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Our team has gone through most of the stages of team development as summarized by Tuckman and Jensen (1977) that is forming, storming, norming and performing (Study Guide, p. 121).
In the forming stage the team come together, determines members, clarify goals, roles, responsibilities and procedures. We knew each other through previous activities by presenting ourselves and goals were determined by the Web Activity 3 guide.
In the storming stage tensions might emerge but managed carefully the team to shape up. Everybody their relationships, tested their boundaries, contributed their preliminary analysis and made suggestions "I am concerned with your activity and we should share opinions for a productive center" (Charalambous C., E849 Web Activity 3, 9 October 2011). Suddenly, "I think we need a leader to "connect" each other." appeared and "It is ok with me to be the first coordinator, provided that no one follows blindly." (Hadjittofi M., E849 Web Activity 3, 5 and 11 March, 2011). Mutual trust was developed.
In norming stage everybody worked effectively and followed the agreed procedures. We focused on the purpose of the activity: 'â€¦you do not need to change anything in your initial and individual analysis. However, we need to decide which tabular format to use.' (Kaili P., E849 Web Activity 3, 15 March 2011). Communication was stimulated by the team's values and mutual support was developed amongst the team members: 'You are right. I will rewrite my new TOWS analysis.' (Palli C., E849 Web Activity 3, 16 March 2011).
In the performing stage delegation of work was agreed by giving sense of value to everybody. "My opinion is better to work in sub-groups to save valuable time". (Hadjittofi M., E849 Web Activity 3, 26 March, 2011). Everybody contributed efficiently and exchanged opinions and views showing trust and respect. Any disagreements were resolved through compromise and constructive dialogue with positive feedbacks '...You've done an excellent job.. .' (Ioannidis, G., E849 Web Activity 3, 5 April 2011).
My role within the team roles
According to Belbin (1981; 1993) a considered mix of team roles is important if members work effectively together (O'Neill, 1997). Even though I was never coordinator, my contribution to the team was very crucial, "I keep reading your comments and I believe we have to be more practical. .... but we still need leader and I still vote Maria." (Charlistos M., E849 Web Activity 3, 10 March, 2011) and everybody agreed after that.
Furthermore, I behaved as a team worker by supporting and appraising my team: 'I am sure that u will do as great job as Maria did. All the best!' (Charlistos M., E849 Web Activity 3, 26 March, 2011). I utilized the contributions of everybody having in mind that 'top teams rather than star individuals are the key to business success' (Kakabadse, 1991, Study Guide, p119). "just opened the dialogue today since I was away yesterday. I have seen your suggestions and I think as a team we have done a good job and I agree with since every opinion is valuable." (Charlistos M., E849 Web Activity 3, 7 April, 2011).
I have always been disciplined, reliable and efficient so I behaved as an implementer. I made all the contributions as requested and even more on time and I believe that I was one of the most active team members since I followed all the emails. I was co-operative, task-orientated, open and conciliatory: "Hi, I have made some changes in red which I believe should be removed. What do u think?"(Charlistos M., E849 Web Activity 3,31 March, 2011).
Furthermore I was a completer-finisher taking the initiative to reconsider my group's suggestions and preparing the agreed upon TOWS analysis and strategic plan.
Retrospectively, I believe I was one of the most reliable members being focused both on people and tasks. Nevertheless, I should have motivated some members more in order to increase their commitment, participation and for them to shown more enthusiasm.
Strengths and weaknesses of my team
Our strongest component was trust. Everybody helped trust develop which assisted every member to co-operate efficiently "This final TOWS analysis is the product of our teamwork!!! (Hadjittofi M., E849 Web Activity 3, 24 March, 2011). Members with leadership roles delegated responsibility and rotation worked "... I suggest another member should undertake the role of the leader.. I believe rotation will make us more effective. (Hadjittofi M., E849 Web Activity 3, 24 March, 2011). Furthermore, collegiality facilitated stability, cohesion and helped to achieve common goals. Clear and shared goals create common expectations (Clement and Vandenberghe 2000). The final activities were the result of collaboration and consensus. Everybody worked in collaborative culture that left room for assistance, support and honesty (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1992. McLaughlin, 1994) thus when there was real problem during the activity like the birth of child gave their support "Congratulations on the birth of your child!! Î¥Î¿u certainly have our understanding.(Hadjittofi M., E849 Web Activity 3, 16 March, 2011)
The power to use conflicts for gaining productive results benefited us. "There is no clear link between questions 1, 2 and 9. Question 1 refers to students with special needs." (Charalambous, C., E849 Web Activity 03, 13 April 2011) We are now comfortable to disagree with each other and it is very productive (Bolam et al., 1993).
