed little planning for the needs of diverse learners. This was obvious as some teachers completed the lesson plan templates with the identical English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) each day. This does not meet the needs of all diverse learners. While teachers could list diverse strategies in the interview, the lesson plans failed to include the strategies discussed. While teachers felt confident of “doing a pretty good job of that [reaching all learners]”, lack of differentiation was also evident throughout lesson plans. Additionally, the team found few teachers possessed an understanding of curriculum alignment and its relation to authentic assessment. A few teachers believed that assessments fail to align with the instruction due to the fact that “we get them last minute; we really don’t know what’s on them.” Conversely, a different teacher stated that when benchmark assessment results were distributed and analyzed, his instructional approach was adjusted to provide additional support and possibly re-teaching in order to meet the needs of the students that had not mastered the specific concepts previously taught. Also, few teachers possessed an understanding of the development and intent of campus planning. Since very few teachers knew what it was or where to find it, very few used the campus plan for curriculum and instruction planning. The qualitative data revealed that the climate on campuses varied with little to no consistency. Some teachers were happy and excited with the direction of their campus. Other teachers were scared to say much due to fear of repercussions. On one campus, a teacher was frightened by the presence of the interviewer and eventually, as the interview continued, brought to tears by the interviewer. Other areas of inconsistencies existed throughout the district in the areas of alignment, lesson planning, and teacher collaboration. Other major concerns were mentioned in the areas of the use of technology and the management of assessment measures. While campus plans indicated interest in technology such as white boards, projectors, Elmos, etc., it was not evident in lesson plans. Campus Administrative Leadership and Teacher Evaluations. Campus leadership and teacher evaluations revealed that campus administrators were aware of the district’s mission statement but had limited knowledge on how to relate that theme to the creation of their own campus mission statement. Some of the principals possessed only a limited understanding of curriculum. For the most part, principals were aware of the use of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), basic instructional standards, state mandates and the need for all students to master the specific skills at each grade level. However, some principals failed to be able to define curriculum at a higher level of application beyond a basic understanding of curriculum. Some of the principals revealed they felt limited in their abilities to connect instructional practices to curriculum measures. Many left this duty to their curriculum specialists. In fact, one principal stated, “We need work in this area.” Also, some of the principals revealed they felt limited in their abilities to connect curriculum measures to the special programs on their campuses. Specific concerns of the principals included: curriculum efforts and practices for students served in gifted and talented programs, collaboration among teachers who serve the special populations, differentiation of instruction, and ensuring teachers are aware of the curriculum needs in their grade levels and/or departments. For the most part, 51| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
professional development activities were limited to faculty meetings. However, it is important to note that principals revealed their teachers were frustrated with the instructional demands placed on them from the district level. Professional Development In the area of professional development, the university team found professional development activities varied from campus to campus with little connectivity to curriculum efforts. It was noted that the district provided professional development opportunities, but it was not individualized for campus needs. Some teachers were vocal stating professional development has been a “waste of time” and “has not met any need.” Another issue with professional development within the district was the limited continuous professional development opportunities. Some teachers viewed faculty meetings as a means of professional development. The regularly scheduled faculty meetings focused on different district goals that appeared to be professional development according to some teachers. The completion of the curriculum audit process provided information that has the potential to impact both the school district and the educator preparation programs at the university. In addition, it is hoped that this experience, the findings, and recommendations help to impact the base of literature regarding school and university partnerships. To ensure confidentiality requested by the school district and maintain a level of trust in the developing school/university relationship, no school or personnel were identified in the study. Recommendations A complete examination of the district’s curriculum efforts also required the university faculty teams to provide recommendations and suggestions for improving the identified areas. The recommendations for improvements were research-based. It should be noted that the recommendations offered by the university teams were informational as well as subjective. The implementation of the recommendations lies as a responsibility of the district. Curriculum Documents. The university team assigned to this area made several recommendations to the superintendent and school board. First, the university team recommended the district develop a comprehensive curriculum