Both articles are critical of the impact that some of these changes have had on education and training. Consider how market ideologies and notions of accountability, have impacted upon your workplaces and by implication, on the work of administrators and managers in these settings.
As an international school in Singapore, families have a number of schools to choose from when they arrive on the island. Thus, we need to market our school as a unique experience compared to other schools to attract clients. The school has even hired a marketing department this year in preparation of expanding the school and the need to attract more families to our school. It is evident that more time, energy and finances are being funnelled into the marketing department to enhance the image of the school and promote it in the international market (Apple, 2001, p. 187).
When I first arrived at the school, there was not a lot of accountability to parents in terms of standardised ways of assessments nor accountability of staff to leaders. This has been a huge improvement of our school over the last four years moving slightly towards the other end of the pendulum. With more reporting per year to parents, there has been an increase in teacher workload to ensure that parents continuous are getting feedback about their child.
The school has also increased accountability through internal and external assessments. Measures of Academic Progress (MAPs) testing is now done twice a year by all students year four and above to ensure that the school is compared using a standardised test to other international schools. The school has also increased the number of standardised internal assessments within the primary school to create more trackable data of student across the years.
The school is a profit school and therefore has many key aspects of a business approach to education compared to a government-funded school. One of the things that can be hard is the need to measure all key performance indicators. Our school’s key performance indicators are directly linked to our staff work plans and appraisals even when at times, some of the KPIs we do not have control over.
As I begin to prepare myself to transfer to the Australian school systems in August, I will be interested to see how the different market ideologies and notions of accountability differ in the Australian setting.
Apple, M. W. (2001). ‘Markets, standards, teaching and teacher education.’
Note your observations in your blog about Bolman & Deal.
This has been probably the most valuable of all readings so far. Two separate educators from other international schools happened to bring up this reading and engage in conversation about the article at a conference I was at this past week suggesting that it is extremely relevant and widely referred to by educators.
The article begins with an overview of leadership to distinguish Leadership from management where leaders are focusing their energies on the purpose (mission/vision/values of the organisation) and management is much more about getting things done from planning to effective implementation (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 343). They continue to suggest leadership is not a solo act but rather it requires followers who support the idea of the leader.
A high-interest area of the article was the idea of gender and leadership with the ceiling effect for women in leadership. Unfortunately, I feel I am becoming more aware of the differences as I try to navigate a move in countries and seek more leadership opportunities. It is interesting how my current organisation and prospective schools feel as I begin to transition. This is also an area of interest as a group of international educators met in Hong Kong last month at the 21st Century Learning Conference with a session to discuss our ideas of #lead our initiative of supporting, discussing and sharing ideas about gender equality in education and leadership. I encourage anyone interested to please reach out or find us on Twitter or join our Facebook group as we begin to develop this idea.
I don’t believe there is one best way to be a good leader as I have had a few inspirational leaders that have led, motivated and inspired staff in very different ways. I know that I find certain aspects of the way leaders lead better for my style of learning and following but this may not be ‘better’ for everyone. I do believe the idea of leadership being somewhat situational. While leaders are more likely to have one approach to rely on most of the time, a good leader should be able to adapt to the needs of the situation and those involved to best support all participants.
The idea of the 4 frames of leadership are as follows:
1. Structural Frame (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 356)
This type of leadership frame focused heavily on implementation with an effective leader designing approach choices for planning for implementation whereas an ineffective leader would be much more bureaucratic in their approach. Unfortunately, the structural framework often does not allow for anticipating resistance to change and misreading cues.
2. Human Resource Frame (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 361)
Human resources frame focuses on the leader as a facilitator for change, a change agent. They have a very open approach as they support, coach and empower their followers through strong communication. There is a clear sense of people being put first through a partnership of all working towards goals.
3. Political Frame (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 364)
The political frame approach is much more about being real with clarity. These types of leaders think about the different stakeholders and what their power and interests are and work towards building valuable relationships. Power is used to persuade, negotiate and coerce.
4. Symbolic Frame (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 366)
The symbolic frame approaches leadership through leading by example and looking for symbols to highlight a need for change. There is a clear vision with the focus on reaching the values level of the subordinates as they approach concerns with a bidirectional approach to leadership.
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2008). Reframing Leadership. In Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership (4th ed., pp. 341-372). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Typically, Professional Codes of Conduct applying to educators are developed by educators through their professional association – such as a college of teachers or teacher’s association – and prescribe minimum standards of professional conduct for members. Analyse the Code of Conduct for Educators which is operational within your professional setting in relation to the characteristics noted above.
