Leadership Research: Vol 04, No 1. (2013)

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    Aboriginal early childhood post-secondary programs: stories of successes and challenges
    (Electronic version published by Vancouver Island University, 2013) Alphonse, Danielle
    Aboriginal Early Childhood Post-Secondary Programs: Stories of Successes and Challenges takes a look at Vancouver Island University Early Childhood Education programs and examines at the factors that contribute to a students learning and successes and challenges to completing their studies. The research is two-fold: a student questionnaire and focus groups with students, faculty, and community members from Nations on Vancouver Island. The purpose is to bring awareness to institutions, faculty, community and students to understand the depth of Aboriginal learning and how to create learning pathways that encompasses cultural capacity.
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    Conversations for moving forward: stories of inclusion
    (Electronic version published by Vancouver Island University, 2013) Zummack, Angela
    The practice of inclusion has traditionally been concerned with the education of students with special needs. However, there has been a shift by the Ministry of Education in British Columbia to explore the ideas of diversity and removing barriers to learning for all students. This has sparked discussion amongst Resource Teachers about their roles and responsibilities to create inclusive environments within their schools. The purpose of this narrative study was to explore the experiences of elementary Resource Teachers with inclusion, how those experiences influenced their definition of inclusion and how their definitions impacted their support of inclusive practices within their schools. Qualitative research data was gathered through interactive interviews with five Resource teachers and four themes emerged: the role of the Resource teacher, the definition of inclusion, responsibilities of the Resource teacher to inclusion and roadblocks to inclusion. The findings were then blended into four short stories. By linking the stories and current research on the topic of inclusion, this study has shown the importance of time and space for collaborative dialogue about how to move forward in our effort to create more inclusive classrooms in our schools. Discussion regarding the implications of this research for Resource Teachers, classroom teachers and school/District leaders is included.
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    Professional learning through collaborative inquiry
    (Electronic version published by Vancouver Island University, 2013) Fisher, Tara C.
    The purpose of this project was to explore the experiences of a group of elementary school teachers, with regards to professional learning as they moved through a school-based collaborative inquiry process. As the newly seconded Coordinator of Inquiry (inquiry support teacher) in my school, I had the opportunity to develop and facilitate this process within our school. My research focus was the factors that contributed to the ability of our staff to learn and assimilate that learning into their teaching, thereby increasing the adaptive capacity of our staff and our school. This project was an action research project. In my quest to introduce collaborative inquiry as a process to support and encourage teacher professional learning and create an environment conducive to educational change, I incorporated various factors into this inquiry, including collaborative teaching partners working with multi-age buddy classes. Teacher professional learning was focused on assessment for learning strategies, instructional technology, problem solving and critical thinking skills, self-regulated learning theory and the BC Provincial Curriculum for Social Responsibilty. Finally, I used current research on educational change theory to direct my personal leadership with regards to this project. Quantitative research data was collected voluntarily from teachers by means of a survey. Qualitative research data was collected by means of a survey, personal reflections, interviews, and researcher observations. Teacher professional learning, in the focus areas of our collaborative inquiry, occurred and was significant in providing evidence that the staff was building the school’s adaptive capacity for the benefit of all learners.
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    Leading change: a self-study
    (Electronic version published by Vancouver Island University, 2013-04) Boucher, Nicole
    There are many long-held, traditional views of what school leadership looks like: principals as managers of buildings and of people, making hard decisions based on their own view of what is good for a system, then working with a reasonably compliant staff to implement these decisions. Over recent decades, however, the predominant view of the role of the school leader has changed. A tremendous body of research supports school leaders as leaders of adult learning that is intended to enhance student learning. Literature references a myriad of different leadership styles that principals can aspire to. It is difficult, however, to aspire to something without having a sense of one’s current functioning. This study describes how going through a process of self-reflection and considering my practice as it relates to research and literature led to self-discovery with respect to my leadership style and my approach to leading change. The study begins with an initial problem: a secondary school staff is considering making a large, fundamental change to how they teach and how their students learn. As the educational leader of this staff, I was tasked with steering adult learners towards a decision (change or not change) and with setting directions for the conversations that were ongoing. In order to keep a record of what I was thinking after conversations with the whole staff and with individuals, I kept a journal and made regular entries. Through a process of self-study, I coded my journal entries and analyzed coded entries for larger themes. I then examined these themes in the context of current research related to leadership theory and change theory. Through this comparison, I was able to identify attributes that I had as an educational leader as well as develop a sense of direction in terms of the next steps that I will need to take on the journey of change that I am now embarked on with my staff. This study examines leadership style and leadership as it relates to leading change. It also discusses the merits of auto-ethnography and self-study.
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    The experience of students and teachers in project-based learning
    (Electronic version published by Vancouver Island University, 2013) Goodridge, Lindsay
    This study uses action research to examine the experience of students and teachers as they participated in a project-based learning unit. The literature suggests that project-based learning can increase the involvement of students in the learning process and develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, problem solving and time management (Larmer & Mergendoller, 2010a). The students involved were in Grade 8 and were studying Optics. My hypothesis was that if students were engaged in self-directed learning through project-based learning, they would report being more engaged and achievement would increase. The students completed reflection questions at the summation of the project, which indicated an increase in effort applied to their work, an enjoyment of the project autonomy and the development of time-management skills. As the teacher, I completed engagement rubrics during each class on which students reported high levels of engagement. I also kept a journal that I wrote in after each class, which I coded for themes at the end of the research. Three themes emerged from this journal: uncertainty surrounding what an engaged classroom should look like, anxiety regarding students being selfdirected in their learning, and a correlation between my cognitive energy and the perception of the lesson. The results of this study suggest that while students experience increased engagement and achievement, an emphasis needs to be placed on providing teachers with opportunities to learn and experiment with project-based learning.