management plan. Additionally, the campus and district curriculum plans should reflect particular strategies to address the areas of need. According to DuFour, strategies focused on learning are based on intervention not remediation (2004). A well-developed curriculum plan provides specific strategies in order to address the needs of all students. District-wide planning should include lesson design with a curriculum focus. Lastly, research-based literature should be utilized when developing assessment measures. Wiliam, Lee, Harrison, and Black note that “…teachers do not…have to choose between teaching well and getting good results” (2004, p. 64). Teaching Effectiveness. The university team assigned to this area made additional recommendations to the superintendent and school board. Teaching effectiveness is a priority in every school district. In order to determine effective teaching, Grissom and Bartanen (2018) assert that principals strongly rely on classroom observations. Therefore, the team suggested the district work with campus leaders to assist them in the development of objectives which address instructional practices that could be seen through classroom observations. In turn, this will help establish alignment between and within campuses. The district should work with campus leaders
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to assist them in addressing school culture issues that increase trust and collegiality among staff members and other campuses. Because fear existed among some campuses, this may override other areas of collaboration and collegiality. “Without trust, schools are unlikely to be successful in their efforts to improve and to realize their core purpose.” (Tschannen-Moran, 2014, p. x). Campus leaders should address curriculum efforts that reach beyond expected state standards. For the most part, teachers did not understand the curriculum process. Therefore, the district should create a common planning tool to assist campuses in the alignment of curriculum efforts. However, before teachers can begin the instructional planning stage and using the backward design process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005), teachers must have a deep understanding of the curriculum process. Lastly, professional development activities should be provided at the district level that offer teachers strategies to help diverse learners. Per the quantitative data, teachers understand differentiation. However, the issue lies within the implementation stage. Therefore, it is essential that the district provide continuous training to offer differentiation strategies and ways to articulate the scaffolding occurring for those struggling students. Campus Administrative Leadership and Teacher Evaluations The university team assigned to this area made several recommendations to the superintendent and school board. The first recommendation was to increase means and continuity of communication between the district and campus administrators. One principal noted, “There is a definite need for constant communication.” Guthrie and Schuermann (2010) reiterated Howard Gardner’s thought that communication is the foundation of effective leadership. Next, the district should conduct leadership workshops for all campus administrators that focus on improving learning for all students. The focus needs to be on how to recognize meaningful instruction, motivational techniques, curriculum alignment, and how to differentiate for diverse learners. Holloway (2019) suggests that teachers should be trusted to act professionally in the classroom rather than demoralized by demanding high-stakes evaluation systems. The district should incorporate a “team” approach to problem solving and decision-making. One principal noted “We need to find ways to bring us together.” All administrators, including assistant principals, should be involved in team building activities, curriculum meetings and leadership opportunities where applicable. If this is done, it will “erase the sense of mistrust” that one principal spoke about. It was recommended that the district provide professional development opportunities for campus administrators to reflect on the use of school data from a variety of sources. All school districts look at teacher retention rates. At this particular school, the rate was not as high as it needed to be. Therefore, it was essential to initiate formal and ongoing practices to support first-year teachers. Grissom and Bartanen (2018) found strategic retention of teachers is supported with effective principals. This particular district should provide campus administrators with appropriate professional development as well as various measures to effectively evaluate teacher effectiveness. Then, mentoring may need to occur with the struggling teachers. The principals realized that there was some unease and frustration from teachers regarding how to meet all of the district requirements such as incorporating higher order thinking skills, meeting accountability standards, and simply doing the job of teaching. The principals stated they were doing their best to alleviate some of the teachers’ stress. However, both teachers and principals felt the evaluation process is necessary. In fact, principals were aware of how the school’s success or failure was tied to his/her success. One principal stated, “…in the end, we are going to 53| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
