Schools As Organisations And Communities Education Essay

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Similar to other organizations, a school consists of a structure of formal roles or statuses, arranged into a social hierarchy into which expectations regarding appropriate behaviour are built. Schools are a collection of individual human beings whose behaviour is related to a greater or lesser extent to the roles they play in the same structure. Schools share a set of more or less related aims, values, beliefs, attitudes and ideas manifested through rituals, rules and language and through the perspectives and positions that individuals adopt to the institution and other individuals and which form the culture of the institution and the subcultures of its departments. The school's environment is constituted of a set of interactions of varying intensity and continuity between members of the institution and the individuals and groups.

Differences

The majority of participants in the school are children while adult staff assume leadership and management roles. This disparity creates doubts on what styles of social relationships are appropriate between staff and students, and between staff when visible to the student. It also inhibits a range of social interactions that, in other organisations, might break down barriers between people of different formal status. This also results in the nature of the school's organisational boundaries to be blurred. These semi-permeable membranes allow for osmosis between a school and the local social and business communities in which state schools are deeply embedded. As Demie (2004) and James et al (2006) have argued, the more closely school staff work with parents, especially in areas of social disadvantage where many children are disaffected, the more the achievement of students improves;

Schools as Communities

Schools are purposeful communities primarily focused on people's personal and social development. They are made up of people, staff and students, who expect to be part of them for many years. Students attend school to enjoy being with and sharing activities with their friends. Teachers also value the social dimension of being in school and working alongside colleagues who are perceived as friends. Hopkins et al (1997) suggest that authentic relationships of respect and understanding are closely linked with instrumental success in learning and teaching. Teachers' formal power and authority appears to be more strongly founded on interpersonal skills, qualities and relationships than on contractually based definitions of role and function.

These characteristics make schools similar to custodial institutions such as prisons. The power that staff wield to define what might be considered socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. The behaviours that staff sanction would be considered largely unacceptable in organisations in which all members were adults. Schools' apparent major purpose of preparing students to be docile participants in a future labour market is reflected in the way that schools are organised hierarchically with leaders at all levels taking decisions on behalf of students, though often in what is claimed to be 'their best interests' , with little consultation with them or their parents despite recent legislation requiring all schools to have student councils;

Organizational Culture of Schools

What is culture ? Culture refers to the meanings, values, beliefs, myths and stories, as well as the rites, rituals and ceremonies that abound in organisations. Frost et al (cited in Reeves, Tomlinson & Ford, 2002) add that it also refers to the interpretation of events, ideas and experiences that are influenced and shaped by the groups within which people live; culture is: 'Highly significant for how…….organisations function: from strategic change, to everyday leadership and how managers and employees relate to and interact with customers as well as how knowledge is created, shared, maintained and utilized.'

Critical Observations and Potentials for Change of Ysgol Bangor Primary School

Based on my observations, most of the students of Ysgol Bangor come from families where parents are working professionals; thus we can expect parents to have higher expectations of lessons given, teachers, schools, and their children overall results.

Although the current headteacher was successful in running a relatively small rural school, things are different in this new school with almost 6 times the student intake. He lacks the experience and the understanding of the requirements of such a school environment and middle class families.

There is a lack of recognition for experience and contributions by older staff; staff working many years or more are not promoted but face competition from new appointees. There appears to be signs of nepotism over the appointment of the newly qualified male teacher who is the nephew of one of the other teachers.

Despite having a limited male teacher presence, the school and board of governors appears to be practising gender biasness and ageism; particularly for the female deputy headteacher, who has been in the school's service for 20 years, she was not promoted to headteacher, rather favour is given to the current relatively young and inexperienced candidate for the role of headteacher.

The school is resting on its laurels (coasting), rather than spurring students to get better results. Parents will start to worry that overall good and respectable results hide poor progress which permits individual students to underachieve or fall behind.

There is no scrutiny from the governing body with regards to the management of the school. The regulating authority is not taking responsibility and willing to tolerate and cover up the under-performance of the school which would be deemed unacceptable elsewhere. Parents' concerns are not taken seriously and there is a lack of accountability and transparency on the governing body's part.

