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Educational policy analysis archives
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Arizona State University
University of South Florida
Arizona State University
University of South Florida.
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 10, no. 27 (May 17, 2002).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c May 17, 2002
Mentoring narratives on-line : teaching the principalship / Alison I. Griffith [and] Svitlana Taraban.
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2 710
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
1 773
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
4 856


1 of 19 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 10 Number 27May 17, 2002ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2002, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES .Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education .Mentoring Narratives ON-LINE: Teaching the Principalship 1 Alison I. Griffith York University Svitlana Taraban York UniversityCitation: Griffith, A. I. & Taraban, S. (2002, May 17). Mentoring narratives ON-LINE: Teaching the principalship. Education Policy Analysis Archives 10 (27). Retrieved [date] from need to develop new models for preparation of s chool administrators has been a prominent concern in educational discour se in the last decade. Having been criticized for the inadequate preparati on of the school leadership cadre, academic departments responsible for training future school administrators have had to revisit their app roaches and to reframe their teaching philosophies to ensure the readiness of their graduates for


2 of 19the challenges and complexities of school leadershi p. This article reports on the new model of principals' training that has b een used in York University's Principals' Qualification Program (PQP ) from the late 1990s onward. One component of the program brings traditi onal case methodology into a computer-mediated/on-line enviro nment. The on-line cases are narratives from the everyday lives of the Ontario school administrators who serve as mentors in the on-line environment. Situating our discussion within the context of the rapidly changing educational landscape of Ontario, we focus on the P QP model to explore experientially generated case narratives as one met hod for teaching and learning the work of the local school administrator We focus particularly on the teaching and learning embedded in computer-mediated or on-line case narratives used i n training teachers for school leadership. We argue that the complexiti es of school leadership—the social, cultural, relational, ethica l and moral context of school leadership—can be taught effectively through the reflective processes of on-line case narratives. We seek to co ntribute to the ongoing dialogue on the potential of new pedagogies and new technologies to help prepare the competent and resp onsible leaders for tomorrow's schools. IntroductionThe preparation of classroom teachers to be princip als (local school administrators) is, at any time, a complex teaching process to re-frame in dividual horizons of professional interest and knowledge. The immediacy of classroom teaching and learning that forms the lived experience of teachers must be brought in to the context of relationships and responsibilities that extend throughout the school, its communities and the bureaucratic relations linking the school to the educational sys tem. The principal must mediate these complex relationships. Indeed, complexity is one of the distinguishing features of the principalship. Traditionally, the work of the schoo l principal has been to coordinate the relationships and tasks of the school with the comm unity and the demands of the larger system in which the school is embedded. In Ontario education today, the preparation of principals for local school administration must als o address the dramatic changes in public schooling that have been mandated by the cur rent neo-Conservative government and the subsequent job unrest in the teaching profe ssion. Thus, teaching and learning the work of the principal requires programs for prepari ng leaders that address the complexity of the position within the rapidly chang ing educational landscape of Ontario education.In this article, we focus on York University's Prin cipals' Qualification Program (PQP) to explore experientially generated case narratives as one method for teaching and learning the work of the local school administrator. We focu s particularly on the teaching and learning embedded in computer-mediated or on-line c ase narratives used in training teachers for school leadership. We argue that the c omplexities of school leadership—the social, cultural, relational, ethical and moral con text of school leadership—can be taught effectively through the reflective processes of online case narratives.


3 of 19The Educational Context in OntarioIn Ontario, school administrators are working in a new and difficult context. The neo-Conservative government has been engaged in a d ramatic restructuring and marketization of the Public and Catholic education systems. Curriculum, assessment and budgetary authority have been centralized in the Go vernment and the Ministry of Education. "The Ontario government slashed welfare benefits by 20%, higher education budgets by 15%, and public schooling by some 12% … [educational funding was cut] in excess of 1 billion dollars, if higher education is included along with primary and secondary education" (Axelrod, 2000, p. 2, 8). Boar ds of Education are closing low-enrolled schools and user fees for school facil ities have been instituted. School Boards were amalgamated to form very large administ rative units and supervisory staff has been reduced. Curricula are being (or have been ) rewritten for all levels and subjects, and grade-level testing has been instituted. Teache r testing is on the immediate horizon although the method and focus of this centralized r eview process is as yet unknown. Principals and vice-principals have been removed fr om the teachers' unions, thus disrupting the collegial relationship on which scho ol leadership has traditionally been grounded.Educators in the educational system in Ontario are struggling to make the pedagogical, curricular and administrative changes at the requir ed pace and form. Experienced teachers and administrators were given the opportun ity for early retirement and many did so. Ontario is now experiencing a teacher and princ ipal shortage that is expected to continue for some time. The morale of Ontario educa tors is low and strikes and job actions are not uncommon in Ontario school system.At the same time and particularly in the large urba n centers in Ontario, the schooling context of teaching and learning has changed. Immig ration to Ontario, particularly to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) from other provinces in Canada and from around the world, continues to be at the highest rate in Canad a. There are more students as well as more students whose first language is neither Engli sh nor French, fewer teachers, and fewer resources. Ontario's education was developed and has been based on White, Anglophone, and European assumptions—assumptions th at no longer hold for huge numbers of students and their families, nor for man y of the teachers within urban systems. Students, parents and communities of diver se of languages, race/ethnicities, abilities and family structures form the everyday c ontext of many local schools. Local Board initiatives to include the teaching and learn ing of equity and diversity have been undercut by the new curriculum (which excluded word s such as "equity") and the intensification of teachers' classroom teaching hou rs. It has been claimed that the current elected govern ment is deliberately running the public and Catholic school systems into the ground so that charter schools and other private institutions will be welcomed into the education la ndscape (Barlow & Robertson, 1994). My research suggests that the traditional links bet ween the local or regional organization of social class and the education system are being disrupted as Ontario re-orients its education system toward the requirements of a globa l economy (Griffith, 2000). This is the social and educational context of the current p rincipals' qualifying programs. The Principals' Qualification Program at York Unive rsity


