Leadership Theory Research: Transformational Leadership

Dion Ginanto & Xutong Wang (2014) – Michigan State University

The quote from Napoleon Bonaparte, “an army of rabbits commanded by a lion could do better than an army of lions commanded by a rabbit” (Bass, 1990), reminds us of the important function of a leader and leadership. A leader should be able to inspire and motivate his/her team member as Wexner did by converting his vision of a nationwide chain of women’s sportswear stores into reality through his own hard work. Wexner stimulated employee participation in discussions, and he encouraged them to share (Bass, 1990).  Further, Bass (1990) gave another example of leadership, H. Ross Perot, who was willing to be involved in the rescue of two of his employees trapped as hostages in Iran 1979. Perot is an example of individualized consideration, which is one of the important elements of leadership. Leading by inspiring, motivating, and valuing others is what we call transformational leadership. There are several theories of leadership, including transformational leadership that we need to know in order to increase our awareness that all of us are leaders. Transformational leadership has become a popular paradigm among scholars due to its emphasis on intrinsic motivation and follower development, which fits the needs of today’s work groups, who want to be inspired and empowered to succeed in times of uncertainty. This paper discusses further definition of transformational leadership, its history, its strengths and criticism, and its key factors.

                                      Definition of Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader is a leader who transforms his/her associates from zero to hero.  Burns, in McCloskey (1991), defined transformational leadership as “a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents” (Burns in McCloskey, 1991). Further, Callow (2011) asserted that transformational leaders are those who stimulate and inspire their followers to achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their followers’ own leadership capacity. This leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in ways that result in leaders and followers raising one another to higher levels of motivation and morality (Burns, 1978).

Transformational leaders are often charismatic. Transformational leaders always have large amounts of enthusiasm, which, if relentlessly applied, can wear out their followers. Transformational leaders also tend to see the big picture, but not the details. If they do not have people to take care of the detailed level of information, then they are usually doomed to fail. Transformational leaders, by definition, seek to transform. When the organization does not need transforming and people are happy as they are, then such a leader will feel frustrated.

                                      The History of Transformational Leadership

Friedman and Langbert, (2000), MindTools (n.d), and McCloskey, (1991), agreed that the term “transformational leadership” was introduced by James McGregor Burns in 1978. Burns (1978), in his famous book Leadership, stressed the important connection between leaders and followers. However, Northouse (2013) believed that the term “transformational leadership” was first coined by Downton in 1973, and then was continued by James McGregor Burns in 1978. There are several prominent scholars who have focused on transformational leadership: House (1976), who was famous with his charismatic leadership, and Bass (1985), who drew close relationship between transactional and transformational leadership (Northhouse, 2013).

                                       Four Transformational Leadership Factors

Northouse (2013) listed four important factors that develop transformational leadership, which are called the Four I’s: (1) idealized influence; (2) inspirational motivation; (3) intellectual stimulation; and (4) individual consideration. After considering these four aspects, we can gain the effect of “ performance beyond expectations.”

First of all, idealized influence, means charismatic vision and behavior that inspires others to follow. This aspect is about building confidence and trust and providing a role model that followers seek to emulate. Leaders are “admired, respected, and trusted.”

Second, inspirational motivation means leadership that motivates the whole organization. This means that almost all transformational leaders make a clear description of the future, provide the team member the chance to see the actual meaning of their work, and require them to achieve higher standard. Leaders advocate that team members be a part of the organization environment. Inspirational motivation requires leaders to inspire others by using passionate speeches and conversation to make things come true. Therefore, transformational leaders lead their team members to make contributions to the whole organization.

The third factor is intellectual stimulation. This aspect refers to a leader who needs to encourage his/her team members’ creativity and innovation. A transformational leader advocates team members to be creative, and to change old problems in some new ways. They empower team members by persuading them to accept new ideas without fear of punishment.

The final factor is individualized consideration. This aspect means that a leader not only cares about the whole organizational development, but also about every subordinate’s needs, abilities, and aspirations. Team members are treated individually and differently on the basis of their talents and knowledge. At this point, a transformational leader will become a teacher or consultant, and will help the lower subordinates meet their problems and challenges during the working period of the organization.

                                                      Strengths and Criticisms

Northouse (2013) listed several strengths and weaknesses of transformational leadership. By understanding its strengths and weaknesses, we -as leaders- will be able to figure out when and where we can apply this concept. There are five strengths of transformational leadership, according to Northhouse (2013): (1) transformational leadership has been widely researched from many different perspectives, including a series of qualitative studies of prominent leaders and chief executive officers (CEOs) in larger, well-known organizations; (2) transformational leadership has intuitive appeal; it is appealing that a leader will provide a vision for the future; (3) transformational leaders treat leadership as a process that occurs between followers and leaders; (4) the transformational approach provides a broader view of leadership that augments other leadership models; (5) transformational leadership places a strong emphasis on followers’ needs, values, and morals; and (6) there is  evidence (based on research) that transformational leadership is an effective form of leadership (pp. 200-202).

