Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Successful People V Unsuccessful people.



















Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The New Work of Educational Leaders - Book Review

Book Title:                  The New Work of Educational Leaders – Changing leadership practice in an era of school reform
Author:                        Peter Gronn, Faculty Member of Education Department at Monash University, Australia.
Author’s Profile:         A researcher, a professor and a writer. Published books extensively on aspects of school, educational and organizational leadership. His research interests include all aspects of leadership, in particular, learning leadership and the development of leaders, distributed leadership etc.
Publisher:                    Sage Publications, London in 2003.

CONTENTS/THEME

Book Structure

Book is articulated in two parts: the 'architecture' and the 'ecology' of leadership. In Part I, three chapters outline a new building of leadership by developing the themes of design, distribution and disengagement, while in Part II author discusses in five chapters about What do Leaders do?, Leaders’ Committees and Meetings, Leadership Teams, the Emotions of Leaders and lastly Leadership as Greedy Work.

Part I

Designer-leadership means producing leaders according to design specifications. In our context we can relate it to the policy that unless one doesn't get the M.Ed or MA (Education) degree he/she is assumed incompetent to become leader or principal, specifically in government institutions. According to author standards are very important to ensure quality in schools, but along with the standards, work context is also essential as it varies place to place.
Distributed-leadership means interdependency and coordinated work. This theme is presented as an alternative to focused leadership. According to Gronn (2003) researches show that it is the new trend increased after 1980. Distributed leadership is certainly a step up from one person leadership as we can see the work of head teacher is increasing and the responsibilities of managing the school needs to be shared.  This is also articulated by Arrowsimith (2007) that “Distributed leadership (DL) is an emerging form of power distribution in school which extends authority and influence to groups or individuals in a way which is at least partly contrary to hierarchical arrangements” (p.22). In the context of Pakistan, we can partially relate this leadership theme to private educational institutions or self-managed organizations.
Disengagement means inability of school systems to attract principals from among the teaching ranks because teachers are becoming unwilling to take on leadership positions is explored (Gronn, 2003). Teachers use to be in their own comfort zones and because of challenging tasks and responsibilities they hesitate to take initiative.

Part II

Five chapters explain ‘ecology’ of leadership in this part. Author asks, 'What do leaders do?' and then proceeds to offer a detailed synthesis and critical review of research findings since the 1950s across a number of different countries (Gronn, 2003). Then, author focuses on committees/meetings and teams, respectively to strengthen distributed leadership. Finally Gronn draws on earlier concept of 'greedy institutions' to propose that leadership is being reconstructed as 'greedy work', which demands one to be constantly and fully there. Although there are many aspects of this image that are immediately identifiable but there is probably some misunderstanding between 'greedy work', 'greedy practices', 'greedy occupations', 'greedy policies' and 'greedy rulers and policy makers'. There is not clarity about what or who is being greedy, the institutions or the individuals.

REFLECTION/success & challenges

Distributed leadership is the theme which the writer wishes to favour and strengthen. Overall the book draws on a wide range of international literature by referring 471 books/articles. It seems highly a theoretical work. I must say that the themes discussed could be presented in a simple language but I surely agree with Hart (n.d.) who articulates this manner as “some authors seem to neglect the needs of their potential readers and manage to make  relatively simple ideas confusing” (p.10).

REFERENCES

Arrowsmith, T. (2007). Distributed leadership in secondary schools in England: the impact on the role of the head teacher and other issue. Management in Education. 21(2), 21-27.
Gronn, P (2003). The New Work of Educational Leaders: Changing Leadership Practice in an Era of School Reform. London. Sage Publications.