For the purpose of this, I will use the Ontario College of Teachers which is where my teaching certification was initially registered. The following are the ethical standards for the teaching profession that are used to inspire teachers to be reflective and guide their ethical decision making and actions (OCT, 2017).
It is important that educators have a genuine care for students wellbeing and should be vested in the interest of making decisions with this in mind.
Educators should be respectful of others and treat others as they wish to be treated. This is part of the consequentialist ethical theory using the golden rule.
The school community needs to be able to trust you to be an upstanding citizen and honest educator. School leadership needs to be able to believe that you will do your job to the best of your abilities. Trust is built on relationships and therefore teachers should work to construct positive relationships with other stakeholders in the community.
While all decisions do not need to always be agreed upon and you may not be friends with everyone in your educational environment, I believe integrity is key to being a good educator. Students and teachers need to be confident in their ability to count on you to do what’s right and uphold social justice. This can cause tension as the interpretation of ‘what is right’ may vary in different contexts and belief systems.
Ontario College of Teachers. (2007). Ethical Standards.Retrieved from: http://www.oct.ca/public/professional-standards/ethical-standards
How relevant is the trait theory to your workplace?
When I was reading this article, it made me think of the IB Learner Profile and transdisciplinary skills to some degree. The learner profile attributes are ten qualities as teachers we try to instil in our students to help them be successful beyond our school. It is difficult to measure these attributes (How do you measuring caring vs very caring vs exceptionally caring objectively?).
In the workplace, qualities are used as identifiers in appraisals and are outlined in job descriptions. Again though, it can be difficult to objectively measure and provide evidence for any of these qualities except for observations, anecdotes and perhaps comparisons between people. Often a person with certain characteristics is encouraged to apply for certain jobs. However, while the person may have certain qualities, they still have to use them effectively in the given context to hold any value for the organisation. It is also important to remember that with subjectivity can come different perspectives. A strong driven leader may also be seen as too pushy with their agendas.
Strengths of Trait Theory of Leadership
Weaknesses of Trait Theory of Leadership
Does your nation or province have a framework which lists the capabilities or competencies of educational leadership?
Working in an international private school in Singapore, I am not aware of a framework of capabilities or competencies of educational leadership. It has been interesting to read about the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) in others’ blogs.
Watkins, P. (1986). The trait approach. In A critical review of leadership concepts and research: The implications for educational administration (pp. 11-13, 21-25, 28),
While I believe that non-white male leaders are becoming more prevalent, there is still a lack of equality. As a female in the international teaching setting in Asia, it is very rare to find female heads of school or even female Heads of Secondary/Primary. In my current organisation, our senior leadership team consists of 5 administrators (head of schools, head of secondary, head of primary, head of student services and director of education technology). Of those five, only the head of student services is female.
It is also challenging in Asian countries with the stereotypes of our parent community expecting a male to be the dominant leaders in the schools. I have been in many meetings where a parent from an Asian country continuously looks to my male counterpart to answer, even when I have already provided him with the answer. There is definitely a need to break down gender stereotypes and support equality.
As a female aspiring to be in leadership, it is difficult to find female leaders and mentors to look up. It can be frustrating with education being a profession with a higher percentage of female educators, and yet, so few females reach the top of the leadership chain. I’ve recently received a copy of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and am looking forward to hearing her perspective on this topic.
Social constructivism is the idea that our understanding of the world is based on the shared ideas, concepts and expectations created through the interactions with others. Vygotsky has been a key theorist of social constructivism.
Socially constructed views of educational leadership change based on culture, history and context(Southworth, 2000). It is based on the current beliefs of educational leadership and what ‘good’ educational leadership is. This has continuously changed over time from where the role was more of a managerial role to now focused on more inspirational leadership while still requiring aspects of educational leaders as managers. Southworth suggests that social construction is the assumed norms, though we may not always be conscious of them.
Southworth, G. (2000). School leadership in English schools at the close of the 20th Century: Puzzles, problems and cultural insights, Paper presented at the meeting of the American Education Research Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.
When you drop a pebble into the water, it ripples. A smile across the room. A door held open. A snicker in the corner. A hug to comfort a tear. Every action has a reaction. And yet, how often we don't think about the impact of our actions beyond the moment. Some actions have a greater impact. One simple action may conjure attitudes that last long after the action.