4 of 19In Ontario, teachers who are appointed as school pr incipals must have completed (or be in the process of completing) the Principals' Quali fication Program (PQP). It is a required preparatory program offered by most univer sities in Ontario and, recently, by the principals' associations. The York University P QP is accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers and is offered through the Fiel d Development unit of the Faculty of Education. 2 York's PQP was completely revised in 1997, shiftin g the emphasis of the course toward relational leadership (Regan & Brooke s, 1995), leadership strategies for equity and diversity, and incorporating an action-r esearch practicum. At any one time, 250–300 candidates are enrolled in the program. Ten to fifteen program facilitators (current school principals) teach in one of the two required programs at four course sites in the Greater Toronto Area. A focus on change at t he school and system level is integrated into the program through the seminar top ics and through an on-line mentoring process.Case Methodology in the York University PQPA small, but important feature of the York PQP (14 out of 125 hours) is taught via computer-mediated communication to groups of candid ates who converse on-line. In contrast to the course seminars, the on-line groups are not site-based. PQP candidates are randomly assigned to online discussion groups (the number of the groups grew from eight in 1997 to sixteen in 1999, to 20 in 2000). E ach on-line group consists of 15 20 candidates who are mentored by two principals from different Boards of Education in the GTA. The On-Line Mentors are volunteers and rep resent a variety of Public and Catholic Boards. They are recruited for their knowl edge and experience, and for their 'fit' with the underlying principles of the York PQP. Eac h week, the On-Line Mentors post cases for discussion drawn from their everyday expe riences as principals. The on-line component of the program was developed for a number of reasons: To provide the opportunity for ongoing learning usi ng computer-mediated technologies, including electronic mail and Interne t information resources. To broaden the candidates knowledge of the range of issues and administrative practices of different Boards of Education across t he GTA, for example to highlight differences between rural and urban schoo ls, mono-cultural and multi-cultural schools, schools that are mono-lingu al and those with a broad linguistic diversity. To extend the range of contacts so useful to recent ly appointed administrators. To provide a different learning medium for the cand idates—one that is non-linear, reflective, and not tied to the schedules of face-t o-face teaching and learning. Computer-mediated discussion groups allow for inter actions between experienced and aspiring administrators, mentoring relationships th at no longer need to be confined to a single classroom or school. Indeed, the on-line tec hnology allows for networking across the large distances of the GTA, and provides the op portunity for people working in diverse school situations to learn from each other through the discussion of cases drawn from the everyday experience of principals working across the diversity of GTA schools.


5 of 19Case MethodologyCase methodology has a long history in education fo r leadership and administration. It originated as an instructional technique at Harvard University Law School in 1870 and later became widely accepted in a variety of profes sional disciplines. Clamp (web-page) defines a case as an account or description of a si tuation or sequence of events confronting an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. Rather than deliver concepts and theories, cases (also called clinical correlation, leadership stories, real-life narratives, critical incidents, and vignettes) pres ent situations for analysis about which decisions must be made. There are similarities of s tructure between case histories, clinical cases, problem-based learning and other ex perientially based methods in that they are all oriented to the particularities of pra ctice while drawing on the generalities of theory. The purpose of cases and case-based instruc tion in any professional field relates directly to the nature of the body of knowledge tha t exists in that particular field (Merseth, 1997). For example, in teacher education cases are used to develop reflective practitioners and to promote teacher reflection and enhanced understanding (Richert, 1991). In the field of educational administration w here decision-making skills are crucial, cases can offer opportunities to practice analysis, problem solving, action planning, and evaluation (Merseth, 1997).In the educational studies in general and in the ar ea of school administration in particular the interest in the case methodology is manifested through a wide incorporation of and experimentation with case-based instruction in preservice and in-service training of teachers and administrators. To date, numerous guid ebooks and collections of cases for principalship training have been published in North America ( cf : Hanson, Preparing for EducationalAdministration Using Case Analysis (2000); Lynn, Teaching and Learning with Cases: A Guidebook (1999); Miller and Kantrov, A Guide to Facilitating Cases in Education (1998), Merseth, Cases in Educational Administration (1997)). At the university level, special centers have been establi shed for research and promotion of the case methodology in the field of education (Pace Un iversity Center for Case Studies in Education is but one example). Likewise, educationa l journals devote a great deal of attention to this matter and provide a forum for di scussion of the value of case methodology for preparation of educational cadre. F or example, The Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership (JCEL) published by University of Utah is devoted solely to the publication of cases that can be effectively used i n preparation of educational leaders. Principal preparation programs have used case studi es to remedy problems that arise in the gap between theory and practice. A major critic ism of principal preparation programs has been: "Regardless of the year appointed, [princ ipals] have been trained and certified as administrators through programs largely irreleva nt to and grossly inadequate for the work responsibilities found in the school principal ship" (Muse & Thomas, 1991). The use of cases that emphasize the "value of both theo ry and practice, experience and reflection" (Danzig, 1997, p. 125) were (and contin ue to be) viewed as an important way of addressing this criticism.The need to bridge the worlds of theory and practic e in the training of school administrators has been accentuated by Danzig (1997 ; 1999) who developed a "leadership stories" approach for university traini ng of school administrators. His model is based on a mentorship through narrative where ex perienced school administrators


