Educational Leadership Development in the Context of the United Arab Emirates


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Educational Leadership Development in the Context of the United Arab Emirates Participant Perceptions in the XXXX Professional Development Program
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Bond, Sarah M
University of Florida
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Doctorate ( Ed.D.)
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University of Florida
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Educational Leadership, Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
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adec -- education -- leadership -- principalship -- uae
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Educational Leadership thesis, Ed.D.
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Education reform is a major priority for the government of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Educational leadership is a key component of successful education reform efforts. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has invested heavily in providing professional development to school leaders, to ensure that their skills and abilities match the competencies needed to reach ADEC goals. A number of professional development provider companies, and both local and foreign universities, have been charged by ADEC with providing professional development for school leaders. The programs are grounded in (mostly Western) best practices in leadership development programs and are endeavors to align training to local needs. However, at this point, there is little research about the effectiveness of such programs in targeting and meeting Emirati school leader needs related to school reform initiatives in the UAE. This qualitative narrative study provides insight into the lived experiences of several members of the first cohort group of aspiring vice-principals, in a professional development program conducted by ADEC, in partnership with a local university. Results reveal that participants have a shared history of education which includes rote memorization and authoritarian leadership. Participants viewed the program as helpful but sometimes lacking in practical application. After the program, the participants faced difficult circumstances with little ongoing training or support. It is hoped that the results of the study will be used by decision-makers to enhance the quality and contextualization of future leadership development programs in Abu Dhabi.
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by Sarah M Bond.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
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2013 Sarah Bond 2


To my family thank you for giving me strong roots and wings, and for suppor ting me throughout this journey 3


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like my committee chair, Dr. Bernard Oliver, for his guidance, patience, insight, and humor during the process of writing this dissertation. I would also like to thank the other members of my committee, Drs. Linda Eldridge, Alyson Adams, and Eileen Oliver. Dr. Linda Behar Horensteins feedback and support during the early part of this process was invaluable. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Kathleen George for helping me to believe in myself and Drs. James Brock and Myra Mendible for showing me how to get started. I would also like to thank H.E. Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Counci l (ADEC) and the leadership at ADEC Support from t he ADEC Research Office, the School Operations sector, and Danielle Montes from the Professional Development Division made this work possible. I am grateful to my family and friends for their love and s up port particularly my parents, Haydn Thomas and Anne Hawkins and my two amazing grandmothers, C. Louise Thomas and Velma Williams. I would also like to thank Robert Hawkins, John and Jennifer Yuhascheck Kate Thomas, Eric Hawkins, and the Bond family. I c ould not have done this without the fr iendship, help and endless support from my amazing husband, Cameron Bond. My son, Lachlan Bond, is my joy and I am so thankful for his hugs and encouragement. Finally, I would like to thank the amazing women who so generously gave me their time and shared their experience with me; they are an inspiration. 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 DEFINITION OF TERMS ................................................................................................ 7 ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 11 Purpose of the Study .............................................................................................. 14 Research Question ................................................................................................. 15 Significance of the Study ........................................................................................ 15 Limitations ............................................................................................................... 16 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................................................................ 18 Overview ................................................................................................................. 18 Leadership Development Programs Best Practices fro m a Western Perspective .......................................................................................................... 18 UAE Background and Context ............................................................................. 24 Women and Careers in the UAE ............................................................................. 26 Emiratization ........................................................................................................... 27 Education in the UAE .............................................................................................. 28 New School Model .................................................................................................. 29 Education Reform in the UAE ................................................................................. 30 Prof essional Learning for PreService Teachers .................................................... 32 Professional Development in Government Schools ................................................ 36 Leadership in the UAE Context ............................................................................... 39 Implications ............................................................................................................. 40 3 PURPOSE OF THE STU DY ...................................................................................... 41 Setting ..................................................................................................................... 41 Participants ............................................................................................................. 42 Methods .................................................................................................................. 43 Narrative Qualitative Research ......................................................................... 43 Cross cultural Narrative Research ................................................................... 46 Qualitative Interviews ....................................................................................... 47 Theoretical framework ............................................................................................ 48 Data Analy sis .......................................................................................................... 49 Research Validity .................................................................................................... 51 4 RESULTS ................................................................................................................... 53 5


Background and Context ........................................................................................ 54 The [XXXX] Professional Development Program Initial Six Week Program ......... 63 Ex perience as a First year Vice principal Hessa .................................................. 70 Experience as a First year Vice principal Khawla ................................................ 73 Experience as a First year Vice principal Fatima ................................................. 76 Experience as a First year Vice principal Mariam ................................................ 80 Community Relationships ....................................................................................... 83 Suggestions for Program Improvement .................................................................. 86 Summary of Findings .............................................................................................. 90 5 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................... 92 Recommendations for Program Leaders ................................................................ 96 Recommendations for Future Study ....................................................................... 97 INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ............................................................................................. 99 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................ 101 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 106 6


DEFINITION OF TERMS ADEC The Abu Dhabi Education Council is the governing body for education in Abu Dhabi. Although ADEC collaborates with the UAE Ministry of Education, it exercises a high degree of control over the operation of schools in Abu Dhabi. ADEC functions as the governing body for all schools in the emirate but also as the operator (similar to a school district in the U.S.) for government run schools. Alhamdulillah Meaning literally praise be to God, this phrase often is invoked by participants. Cluster Manager Termed the principals principal, these ADEC employees support and supervise principals, usually at approximately 5 10 geographically clustered school sites. These are usually Westerners who have experience working as principals in a foreign context. Cycle s Schools in the UAE are organized into cycles: KG1/KG2 s erves students from ages three to six in two years of kindergarten classes. These generally are housed in a separate mixed gender school site, although they are sometimes situated within a Cycle 1 girls school. Cycle 1 serves students in grades one to five, usually in gender segregated sites. Some newer schools serve cycle 1 students in a mixed gender environment Cycle 2 serves students in grades six to nine in ge nder segregated sites. Cycle 3 serves students in grades 10 to 12, in gender segregated sites. Note: Geographically remote school sites may serve multiple cycles in a single gender segregated school building. KG1/KG2 is usually mixed gender and is usually housed in a girls school. HoF A The Head of Faculty is the lead teacher for A rabic M edium T eachers s in a school using the New School m odel. This is a quasi administrative position; the job responsibilities include assistance with professional development and evaluation for teachers. HoF E The Head of Faculty is the lead teacher for English Medium teachers in a school using the New School m odel. These are mostly Western ex pat riot s. This is a quasi administrative position; the job responsibilities include assistance with professional development and evaluation for teachers. 7


InshaAllah Literally translated to If it is Gods will. Although it is often used to denote hope that a future event will occur, it literally references the Muslim belief in pre des tination (i.e., the future event will happen unless it is not Gods will for it to happen). KPI Key p erformance i ndicators these are used to measure and monitor progress by both external and internal entities who work with/for ADEC. NSM The New School m o del is the term for the radical reform concept that is currently being implemented by ADEC, in KG and Cycle 1 schools. The official introduction to Cycle 2 is scheduled to begin in 2013. Cycle 3 will follow. Essential components include bi literacy, an inquiry approach to learning, cooperative learning, and a student centered approach to pedagogy. MoE The Ministry of Educationthe federal governing body for education in the United Arab Emirates PD Professional d evelopment In addition to its use in reference to ongoing learning opportunities generally, PD is also a d ivision within ADEC, located in the School Operations sector. The d ivision provides ongoing learning opportunities for school leaders and teachers, to support ADECs vision and initiatives. PLC A p rofessional l earning community is a concept that allows teachers and/or school leaders to form a supportive network in which they can learn and grow together as educators. PPP A p ublic p rivate p artnership program is a program in which private companies were hired by ADEC to supervise and manage government schools, while providing intensive PD for school leaders and teachers. Provider Companies or external entities that offer services, such as professional dev elopment, to ADEC Tamkeen The Empowering E ducators program is the current professional development progr am in ADEC government schools. T his program provides leadership training for principals, vice principal s, and HoFs and supports teacher PD at the school si te. 8


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: PARTICIPANT PERCEP TIONS IN THE [XXXX] PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM By Sarah Bond December 2013 Chair: Bernard Oliver Major: Educational Leadership Education reform is a major priority for the government of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Educational leadership is a key component of successful education reform efforts. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has invested heavily in providing pr ofessional development to school leaders, to ensure that their skills and abilities match the competencies needed to reach ADEC goals. A number of professional development provider companies, and both local and foreign universities, have been charged by AD EC with providing professional development for school leaders. The programs are grounded in (mostly Western) best practices in leadership development programs and are endeavors to align training to local needs. However, at this point, there is little research about the effectiveness of such programs in targeting and meeting Emirati school leader needs related to school reform initiatives in the UAE. This qualitative narrative study provides insight into the lived experiences of several members of the first cohort group of aspiring viceprincipals, in a professional development program conducted by ADEC, in partnership with a local university. Results reveal that participants have a shared history of education which includes rote 9


memorization and authoritarian leadership. Participants viewed the program as helpful but sometimes lacking in practical application. After the program, the participants faced difficult circumstances with little ongoing training or support. It is hoped that the results of the study wi ll be used by decisionmakers to enhance the quality and contextualization of future leadership development programs in Abu Dhabi. 10


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an oil rich state, which has seen a vast influx of capital in the past several decades from oil production. The GDP of the nation has risen from approximately $15 billion (U.S. dollars) in 1975 to approximatel y $300 billion in 2010 (World Bank DataBank 2012). The relatively small number of local workers (9.3% of the labor force in 2005) versus expatriate workers (90.7%) has created a national imperative for increasing the capacity of local leaders for the next generation (Pech, 2009). Sheikh Zayed (peace be upon him), the founding father of the UAE and E mir of Abu Dhabi, summed up his aspirations for education in the country, stating, The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education (UAE Embassy 2012). The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the governing body of education in Abu Dhabi, was established in 2005 to: D evelop education and educational institutions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, implement innovative educational policies, plans and programs that aim to improve education, and support educational institutions and staff to achieve the objectives of national development in accorda nce with the highest international standards. (ADEC 2012 ) Current reform efforts in Abu Dhabi are focused on the rapid improvement of the schooling system, with a focus on professional development. ADEC identifies elevating the capabilities of school leaders and teachers as a key component of reform, which will be accomplished by utilizing the expertise of best in class international operators to drive the reform (ADEC 2012c). Published literature from ADEC reveals a deep commitment to the introduction of international best practices in teaching and school leadership, supported by international experts and professional development providers. 11


Research concerning school reform shows that school leaders, especially principals, are important change agents in school improvement (Davis et al. 2005; Halawah, 2005; Hess & Kelly, 2007; Styron & LeMire, 2009). ADEC has invested heavily in providing professional development to school leaders, to ensure that their skills and abilities match the competencies needed to reach ADEC goals. A number of professional development provider companies, and both local and foreign universities, have been charged by ADEC with providing professional development for school leaders. The programs are grounded in (mostly Western) best practices in leadership development programs and endeavor to align training to local needs. However, at this point, there is little research about the effectiveness of such programs in targeting and meeting Emirati school leader needs related to school reform initia tives in the UAE. This study will provide insight into the lived experiences of several members of the first cohort group of aspiring viceprincipals, in a professional development program conducted by ADEC, in partnership with a l ocal university. It is hoped that the results of the study will be used by decisionmakers to enhance the quality and contextualization of future leadership development programs in Abu Dhabi. There is tremendous pressure on ADEC to produce immediate results. Harold and Stephenson (2010) stated: Rapid and ongoing development across all sectors of its society characterizes the United Arab Emirates. Currently, a great deal of attention is focused on the reform of its education sector [to] bring the U AE education system in closer alignment with international best practices. (2010, p. 231) Historically, the educational system in the UAE has evidenced a number of significant problems and barriers to success; the objective of ADEC is to overcome 12


these bar riers. Thorne cited Mograby, who identified the following problems with education in the UAE: unclear and conflicting missions and goals related to problems and discrepancies in study programs and curricula; inappropriate methods of teaching and learning; and inflexible curricula and programs, which lead to high dropout rates and long duration of studies. ( 2011 p. 173) ADEC states Educational change requires a deep commitment by principals, vice principals, and teachers to engage in continuous self refl ection and growth through ongoing and meaningful professional development (ADEC School Leadership Handbook, 2012b p. 3). MacPherson et al. (2007) stated that for current reform goals in the UAE to be met, principals would need to plan, including ensuring that programs meet benchmarks for global best practices. To do this, principals must engage in distributed leadership, involve parents and the community in the life of the school, promote student centered learning, and support extracurricular activities. Hess & Kelly state that School leadership i s the key to school improvement (Hess & Kelly, 2007, p. 1 ). Providing instructional leadership to schools is a complex process, which involves many competencies. As identified in the research literature, essential characteristics, skills, and competencies for successful school leaders, are: self awareness (Oplatka, 2009); systems thinking (Oplatka, 2009); creative problem solving skills (Oplatka, 2009); knowledge of testing and assessment (Oplatka, 2009) ;finan cial acumen (Oplatka, 2009); ability to provide excellent professional development (Oplatka, 2009); distributive leadership style (Clift et al., 1993; Walker & Quian, 2006); child centered outlook (Clift et al., 1993); ability to collaborate and/or lead a team (Clift et al., 1993; Styron & LeMire, 2009); data driven decisionmaking skills (Clift, et al. p. 259; Styron & LeMire, 2009); 13


skillful communicators (Clift et al., 1993); ability to challenge conventions (Styron & LeMire, 2009); personnel motivation and management (Hess & Kelly, 2007; Styron & LeMire, 2009); technical knowledge (Hess & Kelly, 2007); external leadership skills (Hess & Kelly, 2007); an understanding of and promotion of positive norms and values (Hess & Kelly, 2007); managing classroom i nstruction (Hess & Kelly, 2007); and managing and promoting a positive school culture (Hess & Kelly, 2007). ADEC has invested heavily in providing professional development to school leaders, to ensure that their skills and abilities match the competencies needed to reach ADEC goals. A lack of coherent professional development programming has been identified in the research literature as a barrier to the success of educational reform initiatives in the UAE (Gallagher, 2011, p. 69). Thorne states there seems to be a deliberate policy tactic of sampling a variety of educational products before deciding which to choose (2011, p. 174). In terms of professional development, this approach may overlook or neglect homegrown or organic solutions to problems in t he UAE, which may, in fact, be context specific (Thorne, 2011, p. 174). Although there is a substantial field of literature that addresses best practices in educational leadership development, there is almost no literature in which leadership development i n the Gulf context is addressed (Stephenson, 2010). The current study adds to the research literature by providing information about professional development from the perspective of female Emirati participants taking part in the [XXXX] P rofessional D evelop ment program a pilot program designed to increase leadership capacity for potential school leaders. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to explore participants perceptions of the effect s of the various components of the [XXXX] Professional Development program, including 14


learned theory, onthe job assignments, and the opportunity to form a p rofessional l earning community (PLC) with their coll eagues, on their perceptions about their own effectiveness as a school leader Research Question What are the perceptions of members of the cohort group of candidates for the vice principalship who are involved in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram, regarding the effectiveness of the program? Sub Q uestions are: 1. What are participants perceptions about the cultural appropriat eness of the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram? 2. What are participants perceptions about the relevance of the information presented in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram, as it relates to their experience in the U AE context? The researcher will utilize a qualitative research design, with a narrative approach, using a semi structured interview protocol. Significance of the Study There is a body of research from a Western perspective about effective school leadership preparation programs. There is significantly less research concerning these programs in the UAE context. In the UAE, mo st professional development is delivered (with translation) by Western education professionals. Given this set of circumstances, it is purposeful to gather information from consumers of these programs regarding these programs effectiveness and cultural appropriateness. Findings from this study could be useful for multiple stakeholder groups, including ADEC leadership, PD p roviders ( i.e., for profit and not for profit companies), and university leaders who can use this 15


information to help in plan ning more effective and culturally competent PD programs for school leaders in the UAE. Limitations There are immediate limitations presented by the use of cross cultural, qualitative research. Although participants were chosen to particip ate in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram based partly on their English language proficiency, language issues could have hinder ed the research, especially during transcription. To ensure accurate transcription, I utilized the services of a reputable transcription company that specializes in academic transcription. After receiving the transcripts, I carefully audited the transcr ipt s and used member checking, although I ultimately received very little feedback from participants. Given my relatively short tenure in the UAE and outsider status, I lack background knowledge of the culture, which may limit my ability to convey the partici pants stories accurately. Cultural factors may also negatively affect participant candor. In her 2008 study of UAE banking employees, Jones finds that trainees exhibited attitudes and behaviors related to self preservation, including an avoidance of blam e, and the perception that at all times, they had to execute tasks without any errors so as to avoid blame and punishment (cited by Pech, p. 58). Stephenson writes that in Arab cultures, facesaving strategies can be frustrating for outsiders (2010, p. 154). Given my role as a PD coordinator for ADEC, it is conc eivable that participants may have been resistant to providing honest feedback about program s, especially if that feedback was negative. When I began the study, I was quite concerned that participants would feel uncomfortable sharing honestly with me, as an outsider. However, as the study progressed, some factors led me to believe that participants exhibited a fairly 16


high degree of candor in their interviews. First, the program participants evidenced a high degree of status affiliation, as participants in the program, which was established as a high priority for the organization. Also, participants spoke frankly with me about the program both during interviews and in other informal conversations. F inally, although I was not involved in the implementation of the [XXXX] Professional Development Program I was very involved in subsequent programming for this group. I was able to form a bond with the participants, not only during our interviews but also through meetings and special events. Ultimately, I feel confident that the feedback provided by participants was honest and, to a fairly high degree, candid. The final limitation of the study was the small number of participants who elected to participate Although all program participants were invited to participate, only four volunteers signed consent forms indicating their wi llingness to do so. Three of the four participants who elected to participate were from the same geographic region and they knew one another well; therefore, the study may not include a high degree of diversity in terms of their experiences. There were many difficulties in conducting the interviews, including travel and the necessity of conducting interviews during the workday. Ultim ately, it was quite a challenge to complete two hour long interviews with each of the four participants. It was possible to complete all of the interviews only because of a high degree of patience and flexibility demonstrated by everyone involved, including a high degree of support from ADEC leadership, especially in the Professional Development Division, under the School Operations sector. 17


CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Overview The purpose of this study is to explore participant perceptions of effectiveness of the [XXXX] program Secondary considerations are participant perceptions of the cultural and contextual appropriateness of the [XXXX] leadership development program. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the related literature regarding professional development in the UAE context. The chapter begins with an overview of best pract ices in leadership development program s, from a Western perspective. The remaining sections provide context about the UAE, specifically concerning : women and the workforce, emiratization, the education system, the New School m odel, and reform efforts. Next, an overview of the literature concerning teacher preparation programs and professional development in the UAE is provided. Finally, the researc her explores the ( very limited) literature regarding school leadership development in the UAE context. Leadership Development Programs Best Practices from a Western Perspective E ffective professional development for school leaders begins with effective pro fessional development practices for educators, overall. Guskey points out that the methods used to identify characteristics of effective professional development vary widely and that the research that supports them is inconsistent and often contradictory ; however, it is possible to find some consensus among the research which can guide decisionmakers (Guskey, 2003, p. 738). Research suggests that effective professional development must be of an adequate duration (both within the session and across sessio ns) to allow educators to utilize the information effectively (Garet, et al, 2001; Cocoran, 1995; Hunzicker, 2011). Highquality professional development must also be 18


aligned to the improvement goals of the individual and the organization (Garet, et al, 2001; Guskey, 2009; Cororan, 1995; Hunzicker, 2011). Active learning and opportunities for collaboration are also noted as keys to successful professional development for educators (Garet, et al, 2001; Guskey, 2009; Cororan, 1995; Hunzicker, 2011). Buskey a nd TopolkaJorissen exhort those designing leadership development programs to focus on leading your leadership journey courageously (Buskey & TopolkaJorissen, 2010, p. 116). The authors utilize a case study format to document the experience of faculty at Western Carolina University in 2007 2008, as they work to reimagine the Masters degree program in School Administration (MSA). The team was aware of many challenges faced by educational administration preparation programs; not the least of which was poor leadership role models, which their students found themselves emulating (Buskey & TopolkaJorissen, 2010, p. 115). These poor behaviors include: Three types of leadership problems: ethical failings in which leaders took harmful or illegal shortcuts to address needs or respond to accountability pressures; the tendency of leaders to try and sell personal projects rather than to work collaboratively to address school problems; [and] leaders failure to see and address issues of social injustice. Buskey and TopolkaJorissen, 2010, (p. 115) The facultys familiarity with best practices literature led [them] to agree on a cohort model and continuous internships linking coursework and field experience as preferred components of the delivery system (Buskey & TopolkaJorissen, 2010, p. 116). In addition to the four core courses, the six major foc i are Change, Process and Communication Skills, Relationships, Management, and Culture (Buskey & Top olka Jorissen, 2010, p. 118). Additionally, faculty worked to ensure that entrance 19


requirements were sufficiently rigorous. Faculty worked to create a program that was responsive to student needs, rigorous, grounded in best practices and research, and has a foundation in practice. Hess and Kelly (2007) undertake a largescale review of syllabi of various principal preparation programs to ascertain their content. They frame the research in the context of the changing role of the principal in the twenty first century. They state School leadership is the key to school improvement. In a new era of accountability, where school leaders are expected to demonstrate bottom line results and use data to drive decisions, the skill and knowledge of principals matter more than ever (Hess & Kelly, 2007, p. 1). Hess and Kelly state, the field of educational leadership has suffered from a general dearth of systematic scholarly inquiry (p. 6). They endeavor to answer an important question one that has been long ignored by educational scholars: W hat is taught in principal preparation programs? The authors identify : seven areas of principal responsibility, each of which has been deemed vital to effective school leadership by at least some leading thinkers in the field. The s even are: managing for results, managing personnel, technical knowledge, external leadership, norms and values, managing classroom instruction, and leadership and school culture (p. 4) Results show that educational leadership programs in the U.S. remain, as in the 1980s heavily weighted toward day to day management tasks of the school ( i.e., technical knowledge), rather than instructional leadership. Hess and Kellys work highlights disparities between the current educational landscape and administrator preparation programs. The process for identifying and nurturing future leaders for succession planning purposes in a successful U.S. school district is outlined by Zavadsky (2012). Steps include recruitment, data management, talent identification, leadershi p development, 20


and performance management. In her description of the CharlotteMecklenburg Schools, Zavadsky recounts the talent identification process, which involved ranking teachers and leaders according to their leadership potential, a process which one leader called eyeope ning (Zavadsky, 2012, p. 67). Once leaders and teachers went through the ranking process, which included both external and self evaluation, those who showed leadership potential were placed into tiered leadership development prog rams, targeted at their strengths and weaknesses. As evidenced by their approach to succession planning, data analysis is a strong part of the CMS culture, and interviews with CMS personnel at all system levels reveal a culture that values accountability and transparency and is focused on improvement (Zavadsky, 2012, p. 74). In Turnaround Leadership, Fullan states that for turnaround to be successful, a culture of distributed leadership that grooms new leaders for the next phase must be established (Fullan, 2006, p. 31). Fullan states it is not turnover of leadership that is the problem but rather discontinuity of good direction (Fullan, 2006, p. 30). Fullan asks, How do you go about establishing a series of successive leaders that represent continui ty of the new good direction? (Fullan, 2006, p. 30). He identifies a model of capacity building with a focus on results (Fullan, 2006, p. 31). A culture that promotes capacity building, Fullan states, is in accord ance with Kanters turnaround solutions model and includes three essential elements: accountability, collaboration, and initiative. In these environments, people share information and take responsibility; work together; and feel what they do matters, that they can make a difference in outcomes. Fullans work highlights the importance of successful succession planning to foster long lasting positive turnaround outcomes. 21


The authors of the School Leadership Study from Stanford highlight the succession planning problems facing many school districts. They state that while there is increasing research on how principals influence school effectiveness, less is known about how to help principals develop the capacities that make a difference in how schools function and what students learn (Davis et al. 2005, p. 5). They identify four main findings in their research. Their first important finding is a highlight of what successful principals know and are able to do. Research supports the tenets of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC), which focuses on essential leadership practices, including recognizing accomplishments for schools and individuals, adapting leadership to be context specific, supporting and promoting effective assessment and evaluation practices, and designing and implementing highquality curricul a (Davis et al. 2005, p. 7). The second important finding is the f eatures of effective principal preparation and development programs which include content ( i.e., researchbased, coherent curriculum), m ethods ( i.e., field based internships, problem based learning, cohort groups, mentors), and structure ( i.e., collaborative partnerships between university programs and school districts). The thi rd important finding is focused on building multiple pathways to leadership development. Potential pathways include university based programs, school district programs, thirdparty organizations, nonprofits, statewide leadership academies and partnership programs. They state that no matter what type of program, context is found to be important for key functions of schools, such as instruction, community building, and change management (Davis et al. 2005, p. 7). The four th important finding is focused on policy reform and finances, which must be directed at ensuring that principal preparation and professional 22


development programs [are] both more productive for schools and more sustainable for those who aspire to lead (Davis et al 2005, p. 20). In an ar ticle promoting mentorships, Brown University cites statistics show ing that few qualified candidates choose to enter the principalship; reasons cited include the increased complexity and responsibility of the job, stressful work conditions, and a lack of resources and support (Brown, 2003, p. 7). The authors cite a survey of new principals, asking about their training for the job. Some respondents identified good onthe job training under a fine mentoring principal as a strong plus but identified tra ining that was too theoretical as a minus (Brown, 2003, p. 10). However, one principal summed up the experience of many others who received little help, stating, The support I received was minimal. My feet hit the floor and I learned by doing (Brown, 2003, p. 10). The authors cite research that show s benefits of mentoring which include increased confidence, job satisfaction, recognition among peers, and productivity among those who have been mentored (Brown, 2003, p. 11). Characteristics of successfu l mentoring programs include organizational support; clearly defined outcomes; screening, selection, and pairing; training mentors and protgs; a learner centered focus; adequate time allotment; and a focus on building a mutually enhancing relationship (B rown, 2003, p. 16). Ultimately, the conclusion of the authors is When it comes to training principals there really is nothing better, as long as the mentor is guiding you in the right direction and has the skills to help you get where you need to go (B rown, 2003, p. 35). The Wallace Foundation highlights the increased prevalence of principal mentorship programs in the U.S., which it attributes to: 23


a growing and welcome, if belated, national recognition that the ongoing training and preparation of school leaders matters a great deal enough to invest more thought, energy and money in it if states and districts are to meet the nations highminded goal of universal student success (Wallace Foundation, 2007, p. 3) While they regard this as a welcome trend t heir research is an illustration that many if not most existing mentoring programs are falling well short of their potential (Wallace Foundation, 2007, p. 3). Common failings in mentorship programs are identified as vague or unclear goals, insuff icient focus on instructional leadership, insufficient time or duration, lack of meaningful data, and underfunding. Hallmarks of successful programs include highquality training, adequate funding, adequate duration, and a clear goal to provide new princi pals with the knowledge, skills and courage to become leaders of change who put teaching and learning first in their schools (Wallace Foundation, 2007, p. 4). They cite benefits of mentoring not only for the mentee, but also for the mentor and the learning organization (Wallace Foundation, 2007, p. 6). The authors conclude mentoring should be seen as only one stagealbeit an important onein a continuum of professional development of principals that begins with preservice training and, ideally, continues throughout leaders careers (Wallace Foundation, 2007, p. 6). UAE Background and Context The United Arab Emirates is an oil rich state located to the north and east of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman. The country is comprised of seven emirates, which inclu de Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwan, Ras al Khaimah, and Fujarah. Prior to 1971, the emirates were known as the seven Trucial Sheikdom States, which had strong connections with the UK, although they were never a colonized people in the sense of an outside country exerting control over their internal processes or 24


government (al Ali, 2008, p. 366). Prior to the discovery of oil in the 1950s, the economy of UAE mainly consisted of fishing, some limited agriculture, and, beginning in the late nin eteenth century, the pearl industry. Formal schooling in the UAE began in 1953/1954 with one school in Sharjah and remained fragmented until the unification of the emirates in 1971 (Ihmeideh et al. 2008, p. 239). In the early days of public education in the UAE, literacy rates were low (below 50% for men and below 30% for women; Davidson, 2008, p. 642). However, today the literacy rates for the population overall are approximately 90% for both men and women (World Bank DataBank, 2012). In 1971 1972, the sev en emirates joined to become the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is ruled by a Supreme Council, consisting of individual rulers from each of the ruling families of the seven emirates (al Ali, 2008, p. 366). The President and VicePresident are elected by the Supreme Council every five years, as are the forty five members of the Federal National Council, which reviews proposed laws (al Ali, 2008, p. 366). The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, and was instrumental in the federation of the emirates. Sheikh Zayed is deeply revered as the father of the country and is known for his constant drive towards modernization with deep respect of the countrys heritage (Abu Dhabi government). Abu Dhabi controls much of the c ountrys wealth. In 2006, for example, the GDP of Abu Dhabi was five times greater than that of the poorest Emirate, Fujairah, and almost double that of Dubai, the second wealthiest emirate (IMF, 2007). Abu Dhabi functions under the direct leadership of Hi s Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is the emir of Abu Dhabi emirate. He is assisted by the executive council, which 25


supervises and provides oversight for various government departments, including the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Abu Dhabi G overnment). Women and Careers in the UAE In their study of students at Zayed University, Schvaneveldt, Kerpelman, and Schvaneveldt (2005) found marked generational and cultural differences in Abu Dhabi women concerning attitudes toward education/careers and the family. The authors used a survey instrument with matched sets of mothers and daughters. They found that 93% of the daughters reported a desire for a professional career, compared to only 7% of the mothers who were involved in a professional career (2005, p. 9). Crabtree (2007) used multiple qualitative methods to study students at the females only Zayed University. She highlights girls higher scholastic achievement than boys in the UAE. However, she states that rather than studying for the love o f learning, Emirati families appear to encourage academics because they are viewed as providing the final polish to a young girls life, that marks her out as being successfully poised on the brink of adult life, commensurate with Islamic and cultural ex pectations of womanhood (2007, p. 577). She states, it is evident that only a minority of Zayed University students intend to use their acquired knowledge to pursue an active career upon graduation (2007, p. 577). Abdulla (University of Arizona) utili zes a mixed methods approach to study the ambiguous relationships between women, higher education, and careers in the UAE. Using a quantitative survey, analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics, she finds that there are differences in young womens motivations and desired outcomes, based on socioeconomic status and level of religious conservatism. Next, she conducted qualitative interviews with college students to probe into their motivations 26


for attending higher education, desired career path (if any), and the role of social connections in their attitudes toward academic and career attainment. Her findings demonstrate a wide range of motivations, desired outcomes, and social affiliations among the Emirati students she studies. Her findings indicate that although the students in her study received support from their families for their education, not all types of employment received equal support from families. There was a strong preference for public sector employment and all female work environments (Abdulla, 2005, p. 141). She goes on to state that participants in feminized fields particularly e ducation perceived greater support from both family and society than those in traditionally nonfeminized fields (Abdulla, 2005, p. 140). In addition to family support, participants themselves favored gender segregated environments in general and environments with a few or no Emirati men were considered ideal because of the importance of maintaining family honor (Abdulla, 2005, p. 140.). Abdul las work sheds light on the low level of participation in the workforce by Emirati women, despite their overall high levels of educational attainment. Emiratization Emiratization is defined as drawing UAE nationals into their surging economy (Al Ali, 20 08, p. 365). Al Ali examines this phenomenon in his study of emiratization, from the perspective of national policy in the UAE, private sector working conditions, and job specifications. He uses a qualitative and quantitative survey approach to examine the perspectives of 20 executives and their peers in both private and public enterprise. He finds that barriers to the successful inclusion of Emiratis in the private sector include low standards of education for Emirati workers, poor English language skills, and the perception by private employers of a lack of work readiness on the part of 27


