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Article
Publication date: 29 August 2019

Peter Grootenboer and Kevin Larkin

The authors argue that middle leaders are the key educators in school-based educational development. Schools often secure small-scale funding to engage in government or…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors argue that middle leaders are the key educators in school-based educational development. Schools often secure small-scale funding to engage in government or systemic initiatives, and these projects require a leadership “close to the classroom” if they are to realise sustainable educational gains. This leadership often comes from the middle leaders – those who practice their leading in and around classrooms. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study methodology is used to investigate two middle leaders, leading a small-scale project. Their leading practices are examined using the “theory of practice architectures”, to identify how these practices were enacted within their educational context.

Findings

While principals play a crucial role in enacting change, it is the middle leaders who are closer to the classroom than most principals, and whose practices more directly impact teaching and learning as they are best placed to ensure that meagre resources are well used to improve student learning. They do this by ensuring that development is collegial and a response to evidence-based needs.

Practical implications

First, middle leaders need support in facilitating educational development. Second, their leading practice is crucial for sustainable school-based development. Third, site-based educational development occurs most effectively when it is evidence-based. Finally, this form of educational development requires high-level collegiality.

Originality/value

This paper is original in two key ways: first, it addresses the under-researched practices of middle leaders; and, second it employs the practice theory to understand school leadership and development.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 33 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Shun-wing Ng and Tsan-ming Kenneth Chan

The purpose of this paper is to report on an exploratory study regarding the present situation of middle managers in schools; their professional development needs; and…

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1390

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on an exploratory study regarding the present situation of middle managers in schools; their professional development needs; and requirements of middle leaders for quality school management so that contents of existing professional development programmes could be improved to meet the needs of middle leaders of primary school education.

Design/methodology/approach

Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, this paper reports on a study of the training needs of middle leaders in primary schools in which their present situation, their needs for professional development and requirements for quality school management and leadership are explored. The study adopted survey questionnaires as the main method of data collection. To supplement quantitative data with regard to the professional development needs, six middle managers were purposefully selected for semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The findings suggest that there are insufficient training opportunities for middle leaders in primary schools and that there is a strong demand for including the notions of interpersonal skills, crisis management, resources management and understanding of education ordinances in the professional development curriculum for middle leaders. The study recommends that training programmes should exert focus on meeting the specific needs of middle leaders and the content and approach be multi-dimensional.

Originality/value

In spite of the small scale of the survey study, the data collected from individual in-depth interviews can provide the investigators with supplementary information on their professional development needs which also serves the purpose of triangulation. The finding can also be a very constructive reference for course providers who wish to re-engineer and improve the quality of professional development programmes for middle leaders. This may help arouse their interests and enhance their learning motivation.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 52 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2013

Toshiya Chichibu and Toshiyuki Kihara

The purpose of this paper is to clarify the lesson study (LS) processes and evaluate their effectiveness in Japanese elementary and secondary (middle and high) schools

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1155

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to clarify the lesson study (LS) processes and evaluate their effectiveness in Japanese elementary and secondary (middle and high) schools, through a school survey by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of Japan (NIER).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors randomly selected 1,000 elementary schools and 1,000 middle schools and 500 high schools in Japan. Survey items are methods of LS, and indicators of building professional learning communities (PLC) through LSs, close communication between teachers, high quality instruction by teachers, and test scores of students of the school.

Findings

Based on the school survey in elementary and middle schools, almost all schools set up a school‐wide committee, a research theme, and a schedule for LS, and LSs were implemented as part of a school‐wide lesson study from which an action research report is produced. On the other hand, in high schools, almost all the schools implemented LSs, but each LS is independent and implemented specifically for the professional development of the individual teacher who undertakes the research lesson. The authors consider LS as a way to facilitate a PLC in the school. There are correlations between the methods of LS and the indicators of a PLC in elementary and middle schools. However, the effectiveness of LS differs between elementary and middle schools. With respect to the research theme and the organization and discussion of lesson plans, LS methods in middle schools are developed into LS methods in elementary schools. The LS methods may be developed gradually both in elementary and middle schools.

