Sunday, December 31, 2017

Educator Preparation Programs Need to Explicitly Develop Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Skills

Emotional intelligence has been linked to effective leadership (Goleman & Boyatzis, 2002, 2008).  Therefore, the curriculum for educator preparation and school leadership programs must explicitly address leadership skill development.  However, in many programs, the expectation is often for emotional intelligence behaviors to be implicitly developed rather than explicitly taught.  Without effective leadership, education reform cannot take place (Creighton & Jones, 2001).  Effective educational leadership programs result from program experiences as well as the quality of entering candidates (Creighton & Jones, 2001).  Unfortunately, preparation programs remain pressured to accept adequate numbers of candidates to justify the program’s cost and existence (Creighton & Jones, 2001).  This increases the need for optimal curriculum efficiency rather than effectiveness.

Accountability of teacher preparation and school leadership programs remain an ongoing process (CAEP, 2013).  ).  Typically, students’ evaluation of faculty, pre-admission compared to post-graduation surveys, and the annual state/accreditation council review of the program, produce the data used to ascertain each program’s success.  School leaders identify courses as ineffective because it takes years before graduates actually have a school leadership position.  This causes coursework to become either forgotten or outdated (Bottoms & O’Neill, 2001).  Implementation of processes that develop broader leadership skills in decision-making and problem solving must therefore serve a significant role within school leadership preparation programs (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005; Short, 1997).

Sanders’ (2010) quantitative study examined the perceptions of professors that focus upon educational leadership in their work within institutes of higher education (IHE).  Specifically, Sanders sought to identify the professors’ understanding of competencies related to emotional intelligence and the extent to which these competencies were being included within their IHE teacher leadership programs.  Left unanswered was whether demonstrated emotional intelligence related to perceptions of an optimal school climate. Maulding et al. (2010) sought clarification of the correlation between the twenty-one leadership behaviors identified by Marzano et al. (2005) and student achievement.  In contrast to findings posited by the Marzano et al. (2005) meta-analysis, the Maulding et al., studies (2010, 2012) clearly indicated a lack of correlation between emotional intelligence of school leaders and student achievement as evidenced by the school’s performance level.

A study by Byron (2001) found educational programs that focus upon emotional intelligence behaviors produced successful outcomes.  Byron (2001) cited the benefits of attending to “the cultures of learning, to the individual's current abilities, propensities, and current conceptions, and to fundamental reorganizations of behavior, not just acceleration and fine-tuning" (Grotzer & Perkins, 2012, p. 510).  However, Mayer and Salovey (1997) cautioned against focusing solely upon one dimension or sub-skill of emotional intelligence.  Any program seeking to develop emotional intelligence skills “should be empirically defensible, measurable, and clear enough to serve as a basis for curriculum development" (Cobb & Mayer, 2000, p. 18).  

Teaching is considered one of the most stressful occupations (Palomera, Fernandez-Berrocal, & Brackett, 2008).  This increases the importance of emotional intelligence skills training because professional development or training in emotional intelligence skills can support teachers’ coping skills within a stressful environment.  Teacher burnout becomes more predictable in relation to stress.
By contrast, teachers exhibiting high emotional intelligence use more positive, well-adapted, coping strategies to deal with different sources of stress at school, thereby feeling greater job satisfaction (Palomera et al., 2008).  Surveyed teachers identified the ability to regulate emotions as indispensable for reaching reach academic goals (Palomera et al., 2008).  Emotional intelligence skills training become essential to mitigate teacher burnout, thereby affecting an educator’s professional longevity, personal satisfaction, and student learning.

Studies involving teaching and learning typically focus upon knowledge, cognition, and skill.  Studies involving teacher beliefs or practices allow researchers to make observable measurements.  Despite this propensity, Hargreaves (2001) emphasized the need to address emotional practices since emotions are embedded within the conditions and interactions of teaching.  Therefore, educator and leadership preparation programs will benefit from including  intentional invitations to increase competence in emotional awareness in the pursuit of realizing full human potential (Purkey & Novak, 2016).

