Professional Learning Community and Team Leadership

Dion Ginanto

            Organization is complex and dynamic. To deal with its dynamics and complexity, a leader should be creative and innovative in order to maintain the balance of the organizations. Bekhard (in Gallos, 2006) asserted that an organization which can effectively adapt and cope with changes in its environment is therefore called an effective organization. School is one example which is always facing the dynamics and complexity of organization, including students’ attendance, discipline, performance, teachers’ collaboration, etc. The people in the building (teachers, principal, staff, and students) should be able to adjust to the situation and need to be ready to welcome changes. Every school setting has its different problems and every leader has different approaches to cope with them. However, they will always have the common issue/goal of improving students’ performance/success. Therefore, a school principal needs to be ready to stand in the front line to empower everybody as an agent of change to achieve the school’s goals. This paper discusses one organization in which I teach: SMAN 1 Batanghari, Indonesia. This paper answers the following questions: 1) What challenges are faced by SMAN 1 Batanghari in term of organizational development? 2) What approach/intervention should a leader undertake to make a better performance? 3) What leadership style (recommendation) could be use based on analysis of the context, diagnosis and identified intervention?

SMAN 1 Batanghari

            SMAN 1 Batanghari is the oldest public high school in the district of Batanghari, Jambi Province, Indonesia. This school was promoted to be an international standard school; however, the policy of implementing international-based standard was terminated due to several evaluations by congress, NGOs, and researchers. This school has 743 students, 45 teachers, and 10 staff. The school was established in 1978.

            SMAN 1Batanghari is led by a principal and seven assistant principals (ap), who have different roles and job descriptions: 1) ap for students affair; 2) ap for curriculum; 3) ap for instruction and teaching materials; 4) ap for external relations; 5) ap for infrastructures and facilities; 6) ap for information and technology; and 7) ap for quality improvement. This is interesting, because usually high schools in Indonesia usually only have four assistant principals. I had ever asked my principal why we have more assistant principals than other schools did. My principal gave me two answers: 1) to help him develop our school; 2) to help teachers get more hours in teaching. The second answer sounds interesting to me, because in Indonesia every teacher (except ap) needs to teach 24 hours a week. Because we have more teachers than the other schools do, then our school also added more assistant principals (assistant principals may teach 12 hours a week, with their additional ap jobs).

            Our school’s vision is “Menjadi sekolah bertaraf internasional yang berkarakter budaya bangsa, serta unggul dalam prestasi”: to be an international based school, which maintains local wisdoms, as well as to be a high-achieving school. Compared to other schools in our district, SMAN 1 Batanghari has more facilities, teachers, and resources. In addition, the total number of students continuing to college is also higher, compared to neighbor schools. However, this school still needs to improve its performances, especially its notion of teachers, including teachers collaboration, creating atmosphere of trust among teachers, improving teachers quality, etc.    

 Diagnosis for SMAN 1 Batanghari (a Case Study)

            Almost all high schools in Indonesia, or even in the world, have one ultimate goal: students’ success. In order to meet students’ success, most high schools in Indonesia have similar problems/challenges: The teacher issue. I am focusing on teachers, because teachers are the most influential factor in a school’s success. Sari and Tedjasaputra (2010) wrote that there is an increasing expectation for teachers in many part of the world to ensure that their students meet high standard performances in learning, and are competitive assets in this globalized world. Nevertheless, with this high demand for teachers performances, Indonesian teachers (including my school, based on my experience of my four years of teaching) are facing several problems: 1) lack of collaboration (Sari and Tedjasaputra, 20012); 2) ineffectiveness of professional development (Thair and Traagust, 2003); and 3) lack of resources (Thair and Traagust, 2003).

  1. Lack of Collaboration

Lack of collaboration seems to be a common problem in every school in the world. SMAN 1 Batanghari, based on my experience, is also lacking of collaboration. What parts of collaboration are lacking at SMAN 1 Batanghari? There are two parts of collaboration which are missing: informal and formal collaboration. Informal collaboration is the collaboration that occurs as a result of teachers’ personal initiatives, without having a regularized structure (Sawyer & Kaufman, 2007). An example of informal collaboration is spontaneous conversations in the teachers’ lounge or hallway (Hargreaves, 1994 in Sawyer & Kaufman, 2007). We do have informal conversations; however I feel that the topics are away from teaching and learning. Rather, it is about daily life that has no connection with education.

Formal collaboration occurs less frequently, and has protocols, guidelines, and techniques; it is typically established by the school administration (Sawyer & Kaufman, 2007). Several examples of formal collaboration, as summarized by Sawyer & Kaufman (2007), are teaching teams, exchanging classes, co-teaching, peer coaching, study groups, and small-scale conduct of applied research in supportive teams. Based on my experiences and observations, formal collaboration as mentioned by Sawyer and Kaufman are not yet implemented well in our school.

