Archive for the ‘EDAMD821’ Category

Educational Leadership

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

“Leadership is changing and approaches focusing on flexibility, collaboration, crossing boundaries and collective leadership are expected to become a high priority.” (Martin, 2007 p.3) Leadership is a complicated and multi-layered process which involves various approaches to problem solving and facilitation ensuring school success. School leadership is continually evolving to meet the changing needs of school clients and community members as various influencing factors work to alter the school leadership landscape. Throughout the following paper I am going to explore effective leadership practices including my results from the Connecticut State School Board educational leadership profile questionnaire.

Effective leadership practices are based on best practices and backed by real world studies as to their effects on school communities and school climate. Also mixed into various educational leadership approaches are the personalities and value structures of the leaders themselves. In discussing these issues I am utilizing the following five leadership assets as covered by Steve Fortier in his article “Community Leadership: Inside and Out”. First leadership must have purpose as “the leadership challenge is to create unity of purpose amongst diversity and to expand the leadership capacity in the network.” (Payne, 2005 p. 5) Purpose is then used to frame the context of decision making and goal setting for a school through providing boundaries within its structure as to not take on too many school based initiatives and burn oneself out. As Fink and Hargraves state, “leadership that drains its leaders dry is not leadership that will last. Unless reformers and policy-makers care for leaders’ personal and professional selves, they will engineer short-term gains only by mortgaging the entire future of leadership.” (Fink & Hargraves, 2003 p. 8) As a leaders purpose will drive decision making a clarity of purpose is key in solidifying values as well. Leadership values along with a sense of purpose can guide authentic leadership practices as developed through being a reflective practicioner. As leaders we need to close the gap between idealistic notions of utopian school settings and realistic effective school practices. “Collaboration, listening, empowerment, shared leadership, inclusively and democracy are a few values that, when acted upon, build community.” (Fortier, 1999 p. 2) Ultimately the larger community context in which the school should be an integral part of is the goal of administrative staff.

Neither of the above mentioned leadership attributes can provide direction if not advanced through leadership talents. Leadership talents are directly connected to ones leadership values and personality traits. An important aspect of talent is being able to discover or inspire a leadership want in others as “doing so creates what [Fortier] call a communiteam–a high-performing team at a community level.” (Fortier, 1999 p. 2) A major influence on leadership talents comes from leaders connecting with resources found both on site and within the community. Effective leaders must tap into all available community resources from traditional to non-traditional and should take into consideration the interests of stakeholders and community members as to leverage their engagement but not exclude the interests of those parties during decision-making.

As a final combination of leadership attributes Fortier brings all the elements together in leadership Vision. Even with all the above factors of leadership running concurrently all elements need to coalesce into a single leadership vision. The vision must combine a variance of approaches and perspective to be successful and leaders need to examine the past to discern where they want to be in the future in order to plan for today.

As stated earlier a leadership style is as varied as the leader and the individual perceptions the leader holds as values. Although every leadership situation carries with it its own unique set of issues a leader must attend to in order to achieve progress and success, there are three factors that influence a leadership situation. One need also to pay regard to the subtle nuances within each respective setting acknowledging the uniqueness of each situation. In the article “Leadership Styles” three factors that influence which leadership style used the following three factors are discussed as having influence on leadership: 1. The manager’s personal background: What personality, knowledge, values, ethics, and experiences does the manager have. What does he or she think will work? 2. Staff being supervised: Staff individuals with different personalities and backgrounds; The leadership style used will vary depending upon the individual staff and what he or she will respond to best 3. The organization: The traditions, values, philosophy, and concerns of the organization influence how a manager acts. With consideration to the above three factors I completed the Connecticut State School Board self assessment on educational leadership examining through reflection my personal influences, strengths and areas of improvement.

