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The role of school-based Administrators for the improvement of school effectiveness. George Baralos, PhD Fellow Teacher of Aegean University (TEPAES)

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1 The role of school-based Administrators for the improvement of school effectiveness George Baralos, PhD Fellow Teacher of Aegean University (TEPAES) Summary The aim of this paper is to investigate the
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1 The role of school-based Administrators for the improvement of school effectiveness George Baralos, PhD Fellow Teacher of Aegean University (TEPAES) Summary The aim of this paper is to investigate the role of school-based Administrators towards the improvement of school effectiveness. This aim is equally divided between investigating the characteristics of a school principal and of the school climate, as well as to how this relates to school members and school improvement. Furthermore, the influence of the school principal in shaping school climate is further investigated in addition to the consequences of this influence and the respective situation in the case of school principals in the Greek educational system. In order to accomplish the aforementioned aims, references are made to Organizational theory, to Educational Management models and Leadership styles, school climate and to the role of Administrators in the shaping of school climate, as well as to School-based administration in the Greek educational system. The description of the situation in the Greek educational system based on the above mentioned parameters brings into clear focus the critical role played by the school principal in the establishment and maintenance of a school climate that will work to the effect of improving school effectiveness. Introduction In the most extensive research done to date in the USA titled Equality in Educational Opportunities Coleman et al.(1966) studied the impact of the school in dealing with social inequalities. The basic research findings were that students socio-economic background decidedly determines student academic achievement, whereas the school has limited effect on educational outcome. However, despite the limited effect of schools in student achievement, Coleman s research showed the importance of school climate (Pashiardis,2000). Later studies on the same topic (Jencks, 1972; Mortimore, 1992) led to similar findings. Afterwards there was research which challenged these findings, claiming that certain school characteristics may affect student progress and provide academic outcomes which are superior to those that could be established on the basis of their educational, social and economic background (Brookover et al., 1979; Madaus et al., 1980; Cohen, 1988; 1992). This research formed the starting point for the Effective Schools Movement and Edmonds (1979) in a related study formed the following basic (factors/ correlates) for an effective school, which remain useful to date: a. strong school leadership b. school climate that guarantees student success c. high expectations for student achievement d. clear framework of evaluation of student achievement e. emphasis on basic learning skills Today research on school effectiveness accepts that the school is in fact capable of influencing academic achievement and deals mainly with the conditions which will enable it. 2 School climate and the principal are important factors in this direction and researchers are busily engaged in it. A range of studies has shown that teacher and students feedback on their perceptions of learning climate, which provides participants with the knowledge of classroom characteristics, contributes to optimizing the learning processes (Fraser and Deer, 1983; Fraser et al., 1982; Fraser and O Brien, 1985). School climate can be influenced by school administrators, who play a major role in affecting students perceptions of it (Maehr, 1990). Accordingly Squires et al.(1979), note: Student achievement relates to school climate, which in itself relates to school leadership (p.6) Moreover, school administrators should be both managers who plan, implement programmes and focus on achieving goals, and visionary leaders who passionately engage in accomplishing the necessary changes in schools (Day, 2003). This aim of this study is formulated through the following four objectives-questions: A) What are the characteristics of a school principal? B) What is school climate and how does it relate to the members of the school and school improvement? C) Is school climate affected by the principal and which are the consequences of this influence? D) What is the respective situation in the case of school principals in the Greek educational system? The way of management has an impact on the kind of school climate that is formulated in a school (Calabrese (1989; Maehr, 1990; Waters et al., 2004). So, question (A) refers to the theoretical framework of analysis of this essay and comprises a brief presentation of the basic elements of the organizational theory, educational management models and leadership styles. Question (B) concerns the school climate construction and question (C) the role of the administrators in formulating the school climate. Finally, based on Α, Β and C, an attempt is made to answer the basic question (D) which regards the examination of the respective situation in the case of the Greek Educational system. Organizational theory Organizational development theory was first introduced in the early 20 th century by, Fayol (1949: In Saitis, 2000) who outlined a series of principles of management by which an organization might be effectively managed and Weber s bureaucratic model (1974: In Poggi, 2005). This bureaucratic model emphasizes the importance of a single leader with almost unrestrictive power. The basic features of Weber s model, which according to Bolman and Deal (1997) focuses on rationality and efficiency, are: (a) a fixed division of labour, (b) a hierarchy of offices, (c) a set of rules governing performance, (d) separation of personal from official property and rights, (e) technical qualifications for selecting personnel, and (f) employment as primary occupation and long-term career 3 Drucker (1964, in Gazell, 1992) later introduced the concept of outcome-based management which is essential in creating efficient employees. More recently, Senge (1990) popularised the concept of the learning organization, which focuses on the importance of investing in human resources rather than corporate resources. The learning organization metaphor comes from work done by Argyris and Schon (1978,1996), and Senge (1990) explains that learning organizations are organizations