I also feel that in our school, the teachers are divided into two parts: novice teachers and veteran teachers. Based on my observations so far, there is a gap between the two groups. The novice teachers feel they are not welcome; meanwhile, the old teachers do not feel comfortable to collaborate with the young teachers, due to the age gap. The novice teachers are reluctant to ask questions to old teachers; meanwhile, the old teachers resist the new ideas brought by novice teachers. The senior teachers seem to use the old methods and theories of teaching and learning; meanwhile, the novice teachers always come up with up-to-date theories and methodology of teaching practices.

  1. Ineffectiveness of Professional Development (PD)

For most teachers in Indonesia, they are lacking in professional development. The PD is centered in a district or at the provincial level. Thus, there are a lot of teachers who do not have a chance to do PD. Meanwhile, there are certain teachers who are always sent as a school representative for PD; and most of them are those who have close connections with the principal or superintendent.

And yet, the PD is not effectively applied. Scott and Scott (in Sari and Tedja, 2010) argued that current teachers’ professional development in Indonesia mostly emphasizes “directive” method and prescriptive information dissemination with little emphasis on teachers interaction and collaboration. As a result, PD is not really effective to support school changes.

I have been teaching for five years, but I was not lucky enough to be sent to PD at the provincial level. When I asked my principal about it, he told me that the quota was not enough; I need to wait until next year. Nevertheless, after waiting for the following year, I still had no chance for PD at the provincial level, and the reason remained the same: there were not enough quotas. Therefore, I am thinking of a professional development at the school level. I believe if the principal can empower his assistant principals to be teacher coaches then we can have regular PD without being afraid that teachers do not have enough quotas for self-development.

  1. Lack of Resources

I could not agree more with the notion of lack of resources for teachers in Indonesia, by Thahir and Traagust (2003). The centralized program that invites one or two trainers will cause a lot of teachers to be on the waiting list for a long time to get PD. Can we imagine if in one district, the government only does one or two professional development programs? How can teachers elevate their knowledge? How can they adjust to the changes? The lack of trainers/instructors for PD in Indonesia has become a serious problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. If our school only counts on PD offered by the government, I am afraid that teachers in our school will inevitably find themselves teaching in the same way they have done all the time.

Other resources that is still lacking in my school are books and journals about professional development that can promote collaboration. However, if the principal can provide professional development within the school, then we can buy several books or journals which can be shared and used together in groups.

Professional Learning Community (PLC) as an Alternative Change

Given all the challenges in most schools in Indonesia, including my school, Professional Learning Community (PLC) is considered to be one effective approach to make change. What is PLC? Dufour, Dofour and Eaker (2012) wrote that PLC is an activity in which educators are committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research, in order to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning community enables teachers to work in teams (not in a group) by focusing their activities on the success of the students. PLC is ideally initiated by a school principal within the building, and it is conducted regularly for his/her teachers, focusing on several topics to improve instruction including topics on increasing students’ positive behavior.

There are three components of PLC according, to DuFour (2004): 1) ensuring that students learn; 2) focus on results; and 3) a culture of collaboration. Further, DuFour (2004) asserted that improving school by developing PLC is becoming a trend in many schools in the United States of America. In line with this, Dennis Sparks (in Schmoker, 2006) emphasized that professional learning communities are indeed the best form of staff development so far.

What kinds of activities are in PLC? The answer is, as long as an activity promotes collaboration, focuses on results, and ensures that students learn, we can call them as PLC. For example classroom walkthroughs, instructional rounds, staff development using protocols, curriculum designs, mentoring, journaling, lesson study, study/reading groups, dialogue, action research, etc. can all be considered PLC. The point is, if PD is usually held three to four times in a year, and is held at the district or provincial level (Indonesian context) attended only a few of participants, we can do PLC weekly and at the school level.

My two favorite programs that I would use if I become a principal are classroom walkthrough and staff development using protocols. I did on internship in several schools here in East Lansing, and I learned that classroom walkthroughs are very effective for maintaining and increasing the quality of teachers in the classroom. By doing classroom walkthrough all teachers will feel that they are not alone in the classroom. They can exchange feedback, and therefore the quality of instruction will remain positive. In addition, in order for teachers to have a formal dialogue on a small scope, I will apply self-development using protocols. Protocols have been proven effective in several research studies, for leading discussion to be more efficient and effective. Protocols are also considered to be a tool to make sustainable self-development.

