Artifact: Visionary Leadership Analysis – VLA
The EDAD 6580 course provided many opportunities to gain insight into my own leadership style and the value of leadership in an educational setting. I will focus here on how educational leadership, including administration, decision-making, and communication can improve teaching and learning. Three aspects of my learning stand out to me; the utility of the instructional framework for teachers, the work we did with different decision-making models, and the reflection we engaged in by examining spirituality in educational leadership.
During our course, we reviewed both the teacher and administrator standards in Washington state and discussed how they improved educational practice. I connected this experience with my district’s use of instructional frames to improve teaching and learning.
Our district uses the Danielson instructional framework (Danielson, C., 2011) as a tool to improve teaching and learning. Principals have a pre- and post- lesson observation conference with the teacher (in addition to observing a teacher lesson). The Danielson’s framework’s use of detailed levels of performance, including specific examples, allows teachers and principals to have a rich discussion regarding the teacher’s progress and how they can improve.
Research related to principal use of the Danielson framework supports its promise. Steinberg, M.P., and Sartain, L. (2015) reported on the implementation of the framework in Chicago Public Schools, as part of a large-scale pilot study. They found that reading achievement improved at schools that implemented the model.
After reviewing the framework during the course, I realized that it could be more effectively used by my professional growth team to set goals and improve our practice. I have also been assigned as a mentor to new teachers in the building, and I could share with them ways I use the framework to evaluate my own practice and set goals.
The decision-making models we reviewed during the course provided me with new insights into leadership opportunities. Applying these models to my own campus as part of my Visionary Leadership Analysis (included as an artifact on this page titled “VLA”) allowed me to identify some areas where choosing the appropriate decision-making model could benefit the campus. The campus would benefit from a site-specific vision statement (currently, the campus uses the district vision). Owens & Valesky (2014) define vision for an organization as “the ideal toward which the organization is focused” (p. 14) The lack of a site-specific vision at my campus means that the vision is not tailored to the unique population and needs of the campus. A strong, more specific vision could be developed using a decision-making model.
The participative decision-making model developed by Hoy, W.K. & Tarter, C.J. (1993) provides guidance with regards to how the decision-making process could be implemented. In the model, a leader evaluates site-specific staff characteristics such as relevance of the decision to staff, staff level of expertise, and the level of trust that exists at the campus between staff and the administration. Using this information, a role for the administrator is identified that will best facilitate the decision-making process. In the case of my campus, where creating a vision has high relevance to staff, the level of staff expertise is mixed, and the level of trust is high, the Hoy and Tarter model recommends the leader take the role of integrator. The integrator brings subordinates together for shared decision-making, and works to reconcile divergent opinions and positions.
For my own use, I see opportunities to use the decision-making model with students, with the parent group I work closely with, and with teams of teachers that I might be either leading or working in.
The work we did in reading and discussing Houston, Paul D., Blankstein, Alan M., & Cole, Robert W. (2007) was very meaningful to me as a religious person teaching in a secular public school environment. We focused on the authors’ eight keys, or principles, of leadership that connected to concepts of spirituality. I learned more about my own motivations for teaching. For example, the author’s first key is the principal of intention. They define intention as “the thought of what you want to see happen, or where you want to go, or what your ultimate goal is” (p. 14) As part of discussing this key, my class shared our motivations for teaching. I shared that my intention, or ultimate goal, is that students are able to learn, grow, and develop at the greatest rate that they, as individuals, are able to grow. Furthermore, I desire that they are able to grow in this way while feeling confident and valued as an individual.
This is a wonderful intention, by why do I have this goal? I realized that if I think honestly about this, it is because of the feeling I get when I see students feeling confident at school, working hard, and learning to the best based on their abilities. I get a feeling that I can only describe as very strong gratification. I feel happy and satisfied that my efforts have had a positive impact on other people, and I like to feel this way. I enjoy feeling that what I do has a positive impact on others. In many ways, I am doing this work so that I can get this feeling.
Being spiritually reflective about my teaching practice allows me to maintain a positive approach, and stay focused and calm in the face of challenges. I will continue to so, and will keep the work of Houston, Paul D., Blankstein, Alan M., &Cole, Robert W. (2007) by my side to act as a connector between my religious / spiritual and professional life.
Danielson, Charlotte (2011). The Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument, 2011 Edition. In Washington’s Teacher / Principal Evaluation Program.
Houston, Paul D.; Blankstein, Alan M.; Cole, Robert W. (2007). Spirituality in Educational Leadership (The Soul of Educational Leadership Series). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
Hoy, W. K., & Tarter, C. J. (1993). A Normative Theory of Participative Decision Making in Schools. Journal Of Educational Administration, 31(3), 4-19.
Owens, Robert E.; Valesky, Thomas C. (2014). Organizational Behavior in Education: Leadership and School Reform (11th Edition). Pearson. Kindle Edition.
Steinberg, M. P., & Sartain, L. (2015). Does Better Observation Make Better Teachers?. Education Next, 15(1), 70-76.