The Connecticut State School Board in collaboration with the Secretary of the State composed an “Educational Leadership Self inventory” which allows educational leaders to check her or his leadership style against a principals effectiveness graph (refer to appendix A for graph results). The twelve areas measured are: 1. The educated person. 2. The learning process. 3.  The teaching process. 4. Diverse perspectives. 5. School goals. 6. School culture. 7. School standards and assessment 8. School improvement. 9. Professional development. 10. Integration of staff evaluations, professional evaluation and school improvement. 11. Organization, resource, and school policies, and 12. School community relations. Once completed I reflected on the results of my scores with comparison to the Leadership Profile provided at the end of the questionnaire. My profile indicated the three areas of relative strength with consideration of the 12 standards are: 1. The educated person with a mean score of 3.29/4. 2. The learning process with a mean score of 3.4/4 and 3. School culture with the highest mean score of 3.5/4. On the low end of my educational profile with consideration of the 12 standards were the following: 1. Integration of staff evaluations, professional development and school improvement with a mean score of 2.4/4 2. Organization, resource and school policies with a mean score of 2.43/4 and 3. Diverse perspective with a mean score of 2.5/4. There are certain elements of the questionnaire that cannot be achieved by the classroom teacher and consideration to those standards was given as the survey was completed.

What do these scores mean for my leadership profile? Examining first the higher scoring standards the profile generated has my leadership style focused on the development of purpose, providing real time dialogue regarding the school mission and focuses on the development of a shared vision including fostering a climate of openness, mutual respect, support and inquiry. My profile also scored well in the area of staying current with research and theory, encouraging students to assume responsibilities and higher level skill development. The last of the higher mean scores focus’ on modelling and mentor-ship where the key indicators highlight positive working relationships with staff, students, and community members. This all works to keep the schools vision in the forefront of being a part of a learning community.

Areas on the Educational leadership survey where my mean scores were the lowest focused around staff development and staff evaluation. Based on these results I will focus on developing proficiency in the following leadership abilities once in a position where it is my responsibility to evaluate staff. As part of the profile where my mean score was the lowest was in regards to staff evaluation and professional development I take into consideration this score was low due to my role as a classroom teacher in which I am limited in my responsibilities of staff evaluation requirements.  Also the other areas in which low mean scores occurred where whole staff development opportunities should exist and was as various policy and school based decisions where classroom teachers are not normally involved in such matters. As a result I am not discouraged by the low mean scores in these areas but see them as areas in which to be cognizant once in a leadership position where the standards are within my ability to affect.

Once in a position of leadership I hope to take on system wide leadership roles, keep focus with moral and strategic purpose, commit to build connections and networks, better the education experience for all children, transform schools into learning communities and empower others to take on leadership roles and plan for succession. I am aware the preceding list of leadership wants highlights lofty aspirations however I believe that if we do not plan for the betterment of tomorrow we will be stuck in the permanence of today.

References

Fink, D, & Hargraves, A. (2003, December). The seven principles of sustainable leadership. Retrieved from www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/../seven_principles.pdf

Fortier, S. (1999). Community leadership: inside and out. Retrieved from www.communiteam.org/commleadership.pdf

Martin, A. (2007). The changing nature of leadership. Retrieved from www.ccl.org

Payne, G. (2005). Reshaping the landscape outward-facing leadership with a system perspective. Retrieved from networkedlearning.ncsl.org.uk/../nexus/issue-6/nexus-06-complete-issue.pdf

Spillane, J.P., Halverson, R. and Drummond, J.B. (2001). ‘Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective’, Educational Researcher. 30 (3), 23-28.