6 of 19offer their experiences—their leadership stories—to the next generation of school principals. Danzig argues that "leadership stories (or "narrative research") is a powerful tool for connecting the privileged discourse of uni versities with the smart hands of experience – connecting theory to practice" (quoted in Hopkins, 1998). According to Ashbough and Kasten (1991), cases can be used for several purposes: to help students acquire analytical skills; to develop the skills of synthesizing information; to promote concept development; to develop mature judgement and wisdom in a relativ ely risk-free environment; to illustrate and apply widely accepted techniques of administration. Richert (1991) suggests that case methodology combi nes both artifactual and social elements. The artifactual component is the case its elf, a description of an actual situation. The social component of case method is t he discussion of the case by colleagues that usually takes the form of a case di scussion (often referred to as a "case conference"). Our data suggest that case methodolog y also draws on the complexities embedded in the structure of narratives. We return to this point below.Using Case Methodology On-lineThe emergence of computer-based technologies opened up new possibilities for case conferencing. According to Desberg and Fisher (1996 ), the collision of technology and case methodology was inevitable. The combination of technology and case-based instruction gave birth to new applications of case methodology in teacher and principal preparation programs, for example video-cases, comp uter-based simulations, virtual case competitions on the World Wide Web, cases presented as CD-ROM and laser disks, and electronic meeting systems. Sudzina (1999) notes th at the technological formats of case analysis can be written, spoken, or based in hyperm edia utilizing the Internet or World Wide Web. Unlike the traditional classroom discussi on of cases, electronic meeting systems (EMS) allow for constant ongoing dialogue b etween participants. Moreover, electronic brainstorming produces significantly mor e fresh ideas than traditional classroom analysis of cases (Olaniran, 1994). EMS a lso allows more people to interact without interruption and to input ideas simultaneou sly. Opportunity for the participation of all group members is also enhanced in computer-m ediated case discussions. On-line case discussion in the York University PQP resonates with the need to decrease the gap between classroom instruction and practice and to enhance students' ability to make good decisions that are at the core of school leadership. The PQP on-line cases are experiential narratives that focus on a broad set o f concerns specific to the work of the principal. The cases, referred to by participants a s scenarios, problems or situations, are posted weekly by the On-Line Mentors. Each week, ca ndidates read the posted cases and respond to the issues, events and dilemmas of the c ase taking the perspective of a principal. This requires them to shift their readin g of the cases from their experiential teaching horizon toward a one that encompasses the relationships within the school, the school community and the educational system with it 's diverse participants.


7 of 19The role of case discussion facilitator is importan t in case methodology generally and the York PQP specifically. The facilitator guides the d iscussion by probing, directly challenging, or simply observing the discussion pro cess (Merseth, 1997). Feedback plays an important role in the learning process: as peopl e receive information about the results of their actions, they are able to correct themselv es progressively until they achieve the intended results (Silver, 1987). The PQP On-Line Me ntors, all of whom were classroom teachers prior to becoming a principal, bring their knowledge of teaching and learning to the CMC environment. They provide feedback in the f orm of comments addressed to candidates' responses, suggestions for different pr esentation strategies, ideas for deepening the responses, or concluding thoughts. Th e On-Line Mentors also direct discussions and monitor candidates' participation i n order to facilitate discussions that are reflective and thoughtful. In order to make cas e discussions challenging, educative and interesting, On-Line Mentors may make suggestio ns and ask questions related to the posted case.The on-line narratives are written rather than oral interactions, often presented in a laconic and point specific form rather than lengthy and comprehensive manner. The audiences for whom the narratives are constructed a re other educators attending or teaching the course. Although one face-to-face meet ing of the on-line groups is scheduled during the course, candidates may never m eet their on-line mentor or other members of their on-line group. Group cohesion is d eveloped through a combination of required participation, the skill of the on-line me ntor, and the ongoing involvement of the participants.Case methodology has changed in recent years from t he method of instruction based on face-to-face discussion of oral cases/narratives co nfined to the classroom space to computer-mediated asynchronous discussion of on-lin e cases in virtual classrooms/cyber-classrooms. Narratives in cyberspa ce, rather than being a part of an oral discourse, entail new communicative styles and ways of engagement with texts/cases on the part of the learners. In theoriz ing of learning, claims have been made that we learn from the other's response to what we convey. Thus, learning the art of school leadership through on-line narratives necess itates the learners to put their responses out there and to find out what comes back A unique feature of the York PQP cases posted on-li ne is that often they present an account of events that happened in the same week (o r sometimes even the same day) as the case is posted for discussion. While varying in content and length, the cases are authentic narratives from the work experience of GT A principals. As such, they have some pedagogical similarity to more traditional pri ncipal training methods such as "inbox" and "shadowing" exercises. Some of the case s posted by On-Line Mentors open up with the words like: "Just a quick situation we had at our school this week that caused us some thought" or "Here is the situation b ased on a real case that happened recently." The fact that cases posted for discussio n are "fresh" cases enables On-Line Mentors to enrich the dialogue by adding new detail s and nuances to the case and informing participants about the trajectory of even ts. Unlike other case study models that have been 'worked up' for teaching purposes, these case narratives are generated in the immediacy of the principals' workday and give a str ong sense of the complexities of the fast-changing educational landscape in Ontario.Case Narratives in On-line Learning