Emirati workers. A lack of interest in private sector employment by Emirati nationals was related to their belief that the private sector offers fewer career opportunities and limited benefits compared to public sector employment. He finds that while Emiratis make up approximately 9% of the workforce in UAE, they comprise only about 1% of the private sector workforce (2008, p. 367). He finds that this imbalance is even great er among women, who overwhelmingly prefer public sector employment (2008, p. 367). He concludes that government policies that have perpetuated a cradleto grave sense of security for Emirati workers in the public sector and that have favored short term expatriates in the private sector have led to conditions that are confusing and frustrating for Emirati workers, who are now expected to participate fully in private sector employment. John Raven explored the emiratization of the education sector in the UAE based on secondary research concerning employment statistics and policy in the UAE and his own observations in the B.Ed. program at the Higher College of Technology in Abu Dhabi. He concluded that one major barrier to the emiratization of the education sector is the perception amongst most Emiratis that teaching, particularly in the government sector schools, is a low status job. Even with higher remuneration many Emiratis would prefer not to work in the education sector (2011, p. 140). He finds that a nother major barrier to emiratization is a shrinking budget for teacher training, while a third factor is the implementation of Western style training methods which may not be properly aligned to the Emirati context. Education in the UAE The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is the government entity responsible for education in Abu Dhabi. ADEC functions in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of 28


Education (MoE) although the exact nature of [the relationship] remains unclear according to Thorne (Thorne, 2011, p. 174). H owever, ADEC claims to be the controlling body of educational activity in the emirate (Thorne, 2011, p. 174). All Emirati students are entitled to free public education, including KG1/KG2 (ages three to five years) up to undergraduate tuition at the state colleges. Until 2012, schooling has been mandatory for students from 6 12 years of age (Abu Dhabi g overnment). However, current legislation has been proposed that would raise the age of compulsory schooling to 18 ( UAE Nat ional June 27, 2012). Education in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi especially, is in a period of tremendous change and growth. The focal point of reform in Abu Dhabi is the New School m odel. New School Model In 2006, ADEC launched: an ambitious school reform plan called the New School Model (NSM). In addition to a range of ongoing pedagogic, curricular and leadership reforms, a major departure is the introduction of English as an additional medium of instruction alongside the existing medium of Arabic (Gallaher, 2011, p. 62) The NSM is a comprehensive foundation for learning that will enable desired student outcomes by developing major components of the educational experience: teaching quality, learning environment, school leadership, and parental involvement (ADEC, 2012). H is E xcellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), states: The New School Model [will] enhance student performance by developing the student as a communicator, a thinker and a problem solver, appreciative of the UAE heritage and culture, able to develop positive relationships a confident, healthy, creative and innovative person. (EdArabia, 2012) 29


The pervasiveness of change associated with the NSM cannot be overstated in terms of its relevance to any study of education in the Abu Dhabi context. Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili Director General of ADEC, states we dont just want to improve our education system, our schools and the performance of our schools we want to be ranked as one of the best educati on systems in the world (quoted by Blaik Hourani, 2011, p. 228). The sweeping reforms inherent in this ambitious project make much of the literatureeven recent literaturesomewhat obsolete, although actual classroom implementation may not always keep pac e with ADECs vision for implementation. Education Reform in the UAE Davidson provides background information about the historical context of education in the lower Arabian Gulf (1820 1971). He indicates that although: most Western writers assume that mean ingful educational development [in the region] did not take place [until] Britains departure in 1971 there had in effect already been an important series of indigenous or at least semi indigenous developments gaining momentum [ before that event ] (Davidson, 2008, p. 633) He describes the influence of early schooling movements on the relative secularization of the education system, which developed a parallel system separate from religious institutions. The movement paved the way for public education beginning with a focus on vocational education. This system allowed for access to education for many segments of the population, including women and the underprivileged. Women, in particular, benefitted from this system, as many of the women educated by these [early] schools were the mothers and grandmothers of the present generation ( Davidson, 2008, p. 643). While literacy rates for over 16s were still below 50% for males and 30% for females in 1971, advances in education led the way for the modern 30


society to have access to education, including women and the underprivileged ( Davidson, 2008, p. 643). Gaad, Arif, and Scott (2006) examined the organization of the UAE Education System including components, goals, and effectiveness. They found poor alignme nt among what the system was developed for, how it was delivered, and what was evaluated ( Gaad, et al. 2006, p. 291). Their recommendations were to align teachers guides, provide training sessions for teachers and supervisors, and to develop an effective assessment system. The overreliance on textbooks and use of lectures is a recurring theme throughout the literature on education in UAE. However, given the publication date the relevance of this case study is limited, especially in terms of its focus on t he systems in the MoE. For example, in 2003, ADEC had less than fifty employees ; whereas today the num ber of ADEC employees is over 14,000 (ADEC, 2013) MacPherson, Kachelhoffer, and El Nemr (2007) identified eleven major problems with education in UAE including unsuitable curricula, ineffective teaching methods, inappropriate assessment methods, limited use of ICT, poor libraries and learning support, inadequate time spent in school ( i.e., scheduling), ineffective school culture, poor facilities, a low level of professionalism among teachers, ineffective school systems, and inadequate budgets. The authors described the strategies and measures undertaken by the MoE, including clarifying educational policy, setting internationally benchmarked performance expectations, launching a tenyear restructuring plan, restructuring educational management, and mobilizing appropriate resources and support. The authors then provided ideas for the development of educative teachers 31


and educative managers that they believe are necessary for the implementation of reforms, in the context of their masters degree programs at Abu Dhabi University. They concluded with a call for further work by educational researchers in the field of capacity building in the UAE. Gallagher focused on the bilingual education component of the NSM, analyzing the microfactors and contextual variables surrounding the introduction of compulsory bilingual schooling in Abu Dhabi (2011, p. 62). From her review of the literature, she concluded that biling ual education in Abu Dhabi is likely to have positive benefits for students; however, the literature regarding the proper age for the introduction of this type of schooling is inconclusive. The tensions between the benefits of embracing English not as a c olonizing [language] but as an international one and preserving Arabic language and culture are discussed (2011, p. 73). She calls for ongoing research into this phenomenon, especially because it may contribute significantly to the research base on the ap propriate age for the introduction of bilingual education. Professional Learning for Pre Service Teachers The field of study about education in the UAE is narrow, generally, but work regarding teacher preparation is more prevalent than scholarly work addressing K 12 education. The disconnection between teacher preparation at local universities and reality in the schools is politically charged. Sowa and De La Vega (2008) chronicle their work with preservice teachers at Zayed University, which has campuses i n both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They write frankly, asking, How does one go about collaborating to change a system that has deep roots in a traditional format of memorization, repetition, and classroom management based on physical punishment and fear? (Sowa & De La Vega, 2008, p. 103).Although ZU teacher candidates have been taught to create 32


learning centers that are developmentally appropriate for young children, the authors find that veteran mentor teachers have sometimes been reluctant or unwilling to s hift away from the official curriculum by allowing the student teacher to do something different (Sowa & De La Vega, 2008, p p 104 105) and a very real disconnect exists between what our candidates learn about good teaching practices and the reality of t eaching in schools and classrooms where traditional teaching and rote memorization are still practiced ( Sowa & De La Vega, 2008, p. 106) T rust, open communication, and positive culturally respectful interactions are central to the creation of strong partnerships (Sowa & De La Vega, 2008, p. 103). Pedagogy and technology are rapidly evolving in education in the UAE. In her study of preservice teacher attitudes toward technology use, Serhan (2009) found that students in her course, who completed a post cou rse survey instrument exhibited a high level of confidence and skill in technology integration, albeit with differences between genders (2009, p. 439). More female than male students used technology on a daily basis although overall results revealed that a majority of students of both genders felt ready to use different kinds of software in their curriculum ( Serhan, 2009, p. 439). In her controversial article Possible influences of ArabIslamic Culture on the Reflec tive Practices Proposed for an Education Degree at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates Richardson critically examines the compatibility of UAE culture and values with the assumptions of reflective practice currently being written into a new teacher education degree program at HCT 33


( Richardson, 2004, p. 429).1 She explores research concerning the cultural values frameworks underpinning society and education in the UAE ( Richardson, 2004, p. 415). Although there has been no research done of how the Emirati students view the conflict between western and eastern values and beliefs, she states it is clear that cultural values represent powerful constraints on individual behavior which could limit the success of reflective practices for trainee teachers in local schools ( Richardson, 2004, p. 435). While reflective practice is characterized by students ownership of their own learning, Richardson posits that cultural factors may inhibit the effective use of this approach. She ci tes the limited social interactions of many Muslim women in UAE, the traditional gender roles in which many women appear in public covered in the traditional abaya and chaperoned by men, a culture with high power distance, a preference for authoritarian t eaching styles, and K 12 education steeped in rote learning as factors that limit her female students ability to flourish in a system of reflective practice ( Richardson, 2004, p p 432 433). She quotes Minnis, who states constructivist discourse is incompatible with Islamic teaching and social values ( Richardson, 2004, p. 434). Clarke and Otaky (2006) rebut Richardsons work stating to engage in this reflective work within an essentialized, dichotomous framework is both reductive and limiting. The conseq uences of such reductivism is the sort of formulaic stereotyping and overgeneralizing that Richardson falls into ( Clarke & Otaky, 2006, p. 113). They cite numerous examples from their own work with preservice teachers at HCT in which 1It is worth noting that Dr. Richardsons article states that she no longer works at HCT (2004, p. 429) and that the website for the HCT Education Department cites its commitment to the development of excellent, practical teaching skills through extensive experiences in classrooms, supported by effective mentors, and a commitment to continuous improvement through reflective practice (HCT). 34


students engage in m eaningful reflective dialogue about their practice. They afford students opportunities to utilize a wide range of approaches, styles, and communication methods, including critical and reflective thinking. Ultimately, they encourage students to make their own choices about what would or would not be appropriate in their own cultural context ( Clarke & Otaky, 2006, p. 117). They conclude with a quote from one of their students, who says I want to implement everything Ive learned and utilize everything Iv e revealed throughout my academic years. Simply, I want to make a change! ( Clarke & Otaky, 2006, p. 121). While Richardsons article offers some food for thought other PD research ers in the UAE context refute her claims. In his two year study of stud ent teachers at HCT, Clarke explores the discursive construction of the students systems of knowledge and belief ( Clarke, 2006, p. 225). He begins with a discussion of Mograbys work on problems in UAE schools, and the pedagogical gulf between existi ng and aspirational levels of schooling wherein there is a desire to move from rote learning to more active experiential learning ( Clarke, 2006, p. 226). He states that these aspirations can be thwarted by tensions [ that ] are exacerbated by the politic al distance in a relatively stratified society, between the majority, nonEmirati, expatriate teachers and the Emirati student teachers ( Clarke, 2006, p. 226).2 He outlines the foundation of the program at HCT, which focuses on collaborative group inquiry and reflective practice. He cites tensions which include latent and sometimes explicit antagonism and a sustained pattern of negative, antagonistic expression towards Government schools and teachers which is not a 2 Although this work is recent (2006), the study was carried out over a twoyear period. C onditions in UAE education have changed dramatically since it took place. Many of the Arabspeaking expatriate teachers have been removed as the NSM has created an imperative for more Englishspeaking Western expatriate teachers. 35


healthy state of affairs ( Clarke, 2006, p. 234). However, he states that despite multiple sources of potential tension, a surprising result that transpired during the study was the remarkable coherence and consistency of student teachers emergent teaching selves ( Clarke, 2006, p. 229). He concludes that over time, as young teachers move into classrooms of their own and as educational authorities begin to adopt more progressive practices, the trend may naturally shift toward more congenial educational discourses and practices ( Clarke 2006, p. 236). Harold and Stephenson (2010) indicate the potential of action research to a ffect educational change in the UAE positively. They chronicle the capstone seminar of their undergraduate research seminar course at Zayed University. Using an autoethnographic technique, the authors gathered qualitative data over a fiveyear period. Of particular difficulty for students was the challenge of engaging in higher level undergraduate research in English, although students are native Arabic speakers. They also found typically our Emirati students do prefer collaborationits a cultural norm here ( Harold & Stephenson, 2010, p. 240). Through collaboration and research, the authors found that students developed research and leadership skills, preparing them to become educational leaders for the future in UAE. Professional Development in Government Schools Stephenson (2010) writes about applying the principles of a range of professional learning models including an action research (AR) model and a commun ities of practice (CoP) model in four professional development projects (two at private schools and two for the MoE) in UAE. She writes about her study of four PD projects, using an ethnographic case study design. Instruments included surveys, interviews, observations, documents, and reflective case studies. One factor that 36


negatively affected the project was turnover of essential staff members, because of the prevalence of short term expatriate staff across all institutions. A factor that positively affec ted the PD projects was a distributive leadership style exhibited by school leaders in three of the four projects. She states teacher input appeared to be valued and teachers had a voice in the process through their immediate supervisors ( Stephenson, 201 0, p. 151). In the school where distributed leadership was not present, this had a major negative effect on the success of the project. Across the projects, building relationships and fostering collaboration were identified as important factors in the success of the project. Some limiting factors were participants desires for templates or recipes for how to do things rather than wor k through tasks together. Other participants indicated that they only valued professional development as workshops where experts provided their input and their role was one of information receiver ( Stephenson, 2010, pp. 154 155). The author states that during the course of the projects, participants moved from a position of interdependence to one of independence in a system of transformative professional learning ( Stephenson, 2010, p. 155). She identifies five guiding principles inherent in the work: Participants work in collaboration to foster individual and collective learning Participants define the intended learning outcomes and learning activities Participants engage in learning activities in their own workplace. Participants are given resources to plan and implement inquiry, reflection, and evaluation. Participants recognize that professional learning is context spec ific, time consuming, messy, and fluid. She concludes by stating: 37


In the UAE there has been an over emphasis on the oneoff workshop model of professional development. The traditional transmission of learning model has taken precedence over transformative models and outsiders who have been deemed to have the expertise have been brought in to teach. However, times are changing [and] there are many more opportunities to implement a collaborative practicebased model. (Stephenson, 2010, p.155) In a research base that is very narrow, Stephenson provides valuable insight into the climate and culture of PD in Abu Dhabi. Stephenson, Dada, and Harold (2012) used a longitudinal case study approach to identify themes and focal content areas during the implementation of a teacher leadership development program in two government schools, as a part of the Madares al Ghad (MAG) Schools of the Future project. The objective of the PD project was to develop teacher leadership capacity at the school level through a collaborative action research model which draws on theories of social learning ( Stephenson et al. 2012, p p 54 55). The authors used focus groups, dialogue, observations, field notes, and retrospective analysis of data to compile their research. Shared leadership was found to be important to success, while some cultural factors limited its effects A lack of trust (e.g., a fear that work would be reappropriated to others credit), fear that participants were being evaluated by supportive obser vers, and participants need to maintain face by claiming that they already knew everything and that the workshops included nothing new for them were observed to detract from the effect s of the projects ( Stephenson et al 2012, pp 58 59). They obser ved that during the course of the project, [participants] overc a me cultural issues and began collaboratively to create shared assumptions, values, and beliefs. They found that the MAG modeled to a shift in school culture from collaboration for remediation only to collaboration where time was dedicated for meaningful dialogue. 38


Leadership in the UAE Context The Relationship between Effective Communication of the High School Principal and School Climate is explored using a mixed methods study conducted in the UAE by Halawah (2005). He reviews the literature, which highlights the effects of school leadership, stating the effect of the principal on student learning cannot be overemphasized ( Halawah, 2005, p. 334). The study utilizes the Evaluation of School Climate measure and a 16question Likert style survey to gauge student and teacher perceptions of school climate and communication within the school. Twenty three high schools in Abu Dhabi, both for males and females, were included in the study. Results of the study indicated that school climate is positively associated with principals communication effectiveness ( Halawah, 2005, p. 334). In general, students assessed climate in the schools as of moderate situation or level ( Halawah, 2005, p. 338). The aut hor concludes although there is no criterion or standard at the country level to compare with, these results can be seen as indicators that climate in these schools should be improved ( Halawah, 2005, p. 338). Across schools, climate was observed to be more positive in female schools than in male schools in several important areas including security, relationships, student behavior, and instructional management ( Halawah, 2005, p. 340). Principal communication was observed to be more positive at male school s than at female schools ( Halawah, 2005, p. 341). The author states: P rincipals need a variety of supports to help them on their way to success. While there is a great deal of professional development that can be offered to groups and much of this is critical to a principal being able to lead a school there is also some support that can be offered on a oneto one basis.( Halawah, 2005, p. 341) 39


Implications Education in the United Arab Emirates is undergoing a period of profound change and revitalization. Research is clear regarding the paramount importance of leadership in order for successful school reform efforts to be implemented and sustained. Existing literature about best practices on leadership development provides guidance but is based mainly on application in a Western context. While the research base on education in the UAE is still relatively narrow, research regarding leadership development in this culture and context is virtually nonexistent. Existing literature makes it clear that there is a need for meaningful professional development for teachers and school leaders throughout the emirate. Resource allocation for education in the UAE is substantial; however, research is scant. It is imperative for practitioners and scholars in this burgeoni ng environment to ensure that innovations are not only grounded in Western notions of best practice but also tailored to the unique culture and context of this fast developing country. 40


