All posts by assanova

History of EXPO to be introduced in schools

«EXPO-2017»-от-Шанхая-до-Астаны2-300x200 (1)

“Kazakhstani school students will have an opportunity to know more about the history of the World’s Fair” commented the Kazakh TV in one of their latest news (KazTV, 2014). A new textbook titled “Future Starts Today: Astana EXPO-2017 was presented in Astana in October 20, 2014. The book, developed by experienced Kazakhstani teachers, tells the history of the EXPO in a simple and engaging way. The authors of this book predict that the textbook will be useful for  both,  classroom and extracurricular activities, and at the lessons of history and geography. There is a chapter in the book which is dedicated to Astana. The unicity of the book is that the textbook has lesson plans, including seminars, round tables, travel-lessons, contests and even competitions. The published 1,000 copies of the textbook are available both in the Kazakh and Russian languages.​ They will be distributed between the Astana schools. Schools of other cities of Kazakhstan will receive the electronic version of the textbook.

The Kazakhstani educators worked out the lessons on the history of the World’s Fair in order to raise awareness on EXPO-2017 international exhibition not only among the schoolchildren but also among the population of the country. The textbook, which is highly estimated by International Exhibition Bureau, was prepared jointly with the Department of Education of Astana (Mukanov, 2014). In fact, the Department of Education of Astana has been conducting a lot of explanatory work among the city schools urging them to organize various internal activities and science fairs devoted to the topic of the EXPO 2017. The exhibition topic of “Energy of the Future” chosen by the country takes into consideration the importance of energy and environment issues. The topic will extensively cover the energy saving problems and the implementation of alternative energy sources (Syzdykova & Abilov, 2013).

On the whole, schools understand the significance of Kazakhstan’s hosting the EXPO-2017, which will foster the integration of the country into the globalized world and improve its international image. Hopefully, every student educated in such schools will promote the further development of Kazakhstan by getting acquainted with the history, traditions and culture of other participating countries.  That in turn, will extend Kazakhstan’s international, economic, political, scientific and cultural ties. EXPO-2017 is not only the great opportunity for Kazakhstan to make a contribution to the growth of global technical interaction but also the possibility for the current problems solution worldwide.

References:

Mukanov, B. (2014). History of EXPO to be introduced in schools. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from http://kazakh-tv.kz/en/view/news_kazakhstan/page_78285_history-of-expo-to-be-introduced-in-schools

Syzdykova, E. Z. & Abilov, D. K. (2013). EXPO-2017 as an area for solution of current problems of science and education. International  Journal of Experimental Education 12 , 13-14.

Parent-teacher conferences in NurOrda International School

parent           parent 1

Parent-teacher conference is an effective way of building additional cooperation and understanding between home and school (Calatrello, 1961). Involving families in their children’s education does not only facilitate the academic success of the children, it also predicts social and emotional development, and a variety of other positive school outcomes for all children. Individual meeting with parents prevent or diminish “problems of attendance, discipline and drop out” and foster closer home-school affinity (Kroth & Edge, 2007 p. 7). Parent-teacher conference as a resultant benefit to the child for a long time has been recognized worldwide. However, it is a novelty for some of Kazakhstani private schools. NurOrda International School (NIS), where I used to work, can serve as a perfect example of employing parent-teacher conferences as a tool to endorse the relationship and co-operation between home and school.

NurOrda International School pursues the modern trends in education and offers a balanced and integrated curriculum which meets each student’s diverse learning needs. The curriculum integrates the elements of the national curriculum and Cambridge International Program (http://www.nurorda.kz). Providing detailed feedback on students’ performance is crucial in the learning process. In this regard, NIS affords parents with a unique opportunity to talk to each teacher who teaches their child during termly meetings. These talks are conducted in a one-to-one situation, enabling the parent to receive a scrupulous analysis of his/her child’s performance in a private manner (NIS Parent and Student Handbook, 2014). Parent-teacher conferences are fitted to the school program and scheduled at the weekends due to parents’ workload. These meetings, usually only fifteen or twenty minutes in length, do not resolve all the problems of each child; but “may illuminate the source of problem” (Calatrello, 1961, p.259), and can  provide an opportunity for the parent to communicate with the teacher in privacy than that afforded by Soviet legacy – traditional patents’ meeting. The aim of the conference is to establish harmonious rapport with the parents and to involve families in their children’s education. The school staff seeks for reducing achievement gaps and enhancing the academic achievement of all students. Signification of the unity and cooperation among school staff, parents and students is also reflected in the logo of NurOrda (“Shanyrak”).  logo