8 of 19The literature on case study methodology neglects o ne of its most striking features. The case studies are narratives –#151;stories construct ed with an audience in mind and located in a particular time and space. They are ex pressions of local knowledge, both constructing and depending for their sense on a wor ld known in common. Rosenwald and Ochberg (1992) claim that, "The culture speaks itself through each individual story…. Narratives are a chorus of coordinated stor ies." On-line cases, as narratives, are the chorus of coordinated stories of Ontario school s today. As narratives, they suggest issues that are both practical and theoretical: S tudying cases actually relies on a dialectic between events and meanings, practice and theory. We learn from the narrative as we reflect on the content and make sense of it b ased on what we know and believe. In studying the particular, we consider the general; s imilarly, we challenge the general by studying the particular" (Richert, 1991, p.140-141) Our data point to the importance of case narratives for situating on-line speakers in the stories and events of their profession. The use of narratives brings into view the implicit and explicit ethical and moral issues that permeate the stories of schooling. Narratives bring the complexity of the coordinated stories abo ut school leadership and administration to the medium of on-line group learn ing. Equally important, they allow beginners "to consider and inspect the informal or tacit systems which exist side-by-side with the formal manifest systems operating in schoo ls and organizations' (Danzig, 1997, p. 124).Teaching and Learning Complexity using NarrativesOne of the program challenges that confront PQP can didates and their program teachers are to develop the skill to see the case narratives through the eyes of an administrator rather than a teacher. Our prior experiences, histo ry and knowledge shape our interpersonal engagement with others and form the i nterpretative lenses through which we "see" (analyze) a particular narrative. Working through case narratives with other members of the on-line group is one way of teaching and learning new ways of seeing the events of the school day.The following case narrative was posted early in th e program. Posted case experience:You are the principal who ha s been trying to visit a teacher who is on the first year of a two-year prob ationary contract. Often when you scheduled a visit, the teacher was absent that day. Your collective agreement indicates that the principal will endeavo r to give 48 hours notice before the teacher is observed for evaluation purpo ses. There have been a number of people (parents and students) complaining that the teacher's classroom control is unsatisfactory. Your Superinte ndent wants any terminations recommended within the week. You tell the teacher at 8:30AM that you will be visiting her tomorrow afternoon. S he says that is "unacceptable" and walks away. What will you do? In the case responses posted early in the York PQP, candidates have difficulty seeing the complexity of cases as well as to sort through the diversity of approaches to a posted case—what Bridges (1992) calls the one best decisio n syndrome. Particularly during the first weeks of the course, students often headed in the direction of searching "right"