CHAPTER 3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY The purpose of this study is to explore participant perceptions of the effectiveness of the [XXXX] Professional Development Program Secondary considerations are participant perceptions of the cultural and contextual appropriateness of the [XXXX] Professional Development Program. This pr ofessional development program is the first school leadership certification program offered to aspiring leaders in Abu Dhabi government schools. The study will utilize a qualitative research design, with a narrative approach, using a semi structured interv iew protocol. A narrative approach will provide a significant window into the lived experience of the women who are taking part in this program. The purpose of this chapter is to describe how this study was conducted. The chapter begins with a discussion o f the participants and setting. This is followed by the methods section, which includes a description of narrative qualitative research, a discussion of crosscultural narrative research, and the specific methodology for the study. Next, the theoretical fr amework employed will be described, followed by a description of the data analysis methods used. Finally, issues of research validity will be discussed. Setting The [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram is a joint venture between a local university and A DEC. T o conduct the interviews, in all but one case, I travelled to the participants schools and met with them in their offices. One interview was conducted at the ADEC offices; at the school site, the interview was interrupted several times Therefore, t he participant requested th at we meet at ADEC to minimize 41


disruption. I nternal R eview B oard (IRB) approval from the University of Florida and approval from the Research Office of the Abu Dhabi Education Council were obtained before any research commenced. This included having the consent documents legally translated into Arabic. Participants All nineteen p articipants in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram were hand selected to take part in the program sponsored by ADEC leadership, through a rigorous interview and vetting process, including assessment s of their English language levels. All of the participants in the program speak English well, which precluded the necessity for translation in the study; no translation was used in the course of the study other than the translation of the IRB document Program participants are newly designated acting vice principals. All of the participants are Emirati women who currently work in ADEC government schools. The researc her obtained permission to discuss the project with the program participants after obtaining IRB approval and the appropriate approvals from the ADEC Research Office. T he researcher met with the ADEC personnel who are in charge of the program to discuss the study. All nineteen program p articipants were invited to participat e in the study during a group session held after a cohort meeting. Ultimately, I hoped to involve six participants in the study, with the goal of having at least four participants complet e the study. Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbiya, and Al Ain are geographically somewhat remote from one another Both Al Gharbiya and Al Ain are located approximately 1.5 hours from Abu Dhabi. I hoped to include voices of women from all of these areas in t he research. C onsent was obtained using an informed consent document, available in both English and Arabic. As outlined by Brenner (2008, p. 362), the document included: a) the nature of the research; b ) the 42


procedures in which participants can expect to participate; c) a description of the means by which confidentiality will be protected; d) a list of contact people to whom questions and complaints about the research can be directed ; and e) a description of the risks and benefits of the research. Despite the fact tha t all nineteen program participants were invited to participate in the study, only four participants elected to do so. It is not known why so few participants elected to participate. It is possible that since the meeting when I presented the study to them was the first time I had met many of them, they may have been wary of agreeing to speak candidly with a stranger particularly someone in a position of authority at ADEC. All participants who indicated their willingness to participate were included in the study. T hree of the four participants who elected to participate in the study were from the same geographic region. This presents a limitation of the study. However, all four participants completed the e ntire study, so my initial goal of having four parti cipants complete the study was met. Methods Narrative Qualitative Research Qualitative research is generally employed when: variables needed to conduct the study are unclear; the researcher wants to explore trends or explanations; and/or problems need to be explored to obtain deeper understanding (Creswell, 2008, pp. 17 19). Narrative qualitative research begins with the ex periences as expressed in lived and told stories of individuals (Creswell, 2013, p. 54). The researcher collects and tells stories with a narrative approach (i.e., beginning, middle, end) to tell the stories of individuals (Creswell, 2012, p. 22). Bogdan and Biklen stress that different qualitative researchers have different approaches to generalizability. They state, those 43


[researchers] who are concerned [with NOT implying generalizability] are very careful to state that explicitly (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007, p. 36). In this study, I am focused only on learning more about the lived experiences of individuals in the program and do not consider this work to have wide generalizability. Although many researchers describe narrative research in different ways, Ollr enshaw and Creswell (2002, pp. 331 332) identify common themes and steps in the narrative process: Research is grounded in learning from participants in a given setting. The learning occurs via individual stories, which are told by individuals (e.g., teachers and/or students). Both personal experiences ( i.e., individual) as well as social experiences ( i.e., interactions with others) are captured. Data are collected as stories, which are usually gathered through interviews or informal conversations. Stories are called field texts Researchers analyze raw data to re story the events in a narrative format, concentrat ing on narrative elements (e.g., problem, characters, setting, actions, and resolution). The researchers then retell the story to conform to s torytelling (e.g., time, place, plot, scene, chronology). Rich details about the context of the story, including the setting, are included. Clandinin and Connell y (1998) state narratives of experience are both personal they reflect a persons life history and social they reflect the milieu, the contexts in which teachers live ( Clandinin & Connelly, 1998, p. 150). Given the current state of education in Abu Dhabi, in which major contextual changes are taking place, a narrative approach is desirable. This approach will provide unique insight into the lives of women who are taking part in a pioneering professional development and certification ven ture. A narrative approach is also well suited to a cross cultural study, as it naturally takes into account the c ontext in which the lived experience of the participants takes place. 44


Clandinin and Connelly use a landscape metaphor to explain their approach to narrative research, stating, It has a sense of expansiveness and the possibility of being filled with divers e people, things, and events in different relationships (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995, pp 4 5). A narrative approach is multi dimensional, taking into consideration the moral, emotional, and aesthetic approaches, as well as factual recall of events (Clandi nin& Connelly, 1998, p. 151). In times of major school reform, Clandinin and Connelly state that the use of narrative research may allow decision makers to imagine reform as less impositional on the lives of children, parents, teachers, and others; as needing to be undertaken with more willingness to listen, to negotiate, and to change as we move forward (1998, p. 162). In the context of t he breakneck educational change which characterizes the landscape in Abu Dhabi, a narrative approach will provide an opportunity for teachers and new school leaders to speak their truth about their lived experience. Narrative research, grounded in the context of school reform, is necessarily messy. Craig (2010) states that in her work about capturing narrative research in the midst of school reform, she encountered three kinds of messiness : a ) individual school landscapes against which teachers knowledge takes place; b ) conducting funded research in the midst of a live reform project ; and c ) capturing school refor m and judging its success ( Craig, 2010, p. 133). Although her work was situated in the context of the U.S., all of these elements have the potential to inform the current research in the Abu Dhabi context, as well. Craigs conception of messiness is not pejorative; it is this innate richness of context that imbue s narrative research with its strength. 45


Cross c ultural Narrative Research Cross cultural narrative research has the potential to be even messier than other types of narrative research. Cross cultural research is defined as research that compares behaviors or phenomena across two or more cultures; includes researchers and study participants who have different cultural backgrounds; and/or uses measurements developed for one cultural context that are implemented in a different context (Clark, 2012, p. 28). When conducting this type of research, it is imperative that the researcher r emains aware of the need for cultural awareness and sensitivity at all times throughout the research and that ethical considerations are given great weight in the research process. Ford et al. (2008) state: Researchers should be mindful of the need to cons ider their own humanness their beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, values, paradigms and the limitations of their humanness when working with participants from racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse backgrounds, especially those backgrounds that dif fer from their own. ( Ford et al, 2008, p. 82) Ford et al highlight the important role of the cultural factors that influence the way the researcher goes about his/her work (e.g., life experiences, values, personal experiences) and state that the context i n which research takes place cannot be ignored, marginalized, or trivialized, if research is to be conducted appropriately (Ford et al. 2008). They highlight potential problems in cross cultural research: human predisposition toward accepting or stressing views that are consistent with our own viewpoint; the tendency to generalize or universalize findings across groups that may not be comparable; continued usage of instruments that are proven to be biased; tendency to pathologize the other groups with a negative paradigm and/or pejorative language ( Ford, et al, 2008, p. 87) 46


The authors state that racially, culturally, and linguistically responsive researchers have self awareness, cultural awareness and understanding, strong feelings about social justice, a nd a range of skills and strategies ( Ford et al, 2008, p. 87). Culturally competent researchers focus on developing effective communication and data gathering skills to work with diverse participants, aim for the highest levels of cultural competence, and have an increased sensitivity to diversity (Ford et al. 2008, pp 88 89). Ford et al (2008, pp 89 90) make general suggestions for researchers to practice cultural competence: select racially, culturally, and linguistically relevant research topics ; choose racially, culturally, and linguistically informed theories and paradigms ; e xamine multiple explanations and worldviews before making judgments ; b uild relationships with participants ; r espect participants primary language; i mplement racially, culturally, and linguistically congruent research practices and assessments ; create a diverse research team Qualitative Interviews The purpose of the interview in qualitative research is to give an informant the space to express meaning in his or her own words and to give direction to the interview process (Brenner, 2006, p. 357). A semi structured interview protocol will be utilized, which has the benefit of allowing the researcher to work from a prescribed list of questions but also frees him/her to as k follow up questions based on participant r esponses (Brenner, 2008, p. 360) 47


Theoretical framework Social constructivists seek meaning based on peoples lived experiences, an outlook that is most compatible with a qualitative approach; researchers with this worldview look for the complexity of views rather than narrowing meaning into a few categories or ideas (Creswell, 2008, p. 8). Schwandt states constructivism means that human beings do not find or discover knowledge so much as we construct or make it. Furthermore, there is an inevitable historical and sociocultural dimension to this construction (Schwandt, 2000, p. 197).Gubrium and Koro Ljungberg state Within the theoretical fram ework of social constructionism, individual identity or Self is the by product of social forces experienced in context Individuals are relational beings that create constantly changing meanings in interaction with others (Gubrium & Koro Ljungberg, 2005, p. 693). In my approach to this work, I was very careful to avoid any constructs under which I presupposed my own lack of bias or that I was capable of conducting these interviews without affecting their outcomes. I carefully attempted to avoid an ethnogr aphic epistemology, defined by Gay, Mills, and Airasian as focusing in depth on a groups cultural patterns and perpectives to understand participants behavior and context (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2012, p. 13). It is not my intention to describe any types of patterns or to draw conclusions from the unique lived experiences of the women I interviewed. Often, those planning and implementing professional development in the UAE rely almost wholly on research conducted in a Western context; however, UAE presents a very unique social and political context. Schwandt states that social constructionists, as defined by Gergen, believe: all statements of the true, the rational, and the good are products of particular communities of interpreters social constructivi sm [can be] a a means of broadening and democratizing the conversation about human 48


practices and of submitting those practices to a continuous process of reflection. (Schwandt, 2000, p. 200) It is not my intention to provide generalizable data regarding the effectiveness of professional development practices in this context; rather, it is my intention to highlight the experiences of these specific and unique participants. I hope that decisionmakers who plan to implement professional development programs based on what is considered to be best practice in a Western context will not only take into account the unique lived experiences of these participants but also will be motivated by this work to continue to seek further feedback, dialogue, and discussion wit h program participants, in order to tailor researchbased practices to better meet the unique needs of participants in this specific context. Data Analysis Data was analyzed using a problem solution approach. This approach is outlined by Ollerenshaw and Creswell (2002) as: 1. Interviews, conversations, and/or other data elements are gathered and transcribed. 2. The interviewer reads and rereads the data, making sense of it. 3. Transcripts are color coded for the elements of plot structure (characters, setting, pr oblem, actions, and resolution). This information is placed into a table. Color coded elements are grouped together. 4. A graphic organizer is used to organize color coded transcripts into events (e.g., setting, problem, physical actions, reactions, thinking, and intentions, characters goals, and resolution). 5. The researcher sequences events, reworking and reordering events until they are in a logical order. The p roblem solution approach was applied to the current research because it offers a linear approach [which leads] to a logical sequence of events for the story a 49


sequence that flows from characters, setting, and problems first, followed by actions or events, and finally a resolution (Ollerenshaw & Creswell, 20 02, p. 343). This approach provides a clear and linear format to tell the stories of the participants, which can be easily accessed (or even translated). The use of this approach will help to ensure that the work is accessible and usable for stakeholders who may wish to utilize this researc h to inform their practice in the future. In my application of this approach, I conducted and recorded narrative interviews I then sent the transcripts to a reputable transcription company, with a track record of academic transcription. Oliver, et al (20 05) state that transcription is a pivotal aspect of qualitative inquiry. There are two types of transcription: naturalism, in which every utterance is transcribed in as much detail as possible, and denaturalism, in which idiosyncratic elements of speech (e.g., stutters, pauses, nonverbals, involuntary vocalizations) are removed (Oliver, et al, 2005). Oliver, et al, state that transcription in qualitative research generally falls somewhere on a continuum between these two approaches. The transcription co mpany I utilized removed some nonverbal utterances and duplicate words but, overall, utilized a mostly naturalistic approach. When the transcriptions were returned, I audited the transcripts by reading over them while listening to the audio recording (at least twice and, in one case, three times) and correcting any transcription errors. I made a conscious choice not to change participants grammar from the original transcription. Oliver, et al state that Talk is peppered with verbal and nonverbal signals that can change the tenor of conversations and meaning. [] such signals can set the tone of a conversation and/or offer insight into the participants affect (Oliver, et al, 2005). I was very conscious of my position as 50


a researcher conducting cross cul tural narrative research and, in no way, wanted to unintentionally alter the meaning or obscure the voice of my participants. Only when it was necessary to ensure the meaning did I alter quotes, using parenthetical words or phrases. I also shortened some quotations for the sake of brevity. Outside of these alterations, I consciously chose not to change the grammar of the participants. Once the transcripts were completed and I audited them, I began to analyze the data, identifying broad themes and color co ding them. As I continued to analyze the data, specific themes (coding categories) emerged and I continued to refine and revise the coding categories. Once all of the transcript data had been analyzed, I restoried the data into a chronological approach, y ielding a linear nar rative Research Validity Validating is the process of ensuring that data are accurate, through the process of data collection and analysis (Creswell, 2008, p. 259). Qualitative researchers must ensure that their work achieves standar ds of accuracy and trustworthiness to be considered valid (Creswell, 2008, p. 259). As Ford et al state, research is not an objective, neutral science [ ] All aspects of research are influenced by the researchers experiences and beliefs ( Ford et al, 20 08, p. 83). In narrative qualitative research, the interpretive nature of the work is amplified; the researcher is entrusted with the responsibility for restorying (Ollerenshaw & Creswell, 2002, p. 332) participants lived experiences. It is essential for the researcher to take all practical measures to ensure that data meet standards of credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Behar Horenstein, 2012). When working with cross cultural qualitative data, Ford et al (2008, p. 86) state two methods to overcome bias: 51


Conducting reliability checks with another rater when analyzing interview transcripts, for inter rater reliability and Using member checking asking participants to review transcripts for accuracy In the current study, some limitations were apparent, with regard to the use of reliability checking and member checking. Conducting research in a location far from the university meant that I conducted my research largely in isolation. I considered asking colleagues to conduct the reliability checks but felt that this might compromise the identity of participants; ultimately, I chose not to employ this tactic. I did attempt to employ member check ing; however, I received very limited feedback from participants. This presents a limita tion of the study. 52


CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experiences of four aspiring vice principals in the first cohort of trainees to complete a leadership certification program offered by ADEC. Four participants (Hessa, Khawla, Mariam, and Fatima1) were interviewed and data were analyzed using narrative analysis, with a problem/solution approach, as defined by Ollrenshaw and Creswell. This process resulted in the identification of themes. Some of the themes which emerged were: Character and background; experiences as a student; pathway to teaching; experience as a teacher; prior experiences with school leaders; m aster s degree programs and prior professional development; beliefs about leadership; appointment as a VP; experience in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram (participants, content and tasks, timing, positive and negative aspects of the program, suggestions ); current role ( daily life, problems faced, Electronic Student Information System community, collabor ation with peers, future aspirations); and suggestions for future programs. After broad themes were identified, the material was restoried to generate a chronological storytelling approach to the material. Finally, the restoried materials were reviewed t o ensure that the voices of all of the participants were given equal weight and particularly to ensure that any counter narratives were included. The findings showed that the participants shared many background characteristics, including a history of atten ding government schools, with a schooling background that was very traditional in approach. Additionally, participants mostly reported experiencing leadership role models 1All names have been changed and references to specific details (e.g., schools or geographic areas) that could identify participants have been removed. 53


that were very authoritarian and traditional. The participants all expressed a similar philosophy and approach to education, which was congruent with ADECs vision and mission, in addition to evincing a high degree of commitment to their work as viceprincipals. While most participants expressed a high level of satisfaction with the initia l phase of the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram, an interruption of services because of a staff change mid year resulted in a suspension of the program, which produced anxiety and some dissatisfaction. Participants lived experiences as first year v ice principals after their participation in the program revealed that they needed a much higher degree of follow up and support than they received and that they were unprepared to handle many of the practical realities of the viceprincipalship. Their experience as first year vice p rincipals provides insight into recommendations for future programming. They also provide information regarding their plans and training needs as they develop into the next generation of leaders in ADEC. This information, althoug h it provides insight into a small cohort group, can assist ADEC leaders, as they plan for future programming that is more highly contextualized and sensitive to the needs and experiences of program participants. The findings of the study presented in this chapter are a form of narrative report in which themes are highlighted. Counter narratives are included in the relevant sections. At the conclusion of the chapter, a summary of findings with specific regard to the research question and subquestions is included. Background and Context All of the women in the group were handselected by ADEC leadership and underwent a rigorous interview process. Shared qualifications included more than five years of successful teaching experience, a high degree of Englis h proficiency, and a 54


m asters degree. All of the women obtained their degrees in the UAE, through either private or government universities. All four of the participants are fairly young Emirati women, who were recently appointed as acting vice principals. All of my initial meetings were conducted at their school sites and they were all very welcoming and hospitable, as is consistent with Emirati culture, and we always took refreshments together before beginning any interviews. Hessa, Khawla, Mariam, and F atima were all eager to share with me their pathway to the viceprincipalship. Mariam, applied twice to become a viceprincipal. She stated: I went to an interview to be viceprincipal and then they refused me. They said that your mark was not very high Then I felt really disappointed, really I felt upset that if all my knowledge, all my experience was not enough. However, after completing her m asters degree studies she earned a very high interview score and was accepted into the program. The perception of rigor in the interview process contributed to a high degree of status affiliation within the program. Hessa summ arized this feeling, stating We are the new Vicep rincipals that Dr. Mugheer had chosen, according to high criteria. The women in the study generally identified themselves as being capable and highly qualified. Khawla said, I always wanted to be there somewhere to make decisions, to let people know okay you can do it this way. I am very good at that, designing. Hessa focused on the strength she found from a difficult upbringing, stating : Maybe I was a leader before that [program]. I have been by myself, I consider myself raising myself by myself, and nobody raised me. So I am an independent person When [I] face a problem I have to solve it. Fatima also identified family circumstances as making her strong, stating : 55


I got married when I was young, then I complete my education, I didnt stay at home as a housewife for more than three months, never. So I [am] used to managing this very well with my children, my work. Despite their high degree of confidence and status from being in the program, several of the participants referenced the difficulty of becoming an educational leader after experiencing rote, traditional schooling and authoritarian leadership role models. All of the participants attended government schools in Abu Dhabi and all echoed the sentiment of Mariam, who said, My education was a kind of traditional teaching so it was based on memorizing the text books, only the text book. just memorizing, memorizing, memorizing. There was no enjoyment I t was boring ; it was boring. Fatima recounted her experience, highlighting gaps based on the traditional educational styleThere are many skills I dont know how to do it now, she s aid, Many things because I used to just sit and listen to the teacher, I didnt have chance to do things by myself. I didnt have a chance to express about my ideas. Khawla referenced the effect s experiencing a rote education has on teaching, stating: All these things that happen now you know, the new education, the practices that we have we didnt have these things. So I believe like 100% its going to affect your teaching. Unless you just develop yourself. It affects a lot, some people they do it unintentionally, they just get back to the way that their teachers taught us and we were taught in a very traditional way, yes. Hessa referenced a high power distance culture as a trademark of the education she experienced, stating, and Nobody explained anything. They thought because I am a child I do not need to know. No I need to know! In addition to traditional teaching practices and authoritarian discipline, one participant, Fatima, also referenced low quality English teaching as a negative aspect o f her experience with government schooling, stating, I dont feel confidence about my language, until now, until this 56


moment. Because I graduated from a Government school, if you compare me and one student from private school, yes they are much better than me. Overall, none of the participants referenced any positive personal schooling experiences until they reached the university level. Three out of four participants shared that they had a complete lack of interest in entering the education field, initially. Only one participant attributed her career choice to personal agency. Although three participants referenced family pressure as their primary reason for entering the education field, the degree to which they resented or resisted this pressure varied greatly. Fatima said: I became a teacher to be honest, something its related to our culture because our family has always direct us to become teachers because they think we will work in a safe place with all females, yes, so this is only, was the reason in that time. However, she said : To become a teacher yes, to study and join the education culture. I am happy to become a teacher. Khawla said: Actually, honestly honestly I never wanted to be i n the education sector at all from the beginning. From my experience, I was I never had my educational degree, I was literature student and when they asked for English teachers I just my father went and applied. Hessa showed the greatest level of resentment toward her fathers insistence that she enter teaching. She shared her story: I am a teacher but I hated teaching all my life because you know the traditions, my father refused that I apply for any other job unless if it is teaching. So I appl ied for teaching and I found another opportunity to be in a university and they offered me a good position to be a manager there if you are working there you will meet both [men and women] but my father refused. That is why I hated teaching more, bec ause I hated it really. 57


Despite their initial reluctance to join the profession, all three women described themselves as dedicated teachers, such as Khawla, who said, Because I felt that it is my responsibility I started to develop myself. From the first year, I just proved that I can do it. I started to love it but I always wanted to do something more. Despite her resentment, Hessa said I am a dedicated person. I do everything to the maximum, I do it because I should do it this is my job. I have to do it and I am good at teaching and I know that. I am good in teaching but I hate it. The one participant who joined teaching out of a personal desire to do so, Mariam, described her journey : When I was little I gathered my brothers and my sisters and our neighbors and I teach them on the wall, I use the chalk to teach them, to give them some papers, I like to correct, I like to teach how to write and read. I loved the core of teaching, I loved that. She went on st ating that she studied : education in the university and I discovered it is really wonderful job, a lot of things, especially when we started our practical courses to go to the schools You are a student, now you are the teacher. So that was the thing that I loved from when I was a child. The experiences of three of the four participants as teachers and, for one participant, as a parent, reinforced their early experiences as students in high power distance, authoritarian schooling environments with very traditional school leaders. Hessa and Khawla echoed statements made by Fatima, who said that as a teacher, she had no interaction with administration unless we have meeting, unless we have something that we have to hand it to them But working with them as a member of their team, no I didnt have the chance to do that. Khawla described the leadership at her previous school as more authoritative, like err, there was a like dictatorship, not the kind of leadership that we are looking for, an instructional leader, you know. Fatima referenced the ex perience of her own children, stating I remember in one school my 58


children say we never saw the principal. Yes. They never she never comes out of her office. So imagine that. Mariam said Some of them, our leaders in school they are working to reach 1 oclock and that is it, everyone is fine, everyone is safe, everyone is happy, go. Fatima contrasted the traditional style of leadership with the desired style, asking, How can [the principal] improve their school if they are hiding behind their desks? The principal should serve her staff by providing them with what they need, by guiding them, yes. Only Mariam described teaching in a school with a more distributed leadership style, stating, My previous principal, her idea was to provide training to t he teachers from the teachers themselves I was the head of that training team. Mariam expressed pride in her work leading the training center. Three of four participants expressed a lack of understanding about ADEC reforms and the New School m odel, before entering the leadership development program. Mariam said, W e [Cycle 2 teachers] did not have this chance as the Cycle 1 teachers to have the New School m odel, we were teaching the traditional way of teaching everything. It was boring. Khawla, who was also a Cycle 2 teacher, said, I had no clue about the New School m odel it was the traditional way of teaching, of teaching and the administration. Mariam said, I dont have a lot of information about ADEC and the new school model, and all the reform things that ADEC did. Despite the authoritarian leadership faced by the participants and a lack of specific knowledge about NSM by most, they all identified themselves as leaders within their classroom and expressed pride in their use of updated educatio nal techniques. Hessa summed up her teaching philosophy, stating, When I became a teacher I didnt think like a teacher. I tried to visualize myself as a student. [My lesson] was full of 59


movement actions, worksheets activities, in order to make the st udent understand the concepts. Khawla applied the latest thing in my classroom. [But] s ome people they... of course like the leadership they just dont like they avoided me because they know that I knew much and they didnt want to include me in a lot of things. Fatima described herself as teacher as a leader in my classroom. She said, I have a leadership role in my school, when I express my opinion, when I give suggestions to my principal or my viceprincipal so it was the same but theres no auth ority. Although most of the participants described their teaching as being more modern than their contemporaries, most expressed frustration and a lack of satisfaction in the prior professional development opportunities they experienced as teachers under the P ublic P rivate P artnership (PPP) system. All four participants participated in the PPP program, as teachers. Mariam, who had 12 years of teaching experience, expressed mixed feelings about her prior PD programs. She attended those sessions and most of their information are I know all the information e xcept Kagan strategies That was really something new for us and for me. However, she expressed satisfaction with some additional sessions, stating, Other sessions from ADEC, they were about the New S chool m odel I love that because we did not know anything about the New School m odel. Fatima said: Already I had this information [from PD during the PPP program] I know all these theories but I need them to help me in applying these theories in my classrooms so I had a lot of concerns during that time. Both Khawla and Hessa had strong negative feelings about the PPP program. Khawla observed resistance [to] what they want to do, so I think [the operators] were so depressed and they and the way their attitude was not good in, you know, enforcing people you know to do the things. Expressing great frustration, Hessa said: 60


They used to force us to teach certain materials while these materials were not proper for the age that I used to teach. They demoted my evaluation and they tried to press on me a lot and I was about to quit teaching. I am against [those companies] totally. Three of the four participants und ertook m asters degree programs to prepare them as educational leaders and they all expressed satisfaction with the rigor of their masters programs and pride in their accomplishments Most of the courses [in the m asters degree program] prepared me to lo ok at things in different, from a different perspective than the normal teacher, reported Fatima, because you have to work and reach the high expectations, not just do your work as they toldyou know. I have to try new things. Not like a normal teacher. Mariams program not only prepared her for her second interview to be a viceprincipal but also reinvigorated her as an educator; she said : It refreshed my mind. I read about a lot of American strategies, American theories, a lot of things I discovered. T he special needs, it is not only the low achievers [but also] gifted and talented. A lot of things. It was really exciting. Khawla expressed pride in undertaking a very tough program [an] accountable program and the people there, are like the best and they understand what they are doing. However, she said, We talk about something, we study something and the reality is disastrous, it was disastrous, like the leadership, the school, the system, the discipline, everything. So what I started, it was j ust in my classroom. This idea, of trying to be a pioneer as an educational leader in a landscape rife with authoritarian and traditional methods, was a common theme for participants. Although the journey undertaken through their own schooling, their teac hing career s, and their m asters degree programs were in some ways very different, all four women identified themselves as modern educators and expressed a philosophy of 61


education and leadership that was not only similar but also very congruent with ADECs philosophy and direction. Mariam summ arized this feeling, stating: All of us [in the VP program], in general, we had the same philosophy, this is the first thing, we all believe about [the] New School M odel We are thinking as a new generation, we hated our experience as students, which err, which mean that it was only teacher centered. We wanted to change that. I find its not just we want to become Vice principal s just to have you know this position, no, we have something in our mind, we have something we want to accomplish, we have a philosophy. Yes, we have a vision. Fatima related this vision and philosophy to her role as a parent, stating that she: wants [her] children to have the skills to be a lifelong learner I want them to express about their opinions and accept others opinions. So this is my vision for my children so its the same for the students you know. I n addition to their qualifications, t his common vision was a significant facet to their entrance int o the program. Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC said, The competition for promotion to leadership roles in ADEC schools is very intense. These aspiring Emirati school leaders were chosen on merit through a rigorous interview process (ADE C, 2013). Although three of the women referenced gender as a limiting factor in their career path, Khawla specifically cited the [XXXX] Professional Development program as an empowering experience, as a woman. She said, I think we are very privileged to be Emiratis because the UAE, they care a lot about what a woman can accomplish and they believe that if woman aspires something she can accomplish it. Hessa identified a cultural factor that she felt limited her prior experience with building a necessary skill for becoming a VP. She stated that communication, particularly with men, w as an area of need for her, in terms of personal growth. She said: I need [to learn] another thing, how to face the men. In our culture I am not exposed to the men or strang e men that much, especially locals. This 62


is kind of challenging. [You] need to forget that you are a woman or whatever in order to talk freely. We are conservative so I cover my face in front of men [if] I dont know them Its a little bit different, you have to be stronger, you have to be firm, when you say no which means no. If they are willing to negotiate you have to convince them but.... with etiquette that suits the culture. Hessa hoped that the program would help her to overcome this limitation, through future training. Khawla felt that the program was uniquely targeted as a mechanism for female empowerment. She said, I told [H.E. Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili] thank you [] because you gave us an opportunity, it is like empowering women. I talked about empowering women because I said I cannot see any man here. So we were all women, 20 women. After being chosen for the program, the aspiring vice principal s embarked on their journey s to become the next generation of ADEC leaders, through the [XXXX] Prof essional Development Program. The [XXXX] Professional Development Program Initial Six Week Program All twenty program participants were young female Emiratis. Fatima described the group, stating We are young Yes we have the same thinking and we all wer e ambitious to do something better for our students you know. The initial intensive program took place over a six week period, with full day meetings twice per week. Additional planned activities included six months of practical follow up activities, onsite mentoring, and a trip to the U.S. to visit a major university and conduct school site observations. All meetings for the initial program were held in Abu Dhabi, although participants of the program were from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Al Gharbiya, which n ecessitated lengthy travel for many participants. Many of the participants knew one another already, particularly within individual regions; Hessa said, We were very happy 63


because we leave the school and I will meet my friends because most of them were my friends. So I know them all. So it is kind of something for a change. Its better. All of the participants except Fatima expressed some degree of trepidation before the course. Khawla summ arized this feeling, stating We said when we came into the pro gram, what are they going to teach us? What are they going to tell us? We know nothing about being a principal. H owever, Fatima said this was like a refreshment, about what I had studied in previous years, or in my m asters studies. Participants received an agenda before each session and were informed in advance about program activities. Hessa and Mariam both lauded the organization of the program; Mariam stated We learned from that course organizing the agenda maybe [this is] your way in America or somewhere but that is not us. When we arrive, we receive the agenda.I t is really organized. Mariam described the program thusly : The program took place [at the college] in Abu Dhabi. The presenters or our lecturers were experienced people from ADEC, two of them I think they were cluster managers and Dr. Paul, I think hes the head of the [the college].2It was Wednesday and Thursday, weekly Wednesday and Thursday and really we were enthusiastic to reach Wednesday and Thursday to go to Abu Dhabi. They consider the [ five ] elements [of the ADEC Principals Leadership Standards [ Leading People, Leading the C ommunity, Leading Organizations, Leading Strategically [and] Leading Teaching and Learning] So we discussed each one, each element it has five tasks and most of them are written tasks. We went home and read it and it was about answering a lot of questions. Those questions are really deep questions, we need to go and investigate and ask so you cant find the answers in books or find the answers on the internet. Several program participants remarked about the utility of the tasks that were assigned, such as Hessa, who said, They give us tasks to investigate in our school which is, I told you this was the most marvelous thing happened that time. Fatima gave 2 Actually, three Cluster Managers [ident ified as Elizabeth, Jennifer, and William] supported the program, in addition to Dr. Paul, who was a Dean of the college. 64


an example of one of the tasks, which asked, Is your school a happy school? She described her reaction, How can I answer this q uestion. No, I am not happy. This was my first reaction when I read this task. However, while completing the activity, she described a deepening of her understanding that having a happy school, it means that you have a good procedure, behavior, rules You are delegating work; you have teams; you have good communication with your staff, with parents, with students It is about many things I t has made me think about many things. Because the tasks required follow up by participants at their schools, the level of support provided by their principals affected their ability to complete the tasks successfully. Although some participants, such as Mariam, reported that her principal was pleased by her curiosity, others had a more negative response. Fatima said, You know maybe they [future VP program participants] can ask their principal and viceprincipal questions but sometimes I tried before. When you ask they will not answer They wont give you the right answ er, you know. Khawla reported resistance and hos tility on the part of her principal and school staff, in response to her questions. She said, People started to avoid me when I started this program. Dont show her anything [e.g., files, documents] ; dont give her anything, yes yes. They didnt want, bec ause it was like a taboo. So it was difficult. Participants reactions to the tasks varied with regard to their feelings about the depth of the tasks. Mariam believed, They were really deep deep questions. I reflect and ask experienced people. So, re ally we discovered a lot of things, a lot of hidden things in our field. However, Khawla said, I wish the program was much deeper the tasks that we were given, they were very good I think. But maybe they need to work 65


on it to make it better. Partici pants also had mixed reactions to the practical utility of the tasks. Hessa stated that the program opened my eyes to see things that I did not know about in the administration. She provided an example: I asked my principal How come you managed to follow up all these things? She said, I stay late in the school I open my email from three oclock until four oclock, in order to keep up with everything. I said, Oh, really you spend a lot of time. And it was overwhelming. But it makes you think about what it is coming. It gives you a good idea so you wouldnt be surprised. You will find it useful. H owever, Fatima felt some frustration, stating If you have theories without implement there is no use for reading or studying about this theory if you are not going to apply it. She believed that t he program was like lecturing, working and discussing things in theory. It is not like hands on acti vities, something like I will do it actually in the school. Its a big difference between theories and reality, yes. However, she conceded, We found some information about different things that we didnt know about it before as teachers. H owever, Mari am contradicted the idea that the course was not practical, illustrating her point with an example. She said, At the end of the course, one of the vice principal s [said] you did not t each us how to do the timetable. You did not teach us how to put the timetable for the duty teachers duty. Elizabeth [CM] said you have to be smart, have to delegate So, and that is what I did. She described her experience: The full time table, I didnt know how to make it to be honest. So I asked [the teachers] who can help ? I take [the volunteer teacher] to a room there, I let her stay, I let her drink coffee, water, I bring her chocolate, sandwich, eat, stay, take four hours, stay and work, and closed the door. At one, it was ready. The same day she did it, okay. So, Elizabeth did not teach us how to do the timetable but she gave us the golden keys how to move in the school. 66