Hart, C. (n.d). The literature review in research. Doing a Literature Review. London: Sage Publications.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A FIRST STEP TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE ICT INTEGRATION AT SCHOOL LEVEL IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN

A FIRST STEP TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE ICT INTEGRATION AT SCHOOL LEVEL IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Darvesh Karim
Senior Instructor,
Aga Khan University, Professional Development Centre North
Gilgit

ABSTRACT

The Professional Development Centre North (PDCN) is an educational campus of  AKU-IED, strategically planted in the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan with a strong team of professional development teachers, fully equipped and furnished infrastructure, dealing with research and providing trainings and support to in-service teachers and headteachers of Gilgit-Baltistan for their professional development and to achieve the ultimate goal of students learning outcomes and the capacity building of organizations for more than 10 years.
Along with its major focus on integrity, quality, relevance and access in all the programmes offered by PDCN, also emphases and keep a very professional and sharp eye on the newly emerging trends of information and communication technology (ICT), which is rapidly influencing all the sectors of life generally and education particularly. It has been proved through researches that headteachers have a critical role in educational innovations. In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own attitude towards using the technology matters a lot.  In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education while computer’s integration in education is on its initial phase and there have been identified two major findings of a research, which need an urgent attention for future expected implementation and effective integration of ICT in schools; i.e. computer trainings for headteachers are essential to enhance positive attitude towards computers, and availability of computer in headteachers’ office enhances self confidence and attitude.
Keywords:     ICT Integration, Headteacher’s role, Computer Trainings, Computer Facilitation  

 Introduction and Background

The Professional Development Centre North (PDCN) is an educational campus of  AKU-IED[1], strategically planted in the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan with a strong team of professional development teachers, fully equipped and furnished infrastructure, dealing with research and providing trainings and support to in-service teachers and headteachers of Gilgit-Baltistan for their professional development and to achieve the ultimate goal of students learning outcomes and the capacity building of organizations (Fullan, 2001) for more than 10 years. PDCN is committed to support and improve the quality of teaching and learning through professional development and associated research and evaluation activities by reflecting and keeping the local and contextual needs and priorities of the area in mind. PDCN’s focus is on the professional growth of the teachers and headteachers through integrated practices of theory and research with active links to the networks of teachers, headteachers and schools of two major educational systems working in the area, i.e. government and private schools. Field-based professional development is aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning at classroom and school management levels to address educational needs.
PDCN also focuses on research to explore and identify the educational problems and their expected solutions. It’s every decision use to be data driven and bases on the research findings. To provide the appropriate and updated services to the larger communities and networks and to create even stronger relations with these communities and networks, PDCN has been initiating new projects through the world renowned philanthropists and funding agencies like European Commission and AusAid (the funding agency of Government of Australia).
 PDCN’s past successful fifteen years’ experience and trust among the communities is most valuable asset, which is continue without any breach of confidence and trust, as we have been successfully completing the projects and their outcomes and impacts are very much visible and self explanatory in the area. PDCN can now proudly say that its presence has been felt respectfully and as a trust worthy institution in every corner and remotest valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and of-course this is not simply a claim, but many researches have already proved the success stories of PDCN while some other researches are still underway.
Recently PDCN has completed successfully five-year EDIP (Education Development and Improvement Programme) project in 59 government schools with the financial support from AusAid through Aga Khan Foundation Pakistan. The major goal of the EDIP was to contribute to the overall socio-economic development of Gilgit-Baltistan through enhancing access and equity; improving the quality and relevance of education; and strengthening the governance and management of the Government Education Department of Gilgit-Baltistan. To achieve the overall goals of the project PDCN, along with other educational strategies and intervention also takes the full advantage of the latest Information and Communication Technologies available in GB to accelerate the achievement of EDIP goals. Schools have been facilitated with computers and internet. Computer trainings have been conducted for head teachers and teachers.