9 of 19answers rather than exploring the case complexities This observation resonates with the findings of a growing body of research on the new c omputer mediated modalities of teaching/learning and the challenges they pose for learners who are required to interact with knowledge in a new way. Research on computer m ediated instruction in the training of school administrators suggests that stu dents oftentimes tend to look for a right answer and thus are "likely to focus on surfa ce problems rather than underlying problems. Thus, the solutions would ultimately not solve the root of the problem and are unsatisfactory for the school setting" (MacNeil, 19 97). Addressing this issue, MacNeil (1997) argues that the ambiguities and complexities of school decision-making should be at the heart of computer-mediated case instructi on and that case study methods that came to education from the fields of law and busine ss need to be re-examined as a method of instruction for use in the preparation of school leaders. In response to the case narrative above, the candid ates' responses were diverse but focused on the administrative and bureaucratic 'rul es' of the principalship. For example, responses were, Judgmental: "This is a new employee, who is arrogan t and does not fit the needs and profile of the school community." Legalistic: "Termination is a multi-step process be ginning with a plan for improvement." Few of the responses were collegial: "Find out from discussion with the teacher what his/her perceptions are about the students. As a principal, I might already have some prior knowledge/history about the key pla yers or instigators." Even fewer focused on the school as a social and cultura l unit with interdependent relationships across faculty, students and staff. Supervisory: "... this can be confirmed through the appraisal process. This can be targeted as an area of growth for this teacher." In part, the tendency to assume there was one best answer to a posted case was supported by the on-line medium. A first response to the comp uter-mediated case discussion sets the frame for analysis, apparently limiting the sco pe of potential responses for other participants. Students had access to the responses of other group members that had been posted earlier. Often, the subsequent responses did not take up different perspectives and were greatly influenced by the ideas and thoughts f rom prior responses—a kind of group think such as that which occurs in face-to-face gro ups. One of the students summed up her frustration in the following way: "I have read all the answers and now don't have anything to add."As candidates continued through the program, they f ound ways to work towards an understanding of the complexities of collaboration and school-based issues. For example, one student opted for an approach that wou ld allow her to respond to the cases without experiencing the influence of the thinking of her group members. "I have not read any answers provided thus far in fear of not b eing able to provide my own opinions or having them all said already." Yet another candi date noted, "This year I am not reading anyone else's [responses] until I have done mine." After posting her responses, she read the responses of her classmates and wrote her comments that supported or criticized other's responses. Regardless of the str ategies candidates use to find their 'voices' on-line, the collaborative capacity of the on-line medium supports candidates' learning of the range of perspectives on a given is sue as well as bringing into view the complexities of the issues facing school leaders.


10 of 19Ongoing feedback from the On-Line Mentors as well a s subtle peer assessment are salient components of the PQP. They contribute to t he development of the candidates' ability to address the issues in a more complex way s, to identify approaches that are more effective than others, and to set forward thei r reasons for choosing a particular approach. Take, for example, the response of the on -line mentor when closing the case noted above: Let me offer some thoughts on the situation. As pri ncipal, I realize that teacher evaluation is stressful, and I'm dealing wi th a fellow human being. I must never lose sight of that fact. She and I have different roles but we are two equal people. Remembering that lets me approach problem solving with a win-win goal in mind. Another on-line mentor addressed the focus on the right' answer in his follow-up message to candidates: "I preface this feedback wit h the disclaimer that I, like you, am giving my opinion. There are no right or wrong answ ers to this issue… I think growth lies in the debate, and the opportunity to see many different approaches to the same set of facts." In the on-line mentor responses, we see a complex teaching and learning about the social and professional mores of the principals hip. As the course progresses, candidates felt freer to speak from their professional experiences in the teaching profession and from the ir life experiences as people interested in education. Bringing their life experi ences to bear on an administrative framework, students came up with diverse (often eve n polar) responses and felt free to disagree with one another. The consensual uniformit y of candidates' standpoints was less present in the analysis of the cases that dealt wit h ethical concerns or involved moral judgements. The following case is illustrative: The Case: A parent has phoned the Superintendent to complain that her son has been given a mark that is unfair. The Superinte ndent phoned the principal saying that the parent seemed to be makin g a good point. The principal is asked to deal with it!The Details: Jack is an "A" student who has scholarship offer fr om a major university if he can maintain his average in this, his graduating semester. The head of the geography department discovered tha t Jack had sold an essay to another student in the same class who subm itted it to the teacher as his own. Jack has written the essay last year when he was taking a different geography course. Jack submitted a different, origi nal paper that reflected his usual high standards, and was given a 98. When the department head realized what had transpired, both students were gi ven a zero for that portion of the course (40%) which was evaluated on the basis of the essay. The parent had called the department head to explai n that she is a single parent who cannot afford to send Jack to university without the scholarship, which will be denied if Jack gets a zero. The depar tment head would not change the mark and the mother appealed to the prin cipal. The principal was still investigating the situation when the Superint endent called. The mother had explained to the Superintendent that the princi pal was refusing to deal with it.


11 of 19Two of the student responses to this case were: Jack needs to understand the severity of his behavi or and the consequence that was put in place was appropriate. That being s aid, I don't believe that his future should be destroyed as a result. We all make mistakes and need to assume the responsibility of our behavior. Conseque nces are put into place in order to facilitate learning. Hopefully, we lear n from our mistakes and move on. Some creative problem solving is needed he re. Perhaps, Jack could be given the opportunity to make up this mark Assign him another paper and allow the grade for that paper to replace the zero. And: Based on the four responses that I have read, every one seems to be concerned with a variety of factors regarding Jack' s zero for an essay in Geography class. My question to all of you is, howe ver, quite simple: Did Jack actually commit a crime? After all, the essay he submitted was an original piece of work in which he received a 98. T his is obviously a bright student! On this basis alone, Jack should receive f ull credit for whatever his essay was worth… I do not believe it to be a crime, unless there is a specific school policy on the selling term papers, and this is where the key lies! If no such policy exists, Jack didn't do anything wrong, his friend did. After all, there are hundreds of Internet sites where one can purchase term papers for a nominal fee. If Jack had legally set up his own b usiness on the Internet, and his friend had purchased the paper electronical ly, is Jack still responsible? No way! Jack is innocent! The experientially based case narratives allow part icipants to connect the case to other narratives from their own experiences or the experi ences of someone they know. This kind of reflection was encouraged by the On-Line Me ntors who often peppered their comments, feedback, and summaries with instances fr om previous events evoked by the narrative cases and responses. For example, with re ference to the case narrative of the teacher who would not agree to have the principal c ome to her classroom (above), the on-line mentor stated in parentheses: One of the common mistakes that I have seen princip als make occurs at this stage. Instead of checking for data, the principal reacts to the teacher's stance by creating a confrontation and setting up a win / lose situation. The principal must manage to be part of the solution, n ot the problem. He then went back to the case under discussion, foc using on his plan of administrative action. Juxtaposing similar narratives enabled students to identify common themes and to unravel and refine the problems that are at the hea rt of the narratives from the life of educational administrators. Equally important, this process helped students to anticipate the consequences of their proposed actions and to g enerate more effective solutions. For example, one of the posted case narratives dealt wi th school closure, Case : You are the principal of a school that has been i dentified for possible closure. The