 

Appendix A

Educational Leadership Profile

Results

Principals Reference

Reference

Principals Reference

 

 

All those involved

Friday, January 28th, 2011

What are the primary principles of effective school/community engagement?
Generating community engagement with learning institutions can be a difficult task as educators attempt to draw influence from the community in hopes to improve student experiences at school. As schools set out to engage parents and community members they must be cognizant of the various factors that will have a major influence on the type and extent of the engagement. The dissemination of information and subsequent conversations between school staff and community members requires careful planning and a flexible approach to collaboration. Outlined below are what I believe to be the primary principals of effective community engagement.
The first aspect of community engagement is the development of a shared vision. Both school staff and community members must be made aware of an institutions expectations in order to pursue an advantageous working relationship. The first step in the development of a shared vision is conducting research into the needs of the community. In doing so as a facilitator you will be in a better position to create a vision which incorporates the diverse interest of all stakeholders as to engage the whole community. The vision’s broad outline then becomes a template against which to consider staff, curriculum, instructional changes, and assessment of school progress and parent involvement.
Within the framework of developing a shared vision a mutual respect needs to be fostered between school staff and community members. Unfortunately a parent’s school experience can act as a barrier to obtaining their participation. Most often negative experiences, language and cultural barriers; issues of race and class and lack of preparation conspire to breakdown connections. It is too easy for staff and other parents to assign cultural labels to behaviors that have very little to do with group values and much more to do with poverty and its associated lack of access to supports and opportunities. One way in which to over come these obstacles is to have a visible presence in the community and encourage community members to be a part of discussions and share their expectations in working towards the shared vision.
In the article “Community and Family Engagement” the author frames engagement as follows, “Community engagement is a two-way street where the school, families, and the community actively work together, creating networks of shared responsibility for student success is a two-way street where the school, families, and the community actively work together, creating networks of shared responsibility for student success” (Berg, Melaville, & Blank, 2006)
Once community members feel like their input is going to be respected the next step is to consult and collaborate at a deeper level. Successful collaboration takes into consideration that flexibility of donors, organizations, and community members is needed to collaborate successfully and all members share power at all levels of community engagement. All players involved need to determine the level of engagement required including defining from the beginning such terms as participation, communication, engagement, mobilization, and empowerment as they apply, before starting a project. Also members should agree on clear indicators with expected outcomes and on a documentation process that will reflect both growth and levels of engagement. Since community engagement is not a one-time event stakeholders may need to be reminded that it is a process that varies along with the community it intends to serve.
Along with the varying levels of collaboration so too are the variances in tools for attaining engagement from the community. The following engagement processes can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to solicit action from the community. An Action Planning Event can be used, as a starting point as this is used when structure and planning is required. Schools may also want to submit a public service announcement in hopes of reaching a broad audience although PSA’s can be expensive and can miss key demographic groups. Certain schools may see benefit from establishing advisory committees from which consistent input can be obtained, however committees such as this can be time consuming and needs a good facilitator to be successful. Printed material like a fact sheet or newsletter can provide jargon free accurate information working to reduce language barrier and reach the target audience. Also non-print materials such as web sites may be more cost effective than traditional print material and reach a broad audience, nonetheless schools cannot ignore the digital divide in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, which could result in key community members not being informed. Community research via small group sessions, questionnaires/surveys or written submissions can help strengthen partnerships and get more of the community involved.
Once schools begin to secure key players and stakeholders the challenge turns to keeping people committed. “Organizing a community-wide group to explore and possibly undertake a community school initiative takes credible leadership, planning expertise and knowledge of the community.” (Melaville, 2004) Participants must have the organizational clout to make commitments and follow through on them, as the school administration side needs to be strong, organized, supportive and experienced. Leaders should expect to engage and then reengage throughout the life of the project, as communities are dynamic and behavior change is not linear.
Community engagement is a dynamic process in which leadership and needs are constantly changing. The engagement process is continuous. It can move from individuals being more or less involved, but it constantly must be reevaluated to ensure that indicators are appropriate and met. When families are committed to staying connected to school students show increased stability, communication with teachers and the overall school experience involves. Parents also demonstrate a greater sense of responsibility for their children’s learning success thereby shifting some of the accountability from the teacher onto the parent. It is through this empowerment of the family that success and renewed commitment in the shared vision will continue to motivate all parties involved to stay active.
The last two pieces of community engagement are quite closely related as one lends itself to the other. When decisions are made via the public forum a level of accountability is transferred to all members involved due to the transparent nature of the decision-making process. As both school administration and community member’s work together they create transparency, promote responsibility for priority setting, and encourage shared ownership of initiatives and strategies to achieve our goals. Ultimately the relationship between the school and community members needs to be about learning how to change and commitment required to be successful. In no way should the process lend itself to a battle of power and control. For the successful merging of school and community perspectives there must be connection to an outcome or commitment, all those involved must be interactive during the process as the process itself is designed to build relationships with community members and the connections that requires organization and leadership and support initiative and transcend the working relation between school and community to reduce the fear of change in the community being affected.
Communities can be as difficult to navigate as the most robust torrent of white water rapids spilling down the side of a canyon. As teammates are thrust through the highs and lows of the river their goal is to stay up right and off the crushing rocks that lay beneath the surface. So too is the precarious balance that exists in community engagement. Community engagement needs to take place at the right time with the right people who have a share vision. As connections are made and the shared vision becomes the guide, calm waters lay ahead for both the rapid enthusiasts and the school in growth.