For optimal emotional intelligence development among prospective teachers, Rojas (2012) advocated for three needs:
1.      Development of emotional intelligence begins with a commitment to change.
2.      Application of emotional intelligence learning within environments favorable to emotional intelligence development.
3.      Pursuit of an ideal allows interdependent application of all other emotional intelligence competencies.

Action research projects within capstone courses can assess each program’s measurable outcomes.  Results of program completion need to include competency development in subject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and caring teacher leadership skills.  Course objectives need to align with these three competency areas (CAEP, 2013).  Capstone research courses require that the students identify research questions relevant to their program-based studies, review and analyze important research related to the topic, design an action-research study using qualitative or quantitative methodology, and reflect on the implications of this study to enhance the quality of teaching and leadership.  

Currently, explicit course work in both emotional intelligence behaviors within the workplace and development of school climate based on Invitational Education theory is missing from too many undergraduate teacher preparation and graduate teacher leadership programs.  A moderately strong correlation was found between the demonstration of a leader’s high emotional intelligence behaviors and the perception of a positive school climate (Anderson, 2016).  Therefore, course objectives throughout each undergraduate teacher preparation and graduate leadership program should intentionally invite skill development that advances emotional intelligence competencies to optimize school climate. 

To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (December 31, 2017) Educator preparation programs need to explicitly develop 
                 emotional intelligence and leadership skills [Web log post] 
                 Retrieved from

Anderson, C.J. (2016). A correlational study examining demonstrated emotional

                intelligence and perceptions of school climate. ProQuest 1771637101

Bottoms, G. & O’Neill, K. (2001). Preparing a new breed of school principals: It’s time
               for action. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 464 388)

Byron, C. M. (2001). The effects of emotional knowledge education in the training of
                novice teachers. (Order No. 3014883, Columbia University Teachers College).
                ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, (251642822).

Cobb, C.D., & Mayer, J.D. (2000). Emotional Intelligence: What the research says.
                Educational Leadership. 58(3). 14-18.

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (2013). CAEP Accreditation
                Standards. Retrieved from

Creighton, T. B. & Jones, G. D. (2001). Selection or self-selection? How rigorous are
          our selection criteria for education administration preparation programs?
         (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 457557)

Goleman, D., & Boyatzis, R. (2008). Social intelligence and the biology of leadership.
                Harvard Business Review, 86(9), 74–81. Retrieved from:

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power
        of emotional intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press

Grotzer, T. A., & Perkins, D. N. (2012). Teaching intelligence: A performance conception, 492-516. 
           Chapter in Handbook of Intelligence, Sternberg (Ed). NYC, NY: Cambridge University 
           Press. Online ISBN:9780511807947. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511807947.023

Hargreaves, A. (2001, December). Emotional geographies of teaching. Teachers College
           Record, 103(6), 1056-1080.

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School leadership that works:
                From research to results. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development

Maulding, W. S., Peters, G. B., Roberts, J., Leonard, E., & Sparkman, L. (2012).
                Emotional intelligence and resilience as predictors of leadership in school
                administrators. Journal of Leadership Studies, 5(4), 20-29.

Maulding, W. S., Townsend, A., Leonard, E., Sparkman, L., Styron, J., & Styron, R. A.
                (2010). The relationship between emotional intelligence of principals and student
                performance in Mississippi public schools. Academic Leadership (15337812),
                8(4), 67.

Mayer, J.D. & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D.
                Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications
                for educators. 3-31. New York: Basic Books.

Palomera, R., Fernandez-Berrocal, P., & Brackett, M. A. (2008). Emotional intelligence
                as a basic competency in pre-service teacher training: some 135 evidence.
                Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 6(2), 437-454.

Purkey, W. W., & Novak, J. M. (2016). Fundamentals of invitational education.
              (2nd Ed). International Alliance for Invitational Education. Retrieved from:

Rojas, M. (2012). The missing link: Emotional intelligence in teacher preparation.
             (Order No. 3495309, Arizona State University). ProQuest Dissertations and
             Theses, 220.

Sanders, S.C. (2010) Emotional intelligence, a necessary component of educational
                leadership programs, as perceived by professors of educational leadership
                (Doctoral Dissertation).