There are many ethical, disciplinary and governance issues involved with the "senior management team's" operational protocols, in example: a lack of responsibility and dedication to their professions, leaving early on the job, being insistent on their way of management, reluctance to having/ adapting to changes, disregarding parents' concerns, refusing attempts to encourage greater parental participation in their children's education and in the general life of the school, brushing away any modern or progressive ideas and ignoring any notion of staff appraisal and ongoing professional development, regarding such initiatives as a threat to their professionalism and an insult to the enormous experience they had gained over many years in the profession.

In short, the management team is essentially comprised of a self serving group of teachers with close relations that work collectively to block out any changes which may threaten their welfare or undermine their way of governance.

Further evidence of nepotism is suggested via the actions on the young male NQT's part; he deliberately avoided making opinions or questioning any management decisions during staff meetings in a bid to avoid any confrontation with his aunt.

The new headteacher has set a number of priorities on the future directions of the school. However, to bring these priorities into fruition involve making radical changes in the life and work of the school dynamics. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss in detail on each of these lapses in governance and leadership could occur within the school, what certain solutions can be implemented to counteract such lapses and what are some of the impediments that may hinder the effecting of such changes.

Potential for Change: Why does the school need change?

Organizational change is the movement of an organization away from its present state and toward some desired future state to increase its effectiveness. Why does an organization need to change the way it performs its activities? The education environment is constantly changing, and the school organization must adapt to these forces in order to remain relevant and effective.

Potential Forces for Change

Given a choice, most school organizations prefer stability to change. Why? Because the more predictable and routine activities are, the higher the level of efficiency that can be obtained. Thus, the status quo is preferred in many cases. However, schools are not static, but continuously change in response to a variety of forces coming from both inside and outside the school (internal and external forces):

External Forces

The external forces for change originate in the school's environment. They include the marketplace, government laws and regulations, technology, labor markets, and economic changes.

Marketplace

The marketplace, in recent years, has affected schools by introducing competition both from within a school district in the form of magnet schools, learning choice schools, and the like; and from outside the school district including private schools, store-front schools, and home instruction (Ludvigsen, 2011).

Government laws and regulations

Government laws and regulations are a frequent impetus for change. As a case in point, strict enforcement of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations cause many school districts to examine carefully their hiring, promotion, and pay policies for women and minorities (Robinson, 2010). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110) has had a significant impact on the operation of public schools throughout the country.

Technology

Technological innovations have created the need for change in schools (D'Agustino, 2011). Computers have made possible high-speed data processing and retrieval of information and have created the need for new positions.

Labor markets

The fluctuation of labor markets forces school leaders to initiate change. For instance, the education, talents, and attitudes of potential teachers play an important role in a school's effectiveness. Changes in these facets of the labor force can lead to a shortage or a surplus of qualified teachers.

Economic changes

Economic changes affect schools as well. During periods of recession, inflation, or downturns in the local or national economy, the attitudes and morale of some staff members suffer, which may hinder school performance (Brimley & Garfield, 2009).

Internal Forces

Pressures in the internal environment of the school district/school can also stimulate change. The two most significant internal pressures for change come from administrative processes and people problems.

Administrative processes

Processes that act as pressures for change include communications, decision making, leadership, and motivational strategies, to name only a few. Breakdowns or problems in any of these processes can create pressures for change. Communications may be inadequate; decisions may be of poor quality; leadership may be inappropriate for the situation; and staff motivation may be nonexistent. Such processes reflect breakdowns or problems in the school district/school and may reflect the need for change (Gibson, Ivancevich, Donnelly, & Konopaske, 2012).

People problems

Some symptoms of people problems are poor performance levels of teachers and students; high absenteeism of teachers or students; high dropout rates of students; high teacher turnover; poor school-community relations, poor management-union relations; and low levels of staff morale and job satisfaction (Bulach, Lunenburg, & Potter, 2008; Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2008). A teacher's strike, numerous employee complaints, and the filing of grievances are some tangible signs of problems in the internal environment (Alexander & Alexander, 2009). These factors provide a signal to school leaders that change is necessary. In addition, internal pressures for change occur in response to organizational changes that are designed to deal with pressures for change exerted by the external environment.

