Author Archives: T Hatch

Global School Leaders Respond to COVID-19

How are school leaders responding to the coronavirus outbreak? This week’s post describes the responses to school closures of members of Global School Leaders (GSL). GSL provides preparation and professional development programs for school leaders in India, Malalysia, Indonesia, and Kenya.  Sameer Sampat and Azad Oommen launched GSL to build on and expand work they and their colleagues began at the India School Leadership Institute (ISLI) in 2013. Sampat discussed the initial evolution of ISLI in an IEN interview in 2016.  An interview with Sampat about the work of Global School Leaders and the challenges and possibilities for seeding leadership preparation programs around the world will be published in IEN later this spring. This post appeared originally on Medium

School leaders can respond to GSL’s global survey about their responses to the outbreak in their communities: https://t.co/NEQNCgxu6l

As the COVID-19 crisis deepens and spreads, a strong response by school leaders (SLs) is urgent to mitigate against the disruption faced by children who may be out of school for the foreseeable future. SLs are uniquely positioned to have the respect and personal relationships to guide families on how to support their children at home during this unprecedented, fast-moving challenge.

In our program partner regions in India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Malaysia, schools are shut and public gatherings, including training workshops, are banned. We are bringing our four partner organizations together to provide motivation and thought-partnership as we face this unprecedented crisis. Our partners’ response to taking responsibility within their communities is inspiring.

This blog shares the actions taken by our team and partners to support SLs through this crisis. We hope it sparks ideas that other SLs can localize for use in their own communities. We are still finding ways that our SLs and partner organizations can meaningfully build collective action to support those most in need. If reading this blog sparks any thoughts, suggestions, or feedback, we would love to hear from you.

GSL Response Framework

As GSL, we are focused on supporting playing a leadership role by motivating and supporting our partners to take a collective response. Two primary thoughts are centering us:

  1. We must keep the physical and mental well-being of our leaders, teachers, and students at the top of our actions
  2. This moment highlights the critical leadership role our SLs must rise to in service of their schools and communities. To that end, we must first and foremost model the same care and urgency that we hope to see from our SLs.

We are working with our partners to address the needs of our SLs so that they, in turn, can ensure that every child is cared for and their basic needs are met. Parents see the SLs as community leaders, but SLs are dealing with an unprecedented situation.

Partners are now working through a three-step initial response and sharing updates on weekly network calls. We drafted this tool to codify a framework for action that collects the thoughts we’ve heard from our partners:

  1. Set-Up Communication Channels: Partners are checking in on, finding resources to support, and motivating SLs to ensure that they have the energy and ability to serve their communities, despite the personal challenges they may be facing.
  2. Understanding Community Needs: Based on the information that is emerging from the communication chain, partners are facilitating responses to community needs. Partners are collecting data and sharing regular updates on the assets/ needs of the communities.
  3. Inspiring with Stories of Hope: Partners are surfacing and documenting stories about how SLs are finding ways to respond to provide insight and motivation for others, both in our networks and beyond.

Partner Progress and Resources

Over the past week, our partners have been putting together multiple efforts to support their SLs and communities. Here are a few highlights with attached resources:

Pemimpin GSL (Malaysia)

Dignitas (Kenya)

  • Building communications channels with SLs to understand their needs, which they have captured here
  • Developing a comprehensive plan that includes:
  • Skill-building with SLs on relevant Leading Learning competencies — engaging parents, dealing with trauma, leveraging online and radio learning tools
  • Clusters of Support — ways to bring groups of schools together to distribute resources and check-in on well-being

Inspirasi (Indonesia)

  • Creating a call for SLs to share short video clips of how they’re responding to the crisis
  • Developing a webinar on “School Leadership in Crisis” that will feature a panel of Ministry of Education and Culture officials, local academics, and practitioners
  • Will be delivering their planned last workshop of the academic year via Zoom in mid-April

Alokit (India)

  • Setting up weekly small group calls with SLs from the ISLI program in Delhi and Hyderabad that Alokit co-founders worked with personally to understand their needs. See their notes.