At the conference, each teacher has all materials needed for the meeting and prepared agenda at hand which make his/her work easier to proceed. Teachers take enough time to listen to the parents and encourage them to bring up questions and comments. After the conference, the teacher should pass along the salient points to the principal and to other school personnel, if needed. Occasionally teachers of NurOrda school deal with hostile or aggressive parents. They respond to such aggressions keeping cool, listening, writing down what the other person says, and eliciting suggestions to eliminate the concerns trying not to become defensive.

To sum up, parent-teacher conferences conducted in NurOrda assert positive associations between parent involvement in the school and academic achievement, as well as character building and mentoring. It is important for public schools to actively seek and increase trenchant forms of parental involvement.

References:

Calatrello, R. L. (1961). Parent-teacher conference.  Peabody Journal of Education, 38(5), 259-264.

Kroth, R. L. and Edge, D. (2007). Parent-teacher conference. Focus on Exceptional Children, 40(2), 1-8.

NIS Parent and Student Handbook for 2014-2015. (2014). Retrieved February 26, 2015 from <https://www.tes.co.uk/jobs/Upload/Attachments/TES/04923E0001/PARENT%20AND%20STUDENT%20HANDBOOK%202014-2015%20[ENG].pdf>

What is the role of a school leader in inclusive education?

transformation_leadership

Since I took up the course “Policy Perspectives”, my interest and concern towards inclusive education were amalgamated with my main field – school leadership. When I was signing up for electives, one of my  group mates asked  about the reason of choosing inclusive education; my answer was: “As we are future leaders we should  have expertise in every single issue in education  which is taking place in Kazakhstan”. Now, I am chuffed that I have not been mistaken in my choice because the more I learn about inclusive education the deeper I understand the role of leaders (which is considered to be pivotal  in implementation process of inclusive education). So, I decided to research and compare the role of Kazakhstani  school leaders in relation to effective inclusive leadership. And in this blog I am going to share my findings with others.

Implementation of inclusive education in schools requires significant shifts in the way school leaders act and take up challenges that schools face in meeting  the needs of students with diverse needs. Firstly, it is necessary to define inclusive education in order to understand the critical role played by school leaders in leading inclusive schools. Inclusive education is “high quality education for all rather than special education for some” (Agbenyeva & Sharma, 2014, p. 116). It is also interpreted as an act towards  removing barriers to participation in education. Removal of barriers starts when school staff stops to see differences in students with special needs as challenges.  Diversity in the classroom creates a numbers of opportunities for teachers to learn new skills to involve all students in education. Schools do not necessarily need lots of resources to become inclusive, but they need to make good use of existing resources, which is human resource. Schools need to engage different stakeholders (parents, support staff, teachers and students) in co-operating process to make schools more inclusive. Such co-operations will help to create positive school climate and congenial conditions for all members of education.

Another factor that facilitates the development of inclusive education at schools is effective inclusive leadership.  Effective inclusive leader is one who “applies critical mindfulness” and who can transform existing normalized practices (Agbenyeva & Sharma, 2014, p. 129). Effective inclusive leaders regularly question themselves in order to control subjectivity in decision -making process. They perform a set of crucial roles to make their schools more inclusive. Sharma & Desai (2008) identified the responsibilities of effective inclusive leaders which can be categorized into seven (as cited in Agbenyeva & Sharma, 2014, p. 119-120):

  1. Developing and selling a vision of inclusive education;
  2. Seeking and supporting active involvement of parents and family members;
  3. Obtaining and providing resources
  4. Modifying school policies to support inclusive education;
  5. Developing a plan of professional development;
  6. Monitoring the progress of inclusive education;
  7. Support staff in their efforts to implement inclusive education practices.

