Tag Archives: Leadership

Whatever happens, happens for the better…

That is my last post in this year there was a great opportunity to improve different skills through blog post writing. This semester have remembered with tremendous number of assignments and thesis writing process as well. I know that it seems as a big pressure for us but as one of the proverb says “Whatever happens, happens for the better”. The best way to make it easy is to apprehend it as a game where you just play, it should not relate to the drama. Therefore, in this post I would like to share my small contribution and piece of thoughts about the mini-thesis writing process.

At the beginning, while writing the thesis, I have faced with some obstacles as well as my groupmates. The main problem was lack of sufficient time to do my daily work responsibilities and university assignments at the same time. The specific subject what I teach at Nazarbayev Intellectual School is Global Perspectives and Project work where students have to conduct their research on one of the Global issues. In this regard, to teach them how to conduct the research, and then check 40 research works of my students at the same time was challenge for me. That is why, I sometimes finished some assignments later than the deadline.

The next problem was lack of experience to do such thesis. The instructors have provided clear description of the tasks and explanation of the writing the thesis. However, it was not enough in my case, I need to have more face-to-face contact with my professors and instructors in order to understand and have more feedback in real life not only online.

Frankly speaking, I really appreciate to the university stuff for their effort in supporting us. They believe to our ability and always have chance to provide us any advice. I think that is awesome. After all my assignments I became to know more about thesis and I guess I have improved my English. Therefore, I can share my small personal thoughts and experiences for online learners. My advice is never hide your problems, always be keep in touch with your professors, instructors and your peers. That is very important because only these people know what is going on in your life. They could make your life easy, that is why do not ignore this advice.

As I young teacher and new researcher I have started to notice that I always observe different teachers’ methods and approaches of study. The current online course has demonstrated me the new system of teaching and learning. Of course, there are many positive sides of writing the thesis and that could have some improvement after the course. However, if I would be instructor I would have more interaction with my students face-to-face. What I observed is that if you will collaborate and keep in touch with your students that could bring fantastic shifts.

Moreover, I would suggest creating different video-lessons where instructors will demonstrate all the aspects relating to the course. I think my peers will support me that it could provide more motivation and relieve the stress especially for Master’s students.

In conclusion, I would say that it was honor for me to be there, to have a chance to have attempted my best and participate in this blog, thank you. Separate appreciation to my groupmates for their amazing ideas and dizzy experiences without their support I think we could not have such atmosphere and spirit to study. Good luck for all of us in the process of writing our ‘big-thesis’ and my congratulation with coming Happy New Year. See you next year.

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Empowering women

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During the first fall session of English for Professional Purposes course instructors challenged us by giving unusual assignment. The purpose of this assignment was to familiarize us with various resource materials and learn how to cite them correctly. The sources were: books, magazines, websites, journals and film. At that time I have seen just few films about education, including the plot of the drama film “Mona Lisa Smile”. The main character Katherine (teacher at Wellesley College) was advocating that women should actively seek opportunities to be not just good wives and mothers, but also add to this balance career.

Investigating the other academic sources I discovered variety of materials, however professional characteristics of the leaders are widely and commonly known, since the analytics entirely covered many characteristics of people in charge. However the personal qualities of the female leaders in school environment are still needed to be investigated.

Korcheck (2002) observed that “women can creatively manage and manipulate available resources, transferring their energies to laterally extend their influence into other areas” (p.25). I agree with the author that female leaders have their own outstanding and unique characteristics, which could be applied effectively in the school environment.

According to the research conducted by White and Smith (2012), the professional characteristics of women in leadership positions range from higher in the cluster of trust, with the cluster organization as the second highest rated, the third cluster was drive, the fourth cluster was interpersonal, and the fifth and lowest rated leadership attributes cluster was tolerance. I agree with the authors, that the potential leaders needed to be recognized according to the characteristics, so they could be trained on time and be promoted accordingly.

From the working experience I realized the importance of role models or mentors. As the new teacher I am seeking for right decision making techniques from different sources. It could be my colleagues, books, the internet. As Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, said that women need “the so-called idols and those that are writ large across the night sky, and then we can have the accessible ones. They can teach us how to do things and instill a belief that we too can achieve great things” (Prevett, 2014).

Therefore the purpose of my thesis is to reveal from the interviews of women leaders unexplored data about various aspects of their work lives in Kazakhstani schools with diverse culture environment. Their personal reflections will contain professional virtue that will promote and facilitate women leadership.

The experience of the first year gave opportunity to discover different edges of educational system all other the world. We were lucky to be educated by diverse representatives of academic field at NUGSE and I am looking forward to continue this year of study.

Reference list:

Flannery, R. (2012) Not just the obvious. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/

Johanson, F. (Producer), & Newell, M. (Director). (2003). Mona Lisa Smile [DVD]. Colombia Pictures.

