Tag Archives: AERA

Conditions Conducive to Learning that Promote Educational Change

This week, IEN shares the second in a series of posts featuring presenters from the Educational Change Special Interest Group sessions at the Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association.  This post includes excerpts from Lead the Change (LtC) interviews with the presenters from the session titled: Conditions Conducive to Learning that Promote Ed Change. The full interviews can be found on the LtC websiteThe LtC series is produced by Alex Lamb.

Excerpts from the LtC interview with Jennifer R. McGee, Tim Huelsman, Terry McClannon, Appalachian State University, whose presentation is titled: “Examining Teacher Job Satisfaction Through Conversations with Elementary School Teachers”

Lead the Change(LTC): What are some of the ideas you hope the field of Educational Change and the audience at AERA can learn from your work related to practice, policy, and scholarship?

Jennifer R. McGee, Tim Huelsman, Terry McClannon: Our work centers on the working conditions of public school (BK-12) teachers. As employees of state and local governments, teachers are directly impacted by educational policy. Policy decisions can impact the classroom, the school, and the public’s view of education as a whole. Our data from multiple studies shows that this influences teacher job satisfaction and burnout, which we believe ultimately has an impact on retention. It is of course difficult to prove this empirically.

None of this is new information to members of AERA. What might be nuanced in our study is that we examined job satisfaction qualitatively, instead of relying on instrumentation. This particular study does have a smaller sample size, but what we found is that teachers were able to share both positive and negative factors that influence their satisfaction. We believe that this leads to the examination of teacher job satisfaction on a continuum instead of a dichotomy. We would urge the field to consider this as we continue to see large numbers of teachers leaving the profession altogether. Our data show that teachers can be satisfied with some parts of their jobs but dissatisfied with others. We feel that our duty is to highlight and elevate the voices of those teachers who are telling us what could be better about their jobs and try to make changes both with policy from the top and logistics within school buildings.

We are excited to be presenting in the Educational Change SIG because we believe that this is the right group to begin having conversations about how to make the lives of teachers better. As educational researchers, we often have ideas about what might work but need to be able to test and evaluate those ideas.

Excerpts from the LtC interview with Chanteliese Watson, Michigan State University, Corrie Stone-Johnson, University of Buffalo, Sheneka Williams, Michigan State University, whose presentation is titled: “Leading through Crisis: School Leadership and Professional Capital During COVID-19”

LTC: What are some of the ideas you hope the field of Educational Change and the audience at AERA can learn from your work related to practice, policy, and scholarship?

Chanteliese Watson, Corrie Stone-Johnson, Sheneka Williams: Findings from our study have important implications for school leaders who want to cultivate more professional capital in their schools. Undergirding our study is the relatively underexplored concept of professional capital. Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) describe professional capital as an “investment” that “requires teachers to be highly committed, thoroughly prepared, continuously developed, properly paid, well networked with each other to maximize their own involvement, and able to make effective judgments using all their capabilities and experience” (p. 3). Professional capital includes a mix of three other capitals: human capital, or “the talent of individuals”; social capital, “the collaborative power of the group”; and decisional capital, “the wisdom and expertise to make sound judgments about learners that are cultivated over many years” (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2013, p. 37).

Our findings suggest that professional capital may not be a static concept but rather a fluid one. Understanding the fluid nature of professional capital can lead to strengthening its core components (human, social, and decisional capital), which are associated with better outcomes for schools. Our focus in this paper is on decisional capital, as the pandemic paradoxically allowed leaders to make many decisions about teaching, learning, and communication that are typically more centralized.

We also found that while many schools demonstrate “high” professional capital, they frequently differed in terms of how the three forms of capital were operationalized. For example, one school might have high social and high human capital but low decisional capital, and another might have low social and high human and decisional capital. With our ranking system, these schools rated the same but clearly differ in terms of how capital is operationalized. As such, our findings are somewhat counterintuitive; school leaders may not need to strive simply to increase social capital and create more collaborative relationships between school employees and others working in the education system, for example, in order to strengthen professional capital, but rather to understand what challenges their schools face and which forms of capital will help them reach their goals by devoting more time and resources to these efforts. In continuing with our above example, instead of strengthening its social capital with more relationships, the school may need to focus on strengthening its decisional capital by increasing communication with parents and teachers to provide uniformed school operations. By using the AERA annual meeting as a stage to introduce the importance of identifying professional capital at work in the school context, researchers and practitioners can work together to address these questions and strengthen the bridge between scholarship and practice.