Team Leadership

To implement the change, in this case PLC a school should deploy an appropriate leadership style which fits to the situation and the context. MetLife Foundation (n.d) put leadership as one standard for professional learning: “Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning” (MetLife Foundation, n.d). One leadership style that can be applied to implement PLC is team leadership.

What is team leadership? Team leadership is a leadership style in which the members are interdependent, share common goals, and must coordinate their activities to accomplish organizational goals (Hill, in Northouse, 2013). By sharing common goals, every single teacher in the building can feel empowered. As a result, their sense of belongingness in the school increases; and eventually we can achieve our goals together. Team leadership is similar to distributed leadership. Distributed leadership involves sharing influence by team members who step forward when situations warrant providing the leadership necessary, and then stepping back to allow others to lead (Hill, in Northouse, 2013).

Team leadership is congruent with the idea of PLC, in which every body is a learner. Teachers are learners, staff is learners, students are learners, and the principal is a learner. Therefore, implementing change in a professional learning community by using team leadership will be effective, not only because PLC and team leadership have something in common, but also because this leadership style fits with our culture and tradition of “Gotong Royong.” Gotong Royong is rooted in rural Javanese culture. It refers to the principle of mutual help among neighbors in a community (Asian Disaster Reduction Center and International Recovery Platform, 2011). Because teachers are already used to the idea of gotong royong, the ideas of PLC, and team leadership therefore can be implemented effectively.

How does It Work?

There are several strategies I will apply to make PLC works in SMAN 1 Batanghari. My first strategy is planning. Almost every successful activity is started with effective planning. Therefore, I will also think about planning in order to run PLC smoothly. Collecting the data is part of the planning strategy. I will disseminate a questionnaire about collaboration and PLC to the students and teachers. Then I will also do a survey as well as observation, to obtain factual data before I make a decision to change. By having data-driven decision-making, I will avoid making a decision based only on assumptions.

The second step of implementing change is socialization. I will introduce the idea of PLC to teachers, staff, and students. There have been a lot of changes which did not bring success, or even made matters worse; one reason is that the leader failed to communicate the importance of the idea of change. I will have both informal and formal conversations with people in the building about the idea of PLC. In addition, effective communication is also a part of team leadership.

The third step is empowering everyone to take part. The idea of team leadership is that everybody can lead. Therefore, it is important to build trust among colleagues in the building. The first approach is providing a positive role model, and making everybody in the school feel comfortable with my leadership. Thus, everybody will feel that they are being appreciated, and finally they will voluntarily take part in the idea of change we brought.

            Having a clear and regular schedule of PLC is my fourth step. The difficult part of making successful change is sustainability to make a sustainable program; we usually have a time constraint, because every teacher has a lack of time to do PLC. Therefore, I will implement the policy by taking one hour every Saturday (every month) for a professional learning activity. The students will go home one hour earlier every Saturday (every month). The schedule will be put on the hallway announcements board, as well as in the teachers’ office, so that the teachers are aware of the PLC.

            The last step is evaluating. Evaluation is so important to measure the strengths and weaknesses of the program. I will have both formal (survey and questionnaire) and informal (informal conversation with teachers) evaluation. The evaluation will tell drive me whether or not I should continue PLC for the next level.

Conclusion

To sum up, all organizations, including a high school, need always to make changes. This is because change is an inevitable part of a good organization. One program that I will implement to make a change in my school is PLC. I believe that by implementing PLC in my school, I will be able to increase collaboration among teachers. Having good collaboration in the building will bring a positive environment in the school (positive school climate). The ultimate goal of implementing change (PLC) in my school is the students’ success. In order to make a smooth change in my organization, I will deploy several steps in my team leadership: planning, socializing, empowering, having a clear schedule, and evaluating.

 

 

 

References:

Asian Disaster Reduction Center and International Recovery Platform. (2011). “Gotong Royong” in the recovery processes: The case of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Availabele: http://www.jointokyo.org/files/cms/news/pdf/04_ADRC_Gotong_Royong_in_recovery.pdf

 

DoFour, R. (2004) What is a professional learning community. ASCD Journal. 61(8) p. 6-11.

 

Dufour, Dofour & Eaker (2012) A big picture look at professional learning community. Solution Tree.

 

Gallos , J.V. (2006). Organizational development: A Jossey-Bass reader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

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

 

Sawyer and Kaufman (2007). Teacher collaboration in the context of the responsice classroom approach. Teacher and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 13(3) 211-245.

 

Sari, E. and Tedjasaputra, A. (2010). Collaborative learning among Australasian educators through online learning community (OLC). In C.H. Steel, M.J. Keppell, P. Gerbic & S. Housego (eds.), Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. Proceedings ascilite Sydney 2010 (p. 869-871).