Short, P. (1997). Reflections in administrator preparation. Peabody Journal of Education,
                72 (2), 86-99.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Invitational Leadership Theory and Intentionality: Powerful tools for neutralizing gender bias

The context of school leadership has been rapidly changing since the late 1980s, as reflected in numerous past and ongoing educational reforms and school restructuring movements in western countries and also in the Asia-Pacific Regions (Yin Cheong, 2010).  In response to these changing and amplified conditions of accountability, Burns and Martin (2010) reviewed numerous studies that examined diverse leadership models designed to meet the leadership needs of the past several decades (Hallinger & Heck, 1999; Kezar, 2000; Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 2000; Sergiovanni, 2000; Spears & Lawrence, 2004; Yukl, 2006).  Although transformational and servant leadership models have served educational leaders for several decades, Burns and Martin identify one comprehensive model as having been created with the promise for providing a positive and encouraging structure to guide today’s leaders through complex times.  That relatively new model is invitational leadership.  As cited by Burns and Martin, “Invitational theory is a collection of assumptions that seek to explain phenomena and provide a means of intentionally summoning people to realize their relatively boundless potential in all areas of worthwhile human endeavor” (Purkey, 1992, p.5).  Furthermore, “The purpose of invitational leadership is to address the entire global nature of human existence and opportunity” (Purkey, 1992,p. 29).  Thus, this invitational leadership model provides a comprehensive design that is inclusive of many vital elements needed for the success of today’s educational organizations.
As quoted by Burns and Martin (2010, p. 30)  “the research on the effects of Invitational Education Theory in the educational administrative process is relatively new as compared to other theories pertaining to leadership” (Egley, 2003, p.57).  Burns and Martin (2010) believed their literature review, which included analysis of Aldridge, (2003); Jennings,(2003); Penner, (1981); Shapiro, (1990); and Stillion & Siegel, (2005) reinforces their premise that “contemporary leaders in education must face a new day requiring skills and knowledge beyond what needed to be exhibited by previous leaders” (p. 30).  The seminal work of Purkey and Siegel blended leadership qualities, values, and principles when developing the invitational leadership theory and model that invited success from all interested stakeholders (Burns & Martin, 2010).  “This model shifts from emphasizing control and dominance to one that focuses on connectedness, cooperation, and communication” (Purkey & Siegel, 2003, p.1).  Burns and Martin (2010) note “invitational leadership was created based upon four basic assumptions exemplifying invitational leaders: optimism, respect, trust, and intentionality” (p.31).  Combined with these four basic assumptions are five powerful factors: people, places, policies, programs, and processes, which Purkey and Siegel call the “five P’s” (p. 104), which have separate and combined influence on Invitational Leadership.  The combination of these five P’s and the four basic assumptions provide limitless opportunities for the Invitational Leader because the combination addresses the total culture of nearly every organization (Burns and Martin, 2010, p. 34).
Prior to the more recent Pew Research Center analysis of gender issues in leadership, Burns and Martin (2010) reviewed the related literature and found research supporting the premise that males are perceived to be more competent than females when considering work-related issues (Cleveland, Stockdale, & Murphy, (2000) and Stelter, (2002).  Additionally, research by Henderson (1994) found male supervisors were often preferred by both male and female workers because responding workers believed the male supervisor “possessed the characteristics of good managers such as emotional stability, ability to make correct decisions, analytic ability, and the like” (p.52).  Offering a clear contrast, Rosener’s (1990) extensive gender research established that women consistently strove to create positive interactions with fellow co-workers and followers.  Female leaders encouraged “participation, share power, and information, enhance other people’s self-worth, and get others excited about their work” (p. 120).  Burns and Martin (2010) concluded that perceptions of gender differences ranged from interpersonal relationships to social role expectations to differences in perception and styles.  Thus, given men and women indeed lead and follow differently, it should be generally agreed that men and women will naturally vary in their leadership styles (p. 36).  Did these differences exist where the invitational leadership model was utilized?