12 of 19demographics in your board suggest that there are a bout 6,000 excess student places in schools in your board. The government has set down a tight timeline which dictates that School Boards that want to increase their funding f or maintenance and new school construction in growth areas, must identify schools by December that will close in June 1999. Although the final decision has not been made the fact that your school has been targeted is of great concern. As a principal of thi s school, what role should you play in the next few critical weeks?Some of the participants juxtaposed similar narrati ves dealing with the same situation. One of the students wrote: When I was talking to a retired principal about thi s case he told me that many years ago the board that I work for was going to convert an old elementary school in a prominent section of the tow n into the board office. Apparently the principal decided to inform many voc al parents about this in an effort to stop the closure. The parents were suc cessful in keeping the school open but the principal found himself as Vice Principal in a smaller school out in the country. An encounter with a case invites the reader to forg e connections between his narrative and other narratives (Shulman, 1996). Inquiring int o the relationships between cases and theory, Shulman states that to assert that a narrat ive is a case is to engage in an act of theory. To become a case, a narrative "must be seen as an exemplar of a class, an instance of a larger category." (p. 208). He furthe r argues that "it appears to be a characteristic of our species that stories explicit ly breed yet other stories and, implicitly, the categories of analysis that connect stories to one another conceptually. Even in the concrete act of narrative, underlying theoretical c ategories emerge and often become explicit." (p. 209). Therefore, relating cases to o ne another and relating cases to larger categories of which they are instances helps to ans wer the question "what is this case of?" and connect it to organizing principles or the ories (Shulman, 1996). The complexity of narratives, and case narratives a re no exception, supports the teaching and learning of the coordinated stories of schoolin g and the principalship. A narrative always tells more than the story line, often more t han the story teller is aware of saying (Mishler, 1984). Working with cases, or narratives, in a group situation requires learning to manage the complexities of multiple perspectives and diverse points of view as group members work through the artifactual, social (Riche rt, 1991), and cultural features of the narrative. In educational administration where the thinking that lies behind effective leadership is complex and varied, this understandin g of the relational, cultural and systemic levels becomes extremely important. The PQ P's interactive computer-based discussion of case narratives emerges as "one means of socializing neophyte administrators, that is aspiring administrators begin thinking like the practitioners they wish to become [emphasis added] (Ashbaugh & Kasten, 1991). Traditionally, the emphasis in principal preparatio n programs was placed (and oftentimes continues to be placed) on teaching prac tical skills and job specific knowledge that would allow neophyte administrators to cope successfully with challenges and demands of principalship. According to Mitchell and Tucker (1992, p.30), "educators tend to think of leadership as a matter of taking action and getting results." Less prominent has been a concern for an ethical dimension of school leadership which in part can be explained by the fa ct that in literature on school


