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Exploring teacher’s innovative leadership roles in small rural schools P. Koulouris, firstname.lastname@example.org S. Sotiriou, email@example.com Ellinogermaniki Agogi Athens, Greece
Our focus here: • New leadership roles teachers can play in small rural schools and beyond
Inviting the teacher to become a change agent in the community • We believe that an informed, adequately prepared teacher of a small rural school can: • Catalyse innovation and development in the school and the local community • Turn the school into a lively node supporting lifelong learning for everyone • Make the school more responsive to the growth and survival needs of its community • Develop responsible citizens and create opportunities for tomorrow's rural leaders to emerge
Rural schools promoting personal and community development • A skilful and devoted teacher may turn known and emerging opportunities into an advantage for his students, himself/herself, the school, as well as the wider local community. • Diverse roles that the remote rural school can play are recorded in the literature.
Diverse school roles • Non-educational impact of schools on rural communities (Salant & Waller, 1998) • multi-faceted school-community relationship • positive economic and social impacts • a resource for community development • offering a delivery point for social services.
Links between education and rural development • Educational attainment as a rural development strategy (Barkley, Henry, & Haizhen, 2005; Beaulieu & Gibbs, 2005) • a better educated rural population leads to greater economic growth • Recent studies in the USA: • more rapid earnings and income growth in rural counties with high educational levels • improving local schools can reverse the tendency of loss of young adults through outmigration (‘rural brain drain’)
Community development: not only economic • Economic, social & environmental well-being • Miller (1995) on rural schools: • Working in partnership with local leaders and residents • Giving students, working alongside adults, meaningful opportunities to engage in community-based learning that serves the needs of both the community and the students.
Social capital: a crucial concept • ‘Social capital’: • social organization and resources embedded in the social structure of the rural communities, which can facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit, and thus community development. • Social capital exerts a positive causal influence on economic development (Woodhouse, 2006). • The school is an important element in the creation of community’s social capital (Miller, 1995) • We should build and sustain strong linkages between the community and the school • Rural communities may have a head start in developing these linkages: schools have traditionally played a central role in the life of the communities
This remains a challenge • A strong school-community partnership remains a major challenge: • this is not generally viewed as a traditional element of schooling • Approaches are needed that cross the boundaries traditionally separating the community as a place of learning from the school
Three approaches (Miller, 1995) The school as a community centre • a resource for lifelong learning, a vehicle for the delivery of a wide range of services • school resources (facilities, technology, well-educated staff) can provide educational and retraining opportunities for the community. The community as curriculum • Study of the community in its various dimensions. • Students generate information for community development by conducting needs assessments, studying and monitoring environmental and land-use patterns, and by documenting local history through interviews and photo essays. School-based enterprise • Developing entrepreneurial skills • Students not only identify potential service needs in their rural communities, but actually establish a business to address those needs.
The case of satellite broadband internet • Let’s imagine that satellite broadband connectivity is made available to the school • The teacher should be encouraged to: • turn it into advantage and opportunity for all • promote the development of a new culture among local citizens
The teacher can turn the school into a “Learning Hub”, a gateway to knowledge and lifelong learning which will be open to everyone in the community.Contact us to give you examples and ideas!
So, teacher’s multiple roles • Typically, the teacher is already: • Struggling daily in a demanding school setting • Maybe acting as the head of the small school • Considered by the local people as a prominent member of the isolated community
Additional leadership roles The teacher can also become: • The manager of change in an informal local ‘reform’ • An instructional leader exploring new ways to improve the quality of teaching and learning • A developer of links and synergies between the school, the community and other schools in the area • A facilitator of communities of learning in, around, and outside, the school • The former and implementer of innovation matching local needs
Questions arising • Obvious need for corresponding professional development: • Which form? What content precisely? Which competences? • solutions and opportunities of the Information Society • pedagogies specifically adaptable to the ‘unusual’ settings of the small rural school • Innovation • change management • local and rural community development, etc.
Questions arising • Possible conflicts with the highly centralized educational system? • the teacher in this context is encouraged to initiate and implement an informal local ‘educational reform’ • What if decentralisation and autonomy of school units is not encouraged by the system? • Can this discrepancy be a source of tension? • What can we practically do to convince the others and overcome such obstacles?