References

Berg, A, Melaville, A, & Blank, M. (2006). Community & family engagement [Principals share what works]. (PDF)

Melaville, A. (2004). Doing what matters [The bridges to success strategy for building community schools]. (PDF)

Communal Tensions

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As a follow up to my last post here is the paper I was wanting to share. Again it is a reflection piece about tensions between schools and communities taking into consideration the community school approach. Make sure to leave your thoughts after you’ve finished reading. Enjoy.
I believe there are two tensions in our education system that are embedded as deeply as the founding educational philosophies that help to shape the evolving nature of education itself; family (parent verse school perception) and community engagement. Neither issues is of more or less importance as each play a distinct role in education and the school setting. Parents and community members have social constructs that guide their assumptions of a school setting and in some cases their perceptions of how a school decision is made is contrary to what they believe should be taking place.
The reality of a parent verse school mentality became evident during my first year as a teacher. The first year of teaching I participated in the lost communication practice of the fifteen-minute one on one student-parent-teacher conference. During these encounters parents are granted an open forum in which to share their educational concerns and most often backing their concern is a story of a past teacher and how their concerns went unattended. Any breakdown in communication between school and parent can have disastrous effects on the working relationship between parent, teacher and school. Anytime a parent gets the feeling that their child’s teacher or school is not serving the best interest of their child, that parent will follow though in various ways. A parent will most often start with the teacher, as the teacher is the immediate connection between parent and school, however; many parents don’t understand the limited ability of classroom teachers to affect a school climate or institutional perspective change. This act carrying an assumed inaction can work to further the divide between parent and teacher as the parent expects the teacher to act and affect change. The parent, if not satisfied with the actions or perceived inaction of the teacher, may continue conversations with school administration or school board members depending on how well they can navigate the educational political landscape. I am of the opinion community schools are designed with the ability to engage this type of parent based concern at an earlier point. Community school parents are allowed a voice during decision-making processes and several positive outcomes may emerge from this collaboration. The first step is to address parent and family needs within the community setting. Parents need to feel connected to the school setting and through the acknowledgement of parent concerns school administration can reduce the quantity of negative reaction based concerns. The second step is to support parents by way of partnership programs offered at the school. Programs such as; tutoring, nutrition, health care, dental, and parent education classes can gain parent support for the school. As schools foster a greater investment from parents the school and the community will develop a shared perspective created through the support. Most often collaboration helps parents to feel more connected and valued by the school and therefore can reduce the amount of parent verse school conversations.
If its not broke why fix it? Someone ought to say something. Engaging people to take action is difficult when those whom we wish to inspire into action may not see a motivating factor from which to rationalize their action. The field of education is in constant growth, we are life long learners and to change an educational approach or philosophy can be nearly impossible. Educational decisions can be quite difficult to make, as they require a multitude of perspectives to be considered before a decision is made. To get community involvement during decision-making is one of two aspects to consider while planning on a decision-making timeline. For the most part if a school is performing at an appropriate level in relation to community standards parents and other members of the community may have no desire to revamp or initiate new programs at the school level. Nevertheless schools can always perform better through the adjustment in perception of the needs of the students. The issue is how does a school attain greater community involvement? The process of engagement through perspective aggregation involves community members in the problem solving and decision making process. Using the gathered information from the community to make clearly defined decisions that will impact those members living in the community requires for projects to be clearly articulated as well as the engagement goals set and allocate resources confirmed. Engagement is more than meetings and consultations with the public, as it should work to illicit an emotional reaction that can translate into direct action from the community. Common barriers to community participation are visibility of the organizational leaders and time. An ongoing engagement process with community members will improve transparency and increase participation through ownership and accountability. If the education system wants action from community members it needs to engage motivating factors within the individual in order to gain access to the masses. Educational leaders should work to extinguish the excuses and justifications spouted by community members about their lack of involvement. As time is the most prevalent concern shared school leaders need to acknowledge all people have personal wants, needs and draws in their lives that act to remove the communal focus and replace it with the extrinsic concept of individualism. The projection of the each to their own attitude as echoed in “If I can just take care of my own children then my family will be okay” does not fit with community school philosophies and initiatives. The community school approach to education is a holistic perspective looking at what is best for the greater community. Community support mechanism need to be established in order for community members to see benefits. Essential services like health and educational support programs for both students and parents need to be addressed first before focus can be placed on abstract concepts covered in classrooms. The bulk of the community must be invested in the community school concept if it is going to survive. Participants also must commit to long-term service as the benefits of community schools are not easily measured nor are they immediate in observance. Community involvement in respect to time is a difficult balance. Teacher workdays, if properly planned and implemented as a community outreach day may offer an opportunity for community engagement as well as data gathering opportunities. Schools can also set up social media discussion forums on various issues and by doing so engage the busy 21st century parent.
The educational tensions discussed here are only two of many concerns in education today. I believe the tensions are a natural part of the relationship that exists between school and community. Parents want only the best for their child and schools want to serve their students with the best possible pedagogy. Communication and a positive working relationship between school and community members can reduce the impact of philosophical differences and ensure a more positive and engaging working relationship between parent, school and community members.