 

Schmoker, M. (2004). Start here for improving teaching and learning. School Administrator. 61(10). p. 48.

 

Thair, M and Treagust, D.F. (2003). A brief history of a science teacher professional development initiative in Indonesia and the implications for centralized teacher development. International Journal of Education Development. 23(2) p.201-213

 

 

Book Review: Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit

Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal

JOSSEY-BASS, 2001

$24.95, 224 pages

 Image

Reviewed by Dion Ginanto

 

Often time, we see a lot of leaders achieve so many accomplishments, however they feel something empty in their life. They feel something is missing in their achievements. We often also read, watch, and listen to mass medias that several successful leaders in companies, or other institutions ended up committing suicide. Leaders who find empty space in their minds and souls will feel lonely in the crowds. They know a lot of theory about leadership, they know how to meet the goals and visions on their organizations, but one thing: spiritual/soul.

I am impressed by how Bolman and Deal make us aware that the way we live so far has created confusion. “Too many workplaces are almost devoid of meaning and purpose. They are ruled by technology, efficiency, and the bottom line, with little regard for what human beings need in order to experience personal fulfillment and success. Over time, this takes a heavy toll on motivation, loyalty, and performance. It is a read to crisis and decay-unless we find ways to reinfuse the workplace with passion, zest, and spirit” (p.6). Moreover, the social media and technology surround us have created gap in our society, and we tend to interact on line rather than in person.

Bolman and Deal offered us to go back to our nature, to re-interact to our soul and heart, to communicate to belief, as well as our spiritual concept. Leading with spiritual concept is an approach introduced by Bolman and Deal in their book “Leading with Soul”. This book is very important for us to find a harmony and quality in our leadership capacity. This book also offers the reader how to lead with love and heart. I like this book, and I hope you will like it too.

 About the Author

Lee G. Bolman is very famous on his books especially on leadership and organization. I have read several books of him and I love them all. He is not only an author, but he is also a teacher and a consultant. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a B.A. degree in history and a Ph.D. degree in organizational behavior at Yale University.

Terrace E. Deal is also an author, teacher, and consultant. Terry (his nick name) holds a B.A degree in history from the University of La Verne, an M.A. degree in educational administration from California State University at Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. degree in education and sociology from Stanford University. He lives in Saint Luis Obispo, California[1].

About the Book

            This book is so interesting, because it combines narrative stories and thoughtful knowledge about leadership. The book starts with one man’s spiritual journey to find the meaning and the essence of his on leadership style, Steven Camden. Steve is a smart corporate executive who has achieved incredible successes in his career and organization. However, both his boss and Steve feel that there is something missing in Steve’s life. “He told her needing unity, but people’s never agreeing. He said he needed a vision, but it was hard to see beyond next week. He told her he was lost. Things seemed to be falling apart. He’d never felt that way before” (p. 21). Therefore, the boss sent him to Maria, a great mentor who then brought Steve to several spiritual journeys.

            At the very beginning of the mentorship, Maria introduced the concept of spirit and faith. Maria defined sprit as the internal force that sustains meaning and hope. Maria continued that without spirit and faith, a human being would lose their way. They live without zest, they will go through the motions, but there is no passion (p. 22). Of course, Steve was so hard to accept the spiritual concept to be induced to his leadership style. He argued that he was not a church leader.

            Not only that, when Maria taught him about a new journey, a journey of the heart: “your heart is more than a pump. It’s your spiritual center. It’s courage and compassion. If you lose heart, life is empty, lonely. You’re always busy but never fulfilled” (p.27). Steve still wanted to argue. He wanted to protest, however the more he wanted to react, the more curious he was.

            From his spiritual Journey, Steve learnt the concept of leading with soul. “A journey of the soul is a quest through uncharted territory. You find your way by opening your eyes, and your heart” (p. 31). We often discuss about the importance of integrity, but we sometimes ignore that integrity itself is rooted in identity and faith. That’s one reason that spirit and soul are at the heart of the most successful leadership (p. 42).

            Then how can we find our spiritual power within ourselves? To answer this question, Bolman and Deal brings us to the incredible dialogue between Maria and Steve: (1) by ourselves: “Maria tells Steve to look both inside and outside because his quest will require both an internal exploration of soul and external search for communion (p. 63); (2) prayer: “Prayer is primary speech; it starts without words and often ends without them… it works some of the time in signs and symbols, lurches when it must, leaps when it can, has several kinds of logical disposal (p. 62); (3) meditating : “meditating includes: studying scriptures, singing hymns, following prescribed rituatls, journeying to sacred palces, and contemplating nature (p.63). In almost every religion, including Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism they practice meditative tradition” (p. 64).