be held accountable for the entire school.” Accordingly, it was essential to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Professional Development The university team assigned to this area made several recommendations to the superintendent and school board. The first recommendation was that the district should direct and initiate professional development activities that focus on curriculum development as it relates to improving student learning. While this study did not directly investigate and measure student learning, the four pillars of this study, curriculum documents, teacher effectiveness, campus administrative leadership, and professional development, certainly impacted student learning. Professional development results can be difficult to link to student achievement. However, professional development provides a “culture of continuous school improvement” (Baird & Clark, 2017, p. 326). In this case, the district should direct and initiate professional development activities that focus on consistency and collaboration to improve campus cultures. As one administrator noted, “with input from teachers…with the boards help, we met and developed a vision and that vision has been supported by the board. Those standards involve high expectations for everyone. We are retraining our culture.” Continuous professional development can become the school’s culture (Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon, 2010). The district should direct and initiate professional development activities that focus on needs assessments completed at the campus level as well as improving instructional practices. Lastly, the district should direct and initiate professional development activities that focus on effective leadership practices. Noguera (1998) recognized that both the public schools and universities are preparing students for “learning and intellectual development” (para. 1). In addition to the results from the interviews and document examination, the development of a professional, collegial, and trusting relationship between the district and the university was re-established. The school district allowed university faculty to examine school records and granted permission for the teams to enter schools and interview personnel. The faculty teams also examined teacher and administrative practices that provided them with valuable information regarding the preparation of pre-service educators and how the educational theories learned were applied to real world practices in the public-school setting. One entity must work with and for the other because both have vested interests that the other can support, enhance, and develop (Noguera, 1998). Conclusions College of Education partnerships with school districts should be happening across the United States. However, this type of collaborative partnership is not always sought due to a variety of concerns from both organizations. However, often times, the gains will outweigh the difficulties. The faculty within the College of Education can learn from educators in the field while those in the school districts can learn and use best practices and strategies found from the faculty research. A university-school partnership is productive for both organizations (Cross, 2019; Maxwell, Ruiz, McNair, Jones, and Sowell, 2019). Curriculum audits provide a district with a practical means to assess their successes and needs. By using university faculty to complete the audit, an unbiased and independent examination of a district’s use of curriculum, teacher effectiveness, leadership strengths and needs, can help create
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a positive working relationship with the primary entities charged with the learning and educational experiences of young people. For over twenty years, educational reform efforts have ascribed to the use of school-university partnerships as “promising vehicles to provide resources, improve teaching, and enhance student learning” (Jenkins, 2002, p. 63). With so many academic changes taking place at the state and national levels, school districts appear to be in a constant state of turmoil as to what direction they should take to ensure continuous student success. Saunders (2001) pointed out that universities have a responsibility to understand what is occurring in the public education arena and can do so by building and maintaining reciprocal partnerships. These efforts cannot be “token” in their development or sustainability (Saunders, 2001, para. 21). The collaborative efforts undertaken by the school district and university helped to open once closed doors, brought attention to instructional needs of the district and the role the university could play in improving student learning, and initiated a reciprocal relationship of trust and acceptance. The partnership that progressed over a six-month time period paved the way for the development of a sustained working relationship. The placement of student teachers may take on a new direction. In August 2013, The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) adopted five standards for Educator Preparation programs. Standard Two is Clinical Partnerships and Practice. It stated “The provider ensures that effective partnerships and highquality clinical practice are central to preparation so that candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to demonstrate positive impact on all P-12 students’ learning and development” (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, 2013, “Standard 2: Clinical Partnerships and Practice,” para 1). This ensures that student teachers are building partnerships throughout their educational experience, which will continue in their field of education. Moreover, educator preparation programs have access to teachers and leaders in the field that could improve practices and retention of teachers and administrators. Consequently, the partnership that began with a simple curriculum audit has the potential to impact the entire educational community and those who serve children. In 1996, First Lady Hillary Clinton stated at the Democratic National Convention, “and we have learned that to raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family. It takes teachers. It takes clergy. It takes businesspeople. It takes community leaders. It takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us. Yes, it takes a village…”