The Problem

Along with its major focus on integrity, quality, relevance and access (IQRA) in all the programmes offered by PDCN, also emphases and keeps a very professional and sharp eye on the newly emerging trends of information and communication technology (ICT), which is rapidly influencing all the sectors of life generally and education particularly.  Pakistan is of course not the exception as ICT is also strongly taking roots in the country, which is a developing nation with a population of approximately more than 160 million and it, ranked 134th out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index (UNDP, 2006). The ICT sector in Pakistan is growing, particularly from the educational perspective. Over the last many years, however, provision of computers has been one of the major focus areas for the government. There is a growing realization among policy-makers that computers hold great potential to the extent that the government is encouraging the use of computers in education.
Technology is becoming the medium for teaching and learning and ICT has distinct advantages that surpass the classroom environment. The vision laid down by Pakistan’s education policy is to have education for all its citizens and many programmes have been launched by the provincial as well as Federal Government to achieve these goals (National Education Policy, 2009). Yet, our country is behind others that have successfully developed ‘Knowledge Societies’.
It has been proved through researches that headteachers have a critical role in educational innovations (Chin, 2000; Karim, 2009). In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own attitude towards using the technology matters a lot.  In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education while computer’s integration in education is on its initial phase and there have been identified two major findings of a research (Karim, 2009) which need an urgent attention for future expected implementation and effective integration of ICT in schools; i.e. computer trainings for headteachers are essential to enhance positive attitude towards computers, and availability of computer in headteachers’ office enhances self confidence and attitude.
It has been identified that teachers or student-initiated computer projects or ICT integration endeavours have been undermined due to lack of support from the headteachers as they use to have a critical role in educational innovations (Chin, 2000). Today’s headteachers are expected not only to manage the day to day activities and capacity building of the school but also focus on students’ learning standards, data driven decision making and restructuring efforts. School leadership is in fact the key component in guiding the teaching-learning process necessary for preparing students with the relevant knowledge and skills in today’s society to become a productive citizen of the 21st century. In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own positive attitude towards using the technology matters a lot as attitudes influence not only headteachers’ initial acceptance of computers, but their future behaviour regarding computers (Karim, 2009). Researchers are of the opinion that awareness and attitudes toward computers, constitutes a crucial criterion in the evaluation of computer application and usage including the development of computer-based curricula (Woodrow, 1991; Kay, 1993; Robertson et al, 1995).

The Solution

In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education. Computer’s integration in education is quite on its initial phase in Pakistan in general and in Gilgit-Baltistan in particular, and for it to become a reality, headteachers need to be trained and they also use computers as part of their regular practice. Hence, to explore government school headteachers’ attitude toward computer usage in education, a possibly generalise-able survey conducted by Karim, (2009) with a sample of 185 headteachers from Sindh and Baluchistan had found various results. The survey explored two major findings:

Trainings are Essential to Enhance Positive Attitude Towards Computers

The survey result showed that the use of computer and prior computer training contribute to the overall attitude of the respondents towards use of computer in education. It was evidently shown that prior computer training contributed to the outcome variable significantly which suggests that if the headteachers have attended training programmes, they are more likely to have a positive attitude towards using computers in education. Need of computer trainings to increase the positive attitude has also been identified by Davis (1989).While the majority of the respondents were not exposed to computers and proper trainings in the survey.  
Keeping these findings in mind, the ICT training for headteachers comprises several modules aimed at instruction in basic ICT skills and the requirements in a teaching environment. It also contains a module dealing with ICT integration in curriculum and instruction. This approach is in line with international opinion that headteachers need to feel comfortable and competent in basic computer skills, so that he/she could be able to handle computer for the basic official purpose without being dependent on subordinates, which will also lead to enhancement of positive attitude toward computers in education.
EDIP’s intervention in this regard in the six districts of Gilgit-Baltistan is remarkable and the expected outcomes are encouragingly increased day by day, while only a couple of months of intervention have been passed.

Availability of Computer in Office enhances self confidence

Secondly, it was found in the said survey that majority of the participants did not have a computer in their offices. While it was evident that the use of computer in offices, contributed more than prior computer training in the overall attitude of headteachers (Karim, 2009). The findings in this study showed that the level of self-confidence in computer use is correlated with positive computer attitudes, supporting previous research (Shashaani, 1997). Using computers in office more frequently and developing a variety of computer related skills and techniques increases one’s knowledge of the computer as a whole. This broadens one’s learning perspective and potential that in turn promotes a positive feeling towards the computer use (Houtz & Gupta, 2001). Self-confidence was found significantly high among the respondents who have computers available in their offices, which predicts that respondents having computers in their offices have access to use computer and ultimately their confidence level was found significantly higher than the respondents, who do not have computers available (Karim, 2009).
Therefore, by providing computers in their offices and developing access to computers, we can meet the needs of school authorities like headteachers and can motivate to the agenda of Lifelong learning and can develop a positive attitude towards computers which will lead to the effective integration of computers in education.
Overall, these two solutions are at significant level to tackle with according to the research findings. Through EDIP project provision of basic computer trainings and facilitation of a computer set and a printer to the headteachers of the project school is in process which is proving to smoothen the school environment to initiate effective and long-lasting computer integration in education on next phases.

