32 SES 12 A, School Culture (in the context of COVID and more)
In Wisconsin, schools have closed during the pandemic in accordance with the health policy released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ EMO28 Safer at Home Order (Evers & Palm, 2020, p. 5). Suggestions have been made regarding how school districts can best serve their communities and students. The present study analyzed the announcements and guidelines published on the Wisconsin school districts’ websites to understand how school districts reacting to the pandemic used their professional capital and made decisions.
We chose the professional capital model (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012) as the analytical framework for this study because it characterizes the dynamic relationship between different forms of capital. Professional capital consists of three types of capital: human capital, social capital and decisional capital. Human capital in an education context is defined as the development of skills and competencies in teaching (2012). It can be understood as the educators’ teaching and curriculum design skills, and how the educators guide and interact with students. Teachers are at the frontline of K-12 education during the pandemic. They communicate with students and parents, ensure students are safe, and that they continue their learning even though they cannot be physically present in school. Teachers co-construct knowledge of academic subjects and technological knowledge with their students, as human capital, to meet students' and families’ needs.
The definition of social capital is the individual’s interaction within a group (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). The elements of social capital are trusting relationships, peer support and group learning (Cannatelli et al., 2017). Schools, as learning organizations in the local community, consisting of different stakeholders such as teachers, administrators, families, and students.
During the pandemic, all fifty states’ educational agencies published guidelines for student remote learning due to school closure. The guidance includes use of digital platforms for remote learning, daily schedules and lesson plans (Reich et al., 2020). The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s virtual learning plan (2016) recognizes the emerging methods of teaching virtually. The plan exemplifies how state and district level leaders could take action and update and disseminate their virtual learning framework, that had been created prior to COVID-19, in order to develop the infrastructure that teachers and families could use to continue student learning. Relationships between educators exemplify the flow of human capital within school social networks and help us understand how social capital can reduce gaps in pedagogical practices and content knowledge among teachers. Strong school social networks can support social capital, or interactions within a group, to help students and families communicate with teachers and school leaders about pandemic-era challenges such as technical support, school meals, and other materials.
The third component of professional capital is decisional capital, which is defined as the ability to make judgments based on similar circumstances (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). In this study, decisional capital was used by school district leaders to make decisions on how best to support their students and staff during the pandemic. Announcements from school districts to students and parents reveal how they prioritize their duties during this emergency. The structure a school district establishes creates a skeleton for each member to collaborate and take action (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2013). However, different school districts exercise varied decision-making based on their different school resources. Some school districts might follow a standard curriculum in their remote learning, while some school districts may only make sure students are safe and not adhere closely to a standard curriculum. Schools that have been using educational technology as part of their daily class instruction likely have better coping strategies because their students are used to the online learning environment.
We used MAXQDA 2020 (VERBI Software, 2019) for our data analysis. Four school districts were randomly selected to check the intercoder agreement among two coders. The two coders discussed the differences in their coding results to improve the coding agreement and eventually the two research team members’ coding results met the minimum code intersection rate of 35.23% at the segment level. Following the coding, we synthesized the data using inductive and abductive techniques (Hoffman, Wilson, Martinez, & Sailors, 2011, p. 29). Three researchers coded 12 school districts. Thus, 36 school districts were included in this study. Researchers used an inductive process of open and axial coding to organize the raw data. To begin, researchers read and reread school district websites and created open codes, or short quotes or statements. To do this, the researchers added annotations to each virtual learning plan and labeled what seemed interesting and relevant to the research question, what school districts were doing. The open codes were grouped together in a process called axial coding. Researchers identified the relationships between open codes and classified the quotes into seven categories: instructional time, accommodation support, work continuity, communication of expectations of learning, staff access, internet & device, online learning experience. Researchers also organized the open codes using the professional capital model which includes the categories of human capital, social capital, and decisional capital. In one final step, the researchers compared the quotes sorted in the axial coding to the quotes sorted into the human, social and decisional capitals to understand how axial codes were situated within the professional capital model.
In the present study, we examined the websites of 36 Wisconsin school districts and coded their responses to COVID-19. Our results illustrated how human capital, social capital, and decisional capital manifest themselves in Wisconsin school districts’ responses to COVID-19. We observed how educators considered ways to make professional decisions and revised their approach to teaching and learning. School districts provided the resources to increase the skills and technological competencies of teachers. Additionally, districts became a point of contact for families to receive resources such as food and health information. In the meantime, school leaders and administrators assessed the situation and made judgments about how to modify the grading policies. The decisional capital that developed throughout the COVID-19 crisis provides school districts with expertise that will continue to grow during post-COVID-19 times. When COVID-19 is contained, districts will need to identify how to safely reopen schools. Schools will need to learn how to return students to classrooms so as to minimize the impact of long-term school closure on the educational outcomes and well-being of the students (Viner et al., 2020). Schools are expected to take a vital role in the readjustment and re-engagement of school children and students from school closures and other associated socio-economic and cultural issues (Atteberry et al., 2020). Drawing on decisional capital that developed over the COVID-19 crisis, teachers and school leaders can identify and exchange the innovative instructional practices which work best in their unique school context.
Atteberry, A. C., & McEachin, A. J. (2020). Not Where You Start, but How Much You Grow: An Addendum to the Coleman Report. Educational Researcher. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X20940304 Cannatelli, B., Smith, B., Giudici, A., Jones, J., & Conger, M. (2017). An expanded model of distributed leadership in organizational knowledge creation. Long Range Planning, 50, 582–602. Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and schooling in America. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Education Week. (2020, March 6). Map: Coronavirus and School Closures. https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html Evers, T., & Palm, A. (2020, March 24). Emergency order #28: safer at home order. Department of Health Services. https://evers.wi.gov/Documents/COVID19/EMO28-SaferAtHome.pdf Fullan, M. (2016). Implementation: Amplify change with professional capital. The Learning Professional, 37(1), 44. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2013). The power of professional capital: With an investment in collaboration, teachers become nation builders. Journal of Staff Development, 34(3), 36–39. Hoffman, J. V., Wilson, M. B., Martinez, R. A., & Sailors, M. (2011). Content analysis: The past, present, and future. In N. Duke & M. Mallette (Eds.), Literacy research methodologies (2nd ed., pp. 28-49). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Reich, J., Buttimer, C. J., Fang, A., Hillaire, G., Hirsch, K., Larke, L. R., … Slama, R. (2020, April 2). Remote Learning Guidance From State Education Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A First Look. https://doi.org/10.35542/osf.io/437e2 VERBI Software. (2019). MAXQDA 2020 [computer software]. Berlin, Germany: VERBI Software. Available from maxqda.com. Viner, R. M., Russell, S. J., Croker, H., Packer, J., Ward, J., Stansfield, C., ... & Booy, R. (2020). School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 4(5), 397-404. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (n.d.-a). Virtual Learning Time for Public Schools. https://dpi.wi.gov/cal/innovation/virtual-learning-time Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (n.d.-b). Report Cards Home. https://dpi.wi.gov/accountability/report-cards Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (n.d.-c). 2018-2019 District Report Card Data. https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/
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