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Dr. Eddins, Dr. Ann Farris, Dr. Brenda Russell, Dr. Jeffrey Kirk - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Spring 2013

Dr. Eddins, Dr. Ann Farris, Dr. Brenda Russell, Dr. Jeffrey Kirk - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Spring 2013

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Dr. Eddins, Dr. Ann Farris, Dr. Brenda Russell, Dr. Jeffrey Kirk - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Spring 2013
Dr. Eddins, Dr. Ann Farris, Dr. Brenda Russell, Dr. Jeffrey Kirk - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Spring 2013

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Published by: William Allan Kritsonis on Apr 23, 2013
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12/30/2013

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 NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALVOLUME 30, NUMBER 3, 2013
6
E
THICS
T
OOLS
A
NCHORED BY
A
CTION
L
EARNING
:
 
A
 
P
RAXIS
F
RAMEWORK FOR 
C
OLLABORATIVE
D
ECISION
M
AKING
 
Bobbie Eddins, Ed.D. Ann Farris, Ph.D.Brenda Russell, Ed.D. Jeffrey Kirk, Ph.D.School of EducationTexas A&M University-Central Texas
ABSTRACTSchool leaders and those who work with them in chaotic campus environmentsface complex issues involving ethical questions. The staggering diversity of issues confronting school leaders and the speed at which issues arise demand
“learning in action” decision making skill. The authors propose in this concept
paper a praxis framework to guide aspiring school leaders in learning about,using, and teaching ethical decision making skills. The framework is groundedby a three-
part approach: 1) the leader’s need to understand and model a
personal values structure while assisting others in the school community indefining their beliefs about their work, 2) the capability of those involved in
decision making to use ethical “tools” such as moral principles and ethical
dilemma patterns to define and solve complex issues, and 3) the use of actionlearning as a protocol for decision making in real time. Based on the three-partapproach, a learning-in-action collaborative decision-making process isdiscussed. The use of this process in all courses in a school leadershippreparation program allows students to gain the confidence and skill to developteachers and other school leaders as more effective ethical decision makers.
Introduction
School leaders and those who work with them in schoolcommunities face complex issues in chaotic environments every day
 
 _____________________________________ 
EDDINS, FERRELL, RUSSELL, & KIRK 
7
issues rife with ethical questions. Many believe that prescriptivemeasures and tight control hold the key to effective leadership in
 public schools today. Sarason (1982) suggests that “principals,
especially those new to their positions, often choose stability over creativity, opting to assert authority or 
withdraw from the fray”
(p.160). Some, however, would argue that a much more creative and powerful course of action rests in the development of school leaders as purpose holders who collaboratively involve other leaders in learning,leading, and ethical decision making. Although some facets of schoolleadership do not focus on concerns directly related to moral issues,
moral purpose is essential to schools’ learning endeavors (Fullan,
2003). Starratt (in Cordeiro & Cunningham, 2013) indicates that
“comin
g to terms with what one knows, to explore its use and itsmisuse, to avoid its distortion or manipulation is both a moral and anin
tellectual obligation” (p.15). He adds that “learning is a moral
search as well as an intellectual search for truth
 – 
truth aboutourselves, about our community, about our history, about our cultural
and physical world.” While the truth will remain “incomplete, fallible, partial, and generative,” Starratt suggests that this search is the
grounding work of whole schools
 – 
those involved in making soundchoices about themselves and the communities they create.Clearly, one of the most important social justice issues facingschool communities today is the capability of school leadership to actwith a sense of moral purpose and ethical conscience. Because of thesize and complex nature of schools, this necessitates increasedleadership capacity among all stakeholder groups
 – 
teachers, students, parents, community members, and administrators
 – 
with all leadersgaining knowledge and skill to be collaboratively involved in effectivedecision making (Lambert, 2003). Additionally, the staggeringdiversity of the issues confronting school leaders and the speed at
which they arise demand a “learning in action” decision making
 process in which many minds think creatively about the complexissues at hand (Herasymowych & Senko, 2008). The use of a commongroup protocol is an option that provides the parameters for candidconversations in group settings without the fear of alienation or 
 
8
 NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL
 
retribution; ideally, a process in which focused inquiry and the freeexchange of ideas are expected in an environment of psychologicalsafety. Key to the success of school leaders in growing this kind of collaborative capacity building is sound training, particularly in preparation programs (Beck & Murphy, 1994; Serviovanni, 1992;Strike, 2005).
A Praxis Framework for Social Justiceand Ethical Behavior Within aSchool Leadership Preparation Program
A praxis framework has been created as one option for learningabout collaborative and ethical decision making in school leadership preparation programs. The framework is grounded by a three-part
approach: 1) the leader’s need to understand and model a personal
values structure while assisting others in the school community indefining their beliefs about their work, 2) the capability of those
involved in decision making to use ethical “tools” such as moral
 principles and ethical dilemma patterns to define and solve complexissues, and 3) the use of action learning as a protocol for decisionmaking in real time. Based on the three-part approach, a learning-in-action collaborative decision-making process has been developed.The use of this process to solve real problems in real time in allcourses in a school leadership preparation program allows students togain the confidence and skill to develop teachers and other schoolleaders as more effective ethical decision makers.Part one of the praxis framework, understanding and utilizing aset of personal values, is essential to leading consistently. Fullan(2003) cites the need for a strong sense of moral purpose in order toget through troubled leadership times. In the midst of a variety of tasks and the diversity of people involved in the school environment,school leaders can quickly lose sight of higher purpose and grounding beliefs. Leaders who take the time to explore their own beliefs havethe opportunity to develop critical consciousness about their work that

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