where people continually expand their capacities to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together (p.3). Within the school, teachers and students are given the opportunity to share a common vision and school mission in an attempt to achieve learning and other school objectives in general. The three theories of the organization already mentioned underlie the concepts of efficiency, effectiveness and learning, which constitute three significant characteristics of schools. A model of the development of organizational theory adapted from Appelbaum and Reichart (1997) is shown in figure 1. The Learning Organization The Performance Based Organization Peter Senge The Bureaucratic Organization Max.Weber Peter Drucker Figure Educational management models and leadership styles Elucidation of terms According to Saitis (2000), administration is defined as a functional process which encompasses five individual areas: planning, organising, managing, coordination and control/ direction. Chemers and Ayman (1993) define leadership as a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common 4 task (p.1), and Cohen (1988: 1-19) considers leadership as the ability to guide people to achieve things they do not know themselves they can accomplish or they do not know it is necessary to accomplish in these particular circumstances. Leadership and management are distinct concepts and Cuban (1988) posited that By leadership, I mean influencing others actions in achieving desirable ends.... Managing is maintaining efficiently and effectively current organisational arrangements.... I prize both managing and leading and attach no special value to either since different settings and times call for varied responses. (p. xx) However, these are also complimentary concepts and Bolman & Deal(1997) emphasised that by commenting: Leadership and management need to be given equal prominence if schools are to operate effectively and achieve their objectives. Leading and managing are distinct, but both are important. The challenge of modern organisations requires the objective perspective of the manager as well as the flashes of vision and commitment wise leadership provides (p. xiii-xiv). According to Bush(1995), Management is widely used in Britain and Europe, Leadership is of great contemporary interest in most countries in the developed world, while Αdministration is preferred in the USA and is associated as the overarching term which embraces both leadership and management. Management models Two of the best known management frameworks are those by Bolman and Deal (1997) and Morgan (1997) which Bush (2003) classified into six major models of educational management: The Formal, the Collegial, the Political, the Subjective, the Ambiguity and the Cultural model, which I present in brief. 1. The formal models are hierarchical systems in which managers use rational means to pursue agreed goals. In these models the administrator focuses on planning, supervising, communicating and allocating resources and his goal is coordination and control through rational analysis. 2. The collegial or the human resource models which focus on the importance of individual needs and motives and emphasize the human needs of the faculty and staff. In this model administrators pay close attention to relationships, feelings, motivation and his goal is to create a workplace which is congenial and rewarding. However, these models tend to be unrealistic in practice and according to Little (1990) collegiality turns out to be rare (p.187) 3. In the political models employees have something to gain from a relationship with the institution/school and seek power and resources to protect personal gains. Administration is involved in a process of coalition building, lobbying, bargaining, and compromising. 4. The cultural or symbolic models focus on culture, meaning, belief, and faith. In this model administrators are sensitive to the cultural factors of the symbolic frame and seek to create a school with a rich culture that shares and appreciates. 5. The Subjective models focus on beliefs, values and perceptions of the individuals. In this models there are not organization (school) goals but many individual goals. 5 6. In the Ambiguity models organizations are considered to be places of turbulence and unpredictability where there is no clarity. School goals under this model are not clear and the outcomes are the results of unplanned decisions. Besides management models, behaviour analysis has identified certain administratorsleaders styles and subsequently I will mention the four most important styles. Leadership styles The Transformational style which refers to idealized attributes and behaviours, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Bass & Avolio, 2002). Bass (1990) established that transformational leaders motivate followers to do more by raising followers consciousness of goals and values, transcending followers sense of selfinterest and motivating followers higher-level needs (p.20). The related management models to the transformational style are the cultural and the collegial. Good teaching is what instructional leadership is about (Hoy & Hoy, 2006). It concerns the act of influencing the work of teachers in a way that will improve student achievement (Smith & Piele, 2006). The related management models to the transformational style are the cultural and the collegial. The Transactional style refers to exchanges or transactions between the administrator and the followers (e.g., teachers, parents) as to how the administrator influences them (Bass & Avolio, 1994). This style concerns the exchanges or transactions that occur between leaders and their followers. The related management model is the political one. The Laissez-faire style represents the absence of leadership within the continuum of transformational and transactional leadership model (Bass & Avolio,1994) The related management model is the Ambiguity one. School Climate Every educational organization has a unique character, a special feeling, and we can say that climate is to a school organization what personality is to an individual (Roueche & Baker, 1986). Under this consideration, school climate is regarded as the personality of the educational organization (Hoy & Miskel, 1996: 226) and is directly related to those involved in it. In another view, climate in educational setting is the sum of the dynamic interactions among the psychological, academic and physical dimensions of the school environment (Hays, 1994) and also a range of internal characteristics that help identify one school from another (Pashiardi, 2001:25). School climate is intrinsically bound with leadership (Kantas, 1993: 182) and is quality of the school s inner environment, which is inspired by its members, influences their behaviour and can be described from the point of values of a certain framework of characteristics of a school unit. In other words, school climate is what teachers and students believe it to be and not what it really is. 6 After conducting research in schools, Hoy and Hoy (2003) identified four types of school climates: 1. The Open Climate, which consists of cooperation and respect between the faculty and principal. The basic characteristic of this form of school climate is the authenticity of behaviour of all school members, since it is defined by close collaborative relations between the principal and school staff and reflects a high level of trust and collegiality among the members of the school community (Mihopoulos, 1998: 171; Saitis, 2002: 138). Within this construction, effort is concentrated towards achieving school objectives, while the principal s personal pursuits and teachers social needs are put aside. 