Trinity Washington University Leadership Issue Discussion
Research can provide principals and school leaders the opportunity to explore non-traditional funding sources such as grants, foundations, and community partnerships by showing the donors the quantitative and qualitative research on the particular subject. Research is a way to establish facts and come to conclusions about a certain subject. When presenting the materials to foundations, community partnerships, or grants, it is important to portray the data and research in a way that is understandable for the reader.
Principals must utilize research, both scientific and action research, as we create a flourishing school environment. As years go by, our students, faculty, and staff, are changing which requires our school environment, resources, and ways we teach to change as well. Research-based programs are continuously changing as well. Principals must set the example that we are ongoing learners as educators and continue to do what is best to serve our students.
When making decisions in any school, but especially a diverse school setting, a principal must have quality information and support. When implementing something new, there will always be pushback. This may come from parents, faculty, or students. It is important to be prepared as the principal to have research and facts to back up what you are supporting. “Leading a change requires strong leadership, time commitment, and a thoughtful, proactive, and systematic lead” (Metcalf 2021).
Metcalf, K. (2021). Leading Effective Change. American College of Education. RES5173.
Adequate school funding is an issue many districts face. Non-traditional funding sources such as grants, foundations, and community partnerships can provide additional fiscal resources. Research can play a critical role in exploring these funding sources. Research questions like the following should be answered prior to writing a proposal; Are the goals of the organization awarding grants aligned with the goals of the district? What strings are attached to the funding? What research is involved under the grant requirements? When the grant is awarded how will growth be measured? How will the district collect baseline data and summative data to show growth? Conducting quality research will ensure the success of the grant. If the requirements of the grant are fulfilled, schools will benefit through increased student achievement and/or student well-being.
Both scientific-based research (SBR) and action research are beneficial in the school improvement process. While scientifically-based research is conducted with the goal of affecting large populations, action research focuses on the researcher’s working environment (ACE, 2021). Scientifically-based research allows educators to make informed decisions because the findings can be applied to a large sample of students and a variety of settings. In addition, scientifically-based research has been peer reviewed to ensure the results are free of bias. Action research is helpful for teachers and principals because the data needed already exists. Also, the action research process is specifically designed to affect change in the classroom, school, or other educational environment being studied (ACE, 2021).
Research, scientifically-based and action, allow principals to take a proactive approach to overcome challenges related to school improvement. Many difficult decisions must be made as a leader seeking to increase student achievement. Using research to select evidence-based programs and practices is a step in the right direction. Furthermore, basing decisions on valid and reliable data will justify an effective leader’s actions. Research also allows education leaders to stay current in their field and offers knowledge of best practices for principals. It is difficult to attain goals without the knowledge gained from research on evidence-based practices. This holds true for all educators.
American College of Education. (2021). Research Methods Module 2: Evaluating Research Part 2: Scientifically Based Research [transcript]. Canvas.
I integrate technology with instruction in a variety of ways. I use technology to engage students further in their understanding or engagement of the particular topic we are reading about or discussing. For example, if we are reading a piece of information text on an author, we may look for pictures of the author, pictures of the authors books, the time period in which the author wrote, etc. I am lucky enough to have a computer for each student, so we use them as often as possible, whether it is to do research for a writing assignment, or to work on programs that support student learning. I also use Flipgrid to engage students in speaking responses to questions, as well as Padlets for a more collaborative approach when I ask students to respond to each other’s responses. It is vital that we as educators continue to provide our 21st century learners with the technology and informational skills that are needed for their success.
A literacy program is the cornerstone of a school, providing students the opportunity for success in future grades and beyond (Chavkin, 2005). Having a school-wide comprehensive approach to literacy allows for common practice and provides a starting point for teacher’s school wide to provide families with reading and writing strategies. A school wide approach can also help teachers address parent concerns as they arise and provide consistency for all students within the school. It is vital for all school staff to have a background on literacy knowledge to help support students on any level, in any grade level, and within each subject. As a principal, I will need to make the commitment to change, to my staff, to my families, and to stakeholders.
As a leader, creating buy in for any change is absolutely necessary. When everyone knows the reasoning behind the change or implementation it is easier for everyone to rally around the idea. There are always obstacles to any change, but it is a leaders position to lead through the change and bring everyone together.
Chavkin, N. F. (2005). Strategies for preparing educators to enhance the involvement of diverse families in their children’s education. Multicultural Education, 13(2), 16–20. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ759617
If we have learned anything over the last eighteen months of the Covid pandemic, it is that technology has become ubiquitous in the world of Education. The district I teach in actually was very prescient about this change and prior to this equipped every student in the district with a Chromebook. Additionally, each teacher maintains a presence on Canvas and their classes can be followed on-line through this software when any student is absent or needs additional discussion. The district also works with Edgenuity to provide a virtual class option, or a blended option for in person students. All of this is indicative of the transition to a more technologically focused class room. I also use these tools, as well as email, google docs, and other resources to provide my students with multiple ways to receive the instruction that the student needs to be successful. This has a positive impact on literacy instruction, because it broadens the student’s access to topics and better still voices that can capture and magnify a student’s interest in different aspects of the instruction. The last question to answer is whether the learning on line is as effective as in-person instruction. Julie Adams, in her article on technology in the classroom states,”Some research shows that students retain 25-60% (Links to an external site.) more material on average when learning online, compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is partly due to the students being able to learn faster online; e-learning requires 40-60% less time to learn (Links to an external site.) than in a traditional classroom setting because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concepts as they choose”(Adams, 2021, p.1). This seems to stand contrary to current State Testing results, but does match to the anecdotal data from students who commit to being successful in the on-line model. This can only serve to improve literacy as it removes the negative aspect for struggling readers in front of their peers, while broadening the available texts and sources to capture the student’s attention.
The leadership issue that arises with literacy issues is not finding the resources, but being willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work. The teachers, the willing students, and even the resources are available, but there needs to be the time and effort taken to put them all together and give them the time and space to be successful. This means setting the example of working and giving literacy a priority among the many issues clamoring for attention. As with many issues, the ‘Tyranny of the Urgent’ must be overcome and the teachers must be given the opportunity to train and develop a good Literacy program. This starts with me as an administrator vetting good Professional Development, and then working to create the space to train and develop. This makes the organizational approach mandatory, so that all teachers are part of the initiative and you lose the ‘not my job’ mentality. There will be resistance, either from reluctant teachers, who do not want more work, to the natural resistance to change in any organization. This can be overcome with work, effort, and finally success. Success will help remove any resistance and move the Literacy Program to the priority it needs to be.
Adams, J. (2021). What Role will Technology Play in the Post-Pandemic Classroom?. DisplayNote. https://www.displaynote.com/blog/technology-in-the…