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References Anderson-Butcher, D., Iachini, A. L., Ball, A., Barke, S., & Martin, L. D. (2016). A universityschool partnership to examine the adoption and implementation of the Ohio community collaboration model in one urban school district: A mixed method case study. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 21(3), 190-204. doi: 10.1080/10824669.2016.1183429 Baird, T. J. & Clark, L. E. (2018). The ‘look-ahead’ professional development model: A professional development model for implementing new curriculum with a focus on instructional strategies, Professional Development in Education, 44(3), 326-341. Blase, J., & Kirby, P. C. (2009). Bringing out the best in teachers: What effective principals do (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Clinton, H. R. (1996, August). It takes a village to raise a child. Speech presented at the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, IL. Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. (2013). CAEP 2013 Accreditation Standards of Educator Preparation. Retrieved from http://caepnet.org/standards/standards/standard2/ Cross, T. L. (2019). A highly successful school–university partnership. Gifted Child Today, 42(2), 72–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/1076217518825369 Deal, T., & Peterson, K. (2009). Shaping school culture: Pitfalls, paradoxes, and promises (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Deal, T., & Peterson, K. (2016). Shaping school culture. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: JosseyBass. DuFour, R. (2004). Schools as learning communities. Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6-11. Glickman, C., Gordon, S., & Ross-Gordon, J. (2010). Supervision and instructional leadership. San Francisco, CA: Allyn & Bacon. Goldstein, H., McKenna, M., Barker, R. M., & Brown, T. H. (2019). Research-practice partnership: Application to implementation of multitiered system of supports in early childhood education. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 4, 38-50. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_PERS-ST-2018-0005 Gomez-Johnson, K., Nebesniak, A., & Rupnow, T. (2019). District-university collaborations to support reform-based mathematics curriculum. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 10(1), 17-20. Retrieved from https://journals.library.columbia.edu/index.php/jmetc/article/view/1667 Gray, S. P., & Streshly, W. A. (2008). From good schools to great schools: What their principals do well. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Green, R. L. (2010). The four dimensions of principal leadership: A framework for leading 21st Century schools. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
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Grissom, J. A. & Bartanen, B. (2019). Strategic retention: Principal effectiveness and teacher turnover in multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems. American Educational Research Journal, 56(2), 514-555. Guthrie, J. W. & Schuermann, P. J. (2010). Successful school leadership: Planning, politics, performance, and power. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Holloway, J. (2019). Risky teachers: Mitigating risk through high-stakes teacher evaluation in the USA. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40(3), 399-411. DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2017.1322938 Hunt, J. (2015, December 10). No child left behind replacement focuses on marginalized groups. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/no-child-leftbehind-replacement-focuses-marginalized-groups-n477791 Jenkins, D. B. (2002). Why do some partnerships endure with individual partnerships? In S. Mitchell (Ed.), Effective educational partnerships: Experts, advocates, and scouts (pp. 63-81). Westport, CT: Praeger. Luter, D. G., Lester, J. N., & Kronick, R. F. (2013). “Remember, it’s a pilot”: Exploring the experiences of teachers/staff at a university-assisted community school. School Community Journal, 23(2), 161-184. Maxwell, G. M., Ruiz, A., McNair, C. L., Jones, D., & Sowell, M. (2019). Come and take it: An unprecedented university-school partnership. Research in Higher Educational Journal 36. Retrieved from https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/182885.pdf. Noguera, P. A. (1998). Toward the development of school and university partnerships based upon mutual benefit and respect. Retrieved from http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/pnsup1.html Rosenquist, B. A., Henrick, E. C., & Smith, T. M. (2015). Research-practice partnerships to support the development of high-quality mathematics instruction for all students. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 20, 42-57. doi: 10.1080/10824669.2014.988335 Saunders, D. (2001). Universities and schools must unite to stop waste of talent; OPINION: Three simple ways partnerships can enhance learning. Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/print/PrintArticle.aspx?id=80420363 Sergiovanni, T. J. (2007). Rethinking leadership: A collection of articles (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Taylor, H. L. (1992). Redefining the relationship: The urban university and the city in the 21st century. Universities and Community Schools, 3(1-2), 17-22. Tschannen-Moran, M. (2014). Trust matters: Leadership for successful schools (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Ubben, G. C., Hughes, L. W., & Norris, C. J. (2011). The principal: Creative leadership for excellence in schools (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. 57| JOURNAL OF TEXAS SCHOOL WOMEN EXECUTIVES
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Wiliam, D., Lee, C., Harrison, C. & Black, P. (2004). Teachers developing assessment for learning: Impact on student achievement. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 11(1), 49-65. Stacy Hendricks, Ed.D. is the Associate Dean for the Perkins College of Education at Stephen F. Austin State University and President of the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration. firstname.lastname@example.org