Next Steps

As next steps, we are building resources that address the following questions that have emerged from the work being done by our partners:

  1. Are there conversation templates for how teachers should be using their time speaking with families during this crisis?
  2. What are some pre-skills we can be working on with SLs to motivate them to more fully interact with teachers and their communities if they aren’t doing so on their own accord?
  3. What kinds of data should partners be collecting? What is the impact we want to be able to have at the end of this and what is the data we need to be collecting now in order to ensure that we’ve done this?

While our contexts are different, our partners are united by a fierce belief in the importance of school leadership in meeting the needs of learners and their communities. We are compiling a list of education-related resources — please feel free to look through these if they are helpful to you. We will be checking in with our partners regularly and will continue to update our community through this evolving situation.

— Global School Leaders

SCANNING THE HEADLINES FOR RESULTS FROM TALIS 2018: TEACHING, LEARNING, AND LEADERSHIP

This week IEN provides a glimpse of how a few media outlets around the world have characterized the results from the OECD’s recent release of Volume II of the TALIS 2018 results, Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals. This volume summarizes the results of a survey of teachers and school leaders from 48 countries, with a focus on questions related to 1) how society and teachers view the teaching profession, 2) employment contracts and salaries, 3) how teachers work together and 4) how much control teachers and leaders have over their work. This week’s online search for “TALIS 2018 volume II OECD” turned up very few stories in English. However, there were a number of headlines in smaller outlets and other languages, some of which were (google) translated below. More English headlines appeared in a scan of the TALIS headlines last June following the release of Volume I.

Australia

TALIS 2018: Valuing teachers and school leaders as professionals, Teacher Magazine (Australia)

9 out of 10 teachers from all OECD countries and economies are satisfied with their job, but only 26% think the work they do is valued by society; 14% believe that policy makers in their country or region value their view, and only 24% believe that they can influence education policy.

Croatia

Teachers overwhelmingly feel they have control over things (translated), srednja.hr

“About 98% of Croatian teachers believe that they have control over the choice of teaching methods and student evaluation, 93% of them have control over the discipline of students (92% in secondary school), 94% of them have control over the choice of homework.”  But only 9% of teachers agree that the teaching profession is valued in society.

Denmark

Danish teachers are more stressed than their Nordic colleagues (translated), folkeskolen.dk

43% of Danish teachers are considering another job, and 31% of “feel that their job has a negative impact on their mental health to some extent. In comparison, only 24 per cent of Swedish teachers, 23 per cent of Icelandic, 13 per cent of Finnish and 10 per cent of Norwegian teachers.”

England

England’s teachers ‘most stressed’ in developed world, Times Education Supplement

“70% of lower secondary teachers report being stressed either ‘a lot’ or ‘quite a bit’… 77% of teachers are ‘all in all’ satisfied with their job, however, this is the lowest rate in the OECD, with all the other countries having rates of above 80%.”

France

Talis: The French teachers, the most despised in the world? (translated), Café Pedagogique

“85% of French teachers feel satisfied with their work, but Talis demonstrates that French teachers are not only isolated and underpaid but also despised by their institution.”

Italy

80% Italian teachers perceive various degrees of stress, low salary always a reason for dissatisfaction (translated), Orizzontescuola.it

“Only 12.1% of teachers in upper secondary schools feel valued, without particular differences by geographic areas and by order of school. The data also shows that 7% of the entire teaching staff think they are listened to by the country’s political leadership class.”

Japan

TALIS — Teachers’ stress factors: “Amount of work” “Parents” (translated), Kyoiku Shimbun

“The percentage of Japanese elementary and junior high school teachers who have a lot of administrative work and stress on dealing with parents exceeded the average in participating countries. Principals at elementary and junior high schools were also stressed about their responsibility for their students’ abilities and dealing with parents.”

Korea

1 out of 4 middle school teachers “will quit teaching in the next 5 years” (translated), Chosun Edu

“Nevertheless, the proportion of teachers who agree that the teaching profession is valued is 67%, much higher than the OECD average of 26%.” However, only 54% OF teachers and 62% of principals said they were satisfied with their working conditions, slightly lower than the OECD average (66%).