Every member worked under a different schedule, time and the decision-making process was slow, losing precious time. Sometimes quick decision had to be taken.
Communication was constrained by computing problems, thus increasing anxiety and frustration. 'As I posted earlier this week I have not been able to access internet.. and.. contribute at all. My apologies for this... ' (Forsyth, R., E849 Web Activity 3,24 April 2011).
Computer was sometimes difficult or impossible due to personal or professional responsibilities. This lack of participation decreased enthusiasm, interest and caused increased workload on others.
Nevertheless, our willingness, common spirit and trust helped us to overcome those difficulties.
Strengths and weaknesses of face-to-face and on-line teamworking
Teamworking is the most common way of working. All members can benefit from the direct experience by developing interpersonal relationships and sharing of tacit knowledge. Augier and Vendelo (1999) assume that exchange of tacit knowledge improves the results of learning processes. Moreover, you have the chance to adequately clarify your views and disagreements are more easily resolved. Also, spontaneity during face-to-face communication can lead to innovation as 'new ideas emerge more through networks of working relationships than through hierarchies' (Johnson and Scholes, 2002, p.152).
Face-to-face communication is appropriate for people who are not computer literate enabling them to participate. Communication can be faster, easier and more effective as you can ask and get immediate back responses.
Furthermore face-to-face teamwork has its weaknesses also as low profile people may be underestimated in personal contact because of prejudices and potential subjectivity. Moreover, there are people who try to dominate the discussions developing aggressive relationships and conflicts can arise more easily and are hard to resolve. Additionally face-to-face teamwork can be inaccurate and misleading since it is based on minutes of meetings and there are no written records kept. Furthermore, it demands many meetings and sometimes these may take hours and it is easy to have several problems like conflicts, intense discussions and appositions.
Finally face-to-face communication can be constrained as people cannot always be present during the meetings which held are at certain time and place. People from different countries are unable to participate.
Nowadays, people can collaborate on-line due to fast changes in technology and lifestyle. People working on-line can have a flexible timetable, save time and decrease their stress and pressure. They have plentiful time to reflect on their thoughts leading sometimes to more advanced work. Moreover the written records kept on-line are a useful source to reflect on and misconceptions occur less frequently. Due to the lack of interpersonal contact affective conflicts cannot easily arise. On the contrary, cognitive conflicts might arise which enhance decision quality and overall group performance (DiPaola, 1996). Moreover on-line communication gives people from different countries with cultural diversity the chance to collaborate bringing in new ideas and reinforcing the dynamic of the team. Low profile people can benefit from on-line communication as they can express their feelings and thoughts more easily and feel equal to the other team members.
However, on-line teamwork has its limitations. The slow speed of decision- making process causes anxiety and stress to the group members. Moreover written communication is time-consuming compared to oral conversation. People with lack of computer knowledge cannot participate on on-line communication. Possible computing problems can deteriorate the progress of the teamwork enhancing stress and pressure. Lastly, the lack of interpersonal contact requires alertness with the wording used to avoid offending others.
In conclusion, both ways of teamworking are valuable and productive. On-line teamworking might be more appropriate when team members live at a distance and it is impossible to meet with each other. Web Activity 3 of this course is an example. On the other hand, face-to-face communication might be more appropriate for experimental studies where the coordination is facilitated through the personal contact or when rapid decisions have to be made. Sometimes a mixture of both ways might be helpful. Initial stages of teamwork might go through face-to-face communication and then could be used on-line communication.
Outline of the strategic plan that our team developed
Rationale: The strategic plan was made so as the centre would become able to function as an effective organization, in contrast to today's financial difficulties. Furthermore, this planning has been made in order to secure the commitment of members to the organization's values and purposes. At the beginning, we integrated all key internal and external factors which affected the centre in a TOWS analysis and then we developed a strategic plan which was based on the 5P's model (Foskett, 1999) as it is shown on Appendix 1.