In addition to the tasks, other components of the program included guest speakers, a trip to visit a local government school, lectures, and discussions. Mariam stated : the most useful thing [was] our visit to one of the new schools in Abu Dhabi the v ice p rincipal there [presented] her experience as a VP in one of their new schools. She told us a lot o f secrets, a lot of things. So and dont be shocked of this ; dont be surprised of this. That was really helpful. Mariam also described a visit from a female Emirati Cluster Manager, stating that she was a model from the field to our class. Mariam also a ppreciated advice from Elizabeth, who reminded the participants to always always protect your back. How how can we protect our back? By evidence, document everything, document everything, go back to policies, depend on policies, ADECs guidelines, ever ything. Document everything. Two participants, Mariam and Khawla, explicitly referenced the opportunity to express themselves as an empowering element of the program. Khawla said: I found myself in this program, really I never had the opportunity to be allowed to talk, only in like, in [my] m asters [degree program] to be addressed, you know, recognized I think I just found myself there. I found that I have abilities there because these people they encourage a lot. All four participants referenced disc ussions and collaboration as essential to the success of the program, as exemplified by a statement from Hessa, who said, We were discussing all the time, calling each other, trying to solve things, Alhamdulillah we managed and it was not that difficult, it was proper and achievable, we can do it. Although the program lasted for only a few weeks, participants referenced its structure and content as providing them with a great deal of benefit. Several participants referenced the structure of the program as modeling gradual release, which is an important component of the NSM. Khawla said, We were just like students and with encouragement, with a task we felt more responsible, even developed our 67


personality. You are not thinking of your classroom, you are thinking about everything. Mariam summ arized her journey during the course, stating : It is like this, step by step, baby step, moving from being a teacher to be [a] vice principal and later they really give us the chance to think, to be, to think as a principal, as a school principal. Fatima learned, I have to stop thinking as a teacher I have to think as a leader. Hessa, Fatima, and Mariam all believed the program was highly contextualized and appropriate to the culture; however, Khawla suggested that further attention to contextualization would strengthen the program. Participant responses concerning contextualization were varied, with Mariam and Khawl a focusing on the Emirati culture, and others, Fatima and Hessa, focusing on the organizational culture in ADEC. Hessa said that the program contained everything which ADEC represents. Its nothing from outside or not linked to our culture, it represents ADEC really it was suitable. Fatima concurred, stating We were very lucky to work with [these] teachers, or doctors these people, yes. They know exactly what we will go through when we become vice principal Mariam said : They [the program leaders] considered our identity, they considered our culture, everything, everything. Even when we welcome some males, some lecturers, they respect everything. Even, I am wearing Niqab [ a face covering veil] outside and they respect everything They know, I thin k they know about our culture and understand everything. H owever, Khawla offered some advice for ensuring that program materials are appropriately adjusted to the culture: Okay, I understand that the person who put this program maybe he is Westerner but m aybe there are not like people, professional people in that field like Emirati. I feel that some people want to Westernize things so in order to put our cultural aspect in it its like a challenge or difficult. I think the program should be put by or revi ewed by people who understand the culture and think how it can be more applicable, can be more effective when it is applied in our system. 68


Additionally, Hessa, Fatima, and Khawla expressed real difficulty with the program timing, which took place at the en d of the year, while they were still assigned as teachers. Hessa said : I was teaching and they were piling up the periods and the other days that I [was] supposed to be in the school. So my schedule was full at that time for three days and and I stayed t he whole night and into the second day without sleeping, trying to complete my report. She suggested, If they put it in the middle of the year it would be marvelous ; it would be good for them. Khawla expressed concern about her students, stating : I just killed myself, I took extra classes and did stay in school and did a lot of things with the students because I felt it is not fair, I dont want them... it to affect their performance or whatever because the teacher is not there. Overall, most participants believed that it would be better to change the timing and release the teachers from teaching duties before the commencement of the program. Despite some suggestions for improvement, most participants expressed generally positive feelings toward the program, especially concerning the knowledge and dedication of the program faculty. Khawla said: I think I am really lucky to be chosen to be in this cohort, to participate and we were very lucky to be with Dr. Paul before he left. He w as like a guru for us, yes. And we have really learnt a lot of things from him and from the other Clusters Managers that were in the program. Mariam summ arized her feelings, stating: Miss Elizabeth, with Miss Jennifer, Dr. Paul, and Mr. William, they taught us a lot and even our chat, our discussion, it was most of the time it is more than thoughtful. We learnt a lot, we learnt a lot. And most of the time it was an actual situations, just imagine Miss Elizabeth [said], most, just imagine so, so, and so, what you will do, so think. So I learnt that training, how to make a decision. Hessa concurred, stating : 69


When I finished I said okay it is like another Masters [degree] it needed a lot of work, contained a lot of information and they were useful. And I f elt that I am doing a good training it is not [just] any training... Its a good one. Fatima said, The task, the questions, they were fine and they make us think about what will really happen when we become vice principal Upon completion of the six week program, the participants presented a showcase event to Dr. Mugheer and to other dignitaries from ADEC. They presented in teams with each group focus ing on one area of the Principals Leadership Standards. Mariams group prepared a presentation, PowerPoint And I remember Dr. Mugheer was very happy with our group and not only my group, the other groups. During the ceremony, Khawla reflected on the fact that Dr. Mugheer this program is his vision and I told him thank you for that, because you gave us an opportunity It is like empowering women. After her first year as a vice principal Khawla reflected on her statements to Dr. Mugheer after the init ial intensive program; she said: We realize that we learned the theoretical part of it but in practice it would be different, we realized that. But it was so different, so harsh but I think this is life. It is not as like what is in the book, you read t he book okay but when you go into the reality it is something different, different. Experience as a First year Viceprincipal Hessa Hessa and Khawla both experienced a unique difficulty in their initial experience as vice principals because they were assig ned to schools that were not yet built, with principals who had not yet arrived from overseas. Hessa described her situation, stating The difficulty, the difficult thing was when we graduated we thought that we will be in schools which are already prepar ed. [We faced a] difficult situation to build a school from nothing. It shouldnt be like that. When she was initially hired for her position, she found the building is not finished, no staff, nothing and I am, I have to 70


collect the children from two sch ools and I have to build the school and I am the only employee in the school. She expressed her amazement about this situation to an ADEC leader, asking him My god, am I the only one here? His response was, Yes, do your job. Next, they gave me big box with many files with the students from KG 2 and they told us we are not we are not registering for KG 1 yet, we will delay KG 1. Despite the fact that she does not drive and relies on a driver, she had to begin what she described as, the journey, the agony journey, between two schools. She described her responsibilities: I have to check the building with the engineers so I run like a crazy person between four places. Collecting. Solving problems. Fighting with the principals who they distributed my s taff between schools and I have to collect them back. [...] They hired the new AMTs who came from private schools and they are Egyptians and other, Arabic ex pats. And they do not know anything about ADECs new model schools. Nothing, modern schools sorry, nothing, and I have to do all of that to establish the school from zero. However, despite her unsteady beginning Hessa said that she was laughing all the time It did not break me. Really, I was amazed. I thought that I am dreaming I said, am I the o ne who is in this situation, really? When I face something, I start to laugh, I started to laugh and Alhamdulillah, it did not affect me I was okay. Once her principal arrived, Hessa found a partner and advocate as they work together to open the school. She described their relationship, stating When Gina [the new principal came] we started to fight everything together. We went everywhere together ; we solved the issues together. We tried our best to be in the building before it officially opened. After the school was opened, the next major challenge facing Hessa and Gina was registration and data entry (using the ESIS system) and effective communication with the community. These two issues were consistent themes in my interviews with all 71


four viceprinc ipals and will be addressed in a separate section to follow. Once the school was established and students registered, Hessa stated that her job responsibilities included: t racking the registration. Discussions with teachers for evaluation papers or whatever, mothers, parents, problems with transportation, budget [and] the teams that we have here because I am part of one of the teams trying to do our best heritage and culture The regular things for the Vice principal Regular things. So many things coming at the same time. Sometimes they are minor or not. Sometimes [the principal] takes care of some, I take care of some. Hessa described her major frustrations with her current role, stating I want to do my role as a vice principal and it can be done but because of [registration and other online record keeping ] it is very hard. She said that this issue keeps her from practicing her role in that areain the academic And I am sorry for that. If its to me I would be with the teachers, with the children and everything but I am not involved, that much with them. Im trying but I cant. Just before the viceprincipals entered their schools, Dr. Paul retired and the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram was suspended. Hessa was particularly disappointed by the lack of follow up from the program, especially the trip to the U.S., since she had already asked her brother to accompany her, as is proper in the Emirati culture. She said she hoped to Go to America, to London to take those courses about leadership. And I think these are will make a difference. G oals for Hessa include becoming more involved with the academic aspects of KG, and working more with the teachers. She said: This is one of the things that I think I will tell the teacher, als o to put their heart out when they are teaching, and to teach from their hearts Because they will get the result at the end of the year, they will be satisfied. And this is the major thing that you can gain after finishing the 72


year, reaching your children, reaching the level that you have set at the beginning of the year, maybe sometimes exceed it... this is like a reward. Hessa identified her relationship with her principal as a strength in her current situation, stating If you ask me to [about being] professional yes Ive learned a lot from Gina. She helped me with to understand things academic things, concluding I have a wonderful principal here that helps me a lot, She helps me a lot. So I am Alhamdulillah... content. Experience as a First year V ice principal Khawla Khawla faced a similar situation to Hessa; she was assigned to a school building that is not yet finished so its like a construction site in somewhere that is so far from my house. She was assigned several classrooms in another KG which was built in the 70s, and the system is people with old traditional mentalities although they are doing the New School m odel. She described her initial situation as a school within a school which she managed with the help of a H o F E. At the beg inning of the process, she said, I had to visit like the [ADEC] office on a daily basis [Staff members ] started to come in and they didnt have the experience, the attitude and so this was like a challenge. She and the HoF worked together, just fighting for everything. Finally, Khawla had my desk, I had the H o F, I had my teachers, I had to manage them, I was responsible for their attendance, everything and we didnt know who is our principal. With the help of the HoF, Khawla began to learn about KG, since KG is a different world for me. I was in Cycle 2, and it was different It was like a total ly different world for me. To learn more and accomplish her tasks, she used to stay in that building until like three and I was just searching and doing. Staff members asked her, Why you have to stay? Why you have to stay? [They] thought like local 73


V Ps are not like that, they are not doing this These are not their concerns. Khawla responded by saying, Okay, this is my concern and the role has changed and you need to understand thatI needed to grab their attention you knowI have authority. The Cluster Manager told Khawla, Dont get overwhelmed, just relax, the real work i s coming, when you will be [at the new school] However, Khawla said: I am glad I was not relaxed, yes, sometimes its dangerous that you are relaxed, you shouldnt be relaxed i n some situations because it concerns kids, teachers, so we did our best actually with the help of the HoF. So when I had the Principal and just like [she said] I am the Principal so I just started a little to back off. Once the school was organized and r unning, Khawla focused on building her knowledge of KG, stating When I started I told them I am just like a student here, I want to know what is going on in the KG So when [the HoF E] did a PD with them I was like one of the teachers. Like the other VPs in the program, Khawla additionally faced difficulties with registration and ESIS and in communicating with the community which will be addressed in a later section. Khawla, who expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the support provided in the initial portion of the [XXXX] Professional Development Program, felt abandoned when that suppor t was withdrawn. She said, They told us there would be an induction program for us but when we graduated, they just, they forgot about us graduation and then ma salama [goodbye]. And we felt so bad because we were just nobody, you know, they neglected us. In the difficult situation she faced as a new viceprincipal, she felt that ADEC had a responsibility to her, asking Okay what did you do for this leader as a support? She went on to say, We need to have mentors. Yes, who come and tell us this is right, this is wrong. She said, There should be a follow up from 74


ADEC with their p rincipals and telling them that these people are the leaders in the future you will need to do whatever is necessary to help these people. Khawlas relationship with the rest of the school leadership team, after her new principal arrived, was sometimes a source of frustration and difficulty for her, although she consistently expressed admiration for both the HoF E and her principal. Initially, she said : At the [ADEC] office honestly I dont know if, they told me that the real leader of this school is you, they told me that. I am also a leader here so I am not like a vice p rincipal. I am a leader I have to know everything I have to. At the beginning of the year, Khawla sometimes felt excluded by the principal and the HoF E stating sometimes I felt that they are ignoring me, ignoring me, they dont want to include me in everything. That stressed me a lot ; I have to be in everything. You shouldnt hide things from me. In response to this issue, Khawla addressed my fears, my concerns, I told them I have to know, this is my responsibility. After she addressed her concerns, K hawlas principal admired that, she said nobody you are like the first vice principal who wants to know everything. Over the course of the year, her relationship with the principal evolvedStep by step I realized no, she is wise, in every decision that she is taking so Khawla, step back and observe. After some time spent observing, she began to request feedback, asking her principal if you feel that there is something I am not doing in a right way please tell me, come and tell me and if you feel that you want to give me advice about something please do. This approach met with some success; Khawla said I think [the principal] tries nowafter when I had to talk and and to a limit she gives feedback [but] we need more support. By the end of the schoo l year, Khawla said that she was: 75


Now working with my Principal and she is very knowledgeable, she knows but she can be like, my way or the highway. But she is knowledgeable and I really admire her and she is wise in a lot of decisions that she takes and I learned a lot of things from her. In addition to building her relationship with the rest of the school leadership team, Khawla enhanced her content knowledge. She said, Alhamdulillah I am very good now, in KG curriculum I even can go and help and I can do the observation by myself. I can write a very good instructive, constructive feedback for the teachers. Her future goals at the school include development of the Arabic and Islamic curriculum because she said, We have a challenge in Islamic, people t each Islamic in a very boring way and we want to encourage them to do it in a more New School Model way. Khawla takes pride in her accomplishments in her first year, particularly breaking negative stereotypes about Emirati l eaders. She says many people think Emirati leaders dont want to learn, they dont want to do, they just come here and I think I broke that, that image that they have put us there. She described a conversation with a teacher that made her feel proud, stating that the teacher, a local, told me I am really proud of you. She said, like we have an Emirati and who is dedicated, who is a good leader, who tries and learns and who is very active. I think... she really made me happy. Experience as a First year V ice principal Fatima Fatima faced very different challenges than Hessa and Khawla. However, out of all of the participants, she exhibited the highest degree of frustration with what she perceived as her lack of preparation for the difficulties of being a f irst year vice principal and with a lack of ongoing support. She appeared to face a very resistant teaching faculty and seemed to lack support from some other members of her school leadership team. Fatima described her induction into the school: 76