Latvia

Almost all Latvian teachers are satisfied with their work, the survey shows (translated), nra.lv

“23% of teachers surveyed agree or totally agree with the statement that their profession is valued in the community, while 91% of Latvian teachers indicate that they are generally satisfied with their work”

Norway

Norwegian teachers work well together (translated), NEA Radio

95% of teachers say that there is a good culture for supporting each other and working together at the school…Teachers also feel that they have good control over their own teaching.”

Slovakia

Survey: Our educators receive little respect (translated), Felvideck.ma,

“Only 4.5% of teachers in Slovakia feel that teachers’ work has a high degree of social appreciation, while only 2.1% of school principals believe it”

Slovenia

They are not appreciated by the public or by policy makers (translated), Večer

The majority of “Slovenian teachers and principals were satisfied with their profession and workplace, and slightly less satisfied with their salary… but only 3% of teachers say policy makers value their views and opinions.”

  • Thomas Hatch

An Interview with Dennis Shirley: The 100th Anniversary Issue of the Lead the Change Series

This week’s post features an interview with Dennis Shirley, is Professor of Education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, author most recently of The New Imperatives of Educational Change:  Achievement with Integrity. This 100th Anniversary issue is one of a set of interviews this year in which previous interviewees in the Lead the Change (LtC) Series review their previous responses and consider how they might modify/ adjust/add to what they wrote based on their experiences and insights since publication. The fully formatted interview can be found on the LtC website of the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.

LtC: How, and in what ways, has your work evolved since the first publication of this piece? What ideas/points still hold true? Which might you revise?

Dennis Shirley: Since I published my original contribution in Lead the Change in 2012, I have studied school networks and innovations in the US, Canada, Germany, Norway, and South Korea.  This research shows just how transformative joint work by educators across schools and systems can be. In the original 2012 contribution, I was most enthusiastic about community organizing for educational change; since then, however, I have seen how community organizations can be co-opted by powerful corporations and their philanthropic agencies. In one particularly egregious case, a community organizing effort in a struggling inner-city high school that had shown signs of improvement led to half of the school being turned over to a charter management organization. The irony here was that the traditional public school continued improving and the charter school part did not in spite of generous philanthropic support. So, there is good and bad community organizing, and I’m more discriminating about promoting that model now.

The one statement that stands out the most for me from my previous piece is “Educators can help to allay nationalist anxieties that have been exploited in times of economic insecurity.” I wish I had stated that point more emphatically in my 2012 Lead the Change submission, given all that has happened since then with the rise of authoritarian populism and contemporary political polarization. I also wish I had been more outspoken about the challenge of climate change and situated that more centrally in contemporary curriculum reform. Finally, at the time of the submission, I was optimistic about the capacity of policy makers to attend to important research findings and to integrate them into their strategies, but now it is apparent that the educational profession will have to find other ways to influence governments than evidence alone, so that political advocacy and coalition-building must become more central components of our professional identities.

LtC: What do these shifts suggest to you about the field of educational change more broadly?

DS: On the one hand, the field of educational change is a small enterprise in what Amitai Etzioni once called the “semi-professional” of teaching, so we have little impact on our large and often unwieldy school systems.  On the other hand, I think we’ve done a good job punching above our weight and nudging systems in good directions, given the magnitude of the challenges that confront us. Even though the larger political environment is marked by

increased insularity in many countries, including my own, I’m encouraged by the overall tenor of our profession and by educators’ determination to question dangerous political ideologies and their ramifications for our students. Because younger generations are less nostalgic for an idealized past, more curious and open to interactions with others from different cultures, and more concerned about climate change than older generations, we have reason for optimism about the future. New technologies are helpful here, by providing for ease of communication and by enabling students to learn how to check facts and to distinguish conspiracy theories from evidence.  I would like to see these tools used more intentionally and skillfully in our schools—which does not mean that we should be blind to the dangerous aspects of the Internet and social media.

“The righteous indignation of youth at the condition of the world they are inheriting deserves honest acknowledgment and continual encouragement.”

What most excites you about the direction of the field of educational change is going? What are the future research directions that should be addressed in the field of educational change?

