32 SES 04, Leading Change in Educational Organizations
Inquiry-based working is a method to stimulate professional development of teachers that encourages them to reflect critically on their own practice (Handscomb & MacBeath, 2003). Although a number of studies provide insights into inquiry-based working, more understanding is needed how to position inquiry-based working in the school organization (Sleegers, Den Brok, Verbiest, Moolenaar & Daly, 2013). These insights are especially required in the case of funded research projects that are initiated by schools and lasts for two or three years. After finishing such a project, the wish is to continue the method of working in school, but insights are needed how schools can embed inquiry-based working in their organization. The role of school leaders is considered to be crucial in these cases (Krüger, 2010). Our research question in this study is: How do school leaders strategically embed inquiry-based working in their school on the teacher, team and organizational level during the years of a funded research project?
In various countries, including the Netherlands, UK and Scotland, government funding is provided to school practitioners and researchers to perform practice-based research and stimulate school development in a collaborative effort (NTRP, 2012; Nutley, Jung & Walter, 2008; Onderwijsraad, 2011; SEED, 2002). In the last decade, we have observed a rise of research and development (R&D) projects in education. In these R&D-projects, school leaders and teachers are engaged with researchers, advisers, and supervisors in various sorts of research and development activities in schools. R&D projects in schools enables school leaders to encourage inquiry-based working of their teachers (McLaughlin & Black-Hawkins, 2007; Vanderlinde & Van Braak, 2010).
Inquiry-based working may provide teachers more access to knowledge from educational research and a better analysis and diagnose of current issues in practice. Inquiry-based working can also stimulate teachers to conduct practice-based research themselves and it encourages collaboration with external researchers (Schenke, 2015). Literature on how schools function as professional learning communities provides insights on how inquiry-based working can be positioned in the school organization (Admiraal et al., 2016). In the context of the school as professional learning community, Sleegers, et al. (2013) offer a useful, multilevel framework of the school organization:
- The individual teacher level considers the abilities of teachers to actively reflect on knowledge and utilize this knowledge for their own practice.
- The interpersonal, team level concerns the ability of teachers to share visions and teaching practices, collaborate and learn together.
- At the organizational level, it is the organizational structures that promote learning of teachers, for instance the team structure and the availability of resources. Stimulating and participative leadership is considered to be an essential part of the organizational level (Levin & Datnow, 2012).
The question remaining is what strategic role school leaders do take up, to stimulate and embed inquiry-based working in their school organization.
Admiraal, W., Kruiter, J., Lockhorst, D., Schenke, W., Sligte, H., Smit, B., Tigelaar, D. & de Wit, W. (2016). Affordances of teacher professional learning in secondary schools. Studies in Continuing Education, 38, 281-298. Handscomb, G., & MacBeath, J. (2003). Professional development through teacher enquiry. Professional Development Today, 7, 6-12. Krüger, M.L. (2010). Leading Schools in the Knowledge Society: On the Way to Leaders of Learning in Inquiry-Based Schools. In A.H. Normore (Ed) Global Perspectives on Educational Leadership Reform: The Development and Preparation of Leaders of Learning and Learners of Leadership.Book series Advances in Educational Administration Vol. 11 (pp. 397-417). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group. Levin, J.A., & Datnow, A. (2012). The principal role in data-driven decision making: using casestudy data to develop multi-mediator models of educational reform. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 23, 179-201. National Teacher Research Panel (NTRP) (2012). Research for teachers, by teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.education.gov.uk. Nutley, S., Jung, T., & Walter, I. (2008). The many forms of research-informed practice: a framework for mapping diversity. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38, 53-71. Onderwijsraad (2011). Ruim baan voor stapsgewijze verbeteringen. [A clear field for step-by-step improvements.] The Hague, The Netherlands: Onderwijsraad. Schenke, W. (2015). Connecting practice-based research and school development. Cross-professional collaboration in secondary education. Dissertation University of Amsterdam. Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) (2002). The Standard for Chartered Teacher. Edinburgh: SEED. Sleegers, P., Den Brok, P., Verbiest, E., Moolenaar, N. M., & Daly, A. J. (2013). Toward Conceptual Clarity. A Multidimensional, Multilevel Model of Professional Learning Communities in Dutch Elementary Schools. The Elementary School Journal, 114, 118-137.
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