In my case I came here, I didnt meet with the [previous] viceprincipal. I came here, she was resigned from this work, I just spent few hours with her, she was working with the schedule, she print it out and she gave it to me and she said bye, see you, okay. So ima gine that. I was here in her office alone and my principal also shes a new principal [to this school] and then I was in her office with all files for last year and I dont know what to do, I have no one to tell me, I have no one to tell me this is your role, you have to do this and that. This reality seemed to conflict with the perception of her new role; she said, For example, they [other teachers?] told us A h you are vice principal now Y ou are relaxing now, dont have much work like teachers but it is the opposite. Yes, I have many things to do at home for my work as a vice principal Fatima was alone for one whole semester, the only vice principal in this school. So I was doing almost everything, academic and student service. Like the other vi ce principals, Fatima also described ESIS and community relationships as an ongoing issue. Additionally, she spoke frankly and consistently about the challenges she faced at her school site concerning teacher absenteeism, refusal to cover classes, resistance to professional development, attendance taking, and duty coverage: You have an unexpected number of teacher who are absent without telling you anything, you expect them to come and then they are not here, where are they? They are absent, oh my god. Cove ring substitutions its oh my god. So daily since I came here its the same routine you put a substitution you want a teacher to cover a class, she will send back, no I am sorry I cannot take it, so I have to find another way, I have to find a solution, you know. Most of the time [teachers] refuse to attend [PD] so you force them to attend by diplomacy. And they think what, you are not serving them, you are hurting them by keeping them So in their opinions I am you know treating them badly. I know over the world, teachers should take the attendance for her class. When you take that class you should know how many students do you have in your classroom. [...] Its really important. Do I have to convince them to do this? See, yes its really hard. 77


Fatim a expressed a high level of frustration, stating : Sometimes people dont accept that you are new you are fresh, you have no experience at all about this job and in the meantime you are in charge of taking care of the whole school and you are new and you are alone. She described specific details of information which she wished she had known before starting work, such as, which files do I have to keep in my office? I dont know how to write a report to my p rincipal about particular things. This stuff we need to train people to do it before they join the workforce. She went on to describe her lack of preparation concerning: SIP, budgeting, the budget of this school and the maintenance of the school, it is really, you have like security that will have c ontract, cleaners, the companies, canteen, these all stuff I have no idea how to run this stuff. She summed up her feelings, stating that she would like to focus more on the students learning you know and the students themselves. But un til now I am far away from them because I am busy with other stuff that maybe I should learn from the beginning, before I started my real job. Particularly before the arrival of the second viceprincipal, Fatima attempted to assume the responsibilities of several others When she tried to ask teachers to take attendance online, the principal said okay they cannot do it, because they are busy. I said okay, I did the attendance for one whole semester by myself. Additionally, she and the principal often cover classes when teachers refuse. When the second VP arrived, Fatima said that the VP was surprised by teachers refusing to take substitution .S he said for example in [the U.S.] teachers dont refuse taking substitution. Fatima replied, Here no [the] teacher can say No, sorry I cannot take it, I am tired and I dont 78


understand because I didnt work outside my country, so... but according to what I hear from others its not the same. Fatima was realistic about change, stating As a leader you will not make the change by yourself It depends on other people. I dont want [teachers] to follow me just because I am their vice principal They have to believe about the change, change their mentality, change their way of thinking. Despite her positive beliefs about teachers ability to change, she explicitly referenced her belief that cultural pressure for women to teach was affecting the profession negatively. She said, So who responsible about [students low performance]? People. In my opinion, teachers. She said: I become a teacher because my parents encouraged me to become a teacher. It wasnt my desire. But when you do something you really like and you really feel that you can give the best as you can, you will do it in a fabulous way, i n a good way. However, she still hopes to have a positive effect on the mentality of teachers, stating: I dont accept if someone tell me this is, that student is lazy or he cannot understand or they are t o o s l o w.. Dont say that child cannot learn. A nd we see this a lot. When ask the teacher they say no no no dont bother yourself, that student will not understand anything, dont give anything to her. She hopes to inspire positive change at her school, ensuring a better education for all students; she believes, a real teacher, they will not leave any students in the classroom without help, they will try, they will kill themselves to help the students. To improve. Despite the difficulties she faced, Fatima described herself as a change agent and expressed her commitment to her work as a divine calling, stating, It is my destiny I think It is from God He puts me in this position and this place to do something useful I think, yes. 79


Experience as a First year Viceprincipal Mariam Like the other vicep rincipals, Mariam faced a n unsteady start at the beginning of the school year. She was placed in an old Cycle 1 boys school which was feminized at the beginning of the school year. She described the reception the female staff received from the community, stating that feminization was really a shock for [this] community. Many parents reacted angrily, believing we are not trustworthy some of them [were] shouting, W hy are women here? Women are not strong ; they cannot control the boys. Feminization meant not only a transition for the community but also that every single teacher and school leader was new to the school. This issue was exacerbated by the fact that the principal arrived in November after the school began Mariam described some of the chall enges she faced: The most difficult challenge was really the school system, the school rules, to put everything in its place, even with the teachers, even with the children because most of them were new teachers, new teachers even for the EMTs and AMTs. I was lucky to have English HoF but I did not have Arabic HoF, so I was with them, was working with them so everything was new so I was running here, there and there. Like Hessa, Mariam and her principal seemed to function well together. She said, My responsibility i s everything the principal does I am with her. I try to support her report everything to her, especially since she is a Westerner so sometimes communication is a barrier, sometimes with fathers or teachers. Mariam indicated that her principal often provides her with readings, and that she is a positive force in the school; she said, W e are fine. Shes [the principal] with us now and we are fine. Similar to Fatima, Mariam reported resistance from teachers as a problem but one that she be lieved that she was addressing successfully. She said, I will not again go outside and say Ive had teacher resistance. Why do they resist? Because they are not satisfied about something. Fix it in 80


the school that thing and they will be satisfied and you will see the wonderful performance from them It is not a challenge. She described her approach to managing relationships with teachers: I was leading students, 30 students, now I am leading maybe 35 teachers. It is the same [as] in the classroom I have high achievers, I have low achievers, I have stubborn teachers, I have really enthusiastic teachers, I have lazy teachers so it is the same but you have to be very careful with them because most of the teachers are sensitive once they are dealing w ith the administrators. She provided an example of overcoming resistance to attending professional development, particularly for first year teachers. She said: We need to investigate why this teacher is complaining maybe the training is really boring, is really, she doesnt need it. Because those new teachers I am thinking of something that really they need Being a caring person in our field will produce a responsible person. The idea of caring was a consistent theme in Mariams discussion of her own role. She said, Actually being responsible in our field [means] that you really care, so responsible mean caring, caring, so you care for those kids. Mariam described the children at her school as really lucky because they have that N ew S chool model. Th ey are playing, enjoying their time, projects They early learn how to be responsible and they learn how to be self confident. Despite her generally positive comments about her school, Mariam described some negative consequences in her personal life because of her increased commitments as a vice principal She described her feelings: Only one word, really I felt alone, I felt alone so when you are vice principal in this world I cant join to that group they will say Mariam is with that group and I cant take coffee with that teacher because they will say why she call that teacher. Really I miss my friends, I miss the teachers life, the teachers lounge I miss that life, drinking, eat taking lunch together, chatting about students, working, helping each other, I miss that. 81


She also described feeling isolated from her family because of the burden of taking work home, stating I cant concentrate [around the family], I have to stay alone. So thats no life. However, she appeared to see this as a temporary situation, saying, I miss a lot of things I know, but I enjoy it Sarah, maybe it is the first year. I will say I dont know. Mariam described a great deal of hard work and effort undertaken in concert with her principal over the course of the year to bui ld a school community and to connect with parents. By the end of the year, she said that the parents, many of whom were very angry or upset at the beginning of the year, are fine. Most of them [now say] Alhamdulillah thank god that we have mothers for our children. We have mothers, and we need mothers. Electronic Student Information System (ESIS) All of the program participants who were interviewed referenced the student information system (ESIS) as a major part of their job responsibilities. Their comments indicated that this system was extremely cumbersome and several participants expressed frustration regarding the drain on their time and energy which they believed was a result of their responsibilities with ESIS. Fatima summ arized the tone of th e groups feelings about ESIS, saying, ESIS oh my god its a whole different story ESIS they have to train new vice principals how to deal with ESIS. Hessa was so frustrated that she recounted an incident when she asked Dr. Mugheer personally for help with registration using the system : Stop, Dr. Mugheer listen, [she said]. He said, What? I said, [You] already opened ESIS? He said, I opened ESIS, from the first day. I thought, Yes, thank youhe opened ESIS first day and I am the one who is sup posed to register. I dont know how to register. Nobody trained me. I have taken training to be an academic vice principal I am not student vice principal [She said] Dr Mugheer, I dont have a secretary, I dont 82


have a principal, I dont have a student services vice principal I am alone. He said, No, we are not going to let you be alone, well help you. [He tells a staff member], Help her. He said just that, okay. Khawla, Mariam, and Fatima all indicated that ESIS interfered significantly with their family life. Khawla said : Registration for each child I have to spend like from one hour to one hour and a half and this, my time is valuable. I just do it at home which is my valuable time with my kids is taken and with my husband. Hessa and Khawl a both indicated that they were unable to engage fully with the academic aspects of their job because of ESIS. Khawla said, I have to be in the classrooms, not here, sitting on the desk! Fatima expressed a high degree of frustration with the system and w ith the lack of training. She said, Theres no time that you will take your time to learn, no, you have to do it, find a way to learn about it and just finish with it. They will not give you a time. Mariam said, simply, You know Sarah, most of our work now [is] in ESIS. Program participants uniformly expressed a high degree of frustration with ESIS, which they perceived to be an inefficient and timeconsuming system for which they had received inadequate training. Community Relationships Another issue which was a major theme across all of the interviews was a lack of support from ADEC for building and maintaining positive community relationships. It is possible that one of the limitations of the study the fact that three of four participants were in a similar geographic areaamplified this issue; however, it was addressed in detail by all progr am participants ADEC initiatives, such as feminization, the introduction of coeducation in Cycle 1 and inclusion for students with special needs were cited by participants as areas in which they needed additional support. All of the 83


program participants expressed a high degree of commitment to the idea that parent involvement is essential to student success, such as Hessa, who said: It is important for [schools ] to hear, to listen to the parents because they are, I know from ADEC the parents are the most important and they should be involved in the school and the school should be involved with the community and with the parents a lot. Mariam said, If we are looking for high outcomes from the students we need their parents support so they need to know about the New School Model to support us with it. Fatima believed that a large part of her role as a viceprincipal was to ensure parent satisfaction; she said: Yes, as we know parents are our clients. You dont want one parent to go out from your school and he feel angry or mad or sad. You always want to please them and satisfy them. So I tried to help them as much as I can. Fatima stated that in her experience, most parents believe, teaching is the school responsibility, it is not our responsibility [Parents think] we take care of his health, his food, clothes you know but not education part, its the school responsibility. H owever, Hessa believed that ADEC shares responsibility for not building relationships with parents. She asked, Why do we ask [parents] to participate when it is suiting us? And when it is something really concerns their children like [mixing the genders in Cycle 1 ] we do not need their opinion, we just force it. She suggested ADEC they should consider the parents opinion, to listen to all of their concerns, [and] come up with a solution in the middle. And then the problem will be solved and this anger will be more... lesser and lesser. Khawla provided some suggestions for improvement, such as having a TV, like a channel that is only for ADEC that talks about accomplishments, like a newsletter which can be, which goes with the newspaper, like it can be monthly 84


for example Which about, like our vision, what are the things we are aiming for. She also expressed her belief that A lot of changes that are happening and which will be through us, which will be our responsibility to enlighten [the community] ... We need Emirat i committed teachers actually. Mariam provided an example of a situation at her school that was emblematic of the need for greater communication with parents, regarding inclusion for students with special needs: Some of them [parents] are here in my offic e shouting and yelling. [ One parent asked ], So why you have this boy? Hes abnormal! Take him to the hospital or take him to those centers. Why is he with us with our children in the school? He doesnt hear. He doesnt speak. So why he is here? [She responds], No. It is inclusion, it is inclusion program. [The parent asks,] What is inclusion? Why he is here? Who is at ADEC? Dr. Mugheer? I will ask Dr. Mugheer I will go to the Sheikh or somewhere! Mariam said, the problem [is] that we need ADECs support or we need ADEC to help us with the community. So it is the culture. A lot of things, we need to change but it is the culture. So I think we need ADEC to support us with the community. Despite many challenges, Khawla referenced the progress made by ADEC, specifically concerning Arabic language and culture. She said: Now ADEC is stressing on national identity so this made [people] feel a little secure that, no we are not going to lose it, we are not going to lose our language, Arabic language, our r eligion, our beliefs [this] let them feel secure, more secure that no you are not going to lose it, they will be at ease. She went on to state, I think what we have accomplished in ADEC is phenomenal and in a very short time It has to do with having good leaders actually who believe in this program, who believe that the change can happen with the resistance. All of the program participants expressed a strong belief in the work ADEC is doing and in the importance of parent and community support in enhancing student achievement; they 85


expressed a desire to have more support from ADEC in order to support these essential relationships effectively. Suggestions for Program Improvement The program participants offered several specific suggestions for improving the program in the future, including more practical information, mentorships, internships, communications skills, and guest speakers. I n particular, Fatima hoped that future programs would concentrate more on practical issues, such as SIP, budgeting, mai ntenance, security, safety, and ESIS. Several participants mentioned site visits and internships as a way to make the training more connected to practice. Khawla said: I think if it is more practical [the program will be better] I think. Practical. They th ought it would be practical if we just observe our schools but no... it would be more practical if we go to other places, I think. Hessa suggested that it would be good, If they involved us more in the administration to go there and to stay with some people and to work with them for like, for a period of time to see what they are doing, to get experience. An internship, Fatima said, would provide scaffolding for future viceprincipals; she said: Let them work or stay in a school for few months as a trai nee. You are responsible and learning at the same time, it is really difficult. Give them time to train and learn and then put them in a real situation. She also suggested that a different school (not their own) would be better because, it could be diffi cult with their colleagues you know because they used to be with them as a teacher you know. But if they go to a different school they will have a different experience also. Khawla suggested sending future viceprincipals : to different like very good per forming schools with very good performing leaders and let them learn from it. And mentoring. When you do something and you want to know, is it going to work, am I doing a good job? 86