Korcheck, Stephanie A., Ed.; Reese, Marianne, Ed. (2002). Women as school executives: Research and reflections. Austin, TX: Texas Council of Women School Executives. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED473403)

Prevett, H. (2014). If only Branson were a woman… The Sunday Times. Retrieved from http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/

White, T., & Smith, B. (2012). Career and Technical Education Secondary Female Teachers: Leadership Attributes. The University of Georgia. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EJ995892).

Words HURT…

Image credit: http://www.tolerance.org/bully-at-blackboard
Image credit: Mark McGinnis

“Teacher, I forgot to do my homework”

“Why haven’t you forgotten your head instead?”

Most of the teachers at my elementary school felt themselves responsible for making us pay for our errors by punishing, humiliating in front of the class or even calling our parents. I always felt sorry for one boy, Utegenov, who usually had to stand in front of the class while listening to the teacher’s sermons. His head down, he would then follow her finger which pointed to the corner of the classroom. Did it change anything? No. Every day was Groundhog Day for him. Lessons associated with humiliation and fear of failure are never going to inspire children to study. The students learn best in a mistake-friendly environment and when they are told that making mistakes is normal.

Just out of curiosity, I tried typing “дети учатся лучше когда …” (students learn best when) on the search engine and the findings were not surprising at all. “When parents believe in them” and “when they do mistakes” are the most popular ones. One of the reasons of fearing failure is high expectations (Steifer, 2001). It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that parents believe in their child’s abilities. The notion that the failure equals intellectual inferiority is fundamentally wrong. Students who are afraid to fail are most likely to abate their efforts next time (Cole, 2014). There is even a word for the fear of failure – atychiphobia. To change the attitude towards the mistakes, children should be taught that failures are inevitable and they should be viewed as valuable lessons.

By creating a psychologically safe place for children, it is likely that we diminish the chance that students will become reluctant to learn. According to the most eminent proponent of human development theory, Albert Bandura (1989), it is crucial that one has a belief in one’s own efficacy:

Persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort (p. 394).

Hence, one particular solution comes to my mind. Imagine those children so excited to write their first letters at class, pinching the pen between those little thumb and point finger. They do their best to write correctly and neatly, but mostly they fail to do it the first times and unmerciful red “F” is written in their workbooks. Imagine another situation where children are given pencils instead of pens. They would be able to erase their mistakes and have a chance to correct them – this would be a good lesson to start with. Helping children to perceive their mistakes positively is priceless. Even when we have to discipline children, teachers and adults should uphold the dignity of the children because as in the case of Utegenov, humiliation never worked and never will.

References

Bandura, A. (1989). Regulation of cognitive processes through perceived self-efficacy. Developmental psychology, 25(5), 394.

Cole, S. “Fail again. Fail better.” Failure in the Creative Process. Steifer, S. J. (2001, 10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/209833604?accountid=134066

Steifer, S. J. (2001,10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from http://http://search.proquest.com/docview/209833604?accountid=134066

From Leadership in General to Leadership in Education: Historical Overview

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There are a lot of definitions of leadership like: “Leadership is taking people to places they’ve never been before” of Marie Kane (2013), Peter Northouse’s (2010) “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”, “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal achievement” of C. F. Rauch and O. Behling (1984), “Great leaders rally people to a better future” of Marcus Buckingham, John Kotter’s (2010) “The fundamental purpose of leadership is to produce useful change, especially non-incremental change”, and “Leadership is successfully creating positive change for the common good” of Todd Sorensen et al. (as cited in Summerfield, 2014, p. 251).

So, leader works to achieve a common goal, one that is jointly conceived or, at least, jointly agreed on, he influences rather than dictates throughout the process, imparting a respectful and unifying approach, and the results represent an improved current state. And summarising them all Leadership is a process of improvement of current state by sharing his ideas with his followers. And as vital part of it, educational leadership emerged.

Educational leadership as a concept was founded as Edmonds (1979) stays by Frederick Taylor in his management theory, which advocated formal managerial control. At the literature about efficacy of school in late 70s and 80s of the last century, the role of management and administration of schools rose and evolved to the leadership. Administrators became instructional leaders whose job was to set high academic expectations for students and actively monitor their achievements (Hallinger & Murphy, 1986). Although discussions between Bolman and Deal (1994), Foster (1989) and Leithwood (1992) about the importance of leadership versus management have alternated over the years, a consensus is emerging that says both are integral for school communities. The result is that educational leaders today need to successfully prioritize and balance these roles (Cunningham & Cordeiro, 2003).