Purpose

The major and long ranged purpose of this project is smoothening the atmosphere of schools for the effective and long-lasting ICT integration in education and to achieve this major goal, as a first step at school level, headteachers are being exposed to the information and communication technology through provision of the basic computing skills training and facilitating computers to their offices. Headteachers are being provided opportunity to use the technology and thus overcome fears and reservations. Special attention is being paid to gender-related imbalances. This strategy will lead to achieve the ultimate goal of making headteachers positively adaptive and ready for the effective and long lasting integration of computers as headteachers are the key players in school context, and without their active involvement, effective ICT integration seems impossible.

 

REFERENCES

Chin, C. (2000). A case study of a mathematics teacher’s pedagogical values: Use of a methodological framework of interpretation and reflection. Proceedings of the National Science Council Part D. Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education, 10(2), 90-101.
Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3), 318-340.
Fullan, M. (2001). The new meaning of educational change (3rd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Houtz, L. E. & Gupta, U. G. (2001). Nebraska high school students’ computer skills and attitudes. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(3), 316-326.
Karim, D. (2009). Exploring Head and Deputy Head Teachers’ Attitude Towards Using Computers In Education. Unpublished master’s thesis, Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, Karachi, Pakistan.
Kay, A. (1993). The Early History of Smalltalk. Proceedings of 2nd ACM SIGPLAN History of Programming Languages Conference, 28, 69-82.
National Education Policy. (2008). Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan.
Robertson, S., Calder, J., Fung, P., Jones, A. & O’Shea, (1995). Computer attitudes in an English secondary school. Computers & Education, 24, 73-81.
Shashaani, L. (1997). Gender differences in computer attitudes and use among college students. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 16, 37-51.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2006). Human Development Report 2006. New York: UN. Retrieved on April 23, 2009 from www.hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/pdfs/report/HDR06-complete.pdf.
Woodrow, J. (1991). A comparison of four computer attitude scales. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7, 165-187.





[1] Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development

TRANSITIONAL VOYAGE TO EMERGE INTO LEARNING COMMUNITIES FOR SCHOOLS IN PAKISTAN

TRANSITIONAL VOYAGE TO EMERGE INTO LEARNING COMMUNITIES FOR SCHOOLS IN PAKISTAN

Darvesh Karim, AKU-PDCN Gilgit.

Learning community is a group of people who share common values and beliefs and actively engage in learning together from each other. This is based on an advanced kind of educational or 'pedagogical' design. The people who facilitate learning communities may contribute from several distinct fields of study.  To create a learning community we have to focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively and have to hold ourselves accountable for results and better outcomes.
Through literature review we can identify the guide lines for creating a learning community as Lovely, S. & Buffum, A.G. (2007) states that, “A major goal in the design of a learning community is facilitating a culture of collaboration within a setting that is complicated by the cross age diversity of most teams” (p.28). To facilitate this culture of collaboration we have to offer the opportunity for reforms.  The major requirements to create learning communities are according to Retallick, J. Cocklin, B. & Coombe, K. (Eds.). (1999)  are respect, caring, inclusiveness, trust, empowerment and commitment. These are the guide lines through which we can create learning community in schools.
For an effective learning community in educational institutions, there are many indicators to identify the existence of learning community; however, following two factors are more dominant towards fostering learning community in a school.
1.      Supportive and Shared Practices
2.      Distributed Leadership