Northouse (2013) also listed several weaknesses of transformational leadership: (1) transformational leadership is too general and broad -it is difficult to define exactly the parameters of transformational leadership; (2) the four I’s are factors which correlate highly with each other, which means they are not distinct factors (Tejeda, Scandura, & Pillai, 2001, in Northhouse, 2013); (3) transformational leadership treats leadership as a personality trait or personal disposition rather than as a behavior that people can learn (Brayman, 1992, in Norhtouse, 2013); (4) researchers have not established that transformational leaders are actually able to transform individuals and organizations (Antonakis, 2012, in Northouse, 2013); (5) transformational leadership tends to be more elitist and anti-democratic (Avolio, 1999; Bass & Avolio, 1993, in Northouse 1993); and (6) transformational leadership has the potential to be abused (pp. 202-204).


    All in all, given all the explanations of transformational leadership, as well as its strengths and weaknesses, this kind of leadership theory can be applied to all organizations, including educational institutions. This leadership theory could enrich the quality of a leader. The nature of leadership is that there must be a closed connection between leaders and their associates; therefore transactional leadership will best serve increased trust and collaboration within an organization. When leaders are able to transform the positive ideas and values of the organization to their followers, then the organization’s goals and vision are easily achieved.


Bass, B.M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision.  Academic Journal, Organizational Dynamics. 18(3) 19-27.

Burns, J.M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Callow, N. (2011) Transformational leadership in higher education. The Higher Education Academy.

Friedman, H.H., & Langbert, M. (2000). Abraham as a transformational leader. Journal of Leadership Studies. 7(2), 88-95.

McClosky, M.W. (1991). What is transformational leadership? ML513/ML791

MindTools (n.d). Transformational leadership: Becoming inspirational leader. Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/transfromational-leadership.htm

Northouse, P.G. (2013) Leadership: Theory and practice (6th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Kepala Sekolah: Jabatan Penting yang Terlupakan

Selama ini kita masih terkesan meraba-raba dalam kegelapan terhadap lemahnya mutu keluaran peserta didik. Pemerintah dalam hal ini kementrian pendidikan selalu terpaku pada peningkatan guru atau mengandalkan bongkar pasang kurikulum. Tidak sedikit dana yang digelontorkan pemerintah pusat dan daerah untuk sekedar memberikan pelatihan kepada guru-guru. Akan tetapi pemerintah terkesan lupa bahwa pelatihan masif yang selama ini diadakan tak pernah dievaluasi. Pelatihan-pelatihan untuk guru terkesan sekedar fromalitas belaka, atau untuk menghabiskan anggaran pendidikan. Bahkan, untuk memberikan kesan bahwa pemerintah memperhatikan kualitas guru, banyak sekali pelatihan-pelatihan diadakan di hotel berbintang lima.

Selain memberikan peltihan kepada guru, Kementrian Pendidkan juga mengupayakan reformasi pendidikan dengan mengganti kurikulum KTSP dengan Kurikulum 2013. Namun, sekali lagi belum ada kejelasan tentang kesiapan pemerintah dalam sosialisasi pergantian kurikulum ini. Fokus pemerintah untuk memberikan perhatian kepada guru, juga pada kurikulum tidak salah; akan tetapi pemerintah terkesan lupa bahwa ada elemen penting yang selama ini terkesan dikesampingkan: kepemimpinan kepala sekolah.

Kepemimpinan kepala sekolah adalah salah satu faktor penting untuk memajukan pendidikan. Akan tetapi, unsur penting ini belum mejadi konsentrasi pemerintah saat ini. Padahal, guru tidak akan bisa mengajar dengan baik jika tidak mempunyai kepemimpinan kepala sekolah yang bisa menginspirasi mereka untuk mengajar secara profesional. Kurikulum di sekolah pun tak akan bisa diterapkan dengan sempurna, apabila kepala sekolah tidak cekatan dalam memimpin dan membimbing guru-guru dalam mengaplikasikan pengajaran sesuai tuntutan kurikulum. Spillane (2004) menegaskan bahwa di mana ada sekolah yang berkualitas, pasti di dalamnya tedapat kepala sekolah yang berkualitas pula. Seberapa banyakpun guru-guru hebat di sekolah itu, jika tidak ada kepemimpinan kepala sekolah yang efektif, maka tidak akan terlahir sekolah yang bermutu.


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Selama ini, kita selalu mengartikan kepemimpina kepala sekolah itu lebih pada kepemimpian birokrasi. Kita terkesan lupa bahwa ada tugas dasar kepala sekolah yang lain: Instructional leader, dan Community Leader.  Nah yang menjadi kecondongan kita di Indonesia adalah, pada tugas kepala sekolah sebagai seorang bureaucrat dan community leader. Kepala sekolah hanya fokus pada bagaimana mampu mencari sumber dana untuk membiayai keperluan sekolah, menjadi pimpinan birokrasi surat menyurat, atau menjadi perwakilan sekolah untuk rapat-rapat dengan dinas pendidikan, dan yang lebih penting mampu memimpin rapat dengan komite sekolah untuk meminta uang sumbangan pembanguan. Tapi pernah tidak kita berfikir bahwa tugas kepala sekolah yang paling utama adalah sebagai instructional leader?. Yakni memimpin para guru dan siswa untuk menciptakan susasana belajar mengajar yang kondusif. Instructional leader atau learner leader, berarti bahwa semua unsur di dalam sekolah termasuk guru, siswa dan kepala sekolah dalah pembelajar.