            Our final output of leading with soul is that we can make a change harmoniously. Of course to make a change of our surrounding, we should be able to find ourselves and make a positive change inside our mind and soul. I do agree with Bolman and Deal that at the end, when we are already able to explore our inner being, a search of our spiritual center; only then we can lead others. Eventually, it is not our techniques, our talents, or our knowledge that matter; it is our being.

My Criticism

Regardless of the fabulous contents of this book, I have two criticisms:

  1. At the first time, I found difficulties to found which one is the dialogue, and which one is the statement. Bolman and Deal were not really clear to differentiate between the two. They do not put quotation mark on the direct sentence for both Maria and Steve. Therefore, for several international readers, they will find a little bit difficulties in understanding the dialogue. Because sometimes we are confused, which statement belongs to Maria, which questions belong to Steve, and with sentences belong to Bolman and Deal.
  2. I do not really agree that in order to find a spiritual/soul leadership quality, one needs to do a journey as well as to find a mentor. Bolman and Deal listed three steps for a spiritual journey: (1) leaving home: often physically but especially psychically and spiritually; (2) the quest: overwhelming danger and challenge, initial impulse to reject the journey; and (3) returning home: new capacities and deeper understanding. I am afraid if every future leader should be sent like Steve did, then the institution will suffer from a great loss because everybody will leave works for a journey.

 

Other than these two criticisms, this book offers readers useful tools to find ourselves, and to teach us to go back to our nature: spirit, heart, and soul.

Conclusion

Arnold (2014) asserted that organizations are complex, ambiguous, always changing, and dynamics, therefore as a leader we are demanded to have a more complex and critical thinking. In order to have a complex and critical thinking, somebody needs to find it from within. Bolman and Deal are successfully bringing the readers to understand one way to find the inner power by recognizing soul, heart, and spiritual belief.

This book is astonishing. I do recommend this book to everyone who wants to find a love, work, and harmony. As a Muslim, I also believe that our heart is the center of our being. As our prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us that “Surely, in the body there is a small piece of flesh; if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted, and that is surely the heart” [Bukhari in Baianonie][2]. The three steps to find ourselves: (1) by ourselves, (2) prayer, and (3) meditation, also taught in our religion. Regardless of my belief as Muslim, this book has a universal value. This book even recognizes Allah, Jahweh, Budha, God, and whatever you want to call your God is. The most important thing is that we need to be able to dig deeply to find our soul and spirit, in order to be able to make a change by using our leadership. I do believe by leading with soul we can create a better organization within our environment.

 

Reference:

Bolman, L.G., & Deal, T.E. (2001). Leading with soul: an uncommon journey of spirit. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

Baianonie, M.I. (1997) Priority of the deeds of the heart to the deeds of the limbs. Retrieved from: http://islam1.org/khutub/Priority_of_Deeds.htm

 

 

 

 

[1] Summarized from “The Authors” in Bolman and Deal (2001)

[2] Al-hadith, by Bukhari.

Organizations and Leadership: Fly High Like a PLANE

Dion Ginanto (2014)

Michigan State University

Organizations are complex and dynamic. Bolman and Gallos (2011) asserted that organizations, including universities and other types, have their complex mission, dynamics, personnel structures, and values that require a distinct set of understandings and skills to lead and manage them well. To deal with the complexities and the dynamics of organizations, a strong and applicable leadership style is needed. Leadership and organization are like two sides of the same coin. Each one supports the other. If we want to succeed in our organization, we need to have good leadership within the system. If I compare leadership and organization in a real situation, the analogy that I use is a plane and its pilot. The plane is the organization, which includes passengers, flight attendants, crews, etc. Meanwhile, leadership is what the pilot needs to have. A smart and brave pilot will make sure that his plane and its passengers are safe to the final destination.

There is no fixed leadership style that can be used to manage organizations, and as Green (1992) mentioned in his paper, there is not yet agreement on what that leadership should look like. This paper, however, elaborates the basic standard of organization and leadership. I discuss the notion of organization and leadership in the form of PLANE and PILOT. PLANE and PILOT are abbreviations for the elements and attributes of organizational development. PLANE is short for: 1. Plan your goals and vision; 2. Lead by doing; 3. Actualize trust; 4. Notify the job descriptions as accountable and distributed; 5. Enjoy your team. Meanwhile, PILOT is short for: 1. Persistence; 2. Integrity; 3. Liability/Responsibility, 4. Openness; and 5. Taking a Risk/Risk Taker.

Fly High like a PLANE

What is organization? There are a lot of definitions offered by scholars and researchers, such as Weber, who focused on bureaucracy and authority; Barnard, who is known for his conscious and purposeful coordination; and Marx, who stressed organization in its collective activities and outcomes (Hall, 1996).  Regardless of the many definitions of organization, PLANE tries to give us five pillars that develop the most basic elements of organization.

