Volume 22 Issue 1

Innovative Planning to Meet the Future Challenges of Elementary Education

By: Debra Coffey, Sandra Cox, Sherry Hillman and Tak C. Chan

ABSTRACT: This article is focused on identifying the current issues in elementary education in the United States. In each of these issues, elementary educators are at the crossroads looking for solutions and directions. Based on the review of literature, the authors pinpoint the upcoming challenges elementary school educators will be facing in the future. Some of these challenges relate to ongoing current issues, and some are anticipated to emerge with the rapid changes in future trends. Innovative strategies for meeting future challenges with the development of culturally responsive elementary schools that enhance student achievement are recommended. A structure of action plan implementation is also suggested.

Learning from One Urban District:  Planning to Provide Essential Supports for Teachers Work in Professional Learning Communities

By: Rebecca A. Thessin

ABSTRACT:  Numerous districts are implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as a part of reform efforts to improve student achievement to meet external accountability mandates. Few districts, however, have considered the essential supports and components that teachers working in PLCs require for these teams to result in instructional improvement. This study reports on the work of one mid-sized urban district that attempted to implement and support PLCs in developing essential PLC characteristics, implementing an improvement process, and establishing an instructional goal, research-based practices shown to facilitate improvement. This district also provided professional development to teachers and administrators in the implementation process. Findings from this study affirm the research-based practices on which this district’s implementation plan was based, while suggesting that additional school-based conditions also needed to be in place: (1) the provision of school-based professional development on PLCs; (2) a school culture focused on collaboration; and (3) a readiness by school leaders to engage in and communicate expectations for PLC work. The study concludes by recommending that districts consider providing differentiated supports and targeted professional development to schools during their first years of PLC work to ensure growth among all PLC teams.

Discrepancy in Teacher Employment:  The Problem of Out-Of-Field Teacher Employment

By: Sakir Cinkir and Gul Kurum

ABSTRACT:  Enacting changes without considering essential educational components such as number of teachers, non-teaching staff, and classes can lead to problems in education systems. One common problem is an inadequate number of teachers. In response to this, policy makers often create out-of-field teacher employment to meet the teacher shortages. While this practice meets the teacher shortages quantitatively, it decreases the quality of education. The purpose of this study is to identify the problems associated with out-of-field teachers and to make recommendations for overcoming these problems. In this study, a qualitative research method and phenomenological research design were used. The study group consisted of 20 participants (8 principals and 12 teachers) from public schools in Ankara. The data were collected with interviews and analyzed using content analysis technique. According to our research findings, participants do not approve out-of-field teacher employment. The reasons for their disapproval vary and have been grouped into themes such as “Lack of subject knowledge, teaching experience and professional specialization.” The findings also show that out-of-field teachers have troubles with issues such as commitment, job satisfaction and motivation, subject knowledge in teaching, and adaptation to the job. On the other hand, out-of-field teacher employment provides advantages such as meeting the teacher shortages, decreasing unemployment and providing different perspectives on teaching. Despite these advantages, out-of-field teacher employment as a means of meeting the teacher shortages must be put to an end. Participants generally think that this practice can be prevented by means of collaboration between Ministry of National Education [MEB] and Council of Higher Education [YÖK]. The findings of this study could contribute to discussions about out of field teaching and help educational stakeholders to increase their awareness about out of field teaching by giving real life examples. Permanent employment policies must be created in order to provide better and more consistent system of education in which each teacher is employed in his or her own field of study.

Green Schools – The Implementation and Practices of Environmental Education In LEED and Used Green Ribbon Public Schools In Virginia

By: Steven A. Marable

ABSTRACT:  The purpose of this study was to examine the environmental education curriculum which has been utilized within Green Schools. The study defined Green Schools as educational facilities with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification or United States Education Department (USED) Green Ribbon recognition. Currently, there is no set standard for the implementation of environmental education in Green Schools or for schools that utilize the building as a teaching tool for students. The researcher surveyed Green Schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to better understand what common programs and curricula were being utilized. The findings will assist in establishing pedagogical best practices for environmental education while describing how LEED certified buildings are currently being used by educators as a teaching tool to support sustainable practices. Overall, 14 Green Schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia agreed to participate in the study. Once principals and staff gave consent to participate in the study, they were asked to respond to an eSurvey, which consisted of 14 multiple choice and open response survey items. Overall, 98 principals and staff participated in the survey. Quantitative data were collected through multiple choice survey questions analyzed to report descriptive statistics about the sample population. Qualitative data were examined by emerging themes according to pedagogical strategies and programs. The findings from the study indicated that teachers are employing practices that are consistent with current emphases on environmental education. Data also supported that educators take pride in their buildings and incorporate the facility as a teaching tool in a variety of instructional practices throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Improving Institutional Credibility:  Commuication as the Centerpiece of Planning in the Age of Accountability

By: Cathy A. Fleuriet and M. Lee Williams

ABSTRACT: Each year institutions of higher education receive greater pressure from the federal level, regional accreditation agencies, and state legislatures, to become more transparent and accountable for their actions. It is more important than ever, then, for colleges and universities to engage in authentic strategic planning that may be embraced by both internal and external constituents. Unfortunately, strategic plans often do not work to move an institution forward. Using organizational principles and theory, this essay reframes the university strategic planning process with communication as its centerpiece. A case study is presented that illustrates how communication centered strategic planning can lead to the most meaningful and successful plan, thus improving the internal and external credibility of the institution.

“In the absence of communication from leaders, the organization will seek information from other sources, whether those sources know what they’re talking about or not. Your silence doesn’t stop the conversation; it means you’re not participating in it.”
Jeanie Daniel Duck The Change Monster (2001)