Several years ago, I was alarmed by the rise of nationalism and decided that it was time to create an on-line masters’ degree program called “Global Perspectives: Teaching, Curricula, and Learning Environments” at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. I credit this program with providing some of the richest and most rewarding cross-cultural encounters and exchanges I’ve ever experienced. It’s one thing to read about teaching strategies in different places; it’s quite another to have an on-line class with students from Kenya, Nigeria, Germany, Korea, and the US in their classrooms all around the world engaging in spirited debates with one another. Contrary to my worries, students quickly bonded with one another and shared lesson plans and assessment tools in a spirit of collegial generosity. I hope these kinds of experiences both on and off-line will help to promote a new movement of fundamental human solidarity in our schools and societies that will overcome the regrettable tendency to stigmatize outsiders and to impute negative motives to them when none exist. “Love of your country is a beautiful thing,” the cellist Pablo Casals once said, “but why should the love stop at the border?”

LtC: What advice might you have for those interested in affecting change and improvement?

DS: The major piece of advice I would give to anyone entering educational change today would be to avoid the temptation of groupthink. Too often in education, we fall into a kind of mindless parroting of whatever the research du jour is.  Think of the “self-esteem movement,” “emotional intelligence,” “multiple intelligences,” and “growth mindsets,” for example. Each of these ideas spawned a cottage industry of professional development workshops that became all the rage in our schools for years. Eventually, however, it was shown that while each development effort had some basis in fact, each easily became open to misinterpretation and often was implemented in ways damaging for positive youth development. Right now, we are in the midst of a fascination with social and emotional learning in the US (generally referred to well-being elsewhere). I encourage all of us to distinguish between what is positive in this new trend and will help our young people to flourish, and that which is silly happy-talk.  The young know when they are being patronized and appreciate honesty and direct feedback more than we give them credit for. There are serious social and ecological crises that await a rising generation, and the righteous indignation of youth at the condition of the world they are inheriting deserves honest acknowledgment and continual encouragement.

“I would like to see the field of educational change take up this climate challenge in our schools seriously and sustainably.”

LtC: What are the future research directions that should be addressed in the field of educational change?

Political philosopher Hannah Arendt once wrote that “Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it.”  Do we love the world, in this specific sense?  I’m not so sure. Confronting the magnitude of the climate change crisis upon us, I can’t help wondering if we’ve been overlooking some fundamental realities about our human condition:  That we are embodied, that we are interdependent with nature, that we exist in a historical chronology in which we are reliant upon one another for sustenance and shelter. It seems we have been evading these ontological truths, have become caught up in other transient pursuits, and now are having to confront our essential contingency in a planet of breathtaking beauty that we have taken for granted and exploited shamelessly. It’s time for a major pivot for all of us. I would like to see the field of educational change take up this climate challenge in our schools seriously and sustainably.

ABOUT THE LTC SERIES: The Lead the Change series, featuring renowned educational change experts from around the globe, serves to highlight promising research and practice, to offer expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change, and to spark collaboration within the Educational Change SIG; Kristin Kew, Chair; Mireille Hubers; Program Chair; Na Mi Bang, Secretary/Treasurer; Jennie Weiner, LtC Series Editor; Alexandra Lamb, Production Editor

6 Things Educators Can Do From Home To Help Their Students

This week IEN is posting reflections from Thomas Hatch published initially on ThomasHatch.org. This post is just one of many providing personal reflections (like Larry Cuban’s discussion of his own experiences with the polio epidemic) or providing links and resources for educational activities including those from the New York Times (Coronavirus Resources: Teaching, Learning and Thinking Critically);NPR (Kids Around The World Are Reading NPR’s Coronavirus Comic and Coronavirus And Parenting: What You Need To Know Now); and Unesco. We invite readers to share their experiences and resources with us as well.