For their study of this question, Burns and Martin’s (2010) sampled 14 principals and 164 teachers employed in Missouri public schools.  The researchers employed a purposeful sampling method, consisting of a multi-tiered criteria process to select the schools.  The first criterion was geographic whereby the state was divided into quadrants.  To select principals from schools considered effective in meeting high accountability standards from each quadrant, the researchers identified all school districts based on their district’s performance in meeting Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) standards.  The next criterion was using districts in which the leadership of the school could be attributed to the characteristics of its current leader.  Therefore each selected school needed to have its principal serving in his or her current position for an average range of three to five years.  The final criterion applied by Burns and Martin (2010) was in consideration of gender.  This addressed the purpose of distinguishing between possible characteristic differences in leadership based on gender (p. 37).
Overall, 14 principal surveys were sent to participating schools and all 14 surveys were returned for a return rate of 100%.  Teachers at the participating schools were sent 252 teacher surveys and 164 were returned for a return rate of 65%.  To include qualitative aspects to the study, based on their indication of interest to participate in a follow-up interview, two female principals and two male principals were interviewed using eleven semi-structured, open-ended question protocol.  Five teachers were selected for the follow-up interview based on a stratified sample method.  For the surveys, Burns and Martin (2010) modified items found on Asbill’s (2000) leadership survey for teachers.  Their intent was to create a survey befitting the design of their study.  The result was a 44-item Likert type surveys titled, Teacher Perceptions of Leadership Practices (TPLP) (pp 52-55) and Principal Perceptions of Leadership Practices (PPLP).  Survey questions were selected based on the components of the invitational theory and the desire to identify perceived leadership effectiveness.
The researchers utilized several procedures for examining the quantitative and qualitative data aspects of the data.  The researchers collected raw data and prepared for analysis.  Each quantitative and qualitative research approach was initially analyzed separately and then merged in the discussion of the research findings based on the tenets of invitational leadership.  For the quantitative analysis, a multivariate analysis of variance method (MANOVA) was utilized to determine any statistical difference in each of the surveys’ subscales or whether dependent and independent variables existed between the two categories.  For the qualitative analysis, the researchers found the interviews contributed to an enriched description within the study by providing subsequent triangulation of documents.  Specific artifacts helped supplement their depth of understanding of the participating district’s organizational beliefs and priorities. (Burns and Martin, 2010, p. 39).
Compared to the perceived leadership at less effective schools, the effective schools, on average, were led by leaders who were perceived to demonstrate consistently higher attributes of effective invitational leadership qualities (Burns and Martin, 2010, p. 39).  Follow-up interviews with teachers and principals established that teachers believed that the invitational qualities of respect and trust were the most influential leadership qualities, while principals viewed “trust as the predominant influencing factor” (p. 29).  Their analysis identified significant differences between the usages of invitational leadership qualities in effective schools versus less effective schools.  Levels of significance were so compelling that the researchers found it reasonable to clearly conclude that principals leading “effective schools,” as identified through the MSIP process, regularly utilize invitational leadership behaviors.  Additionally, during interviews Burns and Martin found the perceptions of these leaders were consistently more positive and affirming than the perceptions of leaders in schools that were identified as less effective.  This analysis revealed that effective leadership behaviors prove effective, regardless of the gender of the leader. Participants in the follow-up interviews praised the efforts of effective leaders without regard to gender. Thus, effective leadership characteristics considered helpful in the creation of successful organizations were not based on the leader’s gender (p, 46). 