  1. Plan your goals/vision

A Plane will not be able to land without knowing its destination. Goals and/or vision are the destination that a plane will land on. A leader and his/her team should collaborate to decide what goal and vision they need to accomplish in the following years. Goals can be long-term or short-term. Rowley and Sherman (2003) contended that the organizational setting (i.e., universities) should be able to collegially set up its goals by using effective leadership. In envisioning the future, leaders define a mission, set priorities, communicate a sense of direction, and inspire others to take initiative; all of these should be done collaboratively (Green, 2011).

  1.  Lead by Doing

All leaders are learners. Therefore, in managing an organization, both leaders and subordinates need to always learn to achieve organizational goals. Leading by doing means “Do What You Say You Will Do-DWYSYWD” (Arnold, 2013). It does not mean that what we do in our organization is always correct; rather, everybody (not only the leader) should learn from their mistakes and turn their mistakes into a valuable experience. Green (2011) questioned how individuals find out ways to enhance their ability to envision the future, to exercise symbolic leadership, and to understand themselves and their institutions in all their complexity (Green, 1992, p. 62). Also, a good quote from a golden rule “treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated- applies when managing in an academic setting” (Rowley & Sherman, 2003, p. 1061), is a good illustration of how to lead by doing.

  1. Actualize Trust

Trust is the most valuable element in an organization. There will be no good collaboration without having good trust. Rowley and Sherman (2003) defined trust as follows:

Trust cannot be commanded. Trust must always be earned. Leaders and managers earn trust by being thoroughly honest in every respect, by distributing resources fairly and openly, and by maintaining a positive relationship with peers and subordinates. (p. 1061)

Trust is a model for building a good collective and collaborative action within the organization. Gregory and Kuzmich (2007) asserted, “People need to feel safe. If we are asking people to risk, they need to do so in trustworthy environments” (p.xvi).

  1. Notify the Job Description as Accountable and Distributed

I quote a nice statement from Bolman and Deal (2008) to describe how important job descriptions are “If things are out of control, then the system needs clearer rules and procedures, as well as tighter job descriptions.” This statement indicates that an organization needs to set clear, accountable, and distributed job descriptions. Green (1992) suggested that greater complexities and workloads require individuals to manage more effectively, think more broadly, and interact with different parts of the institution.

  1. Enjoy your team

A team is different from a group. Within a team, individuals maintain communication and collaboration to achieve a goal. A group, however, does not need collaboration to achieve its goal. Organization is an example of a team. Therefore, individuals within an organization should work collaboratively. Hall (1996) asserted that organizations require communications, willingness on the part of members to contribute, and a common purpose among them; each individual needs to communicate, be motivated, and make decisions. Therefore, each organization must enjoy their team, respect others, celebrate diversity, and maintain collaboration.

These five foundations of organization are mostly generated from scholars who focuse on higher education contexts. However, these values can also be applied to K-12 organization. A school as an organization should have its goals, should lead by doing, should be able to create trust, and should notify its job descriptions and make them accountable and distributed, and the school should enjoy the team. These five elements are flexible and general. I believe that by applying these five elements, every organization will fly high like a PLANE.

PILOT

The PLANE will not fly high without a PILOT. An organization without good leadership will not achieve its goals. Therefore, every organization needs leadership qualities to set the direction of an organization. Five basic qualities that I propose for an organization are: 1. Persistence; 2. Integrity; 3. Liability/Responsibility, 4. Openness; 5. Taking a Risk/Risk Taker (PILOT).

  1. Persistence

Persistence is defined as staying fixed on the goals, despite interference (Northhouse, 2013). When the goals of the school (organization) have been set, then as a leader we need to keep our goals on track.  Leaders who have determination and persistence are willing to assert themselves, are proactive, and have the capacity to persevere in the face of obstacles (Northshouse, 2013, p. 25).

  1. Integrity

Integrity is the quality of honesty and trustworthiness. People who adhere to a strong set of principles and take responsibility for their actions are exhibiting integrity (Northhouse, 2013, p. 25). My school principal when I was teaching in a rural school back in Indonesia, is one example of this leadership trait. Our school is located in a very rural area, with no paved roads nor electricity. His house is two hours away using motorcycle. However, he is always at school almost every day. His integrity inspires the teachers to work sincerely.

