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Values and Collaboration

Values and Collaboration

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Published by Benjamin Stewart
This essay discusses the need for values in building a culture of collaboration when building improvement processes in schools. Differences in educational philosophies that are explicit create an open platform that deals with cognitive dissonance in a more productive way. Supportive supervision links these differences and provides the social capital required in order for teachers to determine their own means and ways towards individual goals. This is done through establishing values, namely hopefulness, trust, piety, and civility (Sergiovanni, 2005), in such a way that individuality is not compromised. Thus, building a culture of collaboration is balanced with the implementation of communities of practice in order for teachers to strive for individual goals while at the same time working towards a collective goal.

This essay discusses the need for values in building a culture of collaboration when building improvement processes in schools. Differences in educational philosophies that are explicit create an open platform that deals with cognitive dissonance in a more productive way. Supportive supervision links these differences and provides the social capital required in order for teachers to determine their own means and ways towards individual goals. This is done through establishing values, namely hopefulness, trust, piety, and civility (Sergiovanni, 2005), in such a way that individuality is not compromised. Thus, building a culture of collaboration is balanced with the implementation of communities of practice in order for teachers to strive for individual goals while at the same time working towards a collective goal.

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Published by: Benjamin Stewart on Jan 16, 2009
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06/16/2009

 
Values and a culture of collaboration 1AbstractThis essay discusses the need for values in building a culture of collaboration when buildingimprovement processes in schools. Differences in educational philosophies that are explicitcreate an open platform that deals with cognitive dissonance in a more productive way.Supportive supervision links these differences and provides the social capital required in order for teachers to determine their own means and ways towards individual goals. This is donethrough establishing values, namely hopefulness, trust, piety, and civility (Sergiovanni, 2005), insuch a way that individuality is not compromised. Thus, building a culture of collaboration is balanced with the implementation of communities of practice in order for teachers to strive for individual goals while at the same time working towards a collective goal.
 
Values and a culture of collaboration 2The need for values and the development of a culture of collaboration in schoolsThe presidential election of 2008, as many have in the past, promoted the need for changethrough the virtue of hope. To undergo such a change, the task then becomes how to lead agroup of people collectively while respecting individual interests. The United States has often been referred to as a melting pot which later was more accurately expressed through the “salad bowl” or “cultural mosaic” metaphor; shifting the notion of a singular culture to one that ismultiple (i.e., cultural pluralism or multicultural) (
 Answers
, 2009). When pursuing a vision or ideal in schools, a similar phenomenon occurs. Instructional leaders are viewed as promotingchange that seeks to close the gap between the ideal (i.e., the written curriculum) and reality (i.e.,the taught curriculum). Support through formative means helps assess whether a changed behavior is making a difference for the better. Therefore, developing a culture of collaborationin schools through the promotion of values can set the stage for finding the means, ways, andends for closing the ideal and reality gap.A school curriculum comes from a philosophical base, whether implicit or explicit.Wiles and Bondi (2007) mention five main educational philosophies that range from the moretraditional to the more progressive: “perennialism”, “idealism”, “realism”, “experimentalism”,and “existentialism” (p. 43). Teaching and testing the written curriculum discloses how theseeducational philosophies are viewed from both a collective and individual perspective. For example, if teachers have a more perennial educational philosophy; that is, they are extremelyrational in their practice and beliefs, they will tend to stick to historical norms and view truths asgivens. If these same teachers are trying to teach a curriculum that is based more on criticalthinking skills whereby learners are encouraged to pursue individual means for their own
 
Values and a culture of collaboration 3learning, then this could lead to a degree of cognitive dissonance or “the mental conflict thatoccurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by newinformation” (
 Encyclopedia Britannica
, 2009). The way inwhich this cognitive dissonance is handled will depend on howimplicit or explicit the differences in educational philosophiesare and whether the pursuit for change is occurring is a top-downor bottom-up fashion.Clearly, having differences in educational philosophieswithin a school that are not well-communicated or even realized for that matter are destined tocreate more contention between all stakeholders. The best approach is to make these differencesas explicit as possible. Schools that have a well-defined and shared mission (i.e., reality) andvision (i.e., ideal) statement are in a better position to deal with cognitive dissonance. A sharedmission and vision statement implies a bottom-up approach and not one that is imposed onteachers by administrators. As a result, stakeholders feel a personal investment in workingtowards a vision they helped to create.Collaboration among all stakeholders, administrators and teachers in particular, is bestserved when various forms of supportive supervision are recognized. Gupton (2003) identifiesfive different forms of supportive supervision as follows: a) “cooperative clinical supervision, b)collegial coaching, c) collegial study groups, d) individualized, mediated entry programs
 ,
and e)self-directed development activities” (see Appendix) (p. 107). Regardless of the form of supportive supervision a school adheres to, the notion of formative change continues to be at theforefront. The Downey walk-through (2004) is another example that takes a formative approach

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