13 of 19administration the work of school leaders was compa red to and consequently viewed through the lenses of effective management and prob lem-solving skills rather than through the perplexities and ambiguities arising fr om the need to make decisions and choices that have significant ethical ramifications for all of those involved. In the last decade, the evolving concepts of leadership attempt ed to address the previously overlooked and under-theorized aspect of ethics of school leadership. Among the theories that explored the "ethics-leadership" nexu s were the concept of moral leadership, the ethics of caring, transformational leadership, to name a few. These theories testified, at least to some extent, that leadership is less a matter of aggressive action than a way of thinking and feeling—about our selves, about our jobs, and about the nature of the educational process" (Mitchell an d Tucker, 1992, p. 30). Despite the recognition (at the theoretical level) of the importance of addressing the issue of ethics in the preparation of school leader s, this question has continued to receive only peripheral attention at the level of practice and, by and large, was not incorporated into the formats of principal preparation programs offered by universities and principals' associations. It is within this context that narrat ives in general, and on-line narratives in particular, emerged as a pedagogical space for expl oration of the issues of ethics as it relates to school leadership. As such, on-line narr atives provide an opportunity to shift the focus from teaching skills to teaching reflecti on and thinking. Narratives that present explicit (or otherwise) ethical dilemmas and challe nges faced by school leaders require a clear vision and ethical commitment on the part of those in the position of decision-making. Narratives become a powerful pedag ogical tool for helping future administrators to "think and feel" (rather than to judge and fix), to reflect and listen, to challenge widely held assumptions and biases and fi nally, to shape and articulate the core values. In his article on leadership stories, Danzig (quoted in Hopkins, 1998) notes, that "Professionals need to understand not only the technical aspects of their job but moral basis of their work. Stories provide a more c omplete view of the meaning of professional practice." Indeed, calling for articul ation of individual moral stances, narratives offer a pedagogical space for engaging w ith the aspects of ethics as it relates to the everyday work of school administrator, and, more broadly, to the mission and goals of school leader at this historical juncture.Returning to our analysis of the PQP on-line narrat ives, student responses to less complex and more transparent cases often resulted i n producing collective virtual texts where each ensuing individual script, more or less, echoed the line of thinking developed in responses posted earlier. In contrast, the respo nses to case narratives that drew on local experience with ethical issues embedded in th e stories did not turn into unitary, virtual texts—one-best solution—produced by collect ive efforts of on-line participants. Instead, those cases generated the breakdowns and d iscontinuities of the texts and the plurality of individual standpoints. Rather than se arching for a common ground and attempting to fit their responses into the Procrust ean bed of emerging collective narrative, the students were challenged to voice their positions, develop their on-line identities as future school l eaders, produce their idiosyncratic texts that did not nece ssarily fit into the evolving trajectory of thinking about the posted case, and finally, produce polyphonic virtual texts in wh ich the center of gravity was shifted towards diversity of opinions and plurality of voices.


14 of 19Concluding CommentsOur analysis of the on-line narrative cases and res ponses of the on-line groups in York University's PQP shows some of the features that co ntribute to an effective use of case studies in an on-line environment. While York Unive rsity's PQP has a variety of pedagogical forms including course seminars, an act ion practicum and the on-line discussion groups, a cornerstone of the program is reflective practice. The Program Facilitators who have the major responsibility for the program have built reflective practice into each section of the course. The case narratives and the interaction of the On-Line Mentors support and enhance the reflective features of the PQP within their group. The case narratives are drawn from the immed iate school experiences of the principals who serve as On-Line Mentors and the cha racter of such case narratives engages the student in a reflective process. Posted cases situated in the life of the school construct the case narrative as an event worthy of reflection. The necessarily-reflective character of the on-line discussion groups build on the social and cultural complexities of the narrative format in interesting, non-linear ways. The indicators of successful utilization of compute r-mediated communication in the PQP are two-fold. First, there is a high level of c andidate participation in the discussion of cases. While 14 hours of on-line participation i s a course requirement, we have found that many of the candidates participate in the on-l ine discussions for more than the required hours. Second, despite their workload and variety of commitments, few On-Line Mentors withdraw from the program. The PQP archives show that the mentor / principals were positive about their role as On-Lin e Mentors as opportunities for learning and professional growth. The following res ponse exemplifies the attitude of the principals participating as On-Line Mentors in the PQP: "This is my third year mentoring Principal candidates at York University. The reason that I do this is to increase my own learning and test the effectiveness of electronic communication." (A Principal in a grade 7-OAC school).Our analysis points to two other features of case s tudy methodology. First, cases that link to the professional experience of teachers pro vide the cognitive basis for generalizing from local experience to the more-gene ral perspective required of school principals. In contrast to the uncertainty and subs equent 'group-think' that occurs when candidates must respond from within the conceptual framework of educational administration, when candidates are able to constru ct responses based on their experience the resulting diversity of response and debate provides fertile ground for teaching by the on-line mentor. Second, encouraging narrative forms would seem to enhance the complexity of the on-line responses. Be ginning in the everyday experience of school administrators and constructing case stud ies that evoke narratives that include ethical and moral issues would seem to be an effect ive way to teach leadership. In sum, the texts produced via the medium of techno logy become excellent "raw" material for thinking about and reflecting upon the nature of the school leadership. They push the students to explore the limits of their kn owledge, to test the strengths and merits of their beliefs, to encounter other views, to share values and to reflect upon the vicissitudes of the school principalship. Pedagogic ally speaking, narratives that include moral and ethical issues are an effective way of te aching the art of school leadership and of developing and strengthening the sense of ethica l responsibility in future educational