  1. Liability/Responsibility

Liability, or Responsibility, is one of ten characteristics which is associated with a positive leadership by Studgdill. Stugdill (1997), in Northhouse (2013), put responsibility as the first survey item: “Drive for responsibility and task completion.” Liability/responsibility is one missing characteristic in my school environment, based on my observation during five years of teaching. The unavailability of walkthroughs and classroom visits by our school principal, made almost every teacher not really do his or her job well. Based on my observations so far, there are a lot of teachers who ask students to write a resume of a book chapter, while he or she leaves them for breakfast or coffee time.

  1. Openness

Openness is defined as having confidence that communication is not withheld and that it is freely shared (Whitehead, Boschee, Decker, 2013, p. 342).  In line with this, Northhouse (2013) described openness as the tendency to be informed, creative, insightful, and curious (p. 27). In developing a country setting like my school back in Indonesia, openness is becoming a major concern. The issue of corruption that has spread all over sectors, including schools, has created some reforms within our school environment.

  1. Taking a Risk/Risk Taker

Risk taking is also part of Stogdill’s second survey: “Risk taking and originality in problem solving” (Stodgil, 1997, in Northouse, 2013). Not all leaders are brave enough to take a risk. Most inexperienced leaders tend to stay in their comfort zone, and they are not willing to make a big impact by taking risks for their decisions.

Conclusion

To conclude, organization settings such as K-12 schools and higher education have different quality and systems. Therefore, there is no fixed system that can be applied and is generally applicable to every organizational setting. For instance, a high school in East Lansing has a different quality of organization and leadership than a high school in a developing country, as in Indonesia. It is our rule to find out what best practices of leadership are applicable to our organizational setting. This is what some scholars have called the contingency approach. Galbraith (1973), in Senge (1996), defined the contingency approach as the condition in which there is no best pattern, but at the same time not all patterns are equally effective. As mentioned by Peterson (n.d), every organization needs to be ready with the notion of changes and dynamics; therefore, we must be ready with new organizational models. Therefore, PLANE and PILOT are basics concepts/models, which may or may not be applicable to all organizations. The key point is that as a leader, we need to cultivate our environment to find the best practices for an effective organization.

Reference:

 

Bolman, L.G & Deal (2008). Simple ideas, complex organizations. In Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership, p. 23-44. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bolman, L.G. & Gallos, J.V. (2011). Reframing academic leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hall, R.H.  (1996). On the nature and types of organizations. In R.H. Hall, Organizations, structures, processes, and outcomes, p. 26-45.

Gregory, GH., & Kuzmich, Lin. (2007). Teacher teams that get results: 61 strategies for sustaining and renewing professional learning communities. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

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

Peterson, M.W. (n.d). The study of colleges and universities as organizations. In P.J. Gumport (Ed.), Sociology of higher education: Contributions and their contexts, p. 147-180. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rowley, D. J., & Sherman, H. (2003). The special challenges of academic leadership. Management Decision, 41(10), 1058-1063.

Senge, P.M. (1996). Systems thinking. Executive Excellence, 13(1), 15-16.

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

 William, Arnold. (2013). EAD (801) Leadership and organizational development. A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.

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).

Conclusion

    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.

Reference:

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.

 


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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.

 

Reference:

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.

 

Some Approaches to the Betterment of Special Education

Dion Ginanto

 

The value of social justice must be spread everywhere. There will always be issues related to social justice, especially at schools. We are not supposed to surrender speaking out to strive against discrimination, including the discrimination against special education students. Often times we feel satisfied with the idea of the inclusion, but we seldom evaluate if what we did has given satisfaction to our student with disabilities. The testimony video from Youtube by Emily Hawkins has shown us that there is some work to do in term of the special education problem at schools. As a principal, we need to always improve our service to all students, including to the students with disabilities.  In this paper, I discuss some ideas of how we can improve the quality of services for special education students.

Student with Disabilities

Pullen & Hallahan (2011) in Cooper (2013) identified 11 categories of special education: 1. Intellectual and developmental disabilities; 2. Learning disabilities; 3. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; 4. Emotional/behavioral disorders; 5. Communication disorders; 6. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students; 7. Blindness and low vision; 8. Traumatic brain injury; 9. Autism spectrum disorders; 10. Multiple and severe disabilities; and 11. Special gifts and talents (p. 17). The effort to strive to put the students with disabilities into the heterogeneous class was started in 1970. In 1970, only 20% of students with disabilities were educated in America’s public school and there were over three million students with disabilities that did not receive an education that was appropriate to their needs (Yell, Katsiyannis, & Bradley, 2011 in Cooper, 2013). Yet, we need to still work hard to give a better education for special education students, even though we have a better system right now.