At some point in the day, I got a message from a good friend I hadn't talked to in a while who is an inspiring and amazing educator. No matter how long it's been, each conversation with her is filled with a positivity that leaves me buzzing. Genuine care, support and excitement are mutually shared. The result - new ideas, confidence to take on new challenges and invigorating motivation. My reaction to her positivity is to respond in the same manner, which is reciprocated back again. Her ripple lasts long beyond our conversation in my day, spreading into realms that are far removed from our friendship. When we speak next, I have no doubt the ripple will continue to grow again.
When we think of the hundreds of interactions we have each day with students, parents, colleagues and administrators, we are impacting our community at such a rapid rate but rarely see the end result of our ripples. A question asked in an accusatory tone may be the difference between a good and bad day for someone when it's the start of a series of incidents that spiral the day downwards. Or a compliment in the hallway may be what motivates them to make a different choice to launch their thoughts of positivity. So while most of our actions are unconscious, if we knew we could have a great influence on others, would you take the extra second to redirect your actions? Why would you waste valuable time and energy doing anything other than rippling positive intent in all directions?
When you get caught up in the paperwork, yard duties, assessments or general politics of a school, remember your ability to make an impact in someone's day or life. Choose to impact positively. Choose to stop and think. Choose to act in kindness expecting nothing in return.
How far has your ripple spread today?
As students develop through the school year, they develop and refine their skills and practice by setting new goals, creating action plans and engaging with actionable items as a means to work towards achieving their goals while reflecting throughout the process. An eportfolio is one way of documenting and reflecting on a student’s learning journey in a meaningful and authentic way. It serves as a place for students to highlight and reflect on pieces of selected work, which can be shared with parents, teachers and peers. The structure of e-portfolios can vary depending on the age of students, goals of the school and individual choice.
Questions to Consider
When beginning the process towards implementing e-portfolios, teachers and administrators should reflect on a number of questions prior to rolling them out.
What is the Purpose of an e-Portfolio?
Defining the goal of the e-portfolio is key for all of the stakeholders. Some e-portfolios may be more focused on the process of learning (snapshots of learning throughout the experience), product focused (finished pieces of work) or even a combination of both. Some schools may focus more on only studentselected pieces or they may mandate teacherselected pieces or, again, somewhere along the continuum. To summarise one approach a school might take, an e-portfolio may be a process journal to reflect on the journey of learning through studentselected pieces of work with reflections, with input and guidance from their teachers.
What Will It Look Like?
What e-portfolios look like in schools depends on a variety of factors varying from device type, platform choice and age level. The experience of creating e-portfolios is very different for students who have a laptop or an iPad.
There a number of different platforms available to create student e-portfolios. Whether using Easy Blogger Jr, Seesaw, Managebac or Google Sites, it is important for schools to consider their existing systems and how the implementation of e-portfolios may work within these systems.
One concern schools often have with the development of e-portfolios is that they must be consistent throughout the school: if one year group uses one application, all must use the same. While this is true to a certain extent, it is more appropriate to ensure that the choice of platform is appropriate for the age of the students. This could mean that it may be better for younger students to use iPads and a blogging application using pictures, videos and audio reflections, while junior students transition to a more sophisticated platform to incorporate a wider range of multimedia selections, written reflections and a more comprehensive scope of all learning of subjects, concepts and skills. Regardless of what a school uses to create its e-portfolios, it is most important that it works for the needs of the learning community.
Who has Ownership of the e-Portfolio?
It is key to define ownership as it implicates the buyin and enthusiasm towards developing the e-portfolio. Ideally, the owner of the e-portfolio is the student. The e-portfolio is created by the student for the purpose of reflecting, goal setting and sharing his learning with others. While others (parents, teachers, peers, administration) are all stakeholders in the eportfolio process and support the student through the process, the student should have ultimate control over what, when and how his learning is demonstrated to his audience.
Who is the Audience?
Identifying who will see and interact with the e-portfolios further creates a defined purpose for students. The e-portfolios should be a source of information to inform teaching practice. It is beneficial for teachers to confer with their students and their e-portfolio to gain greater insight into their work and reflection. This also allows for coaching of students on the refinement of their goals and planning for next steps.
Students may share their portfolio with other students in class and across year groups. This promotes sharing of learning both vertically and horizontally. Peer assessment/feedback is an important part of the process, allowing students to learn how to give and receive constructive feedback from others, while learning from the work of others.