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“We’ve all heard that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” The work of a truly exceptional leader goes beyond themselves. Regardless of the position you are in or are aspiring to, there are people who are looking to YOU for leadership. Lead them.” ~ Dr. Jill M. Siler
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To Lead Others and to Be Led… Jill M. Siler, Ed.D. Gunter Independent School District
Merriam-Webster (2019) defines “mentor” as “a trusted counselor or guide.” The actual origin of the word dates back to the end of the eighth century when Homer wrote The Odyssey (History Disclosure Team, 2019). Mentor was a trusted friend of Homer and he stayed behind during war to watch over Odysseus’ son. The word was then adapted to mean “someone who teaches or gives help and advice.” I share that story of the origin of the word because I love the imagery of “growing up under” someone else’s guidance, teaching, and coaching. As I look back on my own journey, I have had many mentors who have poured into me—so many that I’ve had the great fortune of “growing up under” as a leader. We’ve all heard that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” When it comes to leading in our fields, part of that sacred responsibility is raising others up along the way. Gandhi noted that “a sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” The work of a truly exceptional leader goes beyond themselves. Regardless of the position you are in or are aspiring to, there are people who are looking to YOU for leadership. Lead them. Equally important to leading others, we need to make sure that we are being led. So often as we rise in our leadership, there are fewer people to help lead us in our journeys—sometimes because we have already arrived at where we were trying to go and sometimes because those very mentors have turned into colleagues and friends along the way. As I look back on my leadership journey, my life would have looked drastically different had I not had people pour into me along the way. Some of my mentors helped me become a better teacher; some opened doors into leadership; some of them taught me how to run a school, write curriculum, and build systems; and some of them taught me that “the work” was nowhere near as important as “the people.” Sometimes our lack of mentorship is due to not finding the right person to serve in that role, as if one person holds the keys to unlocking your future. Sheryl Sandberg (2013) said, “I realized that searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming” (p. 66). Finding the keys to the kingdom shouldn’t be the goal. The goal is to learn and grow and become a better leader, teacher, and human being. The task is to look at all of the people in your life and realize who is serving as a mentor for you—whether they know it or not. The question is not “who is your mentor?” The question is “who are all of the people in your life who are serving as a mentor to you right now?”
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John Maxwell (2008) shared that even after leading thousands himself, that his greatest challenge as a leader was “leading me.” He went on to say that, “Most people use two totally different sets of criteria for judging themselves versus others. We tend to judge others according to their actions. It’s very cut-and-dried. However, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Even if we do the wrong thing, if we believe our motives were good, we let ourselves off the hook. And we are often unwilling to do that over and over before requiring ourselves to change” (p.13). Mentorship only happens when (1) we admit that we don’t have all the answers, (2) we admit that we’re not where we want to be in a particular area, and (3) we desire to actually do something about it. No matter where we are in our leadership journey, we will not be our best if we don’t continue to seek people who challenge us, pour into us, and can see further into us than we can see ourselves. Mentorship looks different at every season of our lives. There are seasons where we are so thankful there are people pouring into our lives. And there are seasons where we are blessed by the people we have the opportunity to pour into. But the magic happens when we realize that the pouring can happen both ways at one time—one-minute pouring in, the next being led ourselves, and all the while being encouraged and inspired. Each of us needs to be leading others and each of us needs to be led.
Merriam-Webster. (2019). Retrieved September 29, 2019 from https://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/mentor. History Disclosure Team (2019). Word ‘mentor’ originated from Homer,” History Disclosure, Retrieved September 29, 2019, https://www.historydisclosure.com/word-mentororiginates-homer/. Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Maxwell, J. (2008). Leadership gold: Lessons learned from a lifetime of leading. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Dr. Jill M. Siler is the Superintendent of the Gunter Independent School District in Texas and serves as the Chair of the Future-Ready Superintendent Leadership Network through TASA where innovative leaders from across the state gather to learn, share, and grow together. Jill has a passion for helping raise up other leaders and is a frequent speaker at TASA’s Aspiring Superintendent Academy, First Time Superintendent’s Academy, and other leadership conferences. You can follow Jill on Twitter @jillmsiler or at jillmsiler.com. This excerpt was adapted from Jill’s upcoming book about leading through challenging times to be released in summer 2020.