2. The engaged climate has an ineffective principal but high professional performance from teachers. 3. The disengaged climate has an effective principal, but the teachers are disengaged from the task. 4. The closed climate where both the principal and teachers are just going through the motions. Ineffective leadership is characteristic of closed climates. It is the exact opposite of the open climate and is defined by low team spirit, where cold-formal work relations prevail (Mihopoulos, 1998: 172). The members of the school community maintain neither the satisfaction of their social needs nor the satisfaction that comes from fulfilling their tasks and in fact the school organization seems to be passive (Halpin & Croft, 1963: 2-3). School climate plays an important role in affecting school performance in that, according to Kavouri (1996: 73), it affects teachers behaviour, motives and performance, and according to Theofilidis (1999: 110) the improvement of the organizational climate of the school unit is necessary to improvement of education. The role of Administrators in shaping school climate The external environment as well as the internal environment are both factors affecting schools. Shaping factors in the internal environment are the teachers, the students and the principal, who has a prominent place. In the external environment important shaping factors are state educational organizations, as well as various groups of stakeholders, such as parents, local associations, and teachers unions. School climate is affected both by internal and external factors in a school and the principal s role is crucial in shaping it. In the internal environment the principal due to the power stemming from his position but also due to personal traits, such as his professional expertise, has the ability to influence school climate by adopting a functional management model for his school and an effective leadership style. In relation with the external environment he/she may facilitate, obliterate or decline suggested actions, if he judges them to be inappropriate for his school. According to Kelley et al.,(2005) administrators are equipped with the power, authority, and position to impact the climate of the school by developing behaviours such as effective communication, teacher advocacy, participatory decision making and equitable evaluation. School climate is further developed by monitoring and providing feedback on teaching and learning and promoting professional development aligned with teacher needs and school goals. Alig-Mielcarek (2003) stated that the climate is developed by the instructional leader by defining and communicating shared goals that assert high expectations for students. 7 According to Calabrese (1989), the principal besides other things is in a position to formulate the school atmosphere of his school, so that with appropriate communication and collaboration among other members of the school community, who are involved in the educational process, school objectives are achieved. Moreover, the positive correlation among the leadership of the school, the school climate, instruction effectiveness and learning, has often been pointed out by various research studies (Deal & Peterson, 1990; Maehr, 1990; Waters et al., 2004). School-based Administration in the Greek Educational System. The position of the principal in Greece in relation to the description of the position, the qualifications, the obligations and the possibilities of acting is described in a series of Laws, Presidential decrees and Ministerial decisions, the most important of which is act 1566/85 (G.M.E., 1985) and the act 3976/06 (G.M.E., 2006). From these laws, the bureaucratic and centralized structure of the Greek Educational system emerges, since the central authority makes the most and more important decisions. In educational systems with emphasis on nations with an Anglo-Saxon background, the role of the principal is very important. The principal has important jurisdictions, such as the ability to evaluate instructional and educational performance, to hire or even remove teachers from the school, as well as the distribution of economic resources to the teachers payroll depending on the work offered by them in the school (Townsend, 1997:154; Montana & Charnov, 2002). As it emerges from the analysis of the extensive and piecemeal Greek Educational legislation (G.M.E., 1985; G.M.E., 2006) concerning the duties and jurisdiction of school principals, as well as its implementation as I have experienced it for 25 years as a teacher, school principal and inspector of mathematics, the role of the principal of a school unit in the Greek educational system, is downgraded and the principal is limited to predetermined bureaucratic activities which are dispatching in nature, with a very limited ability to develop initiatives and practice leadership actions. In my point of view, these relative deficits appear for a variety of reasons, the most important of which are: The principal is not allowed to evaluate teacher performance, since evaluation in Greece has not taken place from 1982 until today. Moreover he is not evaluated himself, as neither educational performance nor the school units get evaluated. The principal does not have the authority to hire or to remove a teacher from the school unit. Teachers are appointed by the central agency of the Ministry of Education, based on a combined system of examinations and/or previous in-service experience. Principals are elected from district councils which are under the control of Ministry of Education and their election is based on an interview which in most cases is used by the prevalent political force
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