Resistance / Impediments to School Change

Organizations rely on their employees to adapt to changes, however the adaptation is usually slow, often difficult and sometimes even unsuccessful.

Research indicates that 70% of change initiatives fail because of 3 critical reasons: People leading the change process announce the change and consider that is sufficient for having implemented; people's concerns are not surfaced or heard; those expected to change are not actively involved in the change process

Changes in routine practices and procedures subvert existing knowledge and skills and demolish people's ability to perform with and the certainty of successful accomplishment. The mere mention of change can produce stress, anger, fear, indifference and frustration on the part of the employees of an organization. Therefore, resistance to change is often due to avoidance of the feelings of puzzlement, anxiety, and insecurity that change can engender. Each of these emotions becomes an impediment to change and the effective operations of the organization.

Impediments to School Change

Cenek (1995) postulates that common impediments to organizational change are;

Uncertainty

Teachers may resist change because they are worried about how their work and lives will be affected by the proposed change. Even if they have some appreciable dissatisfaction with their present jobs, they have learned what their range of responsibilities are and what their administrator's reaction to their behavior will be in certain situations. Any change creates some potential uncertainties.

Concern over Personal Loss

Appropriate change should benefit the school district/school as a whole, but for some staff members, the cost of change in terms of lost power, prestige, salary, quality of work, or other benefits will not be sufficiently offset by the rewards of change. Organization members may feel change will diminish their decision-making authority, accessibility to information, autonomy, and the inherent characteristics of the job.

Group Resistance

Groups establish norms of behavior and performance that are communicated to members. This communication establishes the boundaries of expected behaviors. Failure to comply with such norms usually results in sanctions against group members by the group. If school leaders initiate changes that are viewed as threatening to the staffs' norms, they are likely to meet with resistance. The more cohesive the staff is, the greater their resistance to change will be. This may explain partially what causes wildcat strikes by teachers when school districts introduce changes without proper notification and preparation.

Dependence

All humans begin life in a dependent state. Thus, dependence is instilled in all people to a certain extent. Dependency, in and of itself, is not all bad; but if carried to extremes, dependency on others can lead to resistance to change. For instance, staff members who are highly dependent on their leader for feedback on their performance will probably not adopt any new methods or strategies unless the leader personally endorses their behavior and indicates how the proposed changes will improve the staff member's performance.

Trust in Administration

Schools vary substantially in the degree to which organization members trust the leader. On the one hand, if a change is proposed when trust is low, a natural first reaction is to resist it. On the other hand, when trust is high, organization members are more likely to support a proposed change. Further, under conditions of distrust staff members often resist changes, even when they are understood and they can benefit from them.

Awareness of Weaknesses in the Proposed Change

Organization members may resist change because they are aware of potential problems in the proposed change. If staff express their reasons for resistance to the leader clearly along with adequate substantiation, this form of resistance can be beneficial to the school district/school. Leaders can use these suggestions to make their change proposals more effective.

Fear of control loss

Who are the ones that control education? Is it politicians, teachers, or parents? Everybody wishes to have some form of control on how we learn, what we learn and when we learn it. The school system is rejecting change because they are afraid of losing control. (Reeves, 2009)

Stagnant thinking

Stagnant thinking causes many school systems to invest funds onto traditional teaching and learning methodologies. The continued usage of such materials is no longer applicable in the new millenia, nor will such tools arouse the attention of modern students.

One size fits all

Not all kids learn the same way and pace. Schools shouldn't attempt to fit pupils via the same industrial "one size fits all" system. A diversity of thinking as well as pathways for "how" they learn needs to be fostered. (Herbert, 2009)

Lack of or Bad Leadership

Strong leadership is needed so as to guide the change process within the organization. Bad leaders that just provide don't do enough to inspire employees to move forward. Leaders need to show the way. Theres not so much of a lack in intent, but more so in knowing how to manage institutional change successfully. (Hitt, 2009) Leaders are poorly advised: Improvement initiatives stumble in many organizations because leaders either do not solicit advice or receive bad advice.