Kondisi yang terjadi di negara kita saat ini adalah, siswalah yang dipaksa untuk belajar. Akan tetapi, guru tidak pernah mendapatkan hak mereka sebagai seorang pembelajar pula. Logikanya begini, ilmu itu selalu berkembang, pengetahuan dan cara berfikir anak didik dari tahun ke tahun itu selalu berubah; nah apabila guru tak pernah dilatih untuk mengikuti perkembangan zaman, hasilnya akan sangat berbahaya. Akan terjadi fenomena seperti ini: “Kok anak didik jaman sekarang berbeda dengan jaman kita dulu ya?”, atau “Kok murid-murid sekarang tidak menghargai guru ya?” Terhadap fenomena seperti ini, yang selalu disalahakan adalah murid. Dalih-dalih tak beralasanpun dikeluarkan: mulai dari menyalahkan orang barat, sampai pada menyalahkan internet atau televisi.

Padahal nyatanya adalah, guru tidak pernah mendapatkan proses yang dinamakan maintenance. Coba kita evaluasi, adakaah pernah kepala sekolah melakukan classroom walkthrough (pengawasan kelas): yakni kepala sekolah masuk ke kelas (sendiri atau dalam grup), baik secara rahasia atau sudah diberitahu sebelumnya untuk mengevaluasi kualitas guru. Atau pernah tidak, kepala sekolah memimpin Professional Learning Community (PLC) yaitu semacam pelatihan dalam lingkup kecil namun dilakukan secara rutin. Pelatihan ini bisa dilakukan pada guru satu rumpun, atau lintas rumpun.  Komunias belajar kecil dalam lingkup sekolah itu sangat penting untuk membudayakan kultur kerjasama antar guru, dan kultur belajar untuk guru.

Logikanya begini, bagiaman mungkin kualitas guru bisa dijamin jika tidak ada yang mengawasi kualitas mereka. Guru dibiarkan saja mengajar di kelas, masalah guru sudah sesuai standar atau belum, bukan urusan kepala sekolah. Pokoknya asal sudah PNS itu berarti gurunya udah sangat mahir, sehingga tidak perlu ada observasi kelas untuk melihat kondisi real yang dilakukan guru di kelas. Ditambah lagi pelatihan yang didapat guru hanya dalam sekala masif, yaitu seminar dalam jumlah besar yang diadakan oleh dinas pendidikan. Di mana seminar tersebut dalam satu kelas berjumlah 40-100 orang, dengan satu atau dua pemateri. Adakah yang berani menjamin, peserta seminar akan memperhatikan pemateri, atau malah peserta hanya datang untuk menerima uang transportasi? Dalam tulisan ini saya akan membedah sedikit tentang fungsi kepala sekolah sebagai learner leader atau instructional leader.

Apa itu Learner Leader/Instructional Leader?

Nancy Colflesh seorang pakar kepemimpinan sekolah di Amerika Serikat, yang juga sebagai dosen saya di dua mata kuliah (Leader Teacher Learning dan School Leadership Internship) selalu menegaskan, bahwa semua orang di dalam sekolah adalah pembelajar: siswa adalah pembelajar, staff tata usaha adalah pemebelajar, guru adalah pemebelajar, bahkan kepala sekolah itu sendiri adalah pembelajar. Dalam hal ini, kepala sekolah berfungsi sebagai pemimpin dalam menjalankan fungsi-fungsi pembelajaran. Termasuk berdiri di barisan terdepan dalam memimpin guru untuk selalu belajar.

Di Amerika saat ini tengah digenjot program PLC. Dufour, Dofour & Eaker (2012) mendefinisikan PLC sebagai kegiatan yang di dalamnya para guru berkomitmen untuk bekerja secara kolaboratif dan berkesinambungan dalam melakukan proses belajar untuk meningkatkan kemampuan mengajar dan pedagogic, dengan tujuan akhir untuk meningkatkan prestasi peserta didik. PLC sangat efektif untuk menciptakan semangat untuk bekerja dalam tim. PLC biasanya dilakukan dalam kelompok kecil; di mana untuk tahap awal akan ada seorang coach (pelatih) untuk mengarahkan agar kegiatan ini berjalan dengan baik. Coah inilah yang harus diperankan oleh kepala sekolah, atau wakil kepala sekolah. Kegiatan PLC biasanya dilakukan minimal satu bulan sekali. Dalam PCL ini semua saling berbagi: tentang perencanaan pengajaran, proses pengajaran, serta proses evaluasi pengajaran.

Dalam PLC baisanya diadakan kegiatan semacam classroom walkthrough. Classroom Walkthorugh adalah kegiatan di mana sekelompok guru mengadakan observasi terhadap satu orang guru, selama maksimal 15 menit yang kemudian mengadakan diskusi untuk menberikan feedback yang sifatnya membangun. Classroom Walkthrough biasanya dilakukan secara bergiliran, yakni siapa yang diobservasi dan siapa yang mengobservasi. Dapat dibayangkan betapa hebatnya kualitas guru, jika minimal setiap bulan ada yang memberikan evaluasi tentang kualitas pengajaran. Kegiatan ini dapat memotivasi guru, karna guru akan merasa bahwa mereka tidak bekerja sendirian dalam meningkatkan potensi siswa. Kegiatan observasi kelas ini dapat juga membantu mereka yang masih mencari-cari tahu bagaimana cara mengajar yang efektif.