Justification: Firstly, we tried to make the centre financially strong by increasing the client's number. Much importance was given to "Market Segmentation" (Davies and Ellison, 1999) to identify the needs of the internal and external stakeholders. Most of the points in the plan aimed to this (enlarge the building, curriculum, increase the operation period; refurbish the equipment). Secondly, we intended to create a competitive positioning strategy which would help the recognition of the distinguishing features of the centre that differentiated it from the competitors. According to Carlson (1975) educational organizations have moved into a "wild" environment characterized by market responsibility, economic accountability and a key focus on open demonstrations of quality that enable customer evaluation of institutions. The team created this approach through "Marketing and Advertising strategy". In addition, the team focused on the effective leadership because some of the main weaknesses of the centre had to do with the way the head teacher led the place. The team decided to hire specialists in every one of the courses offered by the centre who would plan, promote professional development and be accountable when things would not work out. Moreover, the team tried to find additional ways which would help the centre become financially strong by finding donators and sponsors.
Ways of modifying the plan taking account of comments and feedback from the other team and my own reflection on the plan (300) 350
" ... However you make almost no reference how you propose/expect to finance all the above? .." (Group B, E849 Web Activity 03, 14 April 2011). This comment from the other group could be used for conducting a survey which will investigate the "local market" of the area, whether the local schools and institutions are still interested not only visiting the Alice Hargreaves centre but also upgrade their visits to the center. The results of such survey would assist if the center can not only viable and but also more profitable.
Furthermore, on the first question of group b is mentioned ".. Do you believe that all these remarkable changes can be achieved within three years' time?" (Group B, E849 Web Activity 03, 14 April 2011). It could be better if we have prioritized the objectives in order to create flexibility in the plan. High priority aims could be implemented first ensuring their completion in case changes are necessary. Furthermore we could have set time limits in the plan which could be a means of control. This could be a way for some transformation or continual development of the initial ideas. It can be argued that 'continual testing and gradual strategy implementation provides improved quality of information for decision-making, and enables the better sequencing of the elements of major decisions' (Johnson and Scholes, 2002, p.152).
On the second question of group b "Who will be in charge for the communication/PR with the schools and the parents? Could this responsibility be given to one of the teachers?" (Group B, E849 Web Activity 03, 14 April 2011). Definitely this remark from the other team has a point. In our proposal we mention PR officer (Appendix 1, pg3). It would be better if we give this role to a teacher who is already involved with the clientele, could offer more than to have a new PR from outside. This remark also could be used as a motive within the staff.
Key concepts used from the course concerning Alice Hargreaves center
The key concepts have proved to be useful in assessing the strategic position of the Alice Hargreaves center and in developing a plan for its future. An analysis of these key concepts is carried out as following:
Strategic plan is concerned with 'mapping out the future of the organization in an integrated way, taking account of expected trends and developments in the environment as well as internally' (Preedy et al., pg.6). In order to assure the future of the centre and deal with its problems a strategic plan needed to be developed considering that plans need to be flexible and evolutionary. Johnson and Scholes (2002, pg.147) point out that 'if you have no vision, but only formal plans, any unpredicted change makes you feel your sky is falling in'.
Every aspect of the strategic plan included Strategic Marketing since Foskett (1999) argues for closer links between strategic planning and marketing as an essential element of strategic development. Besides marketing "is not a specialized activity at all encompasses the entire business-it is the whole business" (Drucker, 1954). Johnson and Scholes (1993) point out the components that strategic management includes: Strategic analysis, strategic choice and strategy implementation. During the "Strategic analysis" data about the centre's situation was collected and was put in a TOWS table. Once the information had been gathered the next step was the strategic choice which concerns the broad approaches that the organization will take to achieve its goals (Kotler and Fox, 1995). During the assessment of the strategic position of the Alice Hargreaves center and the strategic planning every member of the team adapted the above notion.
The Alice Hargreaves center needed effective change and complex process something that is a long term process. Bringing sustained improvement could be possible by developing a sharing culture and open communication with the relevant stakeholders in order to make the necessary changes responding to the market demands something that our team has suggested at the strategic plan for better days of the center. According to Fullan (2001) reflective practice will help the staff to clarify the meaning of the change and implement it successfully.