Emotions and change

Emotional labour occurs when employees engage in emotional work as a specific work requirement and when their remuneration depends on it. (James, 1999) Educational leaders undertake both emotional work and emotional labour. They are required to control their emotions as part of their work. Thus both emotional work and emotional labour come with the territory of teaching.

The linkage between implementing change and emotions in a school environment cannot be neglected as the emotional response to such change can be very powerful. (Hargreaves 1998) The response may be particularly strong if the change involves altering defensive behaviours, especially when these defensive behaviours are deeply founded. (James and Connolly 2000) Changing defensive behaviours is so difficult because of the following reasons: Defensive behaviours are 'ways of going on' that protect individuals and groups from unpleasant, even painful emotions; the experience of change can bring with it a sense of loss, insecurity and inadequacy, experiences which may carry distressing feelings of dismay, fear and even terror -a whole range of anxieties; changing defensive behaviours involves changing, which can be associated with difficult feelings and anxieties, those behaviours that are designed to protect against other difficult feelings and anxieties. Therefore, change can bring with it two sets of difficult emotions - a 'double dose of difficult dreads. It is the 'double whammy' of educational change. (James and Connolly 2000)

Finally, the organization as a whole may resist change. Organizational change may lead to a change in the organization's power structure. The resulting power struggle between those losing power and those gaining it will result in organizational stagnation. Similarly, the proposed change may assist one group in achieving their goals while resulting in another group's goals becoming more difficult. Large organizations with a divisional structure may falter as divisions fail to recognize the benefit of change to the entire organization. Organizations with strict organizational reporting or tall hierarchies tend to resist change as individuals within the organization are not encouraged to find their own solutions. Finally, change that cuts against the grain of the organization's existing culture or values will find little acceptance from those entrenched in it

Gender Discrimination of Female Teachers in Ysgol Bangor

Gender discrimination is explained as the discrimination for or against a type of gender. It includes job segregation, gender stereotyping, discrimination in hiring, pay and promotions, sexual harrasment, and family issues. Gender stereotyping also effects important choices about who will get the job, women or men. Since women are thought and considered not to meke good leaders or they are thought to be too emotioal to be given important resposibilities (DeVoe, 1999). Women are thought that they will be to weak to handle stress and pressure if given an important task so many managers chose their staff mostly from men. Apart from the two bias, probably easiest bias to observe is payment inequalities as well as inequalities in hiring and promoting. According to Hale (1999, p.8) women have to have higher standarts than men in order to obtain the position.

This is probably due to the fact that women are still considered as if they are less capable of doing the same job which men can. Also this causes women not to value promotions or not to value them as much as men do, since they know that they will not be promoted. This is exactly the issue that is plaguing the female deputy teacher of Ysgol Bangor; where her experience and leadership qualities are not recognized in favour of a much younger, inexperienced male headteacher.

Nepotism in the school

Nepotism is defined as, "favoritism given to relatives or close friends by people holding power (by providing them jobs)." Highly qualified and experienced teachers are rejected positions which are offered to recent university graduates, such as the male NQT in this case study. The male NQT is offered the much desired job on top of more qualified candidates due to he is the relative of another teacher in the school district. The person in charge has autonomy in choosing who to get the job.

Displaying nepotism when offering teaching positions is typically dangerous due to the product that is worked with by the employee. Student minds ought to be entrusted to the highest qualified personnel that can provide them meaningful and accurate instruction. In offering jobs via nepotism, the students of Ysgol Bangor are not instructed by teachers which not necessarily be the most qualified personnel to do so. There are even instances where teachers are terminated, or redirected to other pilot programs outside of their teaching expertise just for the purpose of creating a job opening for someone's relative. (Reeves, 2009)

Overcoming Impediments to Change

Overcoming impediments to change requires the skillful use of power, influence, and communication. A constant recommendation to overcome impediments to change is to increase communication and improve the nature of relationships. Anomalies or things that do not fit expected patterns often serve as the basis for new ideas and are best captured when information is widely available through a variety of communications mechanisms.