What it means to belong…

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Community contains as many variances of its definition as it does memberships and focus. In attempting to generate my own definition of community I have had to reflect on my personal position to certain elements of my concept of community. As a member of various communities such as; school/work, religious, societal, sport and interest based I am aware of the various roles required of community members but I have never paused to examine the interconnected nature and value of the community paying close attention to influences and the shared perspectives communal living can have on an individual. In order to generate a definition of community I first wanted to explore community concepts as covered in the readings.

In the first reading Furman looks at the concept of community through an additional scope of Postmodernism. Postmodernism incorporates the belief that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change in relation to time and place. A postmodern philosophy emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations; in particular it takes into consideration the use of reductionism classifications in all aspects of societal structures and works to reduce the impact such classifications could have. (2011, January 17) Furman’s postmodern view focus’ his attempt to define community through examining the differences within the community and moving forward on a platform of acceptance through trust and respect. Furman is also influenced by the concept of a global community of people, culture and the growth of the community’s members whom feel a sense of trust and belonging. To have empathy for members of a community and to base our interactions on empathy is a concept that will reemerge in the other readings as well as a part of my own thoughts on community.

As I read through Smith’s article several key elements to community life emerged. Smith’s take on community involves people being open to share as well as learn from one another. Smith also discusses community member’s role to help others even when there is nothing to be gained directly from the person offering the assistance or the situation. In order for the community to thrive members must trust one another although blind trust should be moderated via critical thought. Along with the above generalities Smith also breaks down community through a division into four interrelated concepts. Smith’s first definition holds community as a value. The values of a community are connected and a trustful nature of the community’s members is the connective force working to maintain the community. Smith also views community as a set of variables or a descriptive category in which community members share an expectation of the quality of their lives and this may include an identified set of risk factors and parameters within which cultural practices are judged. Community members become aware of social norms. Smith also provides a simplistic notion of community as a place connected to a shared geographical location often based on agricultural and industrial endeavors. Smith finishes his exploration of community as meaning where members share a common ideology. Although Smith’s analysis of community is not as detailed as the others the shared concepts of connection, responsibility and accountability are becoming clear as community standards.

“It is a strange fish that knows the existence of water.” (Bartle, 2005) This quote from Bartle caught my attention as it holds a self-awareness needed to be a part of a community as knowing ones surroundings is essential to understanding ones purpose within a community. Bartle further explores the concept of community as a construct or model, although conceptually he postulates community can be discussed although no two communities are the same. Bartle also brings into community the concept of its members consisting of all members past, present and future and the “…set of interactions, human behaviors that have meaning and expectations between its members. Not just action, but actions based on shared expectations, values, beliefs and meanings between individuals.” (Bartle, 2005) Bartle also frames community as a system of systems that are learned via the culture of the community members, which places an added element of community as “a superorganic system built up of learned ideas, expectations and behavior off human beings.” (Bartle, 2005)