Headteachers' leadership style influences the effectiveness of the organization. The Alice Hargreaves centre has the need of a transformational and experienced leader who is focused on creating and coping with change and building strong relationships with others (Horner, 1997). It is argued that transformative leadership is "one of the most efficient strategies to implement innovations successfully" (Clement and Vandenberghe, 2001. p.133). The new headteacher for the Alice Hargreaves center should be able to draw on multiple perspectives in order to "help him/her order the world and decide what actions to take" (Bolman and Deal (1997); Study Guide, p.142).
The limited size of the organization enforces the distribution of responsibilities amongst the staff. This leads to staff commitment when changes are needed within their organization (Riley and MacBeath, 1998). The leader has to manipulate the symbols of the centre to create a coherent vision because Fullan (2001, p.186) states that vision "provides the clarity and energy for promoting specific changes".
Continual Professional Development
"Organizational development and improvement are dependent on the contributions of organizational members" (Study Guide, p.143). Hence, leaders need to provide feedback and opportunities for staff development in order to achieve the organization's goals . The staff of the centre should "take on the role of generator of new knowledge-as 'experiential learner' or 'practitioner-researcher" (Harrison, 2002, p.34) to ensure quality on work. The centre should transform to a 'learning organisation' where the knowledge, experience and skills of individuals are potential for a continual regeneration through collaborative structures (Johnson and Scholes, 2002). The headteacher should be the "lead-learner" and lead by example.
"The management of motivation is a key factor in the successful leadership and management of people" (Anderson, 1977, pg.22). Motivation and encouragement to the staff would reinforce their commitment to the goals of the centre because "a good fit between individual and organizational needs means that people are satisfied at work, and the organization gets what it needs from its workforce to succeed"(Crawford,1997, pg.68).
The centre's deteriorated reputation as well as low morale and dissatisfaction amongst the staff create fertilized ground for culture change. Hargreaves (1999) emphasizes that crisis is the comrade of cultural change. Schein (1985) argues that 'the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture' (Preedy et al., p.5). The management team should work within the culture of the centre to help it meet the challenges of its environment because peoples' beliefs, values and emotions will determine how they will react to the change (Stoll, 1999). Cultivating amongst the stakeholders values such as mutual trust, respect, consensus, collaboration and justice would be the key to success.
O' Neill (1997, p.217) argues that 'conflict is present in all organizations' due to the multiple realities of the members. There is the need to nurture a climate of professionalism in the centre and exploit conflicts to make better decisions because they are 'as critical as consensus' (DiPaola, 1996, p.145). 'Well-managed conflict can provide a healthy mechanism for problem-solving' (O'Neil, 1997, p.218) and enhance organizational development.
Some members of the centre's staff suffered from excessive workload and at the same time others were under-deployed "having a damaging impact on teacher recruitment and retention" (Study Guide, p.114). The above factors force change on the centre's structures, share the responsibilities amongst the staff and hold each other accountable.
"Proactively responding to external expectations rather than reactively is a key element of effective strategic plans" (Study Guide, p.80). External expectations and demands should be a priority for the centre. The Board of Governors, consisting of internal and external stakeholders, should have an active role to play in the success of the centre. Moreover, the centre should adopt mechanisms to take in society trends and problems and the curriculum should be adjusted accordingly.
Accountability is an important strategic concern (Study Guide, p.91). The head of the centre is formally accountable for the work of the centre. A collegial approach and delegation of tasks will ensure responsibility for policy and its implementation. The market pressures impose a direct accountability with the customers- market model of accountability (Simkins, 2004, p.222). The key to organization success is to work coherently towards shared goals and be flexible and open to the realities of others.
One of the problems we are faced with in my school, and there is a need for an appropriate solution to be found, is the big number of students with illiteracy problems and learning difficulties. Unfortunately Technical and Vocational schools in Cyprus are attended mostly by students with low academic standards concentrate (Constantinou, 2009, p.15). As a deputy headmaster, responsible for these students, I plan to develop a mechanism to detect these students as soon as they arrive school.