Supportive and Shared Practices

Several kinds of factors determine when, where, and how the staff can regularly come together as a unit to do the learning, decision making, problem solving, and creative work that characterize a professional learning community. If we will not take care of these factors many consequences can occur in the institution. Stewart, D. & Prebble, T. (1993) describes this situation as, “Relationships among staff groups are a consequence of the communication patterns and networks that exist in the organization” (p.94).
Review of a teacher's behavior by colleagues is the norm in the learning community.  This practice is not evaluative but is part of the "peers helping peers" process for own understanding or to help each other. Such review is conducted regularly by teachers, who visit each other's classrooms to observe, and discuss their observations with the visited peer. Stewart, D. & Prebble, T. (1993). “Reflecting on our professional practice tends to be more profitable when a colleague is able to help us reflect on that practice and suggest alternatives” (p.45). This process use to be based on the desire for individual and community improvement and is enabled by the mutual respect and trustworthiness of staff members.
Teachers can proudly claim the existence of learning community in their schools, if they we have the sense of non-evaluative assessments and positive feedback to each other and for the enhancement of this sense, the teaching-learning atmosphere and leadership influence on teachers is very much revolutionary, which create such an atmosphere of respect and trustworthiness among the all the teachers. It is very well said that development never ends, so exercising the supportive and shared practices may lead teachers to strengthen and reinforce further this important aspect of learning community.

Distributed Leadership


Distributed-leadership means interdependency and coordinated work. This theme is presented as an alternative to focused leadership. According to Gronn (2003) it is the new trend increased after 1980, which is certainly a step up from one person leadership as we can see the work of head teacher is increasing and the responsibilities of managing the school needs to be shared.  This is also articulated by Arrowsimith (2007) that “Distributed leadership (DL) is an emerging form of power distribution in school which extends authority and influence to groups or individuals in a way which is at least partly contrary to hierarchical arrangements” (p.22). In the context of Pakistan, we can partially relate this leadership theme to some of the educational institutions.
Distributed leadership starts from willingness to share authority, the capacity to facilitate the work of staff, and the ability to participate without dominating. Stewart, D. & Prebble, T. (1993) states that, “If principals wish to change what teachers do, they must first change the way teachers think about what they do” (p.189).
Members of the Learning Community work together, share expertise, and exercise leadership to ensure that student achievement is the intended result of all decisions.  They retain primary responsibility, appropriate autonomy, and are accountable for making decisions affecting the important aspects of the learning community.
It seems clear that transforming a school organization into a learning community can be done only with the sanction of the leaders and the active cultivation of the entire staff's development as a community. Thus, a look at the principal of a school whose staff is a learning community seems a good starting point for describing what these learning communities look like and how the principal accepts a collegial relationship with teachers to share leadership, power, and decision making. Stewart, D. & Prebble, T. (1993) describes this notion of leadership as, “Leaders make a difference, but their work should be seen as an integral part of the activities of the whole group” (p.199). Through this practice, all grow professionally and learn to view themselves to use an athletic metaphor as "all playing on the same team and working toward the same goal: a better school".  This idea has very accurately articulated by Sergiovanni, T.J. (1996);
Communities are collections of individuals who are bonded together by natural will and who are together bond to a set of shared ideas and ideals. This bonding and binding is tight enough to transform them from a collection of “I’s” into a collective “we” (p.48).

REFERENCES

Arrowsmith, T. (2007). Distributed leadership in secondary schools in England: the impact on the role of the head teacher and other issue. Management in Education. 21(2), 21-27.
Gronn, P (2003). The New Work of Educational Leaders: Changing Leadership Practice in an Era of School Reform. London. Sage Publications.
Lovely, S. & Buffum, A.G. (2007). Generations at School: Building an Age-Friendly Learning Community.  California: Crown Press.
Retallick, J. Cocklin, B. & Coombe, K. (Eds.). (1999). Learning Communities in Education: Issues, strategies and contexts. London: Routledge.
Sergiovanni, T.J. (1996). Leadership for the Schoolhouse: How Is It Different? Why Is It Important? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stewart, D. & Prebble, T. (1993). The Reflective Principal: School Development Within a Learning Community. New Zealand: ERDC Press Massey University.