Now, let me compare the responsibilities and duties of school principals in Kazakhstan with effective inclusive leaders and see if there is a discrepancy in their roles or there isn’t. School principals in Kazakhstan are called “directors”: they are the most authoritative and influential figures in schools. They play a crucial role in organization and decision-making process. In implementation process of inclusive education directors of Kazakhstani schools are responsible to (MoES, 2009):

  1. Supplement  physical access to school (elevators, ramps, special furniture for children with disabilities);
  2. Accommodate the  educational and correctional-developmental process with special technical equipment (for children with impairment in hearing, vision, speech);
  3. Provide with appropriate teaching materials and resources  (for all learners);
  4. Select and recruit  teachers, who can provide pedagogical-correctional support (teacher-defectologist, social worker, teacher-psychologist, teacher-speech therapist);
  5. Support  teachers, students with limited opportunities and without disabilities in development, parents of all students and technical staff of the school.

As you have noticed, directors in Kazakhstan do not play a role of effective inclusive leaders, rather they serve as facilitators of inclusive education who just strive to provide their schools with technical equipment and resources. And what about developing the vision of inclusive education and involving other stakeholders in decision-making process? This shows that directors are not ready to collaborate and transform the school system to support inclusive education. That in turn, may seem as schools are not ready to accommodate students with diverse needs.

Do Kazakhstani school principals lack of something in implementing inclusive education?

References:

Agbenyeva, J.S.,  & Sharma, U. (2014). Leading inclusive education: measuring ‘effective ‘ leadership for inclusive education through a Bourdieuian lens. In Measuring Inclusive Education, 115-132.

Ministry of Education & Science (2009). Guidelines on the organization of inclusive education of children with developmental disabilities. Decree № 4-02-4/450.

Sharma, U., & Desai, I. (2008). The changing roles and responsibilities of school principals relative to inclusive education. In C. Forlin & M. G. J. Lian (Eds.),  Reform, Inclusion and Teacher Education: Towards a new era of special education in the Asia – Pacific region (pp.153-168). Abington, UK: Routledge.

Home-schooling: privilege or isolation?

                                           

He's been excused from the school

In Kazakhstan, today more than 7000 children with special educational needs (SEN) are enrolled in home-schooling (Sultan and Samenbetov, 2015). That is the public information available in mass media. In reality, there might be twice more children who are being taught at home conditions segregated from their peers. So, what is home-schooling? How is it defined in Kazakhstan? What are the drawbacks or benefits of it? My post reveals the insights of home-schooling and how it contradicts the idea of inclusive education (which welcomes all children to family atmosphere at school).

Home-schooling is a type of individual education received at home with the help of assigned teachers. The learning process is carried out according to an individual educational plan for learners who cannot study in mainstream schools due to health reasons (Kokhan, 2012).

Children with SEN are usually diagnosed by special organization called psychological- medical and pedagogical commission (PMPC). PMPC is a state educational institute which provides assessment and corrective support for children with diverse needs. This organization decides whether a child will be enrolled in a mainstream school or will stay at home-schooling with the parents’ agreement. The children, who are defined to receive individual education, then are attached to the special (correctional) educational organizations. In the absence of special educational institutions nearby, the schooling is carried out at home by local mainstream school teachers. Home-schooling is absolutely free of charge and monitored by PMPC and local departments of education (Decree of MoES, 2004).

At the first glance, the individual education at home may seem to have many advantages: home-schooled children receive the full attention of their teacher, home-schooling gives an opportunity for greater flexibility (a teacher can design a curriculum that addresses the specific needs of each child and a child can be taught in more convenient hours to develop her or his individual skills), and it reduces peer pressure.

However, every medal has its reverse! Keep in mind that schools do not only educate, but also serve as socialization institutes. According to psychologists, the child’s education at home often leads to the isolation from society, the segregation and the formation of the child’s pathological isolation: where the fear and unwillingness to interact with other children appear (Engel, 1991). Learning in a group promotes social learning and values of citizenship. A segregated home-schooled child is deprived of making friends, working in a team, dealing up with life’s obstacles and difficulties. Extracurricular activities such as the first and the last bell, field trips and graduation ceremony are “empty” dreams for that child.  The last but not the least, a home- schooled child is excluded from quality education.

In my concern, each child has a right to PARTICIPATE and BE INCLUDED into the general educational process, irrespective of his/her physical or mental ability.