Technical and Vocational schools are attended mostly by students with illiteracy problems and learning difficulties. These are students, who cannot write and read correctly and have lack of basic knowledge in mathematics. In addition, there are also students with learning difficulties in a number of subjects such as Greek lessons and Physics.
To help students with illiteracy problems, to enable them to read, write and do simple mathematic calculations at desirable level and assist students with learning difficulties to improve their faculties and studying techniques.
To develop effective mechanisms to cooperate with stakeholders in order to find students with illiteracy problems and learning difficulties
To develop cooperation with the parents of these students and advise them on how to encourage their children to participate in these programs
To implement the Time Schedule of the programs
To evaluate the activity
To improve my relationships with pupils
To develop my problem solving skills
To plan and implement the activity in collaboration with my colleagues
To practise and develop my leadership capabilities
Part2 and 3a
In order to assess the Leadership plan, success criteria must be set. Success criteria are related to the objectives and are defined as follows with evidence code: A.Minutes of meeting, B. Learning diary, C.Feedback from the participants
For this Leadership activity plan the evidence which will be collected will be both, qualitative and quantitative with data collection code as: A. Learning diary, B. Diagnostic Test, C. Semester Tests
Timetable for Leadership activity plan
To reach a satisfying designing, developing and implementation of this activity, all the contextual factors (external and internal) have the opportunity for collaboration and collegiality and must work as a team for achieving their purposes (Study Guide, p. 86). After thoughtful consideration, the external and internal contextual factors that have important role in this activity are as following:
Ministry of Education and Culture
Two decades ago, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, after several researches found out that a great number of students face not only illiteracy problems but also learning difficulties. As a result, there was a need for a new legislation to be implemented (something which was carried out) (www.moec.gov.cy/eidiki/nomothesia/Number_113 (I) _1999.pdf).
It was obvious that there was a need for things to be changed and appropriate methods to be applied in order to help all these students with their personal problems. The decision was taken and nowadays these programs are running in all divisions of public schools.
The role of the Ministry is to offer continuous support to all the stakeholders, by making researches on the positive or negative feedback of these programs, and suggest appropriate solutions for each case. Furthermore, the appointed inspectors of the Ministry of Education, regularly visit schools and discuss not only with students, teachers, deputy headmasters but also with the parents of these students and advise them on any difficulties that may arise. Moreover, the Ministry of Education has to design and offer specific training programs to teachers concerning the specific difficulties of the students, so as to equip teachers with better teaching techniques (MOEC, Circular, dme 2010, 4/10/2007).
Parental involvement is very important so they realise if their children are facing learning difficulties or other problems as well as how the program will help them. According to MacGilchrist et al., 1997, in schools that developed corporate plans and characterized by a united commitment to improvement, there is a strong sense of shared ownership and involvement of teachers, and efforts to involve other stakeholders, such as parents and governors. As a result, the impact of the plan was significant across the school as a whole. More important is their collaboration by their frequent communication with the teachers, Deputy Head Master and inspectors and participation to the program by watching the progress of their students and suggesting further ways to motivate children. However, there are cases where parents do not accept the fact that their children face learning difficulties or other problems and refuse to participate in the programs.
Leader of the program
The leader of the program is consider to play a crucial role. His role is to lead everything which very much relates to the implementation of the programs.
However, there is a need to emphasize on the following five managerial elements:
Control (Megan, 2003, p. 64)
He is responsible for the meetings, for the Diagnostic Tests, the implementation of the Time Schedule, the reports sent and received from the Ministry or other government authorities such as the Ministry of Health in the case of students with health problems (deaf, blind etc), the evaluation of the programs. The leader should face these programs in a charming way to become the model of other participants. He has to encourage and motivate all the participants with his behaviour in order to improve the school culture which is referred below, and develop communication skills and consensus participation.
The teachers involved in the program should mainly concentrate all their efforts on the students participating in the program. To achieve our purposes, these students must be collaborative and try to help themselves. However, if students are to be adequately educated for life in the future, leaders and teachers in educational organizations need to understand not only the society that we are currently operating within but also the one these people will be living within in the future (Study Guide, p.67). Unfortunately, there are students who do not understand and accept the existence of having a certain learning difficulty and instead of collaboration and improvement, are disappointed and developed discipline problems.