A reflection on my assumptions, which challenged

A reflection on my assumptions, which challenged
Darvesh Karim
AKU-PDCN Gilgit
Lifelong learning is a continuous process, and it should continue to refresh and update our understanding and knowledge. This process sometimes challenges our knowledge and understanding about different phenomenon. This piece of reflection is the confession of two assumptions I had previously, which were challenged by reading two articles.
Firstly, I had a perception that a child learns according to his/her mental capacity gradually but after going through an article ‘A theory of teaching as assisted performance’ written by Roland Tharp and Ronald Gallimore, in which specifically they discuss about the zone of proximal development in short ZPD. This knowledge came to me and of-course it challenged my previous assumption and convinced me that no doubt the child learns according to his/her mental level ‘gradually’ however, the ability to solve problems by his/her own use to be in a ‘slow motion process’. The writer ensures that this slow motion process of learning can be accelerated further by the assistance of teachers, parents and more capable peers. So in between the child’s individual capacity of knowledge and assisted capacity of knowledge is assumed as ZPD. Through this process the development process increases rapidly. This process continues throughout the life for learning new knowledge and skills.
http://www.thepositiveapproach.global/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Slides-Thomas-Armstrong.002.pngSecondly, I had another assumption which was also challenged and I had to accommodate the new concept and knowledge and had to build-on it during my university and independent studies. It was my understanding and assumption, as it was taught to me in school life that any child use to be a blank piece of paper mentally and for his/her development, parents, teachers and the environment play vital roles to add new information and knowledge. While, the new concept of different smartnesses or the multiple intelligences of the child is to be kept in mind during the teaching learning process. As it is very much clear that initially every body is quite different from each other and this difference has been categorized and presented as multiple intelligence theory by dividing the abilities to different groups like, word smart, picture smart, body smart , music smart, people smart and self-smart etc. This understanding came to me through the article ‘The Foundations of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences’, written by Thomas Armstrong.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Choosing the field of education


Choosing the field of education
By: Darvesh Karim

Entering the education field has been a very motivated decision for me. This particular decision is completely based on the former experience I had had all the way to the moment I decided I will connect my future with it. Nowadays, when parents are very busy the workers of the educational field are the people, who teach the young generation what is beautiful and what is ugly, what is right and what is wrong and million other things. Every person someday used to be an ordinary pupil that had teachers. The schooling experience of every person may develop either positive or negative attitude towards education in general. It is a fact of common knowledge that one of the most important parts in the educational process is the teacher. Choosing the education field has to be connected with a “calling” of a person, because it requires a lot of professional and personal qualities and constant self-perfection.
My personal experience in school taught me that a teacher could really make a difference in the process of education. A teacher may develop respect to the subject, to the teacher’s personality and to the education in general. A pupil may even see the difference in the manner of explaining and presenting the material teaching the same subject.
I discovered this difference when I had a substitute teacher coming to class and making my most hated subject one of the most interesting in the whole school program. I decided that I do want to make children love teaching and show them how fun and interesting learning can be. I decided to make it the reason of my life.
There have been lots of debates on good and bad teachers. And this particular experience made me realize that I do want to make a difference for children and make their education interesting for them in the first place and therefore motivate their own educational activity. I want to become a “good” teacher, not just a teacher reproducing the material student knows, but sharing attitudes, experience and reveal all the interesting sides in the educational process. It is vital to make sure the pupils get only the most positive experience from teaching. My experience made me realize how many mistakes some teachers do and gave the greatest desire to learn everything in order to become a real professional in the field of education.
Such a position towards education may reveal more talented young people among pupils and students. By making the process of education more productive we increase the educational level of the whole nation and I want to make my own personal contribution into this “highly professional education”. I have also thought that sharing the knowledge you have with other people is wonderful, and maybe one day I will inspire a young person to dedicate him/herself to the field of education. And this will be the best reward for me and for all the forces I plan to contribute in this field now. This experience was a “push” in the direction of the field I admire so much.