What can we do? That’s a question we are all asking right now. For all of us that question begins with what we can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy.  But parents and educators like me are also thinking about what we can do to support our children, students and colleagues as K-12 schools close and classes go online. There are no easy answers, but here are 6 things I’m thinking about to try to deal with the challenges and take advantage of the possibilities:

  1. Focus on health and wellness. Learning is an important goal, but health and wellness for everyone has to come first. Students will learn the most from the acts of courage and kindness that help keep us all going.
  1. Suspend Schoolwork. Suspend exams, grades, and any other requirements that may contribute to stress and anxiety – for teachers and parents as well as students. Children and parents need opportunities and guidance for engagement in positive and productive activities, not more reasons to fight over homework or “keeping up.”  
  1. Encourage invention, design, creative expression and meaningful engagement. Instead of trying to figure out how to cover the curriculum, educators can put the syllabi aside and focus on meaningful activities – activities related to important learning goals that might be motivating and interesting for students to do while they are out of school.  Instead of creating new demands, concentrate on creating new possibilities:
    • Encourage students to keep a weekly diary – in words, pictures or any other media
    • create online journals, newspapers and magazines that students can contribute to
    • Invite students to share artwork, music, writing, photographs, or videos in an online exhibition
    • Stage online “talent shows” for students to share videos they have produced
    • Provide links to online resources and tutorials for learning languages, playing an instrument, developing academic abilities or learning other skills and enable students to share their progress
  1. Connect, connect, connect. Educators are uniquely positioned to provide information and support for their students, particularly those who are struggling the most. We can check-in, ask how they and their families are doing, share the latest news and resources, and help to identify critical needs. Educators can also build relationships and fight isolation by finding and creating opportunities for students to connect with one another as well with adults, particularly those in retirement homes, hospitals or anywhere else people might be disconnected and in distress
  1. Find new ways to serve the community. Create online community service activities and virtual service projects. My oldest daughter, a senior in college, has been serving as a mentor and had to say goodbye to the elementary student she visited every week, but what if they didn’t have to say goodbye? What if they could stay in touch by text or video even for a short-time every week? With so many students of all ages out of school, we can create online clearinghouses where students – or anyone really – could connect with those looking for mentoring, tutoring, or just conversation. Reach out and partner with parents, those from community centers, after school programs, Americorps programs like City Year and Citizen Schools, museums,  and libraries to find and create these activities for students to engage in online. Together educators and these extended programs can work to focus particularly on the students and their families who may be unable to get online or stay connected.
  1. Embrace collective responsibility. From living in Norway for a year, I learned it is possible both to respect the rights of every individual and cultivate a sense of collective responsibility.  There is no more important time for reinforcing our common bonds and recognizing that everything we do has an impact on our neighbors. It could be as simple as inviting children to call their grandparents or extended family once a day or a couple of times a week or just calling down the hall, leaning out the window or talking across the fence. The most profound thing we can do in difficult times can be done anywhere in any circumstances, dedicate ourselves to working with and for each other.

— Thomas Hatch

A Conversation about School Improvement Networks and Collaborative Inquiry in Chile

This week, Mauricio Pino-Yancovic and Alvaro González talk with IEN about their new book on the Chilean Ministry of Education’s recent improvement strategy relying on school networks. Written with Luis Ahumada and Chris ChapmanSchool Improvement Networks and Collaborative Inquiry: Fostering Systematic Change in Challenging Contexts describes the processes and challenges of implementing collaborative practices between schools.

Why this book, why now?

The School Improvement Strategy was put in place at a moment when the Chilean school system was going through a period of significant structural reforms to improve the quality and equity of public education. A basic principle of this reform effort was to produce a cultural change from competition to collaboration as a way to produce the necessary conditions for systemic improvement. The School Improvement Networks (SINs) were instrumental to making that change. The Networks were mandated by the Chilean Ministry of Education to bring together between 5 and 15 schools, each represented by their principal and curriculum coordinator, a representative of the municipal department of education, and one or two Ministry supervisors. Through LIDERES EDUCATIVOS, a Center at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, we were commissioned by the Ministry to produce a yearly monitoring report of networks across the country based on questionnaire data. In addition, in 2016 we did a qualitative study of 15 networks in different regions to deeply understand how networks had been formed and were initially developing.

