26 SES 08 B, Educational Leadership, Data and Organizational Memory
The study aims to explore how school leaders’ ability to participate in learning conversations, based on student data, are being improved after participating in the intervention. The following research question guide the study: How does the addition of OTL workshop and support improve school leaders’ skills in addressing specific teaching and learning problems
The best leaders participate actively in their employees’ work life both by initiating structure and by showing consideration (Piccolo et al., 2012). Leaders who do not engage nor tackle tough issues can even be an important source of stress (Skogstad, Einarsen, Torsheim, Aasland, & Hetland, 2007). However, effectively engaging in issues about teacher performance is a skill that needs to be carefully developed in order to get the expected results. In fact, research from the school sector show that in order for feedback to relate positively to teacher development, the teachers need to perceive the feedback as relevant, correct, and useful (Tuytens & Devos, 2014).
The quality of the feedback teachers receive from their leaders is also associated with the degree to which teachers participate in informal learning activities such as reflection on daily activities, knowledge sharing with colleagues, and innovative behavior (Bednall, Sanders, & Runhaar, 2014). When faced with complex problems leaders tend to rely on the beliefs they hold about the problem, and not inquire into whether their assumptions align with the actual problem (Le Fevre et al., 2014). For example, school leaders tend to provide feedback to their teachers that is mainly anchored within their experience as teachers (Lochmiller, 2016). Failing to test the validity of causal assumptions frequently results in misguided, non-sustainable change efforts which drains time, energy and resources (Hess, 2009).
In order to increase the three leadership capabilities identified previously, the leader should first be able to maximize valid information. To achieve this, leaders can engage in a process of genuine inquiry. Genuine inquiry is characterized by openness to learning; a readiness to re-examine firm views in the face of alternative information and new evidence (Le Fevre et al., 2014). By making genuine inquiry the default position towards student and teacher performance, the leader is simultaneously prioritizing the role of instructional leadership (Robinson, 2011). Finally, when leaders display a genuine interest in teachers and their challenges, the teachers are more inclined to trust their leaders (Le Fevre & Robinson, 2015). The behavior that leads to evidence-based improvement cycles is related to what Argyris (1993; 1990) defines as double-loop learning. Instead of just changing behavior to solve a specific problem, leaders should, in conjunction with evidence, (re)evaluate their key beliefs and interpersonal values about the problem, its causes, and its solutions. Robinson, Sinnema, and Le Fevre (2014) evaluated a three-day intervention designed to improve leaders’ effectiveness in solving complex performance problems and increasing trust in the relationship, through double-loop learning. They found that both the leaders’ own ratings, and the independent ratings of those they conversed with, suggested the intervention improved their ability to advocate their views in ways that are more open-minded. By being open-minded to other solutions to a problem, leaders will increase the internal commitment for teachers through higher autonomy perceptions (Gagne & Deci, 2005). In this project, we build on the intervention evaluated by Robinson et al (2014), as this should be an effective way of helping leaders become better at 1) analyzing and using evidence about student achievement for improving teaching, 2) prioritizing the role of instructional leadership, and 3) building the trust necessary for solving the problems effectively.