Excerpts from the LtC interview with Dr. Mia Treacy Dr. Margaret Nohilly Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, whose presentation is titled: “New Child Protection Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Irish Teachers: Implementation Challenges and Barriers

LTC: What are some of the ideas you hope the field of Educational Change and the audience at AERA can learn from your work related to practice, policy, and scholarship?

Dr. Mia Treacy Dr. Margaret Nohilly: We hope that our research can reinforce the need for mandated systemic change to be accompanied by thoughtful, incremental, practical support for teachers, if such educational policy change is to be implemented as intended at a practical level in a school context. Specifically, we hope that our research can dispel the myth that a linear relationship exists between the existence of mandated reporting requirements, even when underpinned by legislation, and teachers’ actual reporting of child protection concerns. Whilst protocols and procedures, including mandated reporting, assist in streamlining processes and promote standardization, there is little evidence to suggest that such initiatives in isolation result in increased numbers of children being protected from harm. Any such initiative requires tangible supports including targeted training and mentoring because we know from research that reporting child abuse is a complex process for teachers. Worryingly, there is also international research highlighting teachers’ under-reporting of child protection concerns. Several factors have been found in research to influence reporting of child protection concerns including reporter knowledge; reporter fears and concerns; reporter belief systems; specific case characteristics; compassion fatigue; inadequate training; and secondary traumatic stress.

This research is important because it reports on the experiences of Irish primary schools at a unique point in time, a time in which teachers must adhere to mandatory reporting obligations for child abuse and neglect for the first time. However, this research highlights the many implementation challenges and barriers that teachers face in fulfilling their statutory obligations including DLPs’ unfamiliarity with the procedures, and their dissatisfaction with the training for their role; low levels of teacher preparedness for the mandated reporting role; teacher concerns about the consequences of reporting; and a dearth in quality teacher education. It is recommended that such educational change be supported by quality, sustained support for teachers including improved teacher education that provide opportunities for in-person interaction and meaningful participation.

Excerpts from the LtC interview with Jayson W. Richardson and Sahar Khawaja, University of Denver, whose presentation is titled: “Systematic Review of Leadership for Deeper Learning”

LTC: What are some of the ideas you hope the field of Educational Change and the audience at AERA can learn from your work related to practice, policy, and scholarship?

Jayson W. Richardson and Sahar Khawaja: The hope is that the audience will better understand the current body of literature around leading schools for deeper learning which involves giving kids more choice, voice, and agency and initiating systemic changes like project-based learning, competency-based assessments, internship, and graduate profiles. Given that the literature body is not that robust, we hope that the audience will be inspired to pursue new lines of inquiry that focus on inspiring the field around leading schools for deeper learning.

What’s New? Challenges and Possibilities for Educational Innovation Around the World

Over the next two weeks, we will be trying something different at IEN. We are participating at a symposium – “What’s new? Challenges and possibilities for educational innovation around the world” – at the annual conference of the American Educational Assocation in Chicago (April 17th, 8:15 to 9:45 AM, Swissotel, Lucerne Level, Lucerne I). In order to broaden the conversation, we will be sharing short papers by the participants in that symposium who will be talking about efforts to support educational innovations in Mexico & Colombia, Finland, Ghana & Mali, and Singapore:

  • Bringing Effective Instructional Innovation to Scale in Mexico and Colombia, Santiago Rincón-Gallardo, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
  • How Do School Sites Support the Adoption of Educational Innovations in the Finnish Context? Jari Lavonen, Tiina Korhonen, & Kalle Juuti
    Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Real-time Data for Real-time Use: Case Studies from Ghana and Mali, Radhika Iyengar, Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • A Framework to Organise the Enabling Factors for the Spreading of Curricular Innovations in a Centralised-Decentralised Context of Singapore Schools, Paul Chua and David Hung, National Institute of Education, Singapore

While the participants will be focusing on what has worked in their countries as well as the challenges they’ve faced, in the symposium we will also be looking across contexts and discussing some common questions including:

  • What kinds of resources, expertise and networks are needed to create an “infrastructure for innovation” in different contexts?
  • What commonalities are there in the spread of innovations across these contexts? To what extent are these “context-specific” lessons?
  • To what extent and in what ways are “innovations” in these countries really “new”?
  • What really changes and “improves” if/when innovations take hold?
  • When, under what conditions, and for whom, can innovations be considered “good”?

We invite you to follow along and share your own examples of the possibilities and challenges for innovation in different contexts.