Kelemahan guru-guru di negara kita saat ini adalah, bahwa masing-masing kita sudah merasa bisa, sehingga tidak mau lagi mengadakan sharing atau bertanya jika mempunyai permasalahan. Terkadang, guru-guru juga merasa malu jika harus berkonsultasi kepada teman, karna takut diketawakan atau dianggap belum bisa mengajar. Dengan adanya program PLC yang dipimpin kepala sekolah atau wakil kepala sekolah, akan dapat mengikis ego atau rasa malu yang dimiliki oleh seorang guru.

Sebenarnya masih banyak lagi unsur-unsur fungsi kepala sekolah sebagai learner leader/instructional leader. Namun dua kegiatan ini (PLC dan classroom walkthrough) dapat mewakili aktivitas lain untuk mebiasakan guru bekerja secara kolaboratif dalam mencapai tujuan dan visi sekolah.

Untuk bisa menajdi kepala sekolah yang mampu menjadi pemimpin dalam proses pembelajaran (instructional leader), tentunya dibutuhakn prasayarat tertentu. Setidaknya ada tiga kemampuan dasar yang harus dimiliki kepala sekolah menurut Glickman (2011): prasyarat pengetahuan, prasyarat skill teknis, dan prasyarat kemampuan interpersonal. Prasyarat pengetahuan berarti kepala sekolah harus memiliki pengetahuan tentang: pedagogic, pendektan pengajaran, metodologi pengajaran, serta perkembangan perserta didik. Pengetahuan interpersonal berarti, kepala sekolah harus mampu melakukan pendekatan pada guru, siswa dan pegawai sehingga tercipta susasana kekeluargaan di dalam sekolah. Pengetahaun skill teknis berarti, kepala sekolah harus mempunyai wawasan dan kemampuan di bidang Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) serta kemampuan mengolah data (data sekolah, data sisiwa, dan data proses pengajaran) sehingga tercipata budaya pengambilan keputusan yang berdasarkan pada data.

Ternyata untuk menjadi kepala sekolah itu tidak mudah ya? Minimal seorang kepala sekolah itu harus mampu menjadi pemimpin dalam pembelajaran, pemimpin dalam birokrasi sekolah, dan pemimpin lingkungan sekitar. Yang saya bahas dalam tulisan kali ini baru kulit luarnya dari salah satu tugas kepala sekolah sebagai instructional leader. Kenyataan yang ada di lapangan adalah, pemerintah terkesan menganggap sepele proses perekturan kepala sekolah. Proses perekrutan selama ini terkesan tertutup dan hanya mereka yang dekat dengan kepala daerah atau mereka yang mampu memberikan uang pelicin yang bisa menjadi kepala sekolah. Guru yang mempunyai kemampuan leadership dan mempunyai idealisme yang tinggi, akan sangat sulit sekali menjadi kepala sekolah. Dari laporan wartawan senior Tempo, Nanang Surisna (2009), melaporkan bahwa dalam beberapa kasus, untuk menajadi kepala Sekolah di Jakarta, seorang calon kepsek SMA harus menyiapkan Rp. 50 juta, kepala sekolah SMP Rp. 60 juta, dan Rp. 600 juta untuk menjadi kepala sekolah SMA(Dapat dicek di: http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2009/01/28/058157279/Departemen-Pendidikan-Dituding-Paling-Banyak-Lakukan-Suap . Kasus serupa juga terjadi di Jawa tengah, di mana ada calon kepala sekolah yang diwajibkan membayar Rp. 60 juta dari oknum pemerintah daerah untuk memuluskan proses seleksi (Silahakn dicek di: http://willyediyanto.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/menjadi-kepala-sekolah-baru/). Jika fakta di lapangan berbicara jabatan kepala sekolah adalah jabatan yang dapat diperjaul belikan, maka tak akan mungkin seorang kepala sekolah mampu memenuhi minimal 3 syarat utama yang dikemukanan oleh Glickman. Hasilnya, sekolah akan dijadikan sebagai ladang memperoleh proyek, walhasil proses belajar mengajar tak lagi menjadi fokus utama kepala sekolah.

Adanya rencana pemerintah DKI Jakarta dengan menginisiasi program lelang jabatan kepala sekolah, patut diacungi jempol. Keberanian Pemda DKI menggebrak budaya korup di dunia pendikan, akan menjadi awal kebangkitan kualitas pendidkan di sekolah. Karna tak bisa dipungkiri lagi, bahwa kepala sekolah adalah jabatan penting yang terkesan dilupakan oleh pemerintah. Padahal, tanpa ada kepala sekolah yang berkualitas tak akan teripta iklim sekolah yang kondusif. Jika iklim sekolah kondusif tidak tercipta tak akan terlahir guru yang berkualitas. Jika guru berkualitas tidak muncul maka keluaran siswa yang berkualitas puan tak akan ada. So, mari kita mulai memikirkan kualitas kepala sekolah untuk mewujudkan pendidikan yang lebih baik.