Originality/value

Statistical data of LS in Japanese elementary and secondary schools are presented for the first time, demonstrating the effectiveness of LS.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

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Book part
Publication date: 10 November 2021

Botshabelo Maja

Abstract

Details

Black Youth Aspirations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80262-025-2

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Book part
Publication date: 16 July 2014

Erik M. Hines, Paul C. Harris and Dwayne Ham

In this chapter, the authors discuss how school counselors may create a college-going environment for African American males in middle school. The authors use…

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors discuss how school counselors may create a college-going environment for African American males in middle school. The authors use Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) Ecological Systems Theory to explain how environmental influences impact African American males’ college trajectory, both positively and negatively. Moreover, they use Ecological Systems Theory to discuss how multiple stakeholders (e.g., school counselors and parents) and various structured activities that align with the Eight Components of College and Career Readiness (NOSCA, 2010) may promote college preparation among Black male middle school students. The authors also present two case vignettes as examples of how school counselors may assist African American males for postsecondary options. In closing, the chapter concludes with implications for educational policy, research, and practice.

Details

African American Male Students in PreK-12 Schools: Informing Research, Policy, and Practice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-783-2

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Article
Publication date: 29 July 2020

Pascale Benoliel, Haim Shaked, Nehama Nadav and Chen Schechter

Relying on information processing and attribution theories, which relate to the formation of leadership perceptions and attributes, the current study seeks to examine the…

Abstract

Purpose

Relying on information processing and attribution theories, which relate to the formation of leadership perceptions and attributes, the current study seeks to examine the relationship between demographic variables and principals' systems thinking (PST) in an integrated model. The present study purpose was threefold: first, the study seeks to examine whether attributions middle leaders make about PST may show substantial and systematic variance in a management team. Second, the study seeks to investigate the influence of principal–middle leaders’ relational demography variables (gender, education and tenure) (dis)similarity on middle leaders’ PST attribute. Finally, the study seeks to explore the moderating role of duration of principal- principal–middle leader acquaintance in the relationship of demographic (dis)similarity to PST.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 305 dyads (middle leaders and their principals) from 101 schools. MANOVA analysis and hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the hypothesis.

Findings

Findings showed that it is both appropriate and important to examine group-level effects when studying PST effects. Also, PST levels were higher in gender-similar relationships than in gender-dissimilar ones. Finally, duration of acquaintance was found to moderate the relationship between principal–middle leaders’ gender (dis)similarity and PST appraisal.

Originality/value

Focusing on principal–middle leader relationships, which are explicitly relational, with a consideration for level relationships may potentially highlight the need to consider multiple levels of analysis in order to understand how PST attribution occurs. This focus can help us to capture the core of PST social dynamics among the dyad, as well as highlighting the distinction, if any, between in-groups and out-groups. Acknowledging that school faculty are motivated by their interpersonal relationships with their principals and how such relationships are contingent upon demography (dis)similarity and the duration of acquaintance between dyads may help to broaden the understanding regarding potential antecedents of middle leaders' PST attribution and its implication for school organizations.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Book part
Publication date: 22 August 2016

Ashley D. Vancil-Leap

This ethnographic study of school food service employees at an elementary, middle, and high school in the Midwest introduces “feeding labor,” a concept to signify a form…

Abstract

Purpose

This ethnographic study of school food service employees at an elementary, middle, and high school in the Midwest introduces “feeding labor,” a concept to signify a form of gendered labor that entails emotional and bodily feeding activities.

Methodology

This chapter is based on 18 months of participant-observation and 25 in-depth interviews.

Findings

I illustrate three characteristics of feeding labor: (1) the physical labor of attending to the feeding needs of customers, (2) the emotional labor of managing feelings to create and respond to customers, and (3) variations in the gendered performance of feeding labor as explained through the intersection of race, class, and age. These dimensions vary across different field sites and emerge as three distinct patterns of feeding labor: (1) motherly feeding labor involves physical and emotional attentiveness and nurturing with mostly middle- and upper-class young white customers, (2) tough-love feeding labor involves a mix of tough, but caring respect and discipline when serving mostly working- and lower-middle class racially mixed young teens, and (3) efficient feeding labor involves fast, courteous service when serving mostly working- and middle-class predominantly white teenagers.

Implications

These findings show that a caring and nurturing style of emotional and physical labor is central in schools with white, middle-class, young students, but that other forms of gendered feeding labor are performed in schools composed of students with different race, class, and age cohorts that emphasize displaying tough-love and efficiency while serving students food. Examining this form of labor allows us to see how social inequalities are maintained and sustained in the school cafeteria.

Details

Gender and Food: From Production to Consumption and After
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-054-1

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Martin Bassett and Nicholas Shaw

Middle leaders play an important role in the education landscape, first and foremost as teachers, and second as leaders. The purpose of this paper is to identify the…

Abstract

Purpose

Middle leaders play an important role in the education landscape, first and foremost as teachers, and second as leaders. The purpose of this paper is to identify the expectations and challenges experienced by first-time middle leaders in New Zealand primary schools, and identify the leadership development and support they were provided with.