Within Bartles system he further breaks down the concept of community into six dimensions. The first dimension of community deals with technology as capital. Technology is seen as the tools and skills and ways of dealing with the physical environment. When examining the interface between humanity and nature it is important to remember its not the actual hardware but the concepts of use, invention and teaching of technology that impacts community and that technology is often the easiest means by which to affect a change in a community. The impact of technology on a community is quite powerful. Both emerging and established web based social networks highlight the ease and ability in changing social understandings. Secondly the economic dimension of community is its various ways and means of production and allocation of scarce and useful goods and services whether that is through gift giving, obligations, barter, market trade, or state allocations. Community economic ideas and behaviors are what give value to the money system as shared throughout the community. The third dimension of community is political. The political dimension of community is its various ways and means of allocating power, influence and decision-making. It is not the same as ideology, which belongs to the values dimension although it includes, but is not limited to, types of governments and management systems. It also includes how people in small bands or informal groups make decisions when they do not have a recognized leader. A fourth dimension of communities is institutional. The social or institutional dimension of community is composed of the ways people act, interact between each other, react, and expect each other to act and interact. It includes such institutions as marriage or friendship, roles such as mother or police officer, status or class, and other patterns of human behavior. The fifth dimension Bartle discusses is one passed on through the socialization practices of its members. The aesthetic-value dimension of community is the structure of ideas, sometimes paradoxical, inconsistent, or contradictory, that people have about good and bad, about beautiful and ugly, and about right and wrong, which are the justifications that people cite to explain their actions. The final albeit most influential actions of community members is the belief construct. The belief-conceptual dimension of community is a structure of ideas, although sometimes contradictory, that people have about the nature of the universe, the world around them, their role in it, cause and effect, and the nature of time, matter, and behavior.

M. Scott Peck’s article “The True Meaning of Community” brought together a lot of the elements of community definitions as covered in the other readings. According to Peck community requires members to be inclusive. A community does not exclude with any bias and this process takes a commitment from all members particularly each member’s willingness to coexist being crucial. Also connected to the shared community is acknowledging not all members of a community will share perspectives but through sharing and understanding others right to individuality a consensus may result in a new community norm. The idea of coexistence connects closely to self reflection as contemplation of ones place in a community can add understanding to a larger perspective of an individual within a community. “The essential goal of contemplation is increased awareness of the world outside oneself, the world inside oneself, and the relationship between the two.” (Peck, 1998) When a community member finds connection and purpose in a community the community becomes a safe place. For these members a community can be a place for individuals to heal and convert within themselves to be free from imposed expectations “…as the masks drop and we see the suffering and courage and brokenness and deeper dignity underneath, we truly start to respect each other as fellow human beings.” (Peck, 1998) When community members find comfort and empathy it allows for