This book was born out of the necessity to open a dialogue with scholars around the world investigating networking and collaboration. We have learned very much from US and Canadian as well as European scholars. In fact, the opportunity to publish our manuscript came from an invitation by Chris Brown at the University of Durham and Cindy Poortman at the University of Twente to write for a series on Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) they edit with Emerald. Also, we have collaborated in this book with Chris Chapman from the University of Glasgow who has been a key supporter and friend in our projects. Finally, we were driven by the conviction that we had something meaningful to contribute from the Global South regarding collaboration and networking. Although the book is focused in Chile, we are aware that the challenge of developing a culture of collaboration in a context of privatization, competition and isolation, resonates with many countries.

What did you learn in working on this book that you didn’t know before?

From our experience studying and working with networks, we realized that it is much more powerful to think about the challenge of improvement from a systemic perspective rather than an individual one. Networks facilitate developing such a systemic approach, but we were first hand witnesses of how difficult it was to enact such change in practice, especially in a competitive environment such as the Chilean one.

By pulling together the evidence from several studies about networking, we produced a clearer picture of what networking among schools looks like in practice. This picture shows us that there are three key elements that need to be in place to ensure the sustainability of networks:

  • Building professional capital among network actors which would allow them to increase their capacity for collective change and improvement
  • Developing network leadership capacities for leading upwards, leading laterally, and leading downwards, which mobilizes influence and power relations within and outside networks, which is crucial in a challenging context
  • Establishing an appropriate system infrastructure to support and legitimize changing cultural patterns beyond the remit of networks themselves.

What’s happened in these contexts since you wrote the book?

In October 2019, Chileans took to the streets demanding social reforms aimed at tackling inequality and changes to a constitution that dates back to the 1980s, during the dictatorship of general Augusto Pinochet. It has been four months of massive protests and harsh police repression, which have mobilized the country to hold political actors to account on several topics. Education has been a central issue in these past months, as social and economic inequality is reproduced and reinforced in our neoliberal-inspired school system. Teachers and school leaders have had to deal with the consequences of this social discontent in schools and, in some cases, networks have been a key support in helping them to decide how to approach the situation. School networks seems to be an appropriate path to continue supporting a cultural change.

Unfortunately, the current government had decided earlier in 2019 to partially withdraw support to the School Improvement Networks strategy, although they have not phased it out altogether. Ministry supervisors were redeployed to focus on providing support and intervention directly to underperforming schools. Nonetheless, in most cases, networks have continued their work as school leaders value the opportunities to share and exchange experiences among schools in the same geographical area. In addition, we have been invited to support several school networks project at district levels. The findings described in this book are also being used by those who are pushing forward strategies based on meaningful collaboration for school improvement.

What’s next — what are you working on or what do you hope will happen in these contexts?

The agreement between the Ministry of Education and the LIDERES EDUCATIVOS Center ended in December 2019 but a renewal application was submitted, and we are awaiting a response. In the meantime, everyone in our team has gone to work elsewhere although still linked to the issue of networking and collaboration for school improvement. For instance, Mauricio is now a researcher of the Center for Advanced Research in Education (CIAE), Institute of Education at Universidad de Chile, working on projects to develop and support school networks using Collaborative Inquiry, and working closely with districts on the systemic improvement of the territory. Álvaro has gone to work as a postdoctoral researcher at Universidad de O’Higgins and he is starting a three-year study about the support provided to underperforming schools in Chile, where interorganizational collaboration and learning play a key role. Luis Ahumada has returned to his position as Professor at the School of Psychology at PUCV, still involved in educational leadership. Also, we hope to continue our collaboration with Chris Chapman, Chris Brown, Cindy Poortman and many other scholars that we had the chance to know through the ICSEI PLN network and elsewhere.

What do you hope those working in other parts of the world will take away from your experiences?

Many educational systems have opted for the strategy of networking to support improvement not only for schools in difficulty but also entire systems. This movement builds on the empirical evidence showing how difficult it is for a school to improve on its own. Our book shows that in marketized school systems, such as the Chilean one, it is possible to overcome the logic of individual accountability, promoting collaboration and co-responsibility between all levels of the system. We hope that our book will inspire decision- and policy-makers to promote networking at different levels of the system and to create spaces where collective support and democratization allow for the development of a different bond among schools and the communities they serve.