These colleagues are teaching students so they can succeed in student's happiness, satisfaction, assess and evaluate the programs' students' progress. Teachers feel responsible towards individual students and there are three different levels of accountability which are the following:
Moral Accountability. (Study Guide, p. 93)
However only a few teachers are qualified enough (have expert education background) to participate and teach, assess and evaluate in these programs.
A last factor equally essential to the others, is the School Culture. According to Louise, 1999, school culture is one of the most complex and important concepts in education. In relation to school improvement however it has also been one of the most neglected.
Furthermore, culture can take different forms. As well as pupil culture there can also be a teacher culture, leadership culture, support staff culture, and parent culture (Louise, 1999).
School Culture may have these characteristics, so to be a pleasure for all the stakeholders:
An orderly atmosphere.
An attractive and secure working environment.
A place where 'risk taking' is encouraged. (Study Guide, p. 86)
Research by MacGilchrist et al. (1997) carried out in primary schools found that teachers were often not consulted in the planning process and did not feel responsible for putting plans into action. By contrast, the schools that developed corporate plans characterized by a united commitment to improvement, a strong sense of shared ownership and involvement by staff, and efforts to involve other stakeholders, such as parents and governors. In these cases, teachers had a definite sense of responsibility for the implementation and outcomes of plans, and the impact of the plan was significant across the school as a whole.
As a result to the above, the leader has a double role to play in this activity.
The responsibility for the implementation of the Time Schedule.
The coordination and collaboration with the contextual factor as described above.
Concerning the implementation of the Time Schedule, the responsibilities are to take into account all the factors, such as legislation, parameters like labs, students and teachersrs teaching needs.
For example, the teacher who helps the students with their Greek language illiteracy problems cannot be the same person who teaches to the whole class. The same policy must be followed for the students with all the other lessons that are involved the programs. There is also a need to take into account the classroom (usually we use a specific room) where these lessons will be taking place.
For the program of students with learning difficulties, the parameters to be taken into account are more complicated. For example, if a student has learning difficulties in Physics and it is decided that he must be taught two more extra hours, he cannot leave twice from the same lesson.
As a leader of this activity, many other activities must be achieved. He has to manage, motivate and foster all the participant factors and find the ways and methods to assess and evaluate the programs. As Leithwood et al, (1999), school is a social organization consisting of cooperative relations among adults who share common purposes and where daily life for both adults and students is organized in ways which foster commitment among its members.
The leadership perspective is not always the same. If the leader has to deliver the legislation of this program to colleagues, he has to use the formal leadership. On the other hand, during meetings with colleagues is better to use democratic style, where he has to build up commitment and support consensus (Bush, 1995).
While interviewing parents or students, the leadership style to be followed is the affiliative since this model of leadership creates harmony, and in these cases is useful because the interviewer explains to them that taking part in these programs is a way to improve their skills. (Study Guide, p.20)
The personal practices that the leader intends to develop in this activity plan are the Models valued practices and Formal leadership responsibilities, because the leader has to interact with students, motivate staff and students, remind participants the objectives and support the work of other staff. As far as the capacities are concerned, he believes that Procedural Knowledge and Declarative Knowledge will help to achieve our purpose (Kenneth et al., 1999)
For the achievement of the purposes, we have to try to improve quality. This can be achieved by appraising teaching, learning and assessment methods in order to develop their quality, from the perspective of teachers and students (Study guide, p. 97).
There are two types of assessment: formative evaluation and summative evaluation "used more" for assessing the participant students. In these programs, is more useful to use formative evaluation than summative and taking into account both our students' illiteracy problems and learning difficulties (Study Guide, p. 98).
Concluding, I believe that, rational approaches to organizational strategy are both necessary and important, but not sufficient. In order to make sense of the complexities of organizational life and the impact of the rapidly changing external context, we need to draw on alternative perspectives which acknowledge the bounded rationality of organizational decision making. According to Mintzberg (1987), smart strategists appreciate that they cannot always be smart enough to think through everything in advance. However, it is useful to encourage students and teachers to use rudimentary technology, and try to improve school life. As a teacher who believes a lot in computer science, I am trying to help and equipped students and teachers with these skills and attributes, because I believe that the use of technology as a teaching material (especially these students and these teachers), will help them. (Study Guide, p. 69)