Given the researchers’ credentials, soundness of methodology, and thoroughness of their literature review, Burns and Martin’s contention that invitational leadership theory can be a process for improving schools is very sound.  As a result their stated implications are also valid.  For instance, one implication for practice would be encouraging school districts to attend to the tenets of invitational leadership, applying them accordingly to their educational setting, and considering the selection of leadership candidates based on their beliefs regarding invitational leadership theory (Burns and Martin, 2010, p. 47).  Based on the results from the study, the researchers believe principals have the power to positively create an effective learning organization.  Therefore, university-level leadership preparation programs should utilize invitational leadership theory during the training of aspiring leaders.  Another implication for future practice can be derived from the invitational leadership’s assumption of intentionality.  Citing Stillion and Siegel’s recommendation for all leaders becoming “well-versed in the issue of intentionality” (2005, p. 9), it is reasonable to advance the definition presented by Day, et. al., (2001), whereby intentionality is “a decision to purposely act in a certain way, to achieve and carry out a set goal” (p.34).

To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (November 30, 2017) Invitational Leadership Theory and Intentionality: Powerful tools for
                neutralizing gender bias [Web log post] Retrieved from

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. Journal of Invitational Theory & Practice, 1629-55. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
Yin Cheong, C. (2010). A Topology of Three-Wave Models of Strategic Leadership in
Education. International Studies in Educational Administration (Commonwealth Council for Educational 
Administration & Management (CCEAM)), 38(1), 35-54. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Using Continuous Improvement Theory to Break institutional Inertia

Part of the institutional inertia exhibited within many organizations is recognizing a problem exists but either failing or refusing to identify where the institution is compared to where its leaders want the institution to go.  Strategic change planning must initially identify where the institution wants to be in the future and then determine how it will achieve subsequent objectives and goals.  The planning process includes the strategic attention to current changes in the institution, its external environment, and how these factors impact the organization’s current and future objectives. Without focused reflection, organizational leaders can get lost in the institution's dysfunctional inertia.

Effective Schools Research integrates tenets of the Continuous Improvement Theory into a sustainable school improvement framework.  The continuous improvement management approach reinforces Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) system, comprised of 14 points posited as “essential for business success” (Davenport & Anderson, 2002, p. 33).  Deming’s TQM system and the “Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle” (p.34) grounds the well-documented Brazosport sustained reform initiatives.  Given its genesis in the PDCA cycle, the Continuous Improvement Theory effectively aligns well with other existing research shown to result in sustainable school improvement. 

Effective Schools Researchers examine sustainable learning organizations and consistently find “effective schools have strong and effective leadership” (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011, p. 51).  Other studies (Purkey & Siegel, 2002; Burns & Martin, 2010) posit leadership based on invitational theory encourages people to tap into their unlimited potential.  As a comprehensive model, inclusive of many vital elements needed for the success of today’s educational organizations, invitational leadership requires leaders with high emotional intelligence to develop a culture of collaboration. 

Let’s examine a practical problem that exemplifies dysfunctional inertia:  Too often parents from low SES, urban schools are considered disengaged from the school.  Overcoming this problem only becomes possible and sustainable by improving the home-school correlate (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011).  A continuous improvement plan is needed to break the inertia perpetuating the problem and preventing reform.

Dysfunctional inertia continues to blame disengaged parents for student failure and poor school climate.  By contrast, strong and effective leadership humbly poises the question: “Is it reasonable to suggest many parents in low SES, urban school districts were previously students in that school district?”  Therefore, the culture of the community is that schools are a place of failure.  Education failed to free them of the bondage of poverty--as promised!  As a result, the opportunity gap chained these parents to the achievement gap. 

When that is the prevailing cultural reality, then it becomes psychologically viable to suggest members of the community would avoid such an institution BECAUSE it reminds them of past failure or lack of success.  If that is truly a significant element of the community's culture, then the district will need to admit, "Previous strategies failed you but, to be effective, an essential part of our current approach is the need for your help ensure we are successful with your children. We need your help.”

Such a message may exhibit a level of honesty that too few want to verbalize.  However, a true invitational leader embraces that message.  Transformation will follow only by helping parents become effective partners to mitigate the opportunity gap.  Recognizing the community CURRENTLY perceives the school as a failing institution must come before inertia can be broken. 
Poor communication or delay in inspiring action would result in the current system’s inertia to consume the function needed to promote positive change.  “Reculturing” a system (Dufour et al, 2008, p. 22) requires alignment between collaboration and effective organizational learning. Plan effectively by beginning with the end in mind is a tenet of Covey’s (1989) habits of effective people.  Based on this tenet, educational leaders must collaborate with stakeholders and begin resetting a system in need of reform by beginning with the end in mind.  This should help solidify non-negotiable goals through collaboration, empowerment, and shared mission.  This process can result in development and implementation of an effective, action-based, improvement plan without delay.