This project will contribute to the field of educational leadership in at least two ways. First, by developing a method of teaching a double-loop learning mindset to school leaders, which should subsequently lead to a) improved quality of developmental conversations with teachers, b) teaching praxes that are better aligned with student learning needs, and c) improved student learning. Secondly, by thoroughly testing the aforementioned method, this project brings a much-needed rigidity to the field of leadership training.Design based research (DBR) is characterized its collaboration between researchers and practitioners, as it is situated in a real educational with a focus on the design and testing of a significant intervention (Anderson & Shattuck, 2012). DBR is designed to develop the quality of school leader’s conversation with teacher about improving teaching and student learning, where conversation are based on student data. The school leaders all attended a workshop, which is considered as the first iteration. Then they started practicing OTL-conversations, where the theme was data driven conversations with teachers about student learning. They planned and conducted the conversation, before assessing it, and then sharing and getting feedback from peer- leaders and researchers that both are trained OTL facilitators. All in all four conversations were conducted, during one year. Between every conversation the teachers worked with developing their teaching due to the agreements made in the conversation, which again was the point of departure for the next conversation between the school leaders and the teacher. It was two to three months between every conversation. Each conversation with its assessment and feedback is seen as a new iteration, where the aim is to develop the school leaders’ communication and problem-solving skills, and the teachers teaching, and in the end the optimal goal is to enhance student learning. Data consist of: 1) Pre-intervention data questioners to teachers and school leaders about school leader’s skills in participating in conversation about teaching and student learning, and if these conversations have contributing to their professional development 2) Six pre-focus group interviews with teachers from four schools, 3) 23 conversations between school leader and teacher. 4) School leaders assessment of their conversation. 5) Recording of four follow up meetings, 6) Post-intervention data questioners to teachers and school leaders
Preliminary finding indicate that the conversations have contributed to focus more on the relationship between teaching and learning for the teachers involved in the intervention. We also see that the schoolers outweigh their ability to be more direct and open in their conversations. The conversations gets shorter, as they are quicker to get to the point, and clearer about what is the purpose of the conversations - focus on the students' learning and what data says about this. Although the biggest challenge seems to be fear of damaging the relationships with the teacher, and some of the leaders do not dare to express their own views if it differs from the teachers views. We see that OTL skills are something that must evolve over time, and the researcher must challenge the leaders to be aware of their own values. Still, it is a challenge to be open to learning as they have their own assumptions about what is the best practice that drives the conversations and they need to be made aware that being open means that they must disclose their own assumptions, and beeing open about them, so that they can be placed side by side with the teachers' assumptions about teaching and learning. Data driven conversations require teachers to be aware of the relationship between teaching and student learning. We see that this is not something that it has been common to discuss in the schools involved in the study, and further that both school leaders and teachers find this challenging, but also very rewarding in terms of professional development
1)Argyris, C. (1993). EDUCATION FOR LEADING-LEARNING. Organizational Dynamics, 21(3), 5-17. 2)Argyris, Chris. (1990). Overcoming organizational defenses : facilitating organizational learning. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 3)Bednall, Timothy C., Sanders, Karin, & Runhaar, Piety. (2014). Stimulating Informal Learning Activities Through Perceptions of Performance Appraisal Quality and Human Resource Management System Strength: A Two-Wave Study. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 13(1), 45-61. 4)Gagne, Marylene, & Deci, Edward L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(4), 331-362. 5)Hess, F. M. (2009). Cages of Their Own Design. Educational Leadership, 67(2), 28-33. 6)Le Fevre, Deidre M., & Robinson, Viviane M. J. (2015). The interpersonal challenges of instructional leadership: Principals' effectiveness in conversations about performance issues. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(1), 58-95. 7)Le Fevre, Deidre M., Robinson, Viviane M.J., & Sinnema, Claire E.L. (2014). Genuine Inquiry: Widely Espoused Yet Rarely Enacted. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. 8)Lochmiller, C. R. (2016). Examining Administrators' Instructional Feedback to High School Math and Science Teachers. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(1), 75-109. 9)Piccolo, R. F., Bono, J. E., Heinitz, K., Rowold, J., Duehr, E., & Judge, T. A. (2012). The relative impact of complementary leader behaviors: Which matter most? Leadership Quarterly, 23(3), 567-581. 10)Robinson, Viviane M. J., Sinnema, Claire E. L., & Le Fevre, Deidre. (2014). From Persuasion to Learning: An Intervention to Improve Leaders’ Response to Disagreement. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 13(3), 260-296. 11)Sinnema, Claire E. L., Le Fevre, Deidre, Robinson, Viviane M. J., & Pope, Denyse. (2013). When Others’ Performance Just Isn't Good Enough: Educational Leaders’ Framing of Concerns in Private and Public. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 12(4), 301-336. doi: 10.1080/15700763.2013.857419 12)Skogstad, A., Einarsen, S., Torsheim, T., Aasland, M. S., & Hetland, H. (2007). The destructiveness of laissez-faire leadership behavior. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12(1), 80-92. 13)Tuytens, M., & Devos, G. (2014). How to activate teachers through teacher evaluation? School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(4), 509-530.
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