Steps to Help Homeless Students and Parents

Dion Ginanto

The war against homelessness has been and will continue to be a serious concern for every nation. Almost every country in this planet experiences the issue of homelessness. In the United States of America for example, there were 1.5 million of sheltered homeless people (during a one-year period) in 2011. Of this number, 21.1 % were under the age of 18. The great recession in this country has forced many citizens to experience homelessness for the first time. The Youtube video entitled A Homeless Mother Struggles to Get Ahead shows an example who became homeless. Debbie and Jasmine’s life is one out of million people who need to be helped. One urgent need that should be addressed is Jasmine’s education. Whatever the reason, Jasmine should enroll in school. This is because school can provide opportunities for homeless children and youth to obtain the skills they need to escape poverty and avoid homelessness as adults (Duffied & Lovell, 2008 in Murphy& Tobin, 2011). As educators, we need to be able to give some effective remedies for homeless families. This article discusses some approaches to help the homeless like Debbie and Jasmine.

What is Homelessness?

According to the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 2001 in Cooper (2013) states, “Homeless children and youth are individuals who lacked a fixed regular and adequate night time residence. This includes those who are sharing housing with other persons, living in hotel/motels, trailer parks or camping ground, cars, and living in shelters” (p. 4-5). In line with this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a homeless person as “An individual who resided in a shelter or place not meant for human habitation and who is exiting an institution where he or she temporarily resided” (National Health Care for the Homeless Council, 2013). It is clear that homelessness is a situation where a person does not have a place to reside as a result of a bad condition. This includes those who live in motels like Debbie and Jasmine.

Debbie and Jasmine on Youtube

            A 2:53 video clip from Youtube depicts a single mother with her daughter who experience homelessness for their first time due to family estrangement. Debbie is a 35 years old mother who stays in a motel with her 7 year-old daughter, Jasmine. Debbie does not have a house nor a car. She works at a local dry cleaner. She needs to pay $250 for the motel every week. She is really sad because she used to be independent, however, she ends up in a bad situation in which she needs help. She wants to make sure that her daughter can live as other children, including getting an education.

Step to Accommodate Homeless Students

            Just imagine that Debbie came to school principal to enroll her daughter. What should he or she does to help both Debbie and Jasmine to assure that Debbie will get the same attention and services as other students? There are some steps and approaches that a school principal can apply to help homeless students and/or parents:

  1. 1.     Barrier Removal

To help Debbie enroll in the school, the principal should be able to understand her condition, and therefore facilitate her school enrollment.  Tower (1992) in Murphy and Tobin (2011) wrote, “the goal with homeless students should be to remove as many barriers as possible to their learning” (p. 219). There are some barriers homeless students will find in schools: residency, guardianship, immunization, and school records (Murphy and Tobin, 2011). Due to the situation, some documentation, which is usually required by administrators at schools, should be waived in order to give a place for a student like Jasmine to study. The McKinney-Vento act is the major asset for homeless students, since it exempts students from many documents required (Murphy and Tobin, 2011). Students’ barriers include transportation. Therefore, a school principal should be able to work together with the community and the local government to provide a free ride for homeless students.

  1. 2.     Basic Needs Fulfillment

Rafferty (1995) in Murphy and Tobin (2011) asserted that “the lack of such resources (school clothes and supplies) has been identified as an ongoing and major barrier to school attendance for homeless students nationwide” (p. 235). Therefore, National Center for Homeless Education (2013) in Cooper (2013) gives some recommendations regarding the basic needs of a student like Jasmine: a) provide access to school shower and laundry facilities; b) provide students with a secure place to store personal belongings; and c) notify school nutrition services; homeless students are automatically eligible for free meals and do not need to follow the normal enrollment process. The Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) standards number 1.5, mandated school principals to promote community involvement in their school vision (Whitehead, Boschee, and Decker, 2013). Thus, in addressing Jasmine’s needs such as clothing, food, shelter, medical care, school supplies, etc., a school principal should be able to engage every element of community both from inside and outside the school.

  1. 3.     Creating Caring Adults

Homeless students need extra attention. This is because some of them received little attention from their parents. In addition, there are a lot of cases in which the homeless students do not focus on their studies; rather they focus much on how to help their parents and even how they will find a place to sleep. Therefore, a school principal should help homeless students like Jasmine by creating caring adults in the building. Caring adults consist of three dimensions: a) liaisons, someone whose assignment is to worry about and help structure the success of the homeless school population; b) teachers, someone who helps homeless students when they do not have a secure place to live, by being a compassionate advocate; c) mentors, someone who helps homeless students feel a sense of acceptance at school (Murphy and Tobin, 2011).

  1. 4.     Creating an Effective Instructional Program

The National Center for Homeless Education (2013) in Cooper (2013) identifies some strategies to create an effective instructional program for homeless students: a) implement policies to assist with accumulating credits toward graduation such as chunking credits, implementing mastery-based learning, providing partial credit for completed coursework; b) provide flexibility with school assignments, including deadlines and needed supplies; and d. consider alternative education programs that allow flexible school hours, such as computer-based learning or online education. Murphy and Tobin (2011) suggested individualized instruction and cooperative learning platform, to create a more effective instructional program for homeless students. Individualized instruction is considered important for the student with high mobility. Meanwhile, cooperative learning can create an atmosphere of togetherness for students with all different backgrounds, which eventually creates a sense of respect.