“…a place where conflict can be resolved without physical or emotional bloodshed and with wisdom as well as grace. A community is a group that can fight gracefully.” (Peck, 1998) A community needs to be committed to struggling together through conflict resolution, as members should view the community as a shared respect of peace generated through the respect and acceptance of the group’s members as it permeates the groups subconscious. Peck supposes once a community has reached a shared perspectives as an ideal decision making unit there is no need for an individual leader as all members democratically choose the communities path.

To define community and all its intricacies is a difficult task. After reading the above authors work I have learned that community is a comprehensive societal act that requires a vast array of interconnected players each with their own set of wants, needs, expectations and belief structures. To be a part of a community is to join those prescribed norms that constitute the communal agreement. I believe in a community people need to be open, connected, be willing to set aside ego and personal agendas that exist contrary to the benefit of the group. Communities need to accept all individuals who wish to be a part of the community regardless of demeanor. Community members need to acknowledge strengths and weakness and continually work towards shared goals. Although differences will arise and conflict cannot be avoided as long as community members have committed to democratic workings peaceful resolutions and new social norms can emerge from disagreements.

I believe community needs to be based on empathic socialization. While exploring the various author’s concepts of community the development of shared understanding and the willingness of community members to work towards common interests was a key element to their definitions. Empathy is the invisible hand that governs our communal relations. Neuroscience has been exploring the existence of mirror neurons, which may show people to be soft wired to share in each other’s experiences. Jeremy Rifkin postulates that humans are not soft wired for aggression, violence, self-interest and utilitarianism as presented by the rugged individualism present in today’s society but rather humans are soft wired for sociability, attachment affection and companionship as displayed through our first empathic drive to belong. This soft wiring begins at birth and can be observed in hospital nurseries when one baby cries those babies in proximity, more often than not will begin to cry as well. Empathic development continues when at six months children begin to recognize themselves in mirrors, which leads to mature empathy as a cultural phenomenon as children begin to connect emotionally with those in their immediate community. The process of self awareness and a growing empathic view allows children at the age of eight to realize life is fragile and it’s tough out there which furthers humanities ability to show solidarity and compassion with all living things. To empathize is to civilize and to be civil is to be a part of a community.

 

 

 

 

References

Bartle, P. (2005). What is community? A sociological perspective.

 

Furman, G. (2002), School as Community: From promise to practice. State University of New York Press, Albany. pp. 5 – 69.

 

Peck, Scott. (1998). The different drum: community making and peace. New York: Simon and Schuster.

 

Postmodernism. (2011, January 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved             19:33, January 17, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Postmodernism&oldid=408400141

 

Smith, M.K. (2002). Community. Encyclopedia of informal education.

Another class begins

Monday, January 17th, 2011

As I enter one of my final two classes I find myself examining the aspects of community and the role it plays in the formation of schools and learning environments. Our first assignment was to provide a quick overview of our perceptions of our current school community. The following is my initial perspective of my community although make sure to stay tuned as I am sure my view of community will change as I get further into the course reading:

The school community I am part of is heavily connected to technology with a subject focus on the disciplines of Math and Science. F.J. Carnage is a magnet middle school for the three focal areas of Math, Science and Technology. All members of the school community have committed to pursuing achievements in these areas and community members involved in the educational pursuits consist of administrative staff (district and school based), teachers, counselors, building maintenance personnel, students, and parents. The economics of the school are heavily influenced by the politics of the county as one of the original purposes of building the school was to add value to a lower socioeconomic area of the city through its offering of what is considered by members of the community subject disciplines that will translate into higher education pursuits for those who attend the institution. One way in which the school community is working towards the shared vision of higher level interaction with knowledge is through the use of interactive technology based hardware and offering elective courses which allow for greater familiarity in the Math and Science disciplines.