There are a number of specific ways that resistance to change may be overcome:

Education and Communication

Resistance can be reduced when school leaders communicate with organization members to help them see the need for change as well as the logic behind it. This can be achieved through face-to-face discussions, formal group presentations, or special reports or publications. The approach works providing the source of resistance is inadequate communication and that leader-member relations are characterized by mutual trust. If trust does not exist, the change is unlikely to succeed.

Participation and Involvement

Organization members who participate in planning and implementing a change are less likely to resist it. Prior to making a change, leaders can allow those who oppose the change to express their view on the change, indicate potential problems, and suggest modifications. Such participant involvement can reduce resistance, obtain commitment, and increase the quality of the change decision.

Facilitation and Support

It is important for leaders to manifest supportive and facilitative leadership behaviors when change is being implemented. This type of leader behavior includes listening to organization member's ideas, being approachable, and using member's ideas that have merit. Supportive leaders go out of their way to make the work environment more pleasant and enjoyable. For example, difficult changes may require staff development to acquire new skills necessary to implement the change. Such training will likely diminish resistance to the change.

Negotiation and Agreement

Leaders can neutralize potential or actual resistance by providing incentives for cooperation. For example, during collective bargaining between the school board and various employee unions, certain concessions can be given to employees in exchange for support of a new program desired by school leaders. Such concessions may include salary increases, bonuses, or more union representation in decision making. School leaders can also use standard rewards such as recognition, increased responsibility, praise, and status symbols.

Manipulation and Cooptation

Manipulation occurs when school leaders choose to be selective about who gets what information and how much information, how accurate the information is, and when to disseminate the information to increase the chance that change will be successful. Cooptation involves giving the leaders of a resistance group (e.g., teachers or other staff members who represent their work group) a key role in the change decision. The leaders' advice is sought, not to arrive at a better decision, but to get their endorsement. Both manipulation and cooptation are inexpensive ways to influence potential resisters to accept change, but these techniques can backfire if the targets become aware they are being tricked. Once discovered, the leader's credibility may suffer drastically.

Explicit and Implicit Coercion

When other approaches have failed, coercion can be used as a last resort. Some changes require immediate implementation. And change initiators may have considerable power. Such instances lend themselves more readily to the use of coercion to gain compliance to proposed changes. Organization members can be threatened with job loss, decreased promotional opportunities, salary freeze (this technique is used infrequently in public schools), or a job transfer. There are, however, negative effects of using coercion including frustration, fear, revenge, and alienation, which in turn may lead to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and turnover.

Believing that Schools are for Students' Learning

We need to study the way teachers' values and beliefs affect their leadership skills. Teachers that value working with pupils and having faith in influencing students' achievement may prove to be important as they take on more leadership roles. Trusting schools exist for students' learning often surface as a common factor of leaders that promote school change. Effective teachers trust that pupils come first; effective principals believe in attaining the instructional needs of pupils. (Reeves, 2009)

Fostering Organizational Culture Change

Cultural changes needed for sustainable school improvement to occur, can happen due to post-transformational leadership, and considering transactional leadership styles are not as plausible to foster such a process; but the transformational model may be useful.

To bring about cultural change for the school, leaders must define what will not change. They must articulate the values, practices, traditions and relationships that will not be lost.

Second, organisational culture will change with leadership actions; speeches and announcements are not enough. Leaders speak most clearly with their actions - changes they make in decision rules, allocation of personal time, and relationships. When staff members hear the call for transformation from a leader who personal actions remained unchanged, their hope turns to cynicism in an instant. (Boyd 2002; Hitt, 2009)

Third, the right tools have to be used for the system. Leaders must select proper change tools from multiple factors, such as the extent to that staff concur on their wants and what they agree with regards to cause and effect. Leaders that focus on a particular method of fostering change make errors of the one who holds a hammer and one who only see nails. To make changes to behaviors and beliefs of schools, leaders need to adapt the correct mix of tools, adjusting their strategies to cater to the system's varying needs.