  1. 5.     Parental Involvement

“The surest way to support homeless children’s education is to support their parents” (Nunez & Collignon, 2000 in Murphy and Tobin, 2011). In the video, Debbie explains to us that she is really concerned about her daughter’s education. She is willing to be involved with school in order to support Jasmine. Therefore, a school principal needs to really appreciate to the homeless parents who are supportive and encourage those who are not really engaged. Murphy and Tobin (2011) suggest three approaches to engage parents: a) deepened communication, b) develop support networks (to share works with other homeless parents), and c) establish the role of homeless parent advocates or liaisons. When homeless parents are being valued as other normal parents, they will feel they belong to the school family.

  1. 6.     Increasing Awareness about Homelessness

Not all people in the school building as well as in the community are aware of the social problems that create homelessness. As a result, they tend to ignore students and parents who are homeless. If only the community is aware and are willing to help, Debbie’s family and other homeless families will not need to worry about housing nor education. Williams & Korinek, 2000 in Murphy and Tobin, 2011) wrote “A well-developed, ongoing, multidimensional program of staff development experiences to facilitate within-school and within-district awareness, understanding, and capability to respond to identified needs of homeless students characterizes effective school programs serving these students” (p. 230). National Center for Homeless Education (2013) in Cooper (2013) identified two strategies for a principal: a) become familiar with state laws related to the reporting of suspected abuse or neglect or a suspected runaway; and b) become familiar with eligibility criteria for local social services and housing programs; be ready to refer youth when services are needed.

Prioritization of Strategies

            Given all the steps above, a school principal should prioritize the first step in addressing homelessness: barrier removal. The urgent step that needs to be undertaken by every principal is to make sure that all homeless people under 18 are enrolled in school. Therefore, for the case of Jasmine and Debbie, the administrator and the principal should make the requirement for documentation simpler. Above all, distributed leadership should be implemented to remove barriers for homeless students. As a community leader, a school principal should engage the community, teachers, parents, administrators, non-governmental organizations, as well as the government to be supportive to homeless families.

Finally, principals need to make sure that the needs of both parents and students of homeless families are met. By applying these six steps, the educational problems of homeless families can be remedied. By helping homeless students succeed in their education, we can prevent homelessness in the future.



Cooper, Kristy. (2013). Students who are homeless (Chapter C). A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.


Murphy, J. & Tobin, K. (2011). Homelessness comes to school. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Chapter 6: The legal framework and ensuring success, and Chapter 7: Ensuring success.


National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2013). What is the official definition of homelessness? Retrieved from: http://www.nhchc.org/faq/official-definition-homelessness/


Whitehead, B., Bjoschee, F., Decker, R., (2013). The principal: Leadership for a global society; Los Angeles CA., Sage.


Dropout Students

Dion Ginanto


It is very shocking to me as an international student knowing the fact that four out of 10 students in Detroit do not graduate from high school. Each year, more than half a million young people drop out of high school, which has been the same rate for the last 30 years(Dynarski et.al, 2008). As a student from Indonesia, I used to think that the dropout student is a serious problem only in the country. After watching the video about dropout students in Detroit and reading some articles about preventing the dropout cases, I now realize that dropout prevention has become a worldwide concern. This article discusses the analysis of the video entitled Detroit Tackles Dropout Crisis by Engaging Students, Parents, as well as another approach of preventing dropout from my perspective.

The video by American Graduate is about the effort to solve the issue of dropout students in Detroit by conducting two approaches: parents and students. The approaches to engage parents in order to avoid students’ failure are by conducting the parental calls, parental visits, and parental workshops. Meanwhile, the approach conducted to engage students is by creating voluntary students’ programs and increasing a positive school climate. Before discussing further about the prevention efforts, I would first consider what actually causes the dropout students rate.

Balfanz, Herzog and Mac Iver (2007) focus on the students’ disengagements in order to combat the dropout cases. They define student disengagement as “a higher order factor composed of correlated subfactors measuring different aspects of the process of detaching from school, disconnecting from tis norms and expectations, reducing effort and involvement at school, and withdrawing from a commitment to school and to school completion” (p. 224). There are some factors causing student disengagement: attendance, academic achievement, suspensions, behavior grades, and status variables–being either special education or English Language Learner (Balfanz, Herzog and Mac Iver, 2007). In line with this, Dynarski et. al (2008) viewed increasing student engagement as critical to preventing dropping out, since dropping out typically occurs during high school; however,  disengagement process may begin much earlier and include academic, social, and behavioral components. Rumberger (2011) in Cooper (2013) identified some dropout causes:

Individual perspective (academic engagement, social engagement, goals, self perceptions, poor academic achievement, failed courses, retention grade, student mobility, course taking history, absenteeism, discipline problem, deviance, working more than 20 hours/week, pregnancy, and poor health), and Institutional perspective (family and community engagement, family/community SES, relationship with parents, parenting style, family structure, family resources, students composition of school, school resources and students/size, school process and practices, academic and social climate of school, peer group, and access to recourses in the community) (p. 27).