Communication, which several participants referenced as an area for their own growth, was also an area in which more training might be helpful. Fatima said: Yes, you need to be able to communicate with different mentality, you communicate with teachers differently than you communicate with students, with parents and also with parents you have educated parents, you will have err, not educated parents you know so it depends on the people, that you are communicating with. Mariam suggested including more guest speakers, including Western principals who face really the challenges here and we would like to hear from them and even the successful Emirati principals. they have wonderful practices in their schools, so we want to know those practices. Development and Growth as Leaders After completing the initial six week program and acting as vice principal s, the program participants shared their beliefs about the qualities needed for future leaders in ADEC. Fatima said : You need to have these skills: to be good listener, to be able to communicate with different people, different backgrounds to be able to solve problems also to be patient. be flexible, to have a common sense and ask for help. Mariam said that leaders need to be responsible, confident, updated, patient, wise, humble, and, she said, Can I add that to have a sense of humor sometimes. Hessa said, I think the successful leaders who are the leaders who know the people, very well and they can convince them and you cannot convince anyone unless if you are convinced fir st. Khawla stated that leaders should be focused on improvement, have good interpersonal skills, be bilingual, hardworking and be tolerant, which she believed was very important. She said, We need our leaders to understand the others 87


because this is w hat we want to teach our children. She illustrated her idea with imagery: We are not standing on this river bank and we just point to that people that they are not good enough, they are not doing good job or whatever or they are better than us or they are superior or inferior whatever, no you need to mix up with them, if you can benefit from them try to benefit from them, try to listen and try to understand the others and so this is my idea. All of the participants highlighted their commitment to their own ongoing growth and development, using several important strategies, including reading and research, networking, and taking advantage of professional development opportunities. Mariam said that reading is essential in keeping up to date with everything, especially our field, it is education, the same as health. You have to know what is the latest, what are things which are really new in our field. She said, When I am leading my students, teaching my students and leading my school, it is reading I cant stop reading! I discovered now I have to read more and more, more than when I was a teacher. Khawla highlighted how reading has helped her as well, saying : Ive been into like how many essays and research [about] early childhood, the curriculum, the teac hing and learning, the good practices and you know. So I was just striving to know as much as I can, whatever I can. In addition to the personal benefits of reading, Khawla also highlighted it as a leadership tool, stating you need to be a lifelong learn er [and] your staff needs to know that you are a lifelong learner. Although the cohort group began as a class, all four participants interviewed indicated that a strong network had emerged, which was a source of information and support. Mariam described her experience: From that day [at the beginning of the program] I established my network. Sometimes we share a lot of our problems, our issues, our concerns I can say it is network a strong network, really a strong network and it is 88


really starting to be bigger and bigger, [from Al Ain] to Abu Dhabi zone and ADEC and even sometimes in the West region. Khawla wished for greater opportunities to network, saying, I wish if we could be able to network better with others so they can help us. It helped a lot. Networking is one of those things that really help s. Mariam and Hessa indicated that they would like to focus on communication as an important area for continued personal growth. Mariam said: Sometimes for us as leaders we have to be careful when we are communicating. So, we dont want at the end to say it was a miscommunication, no So that is what I want, something that [builds] our skills to be smarter with people like this. Mariam also thought that time management training would be helpful, although she said that maybe her colleagues will say, Mariam you are very silly! No, we are vice principal s and we need a course in time management? Yes, we need time management maybe. Khawla and Fatima both referenced current and future training as a potential precursor to the principalship, although Fatima indicated she might prefer to remain as a vice principal. Khawla concluded: We are not meant to be VPs forever. We are being trained as far as I know to be leaders in the future. So if people they g ive you the confidence and the trust that you can do it and you have someone who tells you, someone who mentors you like once a week comes to see you and you feel that hes like a critical friend, a coach, like a life coach or someone professional who can help you without judging you then you will feel very comfortable and you will benefit a lot. Mariam also hoped to avail herself of future training and mentorship opportunities; she suggested that she would benefit from further training in leading people and leading strategically, although she said, Just tell me and I will do it. So, I went to learn, about myself, so what can I do more, just to be a good leader or better leader. 89


Summary of Findings R esearch question one is What are the perceptions of members of the cohort group of candidates for the viceprincipalship who are involved in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram, regarding the effectiveness of the program? Findings indicate that all four program participants interviewed believed that th e program increased their preparedness to address the rigors of the first year of the viceprincipalship. However, participants identified a large gap between the theoretical knowledge imparted in the program and the oftenharsh realities they faced as vic e principals. Additionally, the gap in programming midyear was perceived by some participants as an abandonment of ADECs responsibility to support them. Particular areas in which much more training was needed include: ESIS/online registration, curriculum (for those assigned outside of their teaching cycle/area), school management (e.g., duty schedule, substitutes, budget, busses), parent/community engagement, and communication. Aspects of the training that were perceived to be most helpful were; guest spe akers; the practical tasks that participants completed at the schools; caring, encouraging, and nurturing relationships with program leaders/teachers; and the opportunity to form a caring and collaborative network with their peers. Although the program par ticipants faced many challenges in their first year as vice principal s, they all exhibited a high degree of personal belief in their ability to enact positive change, in order to support student achievement and ADEC reform efforts. Concerning sub question one What are participants perceptions about the cultural appropriat eness of the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram? all of the program participants indicated that the training was culturally appropriate and 90


contextualized. One participant, Khawla, suggested that further contextualization (e.g., a review from an informed Emirati national or small committee) would strengthen the material further. She cited one incident when the material seemed so, not to UAE context, stating I think the program i s very good just not to bring like a ready made experience and put it here. The remaining three participants were adamant in their belief that the material was appropriately contextualized. Several participants lauded the program leaders for their attention to cultural appropriateness and efficacy. Mariam said, They [the program leaders] considered our identity, they considered our culture, everything, everything. They know, I think they know about our culture and understand everything. Concerning sub q uestion two, What are participants perceptions about the relevance of the information pres ented in the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram, as it relates to their experience in the UAE context? the participants generally indicated their belief that the training was helpful to them in preparing to become vice principal s; however, the degree to which each participant truly struggled through the first trimester indicates that beyond information, they needed a much greater degree of mentorship and support in order to be successful. Participants indicated that an internship before placement, ongoing mentoring and coaching, more practical information, and communication training would benefit future trainees. 91


CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION The purpose of this chapter is to describe the conclusions reached from the review of the literature and interviews with program candidates. First, conclusions will be discussed. Next, considerations for future program designers and recommendations for future training wi ll be provided. Finally, considerations for further study will be made. It is clear that the development of future leaders in ADEC is an essential component of ADECs vision and mission and accords with national priorities, in terms of Emiratization. After a review of the literature and interviews with four participants in this program, it is my conclusion that several important areas should be taken into consideration by future program designers. These are: participants educational background, leadership role models, reality in ADEC schools, and some gender issues (particularly as they relate to the decision to join the teaching profession) Additionally, the participants voiced the need for much more support for ADECs electronic systems (such as ESIS) and for communicating with the community. P rogram participants had many similarities in terms of their background. Program designers may want to consider these background characteristics specifically when designing program acti vities, particularly with regar d to supporting participants with moving beyond the rote pedagogy and poor leadership role models that all of the interviewees referenced having experienced. Khawla explicitly referenced the temptation for Emirati teachers to get back to the way their teachers taught us and we were taught in a very traditional way. Poor role models are not unique to the Emirati context; Buskey and TopolkaJorissen outlined the danger of new leaders emulating poor role models in their work in the U.S. ( Buskey &TopolkaJo rissen 2010, p. 115). 92


However, all of the program participants referenced having experienced almost exclusively rote traditional teaching and authoritarian leadership. This may be a shared history, which provides context to program designers. Additionally leading teachers who have experienced this type of teaching may require a unique skill set. In the U.S., participants in a principal development program were cited by Brown University as finding training that was too theoretical as a minus (Brown University, 2003, p. 10). Several of the program participants, particularly Fatima, found some aspects of the [XXXX] Professional Development Program to be not practical enough; Fatima said, If you have theories without [implementation] there is no use for reading or studying about this theory if you are not going to apply it. Brown University quoted a principal who said, The support I received was minimal. My feet hit the floor and I learned by doing. This experience was echoed by several program partic ipants, who felt abandoned when the six week intensive program was over and they found little further support in a very difficult situation. Khawla said, When we graduated, they just, they forgot about us And we felt so bad because we were just nobody, you know. They neglected us. Fatima said, I didnt find the support that I wished to have. So I tried to work at home many hours, reading, searching. Although only one program participant said that she believed the program would benefit from more contex tualization, the disconnection between theory and the reality faced by practitioners in ADEC schools was a consistent theme, both in the literature review and as voiced by participants. Clarke, an education professor in Abu Dhabi, cites the pedagogical g ulf between existing and aspirational levels of schooling (Clarke, 2006, p. 226). Sowa and De La Vega ask, How does one go about collaborating to 93


change a system that has deep roots in a traditional format of memorization, repetition, and classroom management based on physical punishment and fear? (Sowa & De La Vega, 2008, p. 103).Khawla recounts her own experience, stating that in her m asters degree program, we talk about something, we study something and the reality is disastrous, it was disastrous, like the leadership, the school, the system, everything. After the [XXXX] Professional Development P rogram showcase, Khawla said that she knew the theoretical part of it but in practice it would be different, we realized that. But it was so different, s o harsh Again, a disconnection between theory and reality in education is not unique to this context; however, the degree to which this issue was raised both in the literature and by participants suggests that this issue may warrant further consideration by program designers. Much further study is warranted to assess the contextualized needs of female leadership candidates in the UAE context. Research by Abdulla indicates that there is a high degree of preference for femaleonly working environments, both by Emirati families and by the women themselves. Three of four program participants interviewed indicated that family pressure played an essential role in their decision to enter education. Hessa indicated that as a viceprincipal, who needs to work with men from ADEC as a part of her role, she needed to learn to face the menyou have to be firm, when you say no which means no. If they are willing to negotiate you have to convince them but with etiquette which suits the culture. Further study is needed to determine what type of communication training may be necessary, if any, to support female leadership training fully. Fatima indicated her belief that societal pressure for women to become teachers is a detriment to the profession. She asks, So who are responsible 94


about [students low performance]? People. In my opinion, teachers. She continues, stating, When you do something you really like and you really feel that you can give the best that you can, you will do it in a fabulous way, in a good way. Leading teachers in this context may require contextualized training; further study is needed concerning this contextual issue. As a researcher, there is a natural desire to find an aha moment, a sowhat that will change the world, even just a little. I n narrative research, this moment is elusive. It is hoped that the power of the work is in the journey itself, in the participants words, which the researcher attempts to capture and record as faithfully as possible. What I found through my research is that these women describe themselves as ambitious and dedicated, and that they evidence care for the students and the teachers they lead. They are fairly well versed in educational theories and even jargon, but have rarely experienced good teaching or highq uality leadership themselves. They are trying hardvery hardto become leaders for the next generation, for their children, their students, and for their country. They read about educational theories; they learn about the theories, but the reality they fac e is fundamentally different from the reality described in their books. The parent communities are far different, and the background knowledge and training of many of the teachers they lead often is lacking seriously. The cultural issues in this context co ncerning gender mean that the power dynamics and the social interactions faced by these women are far different from what is described in a Western context. This is not to say that the canon of educational knowledge from the West is not valuable or applica ble here; it is just to raise the issue of contextualization, which I see as being of paramount importance to successful change efforts in ADEC. 95


This is a high power distance culture, in which status is given to Western experts who are sometimes viewed as the keepers of knowledge. What I have learned from my time spent with these four dedicated future leaders is that there is value in asking their opinions. There is value in time spent learning about their experience and there is value in engaging them in the development of future training experiences, both for themselves and for other future leaders. As Khawla said, including voices from local participants can ensure that professional development leaders do not just bring like a ready made experience a nd put it here. As a program leader myself, my conclusion is that I need to spend more time listening and engaging with local educators and leaders; I hope that others will learn from my experience and spend more time listening to the educators we serve. Recommendations for Program Leaders 1. All participants, either implicitly or explicitly, indicated their beli ef that the program was helpful and should be continued; however, several potential program modifications were suggested. 2. Training should be revised to prepare more specifically aspiring leaders for the reality they will face in schools and should include an increased focus on day to day school operations. 3. The follow up phase of the program is critical; ongoing support needs to be built not only into t his program but also into a continuum of services for aspiring leaders. No leadership training should be provided in isolation; all programs should be aligned carefully to ensure scaffolded support throughout the future leaders careers. 4. Leaders should hav e access to training and follow up particularly concerning practical needs ( e.g., registration, ESIS, scheduling, budgeting, time management, report writing) in addition to ongoing leadership training. 5. Aspiring leaders should be paired with a mentor as a part of a structured mentoring program. Training should be provided to both the mentor and the mentee, in addition to ongoing follow up to gauge the effectiveness of the relationship. 96


6. Aspiring leaders should be provided with the opportunity to see successful schools in action. This could involve trips inside of the UAE to visit successful schools, both government and private, and to schools outside of the country. 7. Specific communication support s and training should be provided to aspiring leaders. A spiring leaders should be provided with training and support m aterials to ensure their ability to communicate effectively with stakeholder groups, including ADEC personnel, teachers, students, and parents. This training may need to address specific context ual issues. 8. Training cohorts should be kept intact. 9. Networking activities between and among both aspiring leaders and current leaders (particularly n ationals of the same gender) should be fostered and encouraged. 10. The continuum of services for a spiring l eaders should be tailored to meet the unique needs and goals of the trainees and should allow them to access highquality researchbased leadership programming that is contextualized to the UAE. 11. ADEC Professional Development division should conduct periodic a nd systematic program evaluations (including both qualitative and quantitative measures) to ensure that leadership development programs meet the needs of the participants and the organization. Recommendations for Future Study The field of study in leadership development throughout the world is narrow; in the UAE context, it is non existent. Every facet of education in this context would benefit from far greater study. Some specific issues raised in this work include: w hy teachers enter teaching and what eff ects this has on their career development ; t he relationship between university teacher preparation programs and the reality in government schools ; t he relationship between university leadership preparation programs and the reality in government schools ; t h e unique issues faced by female leaders in the UAE context in the workplace; f amily/work balance, particularly for female leaders in this context ; p arents perspectives on current school reform efforts t he role of the parent in supporting learning in this context ; 97


t he effectiveness of various professional development programs and initiatives (program evaluation) ; p athways to leadership (Who becomes a leader? Why? How?) ; and r elationships between and among Arabic speaking and Englishspeaking school faculties 98


APPENDIX INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Verbatim greeting/background information for participants: Thank you for your time [this morning/afternoon]. I value your time and I appreciate you sharing your time with me. The purpose of this interview is to learn more about your experience in the [XXXX] leadership development program. I will not use your name or the name of the program in any part of my writing. I hope that you will feel free to share with me your thoughts and feelings about the program, in detail. Even if something seems like a small detail, it may really help me to understand your experience, so please share it! I will audiotape and then write down the thoughts that you share with me during our conversation. T hen I will send you a copy to make sure that it reflects what you said. You will have a chance to make changes if anything is not accurate. When I finish writing my dissertation, I will share a copy with you, if you would like. The purpose of this work is to learn more about your thoughts, experiences, and feelings about the [XXXX] program. When it is complete, I hope that this work will help educational leaders to learn more about participants experiences and create professional development experiences w hich are beneficial for all participants. Questions 1. In your current role, what are your major job responsibilities? 2. What professional development programs have you taken in the past? Were these programs helpful to you? Why or why not? 3. What qualities do you believe are necessary for future leaders in ADEC? Why? 4. Why did you want to join the [XXXX] program? 99

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5. If I was an aspiring VP and I wanted to take part in this program, how would you describe the program to me? Please describe the program in detail (locatio n, times, participants, etc.). 6. What aspects of the program have been the most and/or least helpful to you? 7. Sometimes, Emirati participants in PD programs find that some aspects of the training are not consistent with the UAE culture. Please describe any as pects of the [XXXX] program that you found to be inconsistent with the UAE culture. 8. Please tell me about how your p rofessional l earning community with your colleagues in the course has developed during this program. 9. How have you developed as a leader throughout the [XXXX] program? 10. What are some of the specific challenges at your school? 11. How do you think the [XXXX] program has or will help you address these problems? What would you like to learn more about, in order to be an effective leader or teacher leader at your school? 12. If you were speaking to the leadership at ADEC about developing future leadership development programs, what would you tell them? 13. Overall, please state your feelings about the [XXXX] program. 14. Please share any additional information that you think would be helpful. 15. In your opinion, what are the biggest problems facing education in Abu Dhabi right now? 100

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Sarah Bond was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Steel Valley High School, before attending the University of Pi ttsburgh, to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree i n Theatre Arts. She studied drama in London, where she met her husband, Cameron. She also studied drama and teaching in Queensland, Australia. Sarah taught International Baccalaureate Theatre Arts at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento, Californi a, where her son, Lachlan, was born. She also taught in Lewisville, Texas and was a Media Specialist, a Gifted Education Specialist, and a Program Evaluator for the Collier County Public Schools in Naples, FL. Sarah received her Master of Arts degree in En glish from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2008. Currently, Sarah is a Senior Professional Development Specialist for the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). Sarah is profoundly grateful for the support and mentoring of her professors and colleagues during her professional journey and for the support she has received from ADEC for her research. Sarahs research interests include teacher preparation and education, leadership development programs, public/private partnerships, and program evaluation. Sarah fe els incredibly blessed to have a family who shares her love of travel and new adventures. She looks forward having more time to spend with her family, now that her degrees are complete, and to continuing to pursue an international career in education. 106