Fourth, leaders need to relentlessly put in attention and 'scut work' to bring about change in culture. Of course certain leaders are insistent that every job has value and "scut work" do not in schools. If that is the case, those words must be backed up with personal example and public actions. (Abdul 1999; Boutte, 2007)

Fighting Against Gender Discrimination

Recognizing common stereotypes of women in the workplace and taking measures to eliminate them would improve the climate for all women.

In order to increase women‟s beliefs that their work is valued and respected, and to increase job satisfaction and achievement the researchers suggest a policy revision aimed at the support of female faculty. Administrators need to cultivate an awareness of the perceptions of all faculty, in particular women, in order that all employees can reach their potential. Awareness, can lead to correcting perceptions that seem erroneous.

Hiring practices could be reviewed to help reduce the negative influence of stereotypes and increase gender parity.

How to Combat Nepotism in Schools

The public actually has much more power that it realises when it comes to nepotism. The state controls education, which removes the concern of having to combat federal bureaucracy to rectify the issue. Not only is education managed by individual state governments, but education is often more closely monitored on a local level by school boards. The names of school teachers are deemed as public information and are available to the public at any time. A person just needs to ask for workers names, compare similarities and ask informed questions. If nepotism is found to be a problem in the district, pressure can then be applied on the board of education to correct the unfair recruitment practices. New employment policies having been implemented by many schools after indications from the public in a bid to clean up nepotism. If enough members of the public complain about nepotism to the state, statewide legislation could even be enacted to address the problem.

Implement Distributed Leadership

Today's headteachers cannot lead the school alone. At one time, managing the school building was a headteacher's primary duty. Today, principals have many other duties as well. These include responding to parents and the community, collaborating with outside agencies that support the school, and managing the finances and staffing. To support improved student achievement, headteachers must also coordinate teachers' professional development and ensure that standards are taught in the classroom.

Shared leadership through a co-headship is one model. The co-head teachers share every leadership function, including working with teachers, parents, and students. This arrangement requires extensive coordination, but, with appropriate implementation, results in increased support for teachers and parents. Another shared leadership model can involve a small group of parents and teachers who work as partners with the headteacher. The leadership team has a well-defined task, such as creating a school improvement plan based upon student data. After the plan is complete, the leadership team works with others to complete different tasks, like planning professional development. A third distributed leadership model is to organize the school like a company, with the headteacher serving as CEO, a deputy headteacher, department heads, and grade-level leaders can each be responsible for specific functions.

Regardless of which model of distributed leadership a school chooses, everyone must share a common vision aligned with meaningful and attainable goals for student achievement.

Role of School Governors and Board

The governing board is expected to provide for a more flat management style, with an increasing demand for teacher leaders to participate in management. Board members ought to maintain strong connections with the schools and positive relationships with the headteacher, with individual members of staff and with each other. Mutual support and trust need to be nurtured between the schools and the GBs and within the GBs.

Governing boards can perform well when they were kept informed; encouraged to undertake training and to attend courses; provided thoughtful challenge to and validation of the schools' work - especially in promoting pupil attainment and achievement; had specific responsibilities and linked with particular teachers; attended most if not all the meetings of the GBs and cared strongly about their schools. Lastly, the chair person of the GB needs to be always 'available, and ready and willing to praise'.

Conclusion

Impediments are temporary setbacks to leaders who provide a vision, strategy, and communications that allow people to devise ways to say yes to change. Any change effort must be built by an understanding of the culture of the organization, the environment, the people of the organization, and the need to change an organization.

Change will be impossible without changing the governance of schools. This is an issue sorely in need of research and discussion, because it is not a simple matter. It is not really a question of centralising power in the executive or board of governors, but of finding better ways to encourage faculty and administrators to see the benefits of change and take responsibility and reward them for doing it.

A school that identifies a need or requirement to change must use every asset and means available to spread information about how the need or requirement to change affects the school and each individual. (James et al, 2006)

(Word Count: 4672 words)

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