Nevertheless, educational leadership was studied more in terms of leadership style of principal in school context, distributive practices, or connection of different cultures. For instance, the studies around the Asia Pacific context mainly concentrated on the behavioural part of the leader compatible with the value system which prevails, that is, the perception of principal in terms of transformational/vision-based leadership style, ethical orientation, implicit knowledge illuminated by leadership reflective space, and democratic and transformational leadership by developing social sharedness. Kang and Printy (as cited in Sinha, 2013, p. 141) pointed that the shared vision and cultural values make a democratic systems work effectively. The role of social context in the shaping of system as democratic seems to be dependent on the perceptions which the school leadership together with its units perceived. Nevertheless, Hsiao and Chang (p. 141) showed that the organizational learning acts as a mediator between transformational leadership and organizational innovation which significantly affects the democratic form of learning, making the process innovative and helpful for the policy making, root level reproduction and supportive for strong organizational/educational climate.

However, Wen and Hwang (p. 142) explored the application of Laozi’s thought on educational leadership and management. They applied historical method to help recognize the connection between the philosophy advocated in the work of Laozi or Tao De Ching and educational leadership describing its relevance in the contemporary world. The description about leaders as a believer of non-action, softness, humility, calmness and the elimination of desire together with the leader’s full realization of their potential was the thrust. The philosophy of Laozi is also very much related to the philosophy of Hinduism in Indian diverse context, where the emphasis on ‘‘Karma without any desire for the outcome’’ replay its conviction for powerful impact on the social framework. The work on the nurturant-task leadership also showed that the followers romanticize their leader as nurturing father but task oriented (Sinha, 2013).

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References

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T.E. (1994). Looking for leadership: Another search party’s report. Educational Administration Quarterly, 30(1), 77–96.

Cunningham, W. C., & Cordeiro, P. (2003). Educational administration: A problem-based approach. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15-24.

Foster, W. (1989). Toward a critical practice of leadership. In W. Foster (Ed.) Critical perspectives on educational leadership (39-62). Washington, DC: The Falmer Press.

Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. (1986). The social context of effective schools. American Journal of Education, 94(3), 328–55.

Leithwood, K. A. (1992). The move toward transformational leadership. Educational Leadership, 49(5), 8-12.

Sinha, C. (2013). Conceptualizing educational leadership: does exploring macro-level facets matters? Asia Pacific Educational Review, 14, 414-150.

Summerfield M. B. (2014). Leadership: A simple definition. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 71, 251-253.

Women leadership: past and present

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The issue of women in leadership position has been discussed for many years and it is relevant. In the past, speaking about gender equity in leadership, only problems that women encountered were discussed. Nowadays, authors write about this more positively trying to show the beneficial sides. The authors Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011) do the same. They claim how it is valuable to follow approaches in leading that women propaganda.

As the literature shows, being in leading position, first, women had many impediments. By their character, women are quite emotional and have compassion to others. But in the past, it was impossible for women to show their emotions and feelings. Being a leader, they had to behave, act and even think like men. It was stressful because women got used to take care of their families. Changing the stereotype seemed challenging.

Day by day, women realized that they should change the ideology of “command – and control” leadership approach (Grogan and Shakeshaft, 2011, p.84). Now, their role as educational leaders was to inspire, motivate and direct their staff in the right way to receive good results in teaching children as the priority was to serve children for their benefit. Here, the problem was that men were against this ideology. Their behavior was egoistic. For them, the priority was their career (pp.87-89). Currently, women leaders freely create and implement their own leadership approaches. They aim to develop communities based on collective values and actions. Their objective now is to relate rather than dominate. Women leaders realize that to be powerful, means to have trustful relationship with people surrounding them (p.93). They make changes prioritizing learning environment, social justice and collective vision (pp.94-95). Now, they have great desire to “make things better” (p.90).

The authors, Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011) give very accurate representation of women in their book. Being women themselves, they show great support to women who are in managerial positions. Although the authors show some struggle between the vision of men and women on this topic of leadership, they also highlight changes of modern time. Nowadays, women are heard and accepted as leaders. Nobody tells them how to lead. They “lead as they want to lead, without any explanation” (p.97). In new century, women decide what good leadership is and what is not, and not they are leading like men, but “men are leading like women” (p.97).

The discussion of women leadership in this resource is quite relevant to Kazakhstani context. If to compare the past and present visions of women and men leadership and gender equity in the U.S. and Kazakhstan, we can notice many similarities in development of this relevant topic. Having read this resource, I can surely say that it is really helpful to understand that mission of modern women leaders is to serve the society making decisions freely, without pressure of environment. Now, I fully understand what will be my role as a future woman leader.

To sum up, the topic women leadership has its past and present. If past is associated with many hindrances, present, vise – versa, is beneficial and successful. The authors, Grogan and Shakeshaft (2011) made successful “historical excursion” for readers comparing women leaders in the past with present ones. This “excursion” is helpful as for women leaders so for men leaders.

Do you think there are any differences between women in leadership in the present and past?

Thank you in advance!

References

Grogan, M. and Shakeshaft, C. (2011). Beyond gender? Women and educational leadership.

Jossey – Bass leadership library in education, 83-100.