15 of 19leaders.Notes 1 Article prepared for the Fifth Annual Leadership Co nference on Ethics and Values, Bridgetown, Barbados, Sept 25—Oct 1, 2000. We would like to thank Terry Gray, the volunteer On-Line Mentors and the Program Facilitat ors of our principals' program for their excellent teaching and their comments on this work. 2 The York PQP does not carry university credit. 3 These similarities were brought to our attention by one of the principals teaching in the York PQP who had previously been an On-Line Mentor. 4 As with all narratives, the on-line cases are locat ed in time and space—within a particular course context that shapes the boundarie s of the stories. The course philosophy attends to those features of educational administration that deal with human experiences and interactions, suggesting that the r elational character of leadership is as important for administration as are specific educat ional acts and regulations. The majority of electronic archived cases from the prog ram year that we selected for our analysis are narratives that emphasize the complexi ty of people's behavior and interactions. The cases and responses emphasize the skills of problem solving, analysis and critical and creative thinking rather than spec ific knowledge of any particular educational issue. 5 The data for this article were drawn from (archived ) on-line discussions between PQP candidates and volunteer mentors during one of the recent program years.ReferencesAshbaugh, C. & Kasten, K. (1991). Educational Leadership: Case Studies for Reflective Practice. New York: Longman. Axelrod, P. (2000). Neo-conservatism and the Politics of Education in O ntario. Paper presented at the Faculty Orientation, Faculty of Ed ucation, York University. September 7.Barlow, M. & Robertson, H. (1994). Class Warfare: The Assault on Canada's Schools. Toronto: Key Porter.Bridges, E. (1992). Problem-Based Learning for Administrators ERIC Clearing House for Educational Management. Clamp, J.C. (web-page). Teaching through the Case Method. Available on-line Danzig, A. (1999). How Might Leadership be Taught? The Use of Story and Narrative to Teach Leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education 2(2), pp.117-131.


16 of 19Danzig, A. (1997). Leadership Stories: What Novices Learn by Crafting the Stories of Experienced School Administrators. Journal of Educational Administration 35(2), pp. 122-137.Desberg, P. & Fisher, F. (1996). Using Technology i n Case Methodology. In Colbert et al. (eds.), The Case for Education: Contemporary Approaches for Using Case Methods (pp.39-55). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Griffith, A. (2000). Texts, Tyranny and Transformat ion: Restructuring in Ontario. In J.P. Portelli & R.P. Solomon (eds.), The Erosion of Democracy in Education: From Critiqu e to Possibilities (pp. 83-98). Calgary: Detselig Press. Hanson, K. (2000). Preparing for Educational Administration Using Case Analysis Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Hopkins, G. (1998). Follow the Leader: School Principals in Training Available on-line Lynn, L. (1999). Teaching and Learning with Cases: A Guidebook Chappaqua, NY: Seven Bridges Press.MacNeil, A. (1997) Case Study Method and Electronic Meeting System f or Principal Preparation. Available on-line Merseth, K. (1997). Cases in Educational Administration. New York: Longman. Mishler, E. (1991). Research Interviewing: Context and Narrative. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.Miller, B. & Kantrov, I. (1998). A Guide to Facilitating Cases in Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Mitchell, D. & Tucker, S. (1992). Leadership as a W ay of Thinking. Educational Leadership, February, pp. 30-35. Muse, I. & Thomas, G. (1991). The Rural Principal: Select the Best. Journal of Rural and Small Schools 4(3), pp. 32-37. Olaniran, B. (1994). Group Performance in ComputerMediated and Face-to-Face Communication Media. Management Communication Quarterly, 7, pp. 256-281. Regan, H. & Brooks, G. (1995). Out of Women's Experience: Creating Relational Leadership Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Richert, A. (1991). Using Teacher Cases for Reflect ion and Enhanced Understanding. In Lieberman, A. & Miller, L. (eds.), Staff Development in the '90s: New Demands, New Realities, New Perspectives (pp. 113-131). NewYork : Teacher College Press. Richert, A. (1991). Case Methods and Teacher Educat ion: Using Cases to Teach Teacher Reflection. In Tabachnic, R. & Zeichner, K. (eds.), Issues and Practices in Inquiry-Oriented TeacherEducation (pp. 130-150). New York: The Falmer Press.


17 of 19 Rosenwald, G. & Ochberg, L. (1992) (eds.), Storied Lives: The Cultural Politics of Self-Understanding New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Shulman, L.S. (1996). Just in Case: Reflections on Learning from Experience. In Colbert,J., Desberg, P. & Trimble, K (eds.), The Case for Education: Contemporary Approaches for Using Case Methods (pp.197-217). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Silver, P. (1987). The Center for Advancing Princip alship Excellence (APEX): An Approach to Professionalizing Educational Administr ation. In Murphy, J. & Halliger, P. (eds.), Approaches to Administrative Training in Education ( pp. 67-82). New York: State University of New York Press.Sudzina, M. (1999). Organizing Instruction for Case -Based Teaching. In McNergney, R., Duchame, E. & Duchame, M.(eds.), Educating for Democracy: Case-Method Teaching and Learning (pp.15-27). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associate s. About the AuthorsAlison I. Griffith PhD, is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Edu cation, York University, ON, Canada. As Associate Dean of the Fi eld Development unit at York University, she is actively involved in the design and implementation of professional development programs for Ontario educators and has published extensively in the area of school leadership and educational reforms.Svitlana Taraban holds Master's degree in Educational Administration from University at Buffalo. Currently, she is a Doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Education, York University, Canada. Copyright 2002 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing


18 of 19 Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Education Commission of the States William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers California State University—Stanislaus Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona


19 of 19 Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativa-DIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul-UFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los