Parent-Based Approach

Approaching parents is very crucial to anticipate the dropout students. In the Detroit Tackles Dropout Crisis by Engaging Students, Parents movie, one of the teacher named Michelle Shorter made a phone call to the parent not only informing them of the bad news about their kids, instead, she called to let the parents know that their kid is doing well in school. Michelle Shorter explains in the video that rewarding the kids both at home and at school can trigger the students’ motivation. In addition, the action done by Detroit Parent Network (DPN) needs to be spread everywhere. DPN is not only giving support to the parents about the academic matters, but also giving workshops about financial literacy, career counseling, and leadership skills, as well as food baskets and other goods. This assistance is really needed by the parents, especially low-income parents. In line with this, Dynarski et. al (2008) recommended parental involvement as one of their suggestions regarding to dropout prevention. The adult (teacher and administrator) should be responsible for addressing academic and social needs, communicating with families and advocating students. The adult and students should have time to meet regularly (Dynarski et.al 2008).

Student-Based Approach

The second approach to prevent the failure of the students graduation is a student-based approach. Romeo High School’s efforts to involve the students based on their interests are very effective. Katelyn Morris, one of the students who almost dropped out school, admitted that by joining some voluntary programs at school, she felt more motivated and also made new friends who could help her. Dynarski et.al (2008) asserted that schools can help students identify, understand, and self-regulate their emotions and interactions with peers and adults. Meanwhile, Balfanz, Herzog and Mac Iver (2007) recommend three main areas of focus intervention in term of a student-based approach: attendance, behavior, and course failures. Another important recommendation by Dynarski et.al (2008), regarding to student-based approach is by providing academic support and enrichment to improve academic performance. This assistance can help student improve academic performance and reengage to school.

Teacher-Based Approach 

Both approaches (students and parents) from the short film are considered effective. However, there is another approach, which is also important to consider: teacher-based approach. The elements in school that can determine the students’ engagement are teachers. Positive school climate can be achieved if the teachers can create a positive classroom climate. Balfanz, Herzog and Mac Iver (2007) asserted that the reformation of the roles, skills, and outlooks of the adults who teach or administer in the schools and the improvement of middle-grade instructional materials and pedagogy are considered strategies to improve student engagement. The dropout recommendation number five written by Dynarski et.al (2008) is also effective: “Personalize the learning environment and instructional process (school wide intervention).” This recommendation is very important since a personalized learning environment creates a sense of belonging and fosters a school climate where students and teachers can get to know one another and can provide academic, social and behavioral encouragement (Dynarski et.al., 2008). Teachers will stand on the front line in personalizing the learning environment, therefore increasing teacher skills is very important as an effective way to prevent dropouts.

All in all, the film entitled “Detroit Tackles Dropout Crisis by Engaging Students, Parents” has been advocating positives approaches in dealing with dropout students in Detroit. The case in Detroit can be a model of combating dropout problems, not only in the United States of America but also for countries around the world. The student- and parent-based approach in the film has been proven effective; however, by adding the teacher approach, I believe this will make the efforts more effective in combating the dropout rate. Therefore, the effects of the dropout crisis identified by Orfield (2004) in Cooper (2014) :

1. Are four times as likely to be on welfare; 2. Face higher rates of unemployment over their lifetime; 3. Have a higher likelihood of serving time in prison; 4. Are more likely to go without health insurance or pension plans; 5. Are likely to lead less healthy and shorter lives; and 6. Face lower average earnings; can be avoided (p.23),

can be avoided. All elements at school, especially the school leader needs to have a strong commitment to realize these three approaches.


Cooper, Kristy. (2013). Students at risks for dropping out from school (Chapter C). A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.

Dynarski, M., Clarke, L., Cobb, B., Finn, J.,Rumberger, R. Smink, J. (2008). Dropout prevention practice guide. Institute of Education Sciences. (NCEE 2008-4025).

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., Mac Iver, D.J., (2007). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grades schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42(4), 223-235.

English Learner Problems and some Alternative Solutions

Dion Ginanto


Nobody can choose what country they were born in. Therefore, in whatever country they belong, they will speak the language. However, for some reasons, there are a lot of students who cannot avoid the situation in which they must learn another language, due to their parents migrating to another country. Consequently, the students must be able to adapt to the new culture and the new language. The main reasons why students must learn the new language are either for survival or for enhancing their general profile of skills (Orozco, Orozco, and Todorova, 2008). One example in which a student experienced this kind of phenomenon is depicted by Moises in the short Movie entitled Immersion. In the movie, Moises faced some challenges to the school, which has different languages and cultures. This paper will discuss some alternative solutions for a school principal to overcome the problem of the English Learner students from my perspective.

Moises in the Movie

            The movie Immersion by Richard Levien is about a ten-year-old Moises who has just immigrated to California from Mexico. He is very good at math, but he speaks no English. One day, he was able to get the right answers of the math exercise, but another student Enrique, poaches the answer from him and Moises ends up being embarrassed in front of the class. Moises has requested a Spanish version of the test, but the teacher does not know what to do. The teacher has asked the principal for the Spanish version of the math test, but the principal said that they are not even permitted to speak to the student in Spanish. Moises almost decided not to do math test since his classmate, Ferrado, thought that they would fail the test. Moises did arithmetic part of the test easily, but he did not understand the word problems at all.

This phenomenon happens not only for Moises, but I believe there are some Moiseses outside the movie who have the same problems. On one hand, the school need to fulfill the NCLB act that requested the school to perform well. However, the students who do not speak English well would hinder the progress of schools meeting the goals of this legislation (Parmon, 2010).