Positive change needs new thinking, willingness, humility, collaboration, and a collective vision grounded in a clear mission (Anderson, 2014).  Unintended consequences, which often fall into the pool labeled “negative change,” typically ignore those characteristics connected with positive change.  It is not enough to want to change or to need to change, for change to take place positive experiences must occur. 

Without quality and commitment to the action steps, any continuous improvement plan will be ineffective for promoting positive change.  Therefore, the Continuous Improvement Framework posits oversight responsibility of the school leadership team is an essential element of school improvement.  Given the complexity of schools, it is easy for initiative to wane or get lost.  Lezotte and Snyder (2011) believe change efforts need champions, which means “the school leadership team and the individual correlate teams must accept responsibility to act as the champions for their change strategies” (p.140). Frequent monitoring and then adjusting form the central tenet for the continuous improvement framework (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011).  Effective leaders model the image of a learner.  Therefore, the effective leader examines updated research, best practices, and seminal systems to identify potential ways to optimize the organization’s effectiveness.

The Continuous Improvement Framework details a process aimed to revise the cultural mindset among staff.  Champions of a successful change initiative move onto new goals while previous followers assume more leadership roles in the process of continuous school improvement.  Therefore, the process, which is “data-driven, research-based, results-oriented, focused on quality and equity, collaborative in form, ongoing, and self-renewing” will result in continuous school improvement based on the effective schools framework advancing the learning-for-all mission (Lezotte & Snyder, 2011, p. 140). 

To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (October 31, 2017) Using continuous improvement theory to break organizational inertia
                [Web log post] Retrieved from


Anderson, C.J. (October 17, 2014) Invitational education theory and a framework for effective collaboration[Web log post] Retrieved from
Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New
                York: Free Press
Davenport, P., & Anderson, G. (2002). Closing the achievement gap: No excuses. Houston, TX:
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (2008). Revisiting professional learning communities at
                work: New insights for improving schools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
                Retrieved from:
Lezotte, L. W., & Snyder, K. M. (2011). What effective schools do: Re-envisioning the
correlates. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Need to Mitigate Behavior Problems and Optimize Learning for All