Some Approaches to the Betterment of Special Education

The short video clip from Youtube by Emily Hawkins showed us that there are some problems she encountered when she received special education at schools: the horrible placement test, the feeling of being babied, and the lack of accommodation.  She compared college to the public school systems. When she was in middle and high school, she always received a test to measure her specialness; however, she was put in uncomfortable circumstances. She also felt overprotected by the school as well as she did not feel like she belonged in the school. Even though there are some educational settings that served her well, such as great teachers who could teach her well, we need to still improve the quality for special ed students.  There are some approaches to better serve the students with disabilities which I adopted fromm Theoharis’ (2009) idea of modern inclusion: 1. Collaborative teams; 2. Increasing positive climate and instructional practices; and 3. Increasing accountability system.

  1. Collaborative Teams

Lashley (2007) contended that if we want to improve our services to the students with disability, we need to increase the number of personnel to serve them. This is aimed to give more services with high quality to the students. In line with this, Theoharis (2009) suggested that students with disabilities should get the collaborative teams of professionals within the general education classroom.  The concept is that each specialist is paired with a smaller, manageable number of general education teachers. Therefore, a school principal should initiate a sustainable professional development plan for general teachers in order to be able to work, make a curriculum and lecture with the specialist teacher. The collaborative teaming is very effective to a bit eliminate a segregated and pullout model. By having a collaborative teaming in the inclusive program, one can avoid the negative perspective of students with disabilities as felt by Emily Hawkins in the short video.

  1. Increasing positive climate and instructional practices

Emily Hawkins in her video shared to us that she felt se did not belong in her school. She felt that her high school teachers were babying her. Thus, she felt uncomfortable doing tests. This means that the school where Miss Hawkins attended was having a negative school climate.  To eliminate the feeling of not belonging in the school of the special ed students, the school principal should increase the positive climate and instructional practices. Increasing awareness of the people in the building, such as teacher, administrator, and students to more welcoming to those who are with disabilities, will give a positive impression to the special education students. Also, supportive facilities for the handicap students should be evaluated and increased all the time.

Increasing academic rigor and access to opportunities are also required to improve the service to the special education students. Theoharis (2009) wrote school principals should be brave to offer courses to students, especially courses for students with disabilities, that they need to get into college. He added that every school principal should be ready to have more academic rigor infused in the curriculum. Giving more opportunities, rigorous curriculum, and some courses that are not exclusively for general students will increase the amount of belonging special ed students have for the school. The special education students deserve these better kinds of instructions. The final goal of this stage is that special education students will increase their sense of belonging to their schools.

  1. Increasing Accountability Systems

How would we know that schools were successful in educating children if they did not collect data to hold the teaching and learning accountable? There are still a lot of schools that discriminate an individual with disability without being held accountable. The reason why we should hold the school accountable, especially for special education students, are: 1. The educational outcomes of students with disabilities have not improved as much as expected; 2. Children with disabilities are part of, not separated from, the general population; 3. An emphasis on compliance-over-results fails to acknowledge States with successful special education programs; 4. State early-intervention needs to expand the quality and extent of data required outcomes to improve programming; 5. The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) accountability system should measure how well state and local educational agencies are educating children with disabilities (Clark, 2012). Theoharis (2009) asserted the importance of collecting and analyzing the data to understand the academic performance of every student. Using data driven decision-making can be very valuable to avoid making a policy based on the assumption. Increasing accountability at school is also aimed to understand where inequities in quality, programs, and achievement exist. In line with this, Lashley (2007) stressed that NCLB (No Children Left Behind) has forced the principal’s hands by requiring public accountability. We are hoping not to hear a negative comments by a student like Emily Hawkins in the future, when we have already increased our accountably, especially for students with disabilities.

All in all, as mentioned by Theoharis (2009) that schools are expected to eliminate social injustice including to the issue of special education. We understand that all we have done will not always satisfied the need of the students, but it does not mean that we can give up in dealing with the problems. In term of improving the services to the students with disabilities, we can use these three ideas: 1. Collaborative teams; 2. Increasing positive climate and instructional practices; and 3. Increasing accountability system. All people in the building as well as parents and local government need to work together to achieve the education for all. By working collaboratively in doing these three approaches, discrimination for students with disabilities can be reduced.

References:

Clarke, C. D. (2012). Outcome to drive special ed accountability. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2012/120918/Outcomes-to-Drive-Special-Ed-Accountability.htm

Cooper, Kristy. (2013). Students receiving special education services (Chapter B). A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.

Lashley, C. (2007). Principal leadership for special education: An ethical framework. Exceptionality, 15(13), 177-187.

Theoharis, g. (2009). The school leaders our children deserve: Seven keys to equity, social justice, and school reform. New York: Teachers College Press. Chapter 3: “There is no social justice without inclusion: Advancing inclusion, access, and opportunity for all.

Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBoB58BuILc