Students connect their learning with home by sharing with family members and making connections beyond the classroom. Parents can review the portfolio with their child at the end of each unit and discuss their learning and growth over the course of the unit. Many platforms allow parents to subscribe to updates where they receive instant feedback when new entries are added, further adding to timely conversations to connect the learning. Parents should engage with the opportunity to ignite discussion with their child and comment on their work.
How Will It Work?
The logistics of implementation can often make or break the success of any new implementation process. Having a discussion with teachers about how to facilitate implementation in the classroom invites teachers to explore strategies with one another. How many devices do you have? Will this be a once a week task or ongoing as appropriate when students want to add? What requirements do you have for students with their reflections? How will you monitor student progress, entries and conferring? How much time a week do you need to allocate with your planning? All of these questions help to foresee potential areas that would break the flow of implementation. By visualising the plan in advance, teachers are able to plan for successful implementation.
What are the Roles of the Various Stakeholders?
As a school, identifying the stakeholders and their role allows for each stakeholder to have a greater understanding of how they can positively impact the process of e-portfolio implementation and reflections. Once the stakeholders and their role have been identified, actionable items of how they may achieve their role helps to develop transparency amongst stakeholders.
The role of the student may be to create and maintain an e-portfolio throughout the academic year as a way to reflect on his learning and share his growth. By unpacking this role, the student will have a better understanding of how to select pieces, how many pieces should be included throughout the reflection process (as a minimum), how he should reflect and how he will share with others.
There should be role clarity for all teachers who support the student with their e-portfolio: the homeroom teacher, the single subject teacher, the English as a second language teacher, educational support teaching assistants and learning support teachers. Each of these roles play a crucial part in the overall student experience. Where appropriate, the role of the education technology coach should be outlined in how they will support both teachers and students as they navigate the digital portfolio process to ensure implementation does not fully fall on either the homeroom teacher or the education technology coach. Rather, support should be shared by all.
As part of the sharing phase of the process, parents and peers become stakeholders. Parents need to be taught how to engage and interact with digital work, as it may not be a familiar concept or area of comfort. Providing parents with the educational tools to engage with the portfolio and engage in conversations with their child allows for deeper reflections and conversations with their child. Similarly, peers need to understand how to construct their peer feedback to be meaningful and effective without being critical. This is a life skill that can support students beyond the portfolio.
Finally, a shared understanding of the technical aspects of the portfolios needs to be decided. If present, it will likely be the IT department. However, where these departments do not exist at a school level, it may fall to the homeroom teacher or an administrator. To reduce frustrations, the responsibility of creating the templates and deploying them to students, as well as technical problem solving, need to have a stakeholder identified for this role.
What Opportunities are there for Reflection?
As students contribute work to their digital portfolio, they have the opportunity to reflect on any of their work samples, noticing their strengths and areas of growth. They may reflect on how they have demonstrated the learner profile attributes, attitudes and transdisciplinary skills through the selected work samples and their actions at school. Students may reflect on how they have developed throughout the year, as well as between years.
Age-appropriate reflection strategies are key to developing successful reflections. Younger students may wish to reflect through audio, videos, photographs and limited written text, whereas older students may focus on written reflection more. By allowing for choice in how reflections are documented, individual needs shine through with student reflections.
Focusing on the Importance of Students
Regardless of how the school or the teacher defines these questions, the focus of the eportfolio should always come back to the students, their learning experiences and growth. The digital portfolio demonstrates a snapshot of a student’s learning over the course of the year and time within a school. As students progress through the year groups, the portfolio evolves with them, allowing for further reflections between years and not just within a year level. When the e-portfolio is designed with students and their learning as central to the process, e-portfolios can add valuable reflection, documented evidence of learning and a platform for sharing growth, challenges and successes of students as a means of supporting their continual learning journey.
*Originally published on Education Technology Solutions at: educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2016/10/document-learning-journey-digital-portfolios/
As we aim to broaden our students knowledge of the world, connections and communication becomes more important. Teaching through Web 2.0 allows students to communicate with others, instead of just a one directionally path with no authentic audience input (Hew & Cheung, 2012, p.48). Collaborative approaches to learning are key to helping students construct knowledge together.
In my classroom, I have used a number of Web 2.0 and social media tools to support learning:
Edmodo is like Facebook for education but fits the needs of my students who are under age 13 (age requirement of Facebook). It can be used a general discussion board to ask questions and share resources both during the school day and after hours. As a teacher, I can post polls and also reward students with badges for their efforts. It also provides a great platform for some important digital citizenship conversations such as appropriate online communication, what to reveal about yourself, the difference between professional and personal communication, who to connect with, avatars and profiles and online image.