Poorly managed classrooms and buildings negatively impact student learning.  By contrast, well-managed classrooms and buildings positively impact student learning.  Therefore, administrators and educational leaders must take research-based steps to promote a district-wide climate that cultivates well-managed classrooms and buildings.  Administrators and educational leaders can do the following:
1. Encourage all teachers to establish and define reasonable classroom norms or rules and appropriately communicate these to each student.  Each norm or rule should be stated in positive terms.  Assess student awareness of each rule’s purpose.
2. Facilitate commitment from all staff for teaching students the appropriate school behavior in a manner similar to teaching, reinforcing, and assessing academic skills.  This requires formal lessons on social skills, interpersonal problem solving, and conflict resolution to be presented by teachers and counselors.  Diverse programs designed to assist schools in this regard provide significant professional development.
3. Establish universal expectations for various areas of each building.  Staff should be competent describing what “respect” entails within the classroom, library, lunchroom, and restrooms.  This provides consistency with norms or rules throughout the building.  Common understanding of expectations mitigate disagreements among students and staff, thereby reducing anxiety for students.
4. Convey explicit behavior expectations and consequences to parents and families.  This encourages support from home, reduces conflicts, and increases the positive home-school relationship correlate.
When trying to implement the safe and orderly environment correlate, educational leaders can easily fall into common traps (Simonsen, Sugai, Negron, 2008; Horner, Sugai, & Horner, 2000).  Behavior management can be a key to student, teacher, and district success.  Whenever serving students with disabilities, effective behavior management becomes even more critical.  
Failure to implement proper discipline with students with disabilities can have financial consequences.  Although less tangible, the emotional toll upon students for inappropriate behavior management can be significant.  District administrators must be aware of both the educational and legal issues required for effectively managing the behavior of students with disabilities.  Therefore, implementation of districtwide policies and appropriate interventions must also provide the opportunity for case-by-case consideration. 
Despite implementation of the strategies listed above, some students will not respond to district-wide strategies.  Therefore, more individualized strategies will need implementation.  Knowing a range of approaches and additional preventative strategies is crucial for addressing chronic behavior problems. 
Whenever students exhibit chronic behavior problems, staff must know how to consider the root cause and purpose for the problematic behavior before attempting to identify an appropriate replacement behavior.  Effective, well-versed, administrators draft policies and seek consensus for carrying out disciplinary strategies.  Depending on the age of the student, empowering the student to participate in discussions of the undesired problem may prove very helpful.  Inviting the student’s family members to identify solutions and strategies tailored to the child’s individual needs can also be helpful.
Whenever a student has an individualized education program (IEP) or a behavior intervention plan (BIP), strategies need to be evaluated by the child study team (CST) or intervention and referral services (I&RS) team.  Typically, such child-centered teams include the child’s parent[s], general education teacher, special education teacher, and other school officials with specialized knowledge of the child’s needs.  This optimizes communication, collaboration, implementation, and effective integration through the IEP or BIP.  Some preventative strategies may include:
• Designate specific support staff such as a counselor, social worker or aide, to regularly check in with the student or help the student needing time or space to vent or cool down.
• Adjust the timing or content of the student's academic schedule.  This potentially lessens the adverse impact of potential triggers that increase student stress and anxiety.  For instance, it may be helpful to schedule physical education between demanding academic classes.
• Directly teach the student various relaxation techniques, including visualization, deep breathing, or yoga.
• Plan for the student’s need to take “timeouts” as an accommodation to either calm down or regroup.
• Develop a succinct crisis plan, outlining procedures for effectively responding to the student's problematic behavior.  Such a plan may provide training in non-aversive behavior management.  This includes positive reinforcement and communicative strategies that all support staff and stakeholders can universally utilize.   
• Provide counseling, mentoring, or intense social skills training.
• Provide services and supports “wrapped around” the student and the student’s family.  These include interagency services provided at school, home, and in the community.  Given involvement of multiple agencies it is important that a care coordinator oversees support services.
Preventative strategies are more effective when based on valid and reliable functional behavioral assessment (FBA).  Since individualized strategies are intensive and may need to be in place over an extended time period, it is crucial to involve the family in all stages of developing and implementing them.  Once again, this encourages support from home to reduce conflicts and increase the positive home-school relationship correlate.  
Although district-wide and individualized preventative strategies intend to prevent student behavior problems, encourage desired behavior, and mitigate chronic behavior problems, some students may continue to exhibit misconduct or operant behaviors.  When students with disabilities engage in misconduct, administrators and teacher leaders must be aware that federal laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), provide such students with specific procedural safeguards.
A proactive approach can mitigate the conflict cycle that exacerbates problematic behaviors (Fecser & Long, 2000).  The increasing popularity of school wide PBIS programs (Walker et al, 2005) exemplify how schools recognize success based on related research.  Administrators and teacher leaders should be well-versed in appropriate district-wide and individualized preventative measures for managing student behavior.  Since the special education law can be intricate and punitive for non-compliance, understanding the legal issues related to the discipline of students with disabilities is essential.  Professional development for staff and stakeholders increases competencies, promotes collaboration, and mitigates potential conflict.  The result is increased opportunity to sustain success and optimize the learning for all mission.

To Cite:

Anderson, C.J. (September 30, 2017) The need to mitigate behavior problems and optimize

learning for all.  [Web log post]  Retrieved from

Fetter-Herrott, A., Steketee, A.M, & Dare, M (2009) Disciplining students with disabilities:

The legal implications of managing these pupils. Retrieved from

 Horner, R.H., & Sugai, G. (2000). School-wide behavior support: An emerging initiative

Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions, 2, 231-232.

Schneider, T., Walker, H.M., & Sprague, J.R. (2000). Safe school design: A handbook for

                educational leaders. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational

Management, College of Education, University of Oregon.

 Sugai, G., & Horner, R.H. (2002). The evolution of discipline practices: School-wide

positive behavior supports. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 24(1/2), 23-50.

Walker, B., Cheney, D., Stage, S., & Blum, C. (2005).Schoolwide screening and positive

                behavior support: Identifying and supporting students at risk of school failure.

Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 7, 194-204.

Walker, J. S., & Schutte, K. M. (2004). Practice and process in wraparound teamwork.

Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12, 182–192.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Benefits of Increased Phonemic And Phonological Awareness Teaching Skills

Phonemic and phonological awareness is an essential competency for emergent literacy (Moats, 1999; Yopp, 1992).  Phonemic and phonological awareness is now typically introduced during Pre-kindergarten programs.  This emphasizes the need for universal Pre-K, since foundational concepts in emergent literacy are being introduced and then reinforced during the Kindergarten year.  When such learning opportunities are missed or ineffective, a child might find him or herself in First Grade and in need of a Tier 2 or 3 reading intervention to develop the phonemic and phonological awareness exhibited by same-age/grade peers. 
Why do we need teachers proficient in developmental reading skills?  Samantha Coppola's TED Talk provides a powerful response.  Effective teachers are the great equalizer with the potential to positively change a child's destiny.  
  Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds (Yopp, 1992). Phonemic awareness is essential to learning to read in an alphabetic writing system, because letters represent sounds or phonemes.  Without phonemic awareness, phonics makes little sense.  Phonemic awareness is fundamental to mapping speech to print.  For instance, if a child cannot hear that "man" and "moon“ begin with the same sound or is unable to blend the sounds /rrrrrruuuuuunnnnn/ into the word "run",  then he or she may have great difficulty connecting sounds with their written symbols or blending sounds to make a word.
A phoneme is a speech sound.  A phoneme is the smallest unit of spoken language and has no inherent meaning (National Reading Panel, 2000).  Phonemic awareness involves hearing language at the phoneme level.
Phonemic awareness is not phonics.  Phonemic awareness is auditory and does not involve words in print.  Phonemic awareness is important because it teaches students to attend to sounds. Phonemic awareness primes the connection of sound to print.  Phonemic awareness gives students a way to approach reading new words.  Phonemic awareness helps students understand the alphabetic principle whereby letters in words are systematically represented by sounds.
Phonics, is the use of the code (sound-symbol relationships to recognize words.  Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sound structure of language. This is an encompassing term that involves working with the sounds of language at the word, syllable, and phoneme level.
Phonemic and phonological awareness is difficult because although the English language includes 26 letters, there are approximately 40 phonemes.  Sounds are represented in 250 different spellings.  For instance, /f/ as in ph, f, gh, ff.  Research has established that children lacking phonemic and phonological awareness skills exhibit difficulty grouping words with similar and dissimilar sounds (mat, mug, sun), blending and splitting syllables (sun-ny), blending sounds into words (m_a_n), segmenting a word as a sequence of sounds (e.g., fish is made up of three phonemes, /f/ ,/i/, /sh/), detecting and manipulating sounds within words (change “r” in “run” to “s” to make “sun”), (Kame'enui, et. al., 1997).
Teacher preparation programs need to strengthen their training in this regard and develop better partnerships with early childhood programs and elementary schools to ensure optimal training of teachers in the implementation of intervention programs that utilize a phonemic and phonological awareness approach.  Acceptance of the need for this awareness will increase the likelihood of effective action planning for students identified as at-risk learners during the emergent literacy stage of learning.
Vacca & Padak (1990) find at-risk learners are seldom more academically vulnerable than during instructional situations that require them to engage in acts of literacy.  Kletzien & Bednar (1990) view at-risk readers as students who see themselves “as poor learners who have limited aptitude to benefit from educational opportunities.  They are at risk by being constantly discouraged and by having an inadequate understanding of their own learning abilities and potential” (p 528). 
Most research-based reading intervention programs utilize a phonemic and phonological awareness approach as the foundation for their model of reading intervention.  The most effective reading programs for at-risk students utilize a multisensory and systematic approach (Ehri, Nunes, Willows, Schuster, Yaghoub-Zadeh, & Shanahan, 2001; Kim, Wagner, & Lopez, 2012; Kruidenier, MacArthur, Wrigley, 2010). Research by Slavin, Lake, Davis, and Madden, (2009) found one-to-one intervention effective for students at-risk for reading failure.  As noted above, effective teachers are the great equalizer with the potential to positively change a child's destiny.  Developing phonemic and phonological awareness skills as a teacher of reading simply makes a teacher more effective.  

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