What do YOU think about home-schooling process? Is it a privilege or an isolation?

References:

Decree of the Ministry of Education and Science (2004). Decree # 974. “Policy on the procedure to assist parents in children’s home-schooling by educational organizations”.  Retrieved February 5, 2015, from <http://tengrinews.kz/zakon/docs?ngr=V040003303>.

Engel, D. M. (1991). Law, culture, and children with disabilities: Educational rights and the construction of difference. Duke Law Journal (1), 166-205.

Kokhan, A. Y. (2012). Aktualniye problemy nadomnogo obucheniya detei s problemami v razvitiyi /Topical challenges of home-schooling of children with developmental issues/.  Retrieved February 5, 2015, from <http://enu.kz/repository/repository2012/aktualnye-problemy-nadomnogo.pdf>.

Sultan, S., & Samenbetov, A. (2015, January 15). V Kazakhstane predlagajut otkazatsja ot objazatelnogo shkolnogo obrazovanija /Parents want to abandon compulsory schooling in Kazakhstan/. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from < http://www.zakon.kz/4681550-v-kazakhstane-predlagajut -otkazatsja-ot.html>.

Work-family conflict

MomJuggling

Most women today perform two demanding roles simultaneously: the role of mother and the role of worker. Moreover, working mothers can also be engaged in additional roles such as student, studying at a university or a college which empowers them to improve their professional skills, broaden their horizons and fulfill their potential. Another role that most kazakh women perform is “nurse” who takes care of elderly parents-in law who usually live with them and require a lot of attention from their daughters-in law. However, I want to focus mainly on construing the dual role of mother and employee.

My inspiration for writing this post came from the idea to construct a work-family balance in my everyday life. In my seven years of  job experience I have worked at six different schools and definitely have had work-family conflicts. Consequently, I would like to share my thoughts on how I managed to handle them. According to Kulik and Liberman (2013), women feel stressed when “distress spills over from the domain of work to the domain of the family and vice versa” (p.458). In a more simply way, any women can be tortured when her work responsibilities interfere with the family matters. Gilbert et al. (1981), define work-family conflict as extremely stressful for females and it occurs when a woman tries to fulfill the roles of full-time professional and full-time parent. Women choosing a dual-career life style although well trained to handle conflicts arising from the professional role may not be as well prepared to deal with conflicts regarding the maternal role. Thus, regardless of the coping strategy employed, high stress due to role conflict may occur. In addition, their value systems may remain untested until a child enters the family. Gilbert et al. (1981), suggest that emotional support alleviates distress in the family. I totally agree with these researchers since the emotional support from my husband has always assisted me through my working experience and with his endorsement I am here in GSE.

Next, I want to propose my recommendations for making working mothers lives less stressful and tensional. I anticipate that my tips will help every working women to pursue their goals:

  • Encourage yourself to adopt behavioral strategies such as efficient time management and setting priorities
  • Change your negative perception of work-family conflict and learn to view this conflict as a challenge that can lead to growth
  • Try to minimize the tensions between work and family
  • Negotiate some kind of change to your professional working hours and conditions

after becoming a mother

  • Transform your identities
  • Share responsibilities with your spouse, other family members or social agents
  • Ask your spouse to SUPPORT for your professional role and to PARTICIPATE in parenting

To sum up, I consider motherhood as a very powerful experience, at times joyful and at times equally painful. The interactions of personal and public life for most women can be challenging and becoming a parent is often in contradiction with their desire to continue their professional career. That is every woman’s own wish to turn this process of contradiction into a process of redefinition and transformation of the self by embracing the professional and personal identities. Are you ready to transform your identities?  Or how do you cope with a conflict between professional and maternity roles?

References:

Gilbert, L. A., Holahan, C.K., & Manning L. (1981). Coping with conflict between professional and maternal roles. Family Relations, 30(3), 419-426. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/584037?sid=21105679449203&uid=3737864&uid=4&uid=2

Kulik, L. and Liberman, G. (2013). Work–family conflict, resources and role set density; assessing their effects on distress among working mothers. Journal of Career Development, 40(5), 445-465. Retrieved from    http://jcd.sagepub.com/content/40/5/445.short