Available at: https://www.edmodo.com
Skype is often an under used resource. Skype allows you to make video calls to another around the world. Last year, our class did a number of Mystery Skype calls with other classrooms to develop our geography and problem solving skills. We also sang Chinese songs with another school for Chinese New Year, wrote poems together and played math games against other classes.
Available at: http://www.skype.com/
In Year 4, students create cultural blogs to explore their identities. As an international school, the students can find this task challenges with many being third-culture children. The blogs allows them the experiences of writing different posts to explore aspects of their identities and follow the journeys of their classmates and interacting with each other through the commenting features.
Available from: www.blogger.com
e-Portfolios (Google Sites)
All students at our school have e-Portfolios from K1- Year 6. This is a great way for students to reflect on their learning and select pieces of work they wish to share. Students share these portfolios with parents, teachers and other students. Together it opens the lines of communication in person and through the comments. It really helps students to know we are all working to help them grow and learning with constructive feedback and encouragement.
Available at: https://www.google.com/sites/overview.html
As a teacher, I use Twitter to connect globally with other educators. It is a great way to have short discussions while also getting ideas and resources. With the options of both private and public messages, I can easily communicate with the many educators I have met online.
Available at: https://www.twitter.com
Here are 2 articles related to introducing social media to your classroom in the Primary school:
Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students
A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom
Hew, K.F. & Cheung, W.S. (2012). Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in K-12 and Higher Education: The Search for Evidence-based Practice, Educational Research Review. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001
Like any behaviours that teachers want to instill in their students, the expectations for behaviours need to be laid out at the beginning of the year. Within the first week of school, students engage in a lesson about the acceptable use policy. They are then expected to take a copy home, sign it and review it with their parents before returning it. All students in the Primary school begin with this routine. From there, it is easy to reference back to as the students begin to do activities. Teachers must be fully versed in the acceptable use policy as well and hold their students to this standard. Our acceptable use policy is quite thorough for students and focuses on the following topics: respectful, responsibility, care for devices, privacy, accessing appropriate information, referencing, discipline and social media (Chatsworth, 2015).
Another important aspect of teaching students about digital citizenship is actually modelling it as a teacher. It is extremely frustrating as a education technology coach when teachers ask me how to do things that are illegal, not aligned with our acceptable use policy or incorrectly. If teachers do not model how to be a good digital citizen, how can we expect our students to? As teachers, we should be showing students how to engage appropriately with emails, citing our work and referencing images in presentations. We need to be leading the way when our students turn to use for the standard. One way I have done this is set up an email writing programme in the past where students email me each week and I respond with an email. From this, students understand the format of an email, appropriate email communication all while building their written communication skills and rapport with the teacher.
Digital citizenship should be embedded into the curriculum and not taught in isolation. Students need to make meaning of it by connecting it to real life experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The Year 6 students are currently doing their puberty unit and learning about body image. This also translate into their online image and how they see themselves. The teachers and students are having conversations about the impact of media and social media on their views of themselves and the images they also share. They are also discussing how to communicate appropriately on social media platforms. These topics are completely integrated, giving students context for the topics.
There are also those times when teachable moments arise. Perhaps someone posts something inappropriately online or you see another student properly reference images. These are great conversations to have in the moment even though they weren't planned. When questions come up from students about something online, you shouldn't shy away from it but rather support the student's inquiry and help build their digital citizenship schema.
One of the other things as an educator I need to be cognizant about is that educating a child is a partnership between the school and home. This is why we also need to educate our parent community. When I was a homeroom teacher, I made sure that my class parents were informed regularly about what we were doing in our classroom, the technologies we were using and conversation starters they could have with their children. As an education technology coach, I work with members of our leadership team to develop and conduct parent sessions related to their child's technology use. We also have an open door policy for parents to drop in and ask questions whenever they need to.
Educating our students to become good digital citizens is not an easy task and not a task that can be accomplished in a year. It requires the whole school to approach digital citizenship as the way of moving forward. Currently our school is looking to build a digital citizenship curriculum that is integrated into various units from kindergarten to Year 13. Together with a whole school approach, we can work to support and model good digital etiquette for our students to follow.
Chatsworth International School. (2015). Acceptable Use Policy - Chatsworth Group of Schools [internal document].