Friday, October 17, 2014

Invitational Education Theory and a Framework for Effective Collaboration

         Last month’s post focused upon Schmidt’s (2007) exploration of the elements of Invitational Education (IE) theory that holistically evaluates school climate.  Schmidt’s meta-analysis identified three sets of structure.  The September 2014 post explored how the first set formed a framework for evaluating inviting practices.  The Five Ps include “five powerful factors–people, places, policies, programs, and processes…highly significant for their separate and combined influence on Invitational Leadership” (Purkey & Siegel, 2013, p. 104).  In combination, “these five P’s offers an almost limitless number of opportunities for the Invitational Leader, for they address the total culture or ecosystem of almost any organization” (p. 104).  Through inclusion of the Five P’s the invitational leadership model becomes a unique and holistic model of leadership (Stillion & Siegel, 2005).
            This month we explore how the remaining two sets work in concert with the Five Ps to create a framework for effective collaboration among stakeholders.  The second set includes empowerment, encouragement, enlistment, enjoyment, equity, and expectation-the Six E’s.  Elements of this set guide the investigation of the Five Ps in relation to different stakeholder groups.  The third set identifies four areas of invitation: “Inviting Oneself Personally, Inviting Oneself Professionally, Inviting Others Personally, and Inviting Others Professionally” (Schmidt, 2007, p. 16).  Through holistic utilization, Schmidt posits these three sets of structure provide an understandable language based on useable concepts that explains school climate based on Invitational Education Theory.  Understandable language promotes the clear communication essential for effectivecollaboration.
            The development of systemic support when seeking to promote a school culture that drives sustained school improvement requires collaboration (Marzano & Waters, 2009).  Since “the public school establishment is one of the most stubbornly intransigent forces on the planet” (Marzano & Waters, 2009, p. 2), a positive cultural change needs new thinking, willingness, humility, collaboration, and a collective vision grounded in a clear Learning for All mission.  The principal, teachers, and parents are all school leaders needing to be available to shape a school’s non-negotiable culture (Peterson & Deal, 1998). 
Effective collaborative change begins with recognition that although schools can be loosely coupled by design, they can also be tightly coupled regarding non-negotiable goals and a culture that promotes student learning.  It is therefore essential to promote a “defined autonomy” (Marzano & Waters, 2009, p. 8) by communicating a clear vision to both internal and external stakeholders.  Otherwise, change is slow or nonexistent (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011).  However, school leaders must effectively communicate to stakeholders the difference between a steady, sustained approach compared to resistance or unwillingness to change.
The effectiveness of school leadership acts remains contingent upon teacher acceptance (Matthews & Brown, 1976).  Teachers’ attitudes and perceptions influence positive or negative responses to initiatives (Rokeach, 1968).  Teachers’ perception of respect and trust exhibited by the principal correlates with both teachers’ and students’ morale, commitment, and achievement (Ellis, 1988; Riner, 2003).  However, when a school leader effectively communicates a vision for success, models positive expectations, and utilizes inviting leadership practices, teachers’ behaviors can be influenced (Asbill, 1994; Asbill & Gonzalez, 2000). 
Invitational Education theory provides a needed collaborative and holistic framework for school transformation.  Rather than suggesting a quick-fix, the framework encourages a metamorphosis, requiring years of vigilance before affirming sustained change (Strahan & Purkey, 1992).  Vigilance is required because “transforming the way schools operate means transforming people” (Asbill, 1994, p. 42).  School reform requires systemic change, a metamorphosis, based on systemic analysis of the people, places, policies, programs, and processes (the Five Ps).  Such analysis discerns whether any part of the whole is disinviting (Strahan & Purkey, 1992).
Invitational Education provides “a theory of practice that radiates into every relationship in the school setting” (Asbill, 1994, p. 43).  Actions and interactions can be perceived as either inviting or disinviting (Purkey & Novak, 2008).  Therefore, actions or interaction perceived as positive become “invitations that bid others to see themselves as capable, valuable, and responsible and to behave accordingly” (Asbill, 1994, p.43). 
Burns and Martin (2010) posit the Invitational Education theory creates a leadership model providing the collaborative structure needed to guide educational leaders through diverse and complex situations.  Researchers believe this leadership model is comprehensive in design (Burns & Martin, 2010; Egley, 2003).  It is also inclusive of many of the elements of transformational and servant leadership, considered essential for promoting success in educational organizations. 
Utilization of an Invitational Education theory of practice can create and maintain safe and successful schools by addressing the total culture of the educational environment (Stanley, et al., 2004).  Exploration of key concepts, such as the transformation of communication skills, assessing the 5 Ps, and empowering group dynamics, will optimize the establishment of benchmarks and action plans for achieving school goals.  Purkey and Novak (2008) offered the starfish analogy as a mental model for the intentionally inviting school culture:  “Like the actions of a starfish, steady and continuous pressure from a number of points can work to overcome the toughest school challenges” (p. 19).
The International Alliance for Invitational Education (IAIE) will hold its 32nd Annual World Conference in Nashville, TN from October 29-November 1, 2014.  This unique international gathering will focus upon how to use Invitational Theory as a framework for creating positive climates.  CLICK HERE to download the complete IAIE Conference Brochure and Registration Form.  CLICK HERE for Online Registration and additional information on the IAIE. 

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               Principal practices. Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice, 7(1), 16-27. Retrieved
Burns, G., & Martin, B. N. (2010). Examination of the effectiveness of male and female
               educational leaders who made use of the invitational leadership style of leadership.
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Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(10), 15-24.
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Lezotte, L. W., & Snyder, K. M. (2011). What effective schools do: Re-envisioning the
               correlates. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Marzano, R. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action (first ed.).
               Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. & Waters, T.(2009). District leadership that works. Bloomington, In: Solution
Tree Press
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               Practice, 1(1), 5-14.
Purkey, W., & Novak, J. (1996). Inviting school success: A self-concept approach to teaching
               and learning (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Purkey, W. W., & Siegel, B. L. (2013). Becoming an invitational leader: A new approach to
               professional and personal success. Atlanta, GA: Humanics. Retrieved from:
Schmidt, J. J. (2007). Elements of diversity in invitational practice and research. Journal of
          Invitational Theory & Practice, 13, 16-23. Retrieved from:

To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (October 17, 2014) Invitational education theory and a framework for effective collaboration.  
               [Web log post] Retrieved from

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