Design/methodology/approach

This was a small qualitative study designed to collect data from the perspectives of first-time middle leaders and principals in New Zealand primary schools. Three methods were employed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six middle leaders who had been in the role for one to three years. These participants were identified through an analysis of recent public appointment records and then e-mailed with an invitation. Four principals from a local principals’ association were invited to comprise a focus group and relevant documents were analysed.

Findings

The findings from this study are presented in three sections: expectations, challenges and leadership development and support. Whilst the principals described wide and varied role expectations the middle leaders highlighted the importance of their teaching role with leadership responsibilities as secondary. From both perspectives time to do the administrative work was an overwhelming difficulty. A key finding was related to a lack of confidence to undertake the role in spite of efforts to provide and receive support. Overall, there was agreement that further development for new middle leaders was essential.

Research limitations/implications

This small, limited study highlights the central role that middle leaders play in leading learning and teaching, and the existence of a lack of confidence. Further research is needed to delve into conditions that would enable new middle leaders to manage the challenges of time and confidence.

Practical implications

The research recommends that practitioners who are new to a middle leadership role be allocated dedicated time for performing the administrative tasks and participating in an ongoing induction programme. The middle leaders themselves and their schools would benefit from efforts to strengthen middle leadership development.

Originality/value

Although a great deal has been written about middle leadership, there is only a small amount of research about primary schools. This research adds valuable new information in a primary school context and breaks new ground in researching early career, first-time middle leaders in this context.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 32 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Book part
Publication date: 17 March 2010

Suzanne S. Hudd

This paper reports on the ways in which a group of middle school students who received character education in elementary school define and experience character. The…

Abstract

This paper reports on the ways in which a group of middle school students who received character education in elementary school define and experience character. The research was designed to improve our understanding of the meanings that the children ascribe to their character lessons in the long term, and to determine whether they see connections between these lessons and their experiences with character in middle school. The data come from interviews with 24 children who attended five different elementary schools in one town that used the Character Counts! curriculum at the time of the study. The students were questioned about their understanding of the curriculum and their own personal experiences with character-related issues in middle school. The results demonstrate that the elementary school character lessons are carried forward. Children are able to recall the formal meaning of many of the character traits that they studied. As they graduate to middle school, however, peer culture assumes an increasingly important role and their lived experience of character become more complex. Thus, the preteens studied here are actively working to reconcile the differences between character as a “learned,” and then a “lived” experience. While maturation and character lessons received beyond school may confound these findings, the results presented here suggest the need to bridge, and then perhaps adapt character programming to empower adolescent input and embrace the role of peer culture in defining and then redefining character.

Details

Children and Youth Speak for Themselves
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-735-6

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2013

David Gurr and Lawrie Drysdale

The aim of this paper is to bring together for the first time three studies of middle‐level leaders in secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. The studies span more than…

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4899

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to bring together for the first time three studies of middle‐level leaders in secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. The studies span more than a decade and allow consideration of the progress in developing middle‐level leadership roles.

Design/methodology/approach

All studies followed a consistent approach using multiple perspective interviews of middle‐level curriculum and subject leadership in government and Catholic secondary schools in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Principals, senior leaders, middle‐level leaders and teachers were interviewed to gain their perceptions on middle‐level leadership. Interviews were supplemented with school document analysis.

Findings

The work of middle‐level leaders is heavily dependent on how their roles are constructed and the capacities, abilities and attitudes of the leaders. Some are expected to be leaders that influence teaching and learning, and they may be developed and supported to do so. Too often, however, teachers in these key roles have few expectations or opportunities to exercise leadership. Whilst many have the capacity to be leaders of teaching and learning, others are not sure about their ability to influence teaching and learning. Suggestions are made for how leadership might be structured in schools to emphasise the importance of middle‐level leaders, and how these leaders can be better prepared and supported.

Research limitations/implications

Observational studies, studies of primary school contexts and cross‐country comparisons would extend this research.

Practical implications

Middle‐level school leaders need to be seen as key personnel in improving teaching and learning, school structures need to reflect this, and developing leadership capacity needs to be prioritised.

Originality/value

This paper highlights continuing issues with how the work of middle‐level school leaders is conceptualised and supported, and makes suggestions for leadership structure and the preparation and development of school leaders.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 51 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

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