Some Alternative Solutions

As an educator we need to work hard to help the students like Moses to get the same rights as other students in schools, and we need to strive to realize the NCLB acts. There are some solutions regarding Moises’s problem in the Immersion movie: 1. Bilingual education, 2. After school program, 3. Parental involvement, and 4. Cultural education.

  1. Bilingual education

Parmon (2010) wrote that bilingual education involves teaching academic content in two languages, with varying amounts of time spent in both the native language and secondary language, depending on the specific program. This program promotes English proficiency for the students, but the students need to maintain their native languages and cultures. There are several types of bilingual education. Some programs may be considered to be more effective than others, it depends on the school demographics. Zacarian & Haynes (2012) in Cooper (2013) divided bilingual program into four parts: maintenance bilingual, bilingual immersion, transitional bilingual and structured immersion. Cooper (2013) defines maintenance bilingual and bilingual immersion as bilingual programs that promote bilingualism and bi-literacy; the goal is to develop proficiency in two languages. These models work best when the school has a critical mass of students with the same native languages. Meanwhile, transitional bilingual does not promote bilingualism and biliteracy. The goals of transitional bilingual are to move English learners as quickly as possible to English proficiency (Cooper, 2013). The last type of bilingual programs is structural immersion. This model does not promote bilingualism and bileteracy. The goal is for students to learn as they master the content. This program is primarily, if not exclusively, taught in English (Cooper, 2013).

Given the four programs of bilingual education, the principal of Moises is free to choose which program is best suitted to the students in the school. The principal should choose a program that is considered to be effective, so that the school meets the academic needs of the diverse learners (Parmon, 2010).

  1. After school program

The movie Immersion reveals that the students are so diverse. Even though the movie only focuses on Moises and Ferrado, who have difficulties in English, I believe there are some other students in the school who have similar problems. I propose that the school organizes an after school program for EL students. The aim of the after school program is not merely to teach English, but also to teach culture and materials, which are needed by the students like Moises. The school principal, who is also community leader, should be able to promote this program to the community. By increasing the communities’ awareness to the importance of the program, they will help accomplish the school’s mission by either financing or voluntary staffing the program. Khalifa (2012) asserted that, based on several studies, school leadership can play a role in community-oriented goals, improve the neighborhood community, and thus, improve the lives of the students.

  1. Parental Involvement

Orozco, Orozco, and Todorova (2008) asserted that there is a clear link between parental education and how well a person learns a new language. I agree with this thought; but also wonder if the parents also have the same problems; they speak no English. Moises’ family are the immigrants from Mexico that seem to speak Spanish only. Therefore, asking parents to speak English informally at home will seems not succeed. Parental involvement here is not merely asking them to teach English, instead the school should be able to make them part of the school life. Noguera (2004) contended that the form of involvement is not merely calling parents to be more caring to students and more supportive of teachers, but rather creating and developing partnerships based upon mutual accountability and responsibility. Khalifa (2012) wrote about at least two approaches for a school principal to engage parental involvement: 1. Establishing a strong community presence to create community trust (by creating opportunities for parents to come into the schools, and through community-based advocacy, doing home visits, visiting a church, leading a rally against racism in schools, etc.), and 2. Placing the community issues at the center of the school (community partnership goals, and advocating for community-based goals).

  1. Multicultural education

Zacarian and Haynes (2012) wrote that there is a particularly challenge for SLIFE (programs for EL students); that they may feel and be put down by their peers and others for their lack of literacy skills. This phenomenon really happens in the Immersion movie in which Moises was embarrassed by his friends in the class. He also had to get out from the kickball game for the lack of English ability. This tragedy should not happen if the school teaches the students about diversity of culture. Teaching culture in the class is commonly called multicultural education. Delpit (2006) asserted that teachers should realize that students have different cultural and language backgrounds, and therefore, schools need to address multicultural education in schools. Moises and some other Spanish students will not feel embarrassed if all students understand that the students who are from a different country will have different cultures and languages, and therefore, every students should respect cultural diversity. If I were the principal of the school where Moises studied, I would add multicultural education to be embedded in every subject in the classroom.

In conclusion, Moises in the Immersion movie should be treated equally. Thus, the principal should be able to administer some programs that can help Moises and other international students adjust to the new culture at schools. I believe that by giving students programs such as bilingual education, after school programs, parental involvement, and multicultural education, this will lead to the betterment of the school in dealing with immigrant students. Since the main role of the principal are as an instructional leader and community leader, the principal therefore, should stand on the front line of dealing with school problems, including the immigrant student problems.



Cooper, Kristy. (2013). Students who are english learners (Chapter A). A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.

Delpit, L. (2006) Other Peoples Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. New York: New Press.

Khalifa, M. (2012). A e-new-ed paradigm in successful urban school leadership: Principal as community leader. Educational Administration Quarterly.

Noguera, P. A. (2004) Transforming urban schools through investments in the social capital of parents.  New York, New York:  In Motion Magazine.

Orozco, Orozco, and Todorova. (2008). Learning a new land: Immigrant students in American Society. Chapter 4: “The Challenge of learning englsih.”

Parmon, P. (2011) Educating immigrant children: Bilingualism in america’s schools. Social Sciences Journal. 10(1)



Immersion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6Y0HAjLKYI