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“…share your experiences with other women. By sharing your knowledge, skillsets and experiences, your unique approaches and brand will lead you to a new direction and the next level leadership experience.” ~ Accelyn Williams
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TCWSE: My Inner Circle Accelyn Williams, M.Ed. Waltrip High School, Houston ISD You are amongst a special group of women who are a part of my inner circle. From my heart to yours, my hope is that you have 20/20 vision throughout this entire year. Every day you and I are faced with decisions which directly and indirectly, impact others, we can easily become overwhelmed when we go through difficult circumstances or lose sight of our focus. As you deal with these struggles, let the women of TCWSE encourage you to continue as you shatter the limitations of multiple phases of in your leadership experience. Maintaining our hope can be day-by-day and sometimes a moment-by-moment battle. You have what it takes, you are already a proven leader with knowledge and skills needed to have greater impact and broader influence within your or other organizations. While there is no set formula for being an efficient and effective leader, in my experience there are some phases that when we have acquired, helps us to see with clarity and brings things into focus. First of all, we must overcome fear, because fear is distracting the size of our problem, and diminish our power and destroy the realization of our future. How do we overcome fear? We move forward in faith knowing that we did not come this far to give in or give up. Take courage and have faith that no matter what obstacles confronts us, we will not retreat in fear. Choose to move forward realizing that we have been blessed so far and we will continue to receive blessings in the future. Second of all, we must gain a perception of ourselves and how others perceive you as a leader. See yourself as a positive light influencing those above and below. Ask those in your inner “true support” circle on your leadership style. These women will be honest with you, leading you to self-reflect, think and re-align your actions, attitude and behaviors to change other’s perceptions of you. Lastly, share your experiences with other women. By sharing your knowledge, skillsets and experiences, your unique approaches and brand will lead you to a new direction and the next level leadership experience. Accelyn Williams, M.Ed. is an assistant principal at Waltrip High School in Houston ISD. Accelyn is a passionate leader who leads with purpose and is driven to empower others through encouragement and inspiration. email@example.com
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“It has been my passion to share this mission to Keep the Vision Alive for TCWSE. In my experience of being a wife, mom, and leader, life can be very busy at times. However, I believe you make time for what you are passionate about. Communication is the key!” ~ Dr. Kathyrn Washington
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20/20 A Clear Vision: Keeping the Vision Alive! Dr. Kathyrn Washington Lamar University I have been a member of and attended the annual conference of Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE) since 2008. This conference is one of the highlights for me at the beginning of the new year and is not like any other conference I have attended. Why? Because I would have the opportunity to meet other women striving for excellence in executive positions in the field of education. This conference also allowed me to form a network and community that supported my career goals. Therefore, I did not hesitate when asked to take on the Newcomers session and promote the organization. TCWSE has been around for over 30 years. TCWSE’s mission is to “create and maintain a united community of professional educational executives by promoting equity and quality in leadership through renewal, mentoring, and career advancement support.” It has been my passion to share this mission to Keep the Vision Alive for TCWSE. In my experience of being a wife, mom, and leader, life can be very busy at times. However, I believe you make time for what you are passionate about. Communication is the key! The newcomers are my passion and they have grown in numbers every year to the point where we are now in a larger venue with more coming! To that end, I would like to share the following quick tools and apps that have helped me with communicating in general and more specifically with spreading the mission of TCWSE. Ways to communicate: • • • • • • •
Emails Facebook Twitter Twitter Cast-Schedule Your Tweets Instagram SnapChat groupme
Tools to make flyers: • • • • •
PhotoGrid Canva Photable Ripl SnapChat
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It is my hope that this perspective will help communicating with ease in getting the word out about our great organization to Keep the Vision Alive for years to come! Kathyrn Washington, Ed.D. is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership at Lamar University. She serves as current Secretary of TCWSE and has been a valuable member working diligently with the conference for many years. She has been amazingly successful in increasing the new members session. Serving also as an officer for TEPSA, Dr. Washington continues to share her expertise in communication. firstname.lastname@example.org
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