Book of Abstracts – IRMSS 2019

Keynote presentation 1:

DR ALAN WALL: Leadership as a Policy Perspective in the Republic of Ireland


 

Keynote presentation 2:

PROF. JOANNE HUGHES (QUB): Leading Research in the Area of Shared Education: Exploring the Research to Policy Nexus

Abstract: The relationship between research and policy has been a longstanding subject of debate in education and more generally in the social sciences. Drawing on the case study of Shared Education in Northern Ireland, and the role of the Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s in leading research that informed the policy process relating to the mainstreaming of Shared Education, I will argue that the research impact can be enhanced by an understanding of the nature of politics. Referencing the work of Hannah Arendt and Donald Gillies, knowledge activism and critical advocacy are proposed as means by which research evidence can be operationalised in policy terms. Also considered is the risk to academic integrity that can arise in adopting overtly political approaches, and the tension between engagement within the political sphere and research impact.


Keynote presentation 3:

DR HELEN GUNTER (UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER): The dynamics of our education histories as educational leaders

Abstract: Our professional identities and practices in educational services are subject to rapid change with an emphasis on one best way. However, our intellectual histories as educational professionals demonstrate that the field of educational leaders, leading and leadership is plural with a range traditions and purposes. In this keynote, I intend scoping this history and considering the possibilities for educational professionals to regain control of their identities and practices in educational organisations and services.


Keynote presentation 4:

DR REBECCA LOWENHAUPT (BOSTON COLLEGE): School Leadership in the Context of Immigration: Leading for Diversity in Times of Change

Abstract: In this talk, Dr. Lowenhaupt focuses on the role of school-based leaders in crafting schools to support diversity. Drawing on her research about the US public schools, she will examine leadership practices that engage communities and promote understanding in the context of immigration. Not only do leaders design support for academic and language learning, they also structure opportunities for social integration, provide access to information and resources, and broker relationships with other social service agencies. Given recent anti-immigrant policies which have impacted diverse communities across the US, school leaders have new and increasingly important roles to play in fostering sense of belonging, responding to trauma, and engaging in outreach to ensure their schools remain safe spaces for students and their families. As policymakers charged with both implementing reform and buffering schools from external demands and influences, school leaders make important decisions about whether and how to respond to a changing policy landscape.  In this context, research about school leadership can help create an empirical understanding and theorize the role of leadership in supporting diversity through times of change.


Oral presentations in alphabetical order:

BOWLES, DR RICHARD and O’DWYER, DR ANNE (MIC): Learning to Lead: How do We Lead the Leaders?

Abstract: Sports coaching is a complex process with, increasingly, a focus on athlete learning (Jones 2006). Consequently, coaches need to be aware of their impact on this learning. Miller and Kerr (2002) suggest coaches should focus on the development of “leadership and self-responsibility in their athletes”, thereby facilitating player empowerment. In team sports contexts, coaches can scaffold effective player leadership though mentoring (Mallett et al. 2015), with potential benefits for individual players, and for the whole team (Mead and Gilson 2017). In this paper, while adopting a self-study perspective (LaBoskey 2004), we examine how our coaching practices supported player leaders as they carried out leadership tasks within a Gaelic football team over the course of a season. We selected five players to form a leadership group and linked closely with this group throughout the season to mediate feedback and communication amongst the team. We, as coaches, facilitated much of the group’s actions.  Data generation included coaches’ reflective diaries and a focus group with the player leaders designed to gain insight into their perspectives and experiences as leaders. Our preliminary findings highlight strategies that supported players’ efforts to lead, and suggest leadership development is a complex, non-linear process.


BOURKE, RUTH (MIC): Networking as a Forum for Professional Learning and Leadership Development: Case Study Analysis

Abstract: This paper will discuss emerging findings from doctoral case study research that focuses on understanding member’s perceptions about their participation in two school networks that emerged in an organic, grass roots fashion in Ireland over a twenty year period. The PLUS and OSCAILT networks of DEIS schools are facilitated and supported by the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and the Department of Education and Skills (in the case of OSCAILT). Emerging findings indicate that participants conceptualise their involvement as a form of professional learning and a forum for developing leadership skills. This paper will explore research participants’ perceptions of the manner in which in the networks have supported both the DEIS schools and individual representatives involved to meet the needs of the children and families they serve. Additionally, research participants’ perspectives on recent policy measures under the DEIS Action Plan 2017 to encourage networking and collaboration between DEIS schools will be considered in the context of professional learning and developing leadership capacity.


CORCORAN, SANTHI (MIC): Exploring a new paradigm for Intercultural Competence Development and Leadership

Abstract: The Central Statistics Office of Ireland predicted that the population of overseas-born nationals will increase to 1 million by 2030, (CSO, 2008). In terms of integration and community relations, this transformation of Ireland from being a largely emigrant society to that of an immigrant society is significant, (MacGreil, 2011; Devine, 2011; Tormey and Gleeson, 2012). As part of the European Union, Ireland will continue to receive new communities, and see growing human movement, and migration from Europe and further afield. Therefore, state education facilities and organisations at all levels need to be prepared, their personnel trained and capable of working with diversity.  Schools approach to diversity and the experience of immigrants can provide broader understanding of inclusion and exclusion in Irish society, (Devine, 2011). Schools that manage change successfully not only invest in the development of both teachers and pupils, but require leadership with vision and authority towards change, (Apple, 1999; Reese, 1986). This researcher explores, using her recent doctoral research data, whether young people in secondary schools are taught to understand the global world without limitations and prejudice, their teachers equally prepared for this task and their principals empowered to promote change.


FITZGERALD, DR JOHANNA (MIC), LYNCH, JOE and MARTIN, ANGELA: Leading Learning and Teaching: Using the Process of School Self Evaluation as a Methodology for Deepening the Learning of Students Identified with Additional and Special Educational Needs

Abstract: This paper reports on preliminary findings from a collaborative research-to-practice initiative involving MIC and Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB). The process schools engaged with will form the focus of the paper. In response to recent changes to educational policy, six post-primary schools were invited to participate in a process to support the development of a whole-school systematic, collaborative response to inclusive and special education. Specifically, senior leadership teams, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and Curriculum Leaders (CLs) were recruited to implement a cycle of School Self-Evaluation (DES Inspectorate 2016), informed by the Looking At Our Schools Quality Framework (DES Inspectorate, 2016), to develop a whole school provision map, reflecting current provision to support learners identified with additional and special education needs across the Continuum of Support (DES, 2017; NEPS, 2010). The initiative recognises that school improvement is linked to a school’s collective capacity to respond to change (Fullan 2005). Thus, it aims to support schools in developing organisational structures which ‘stimulate and support processes of interrogation and reflection’ to identify areas in need of reform (Ainscow and Sandill 2010, 405; DES Inspectorate 2016; Fitzgerald, 2018; Fullan, 2005; Senge, 1990).


HEANY, SHIRLEY, RING, PROF. EMER, FINTAN BREEN, TERESA HEENEY (MIC): The Efficacy of Communal Leadership for Inclusion: Interim Evaluation Findings from the LINC Programme

Abstract:  Adopting the evolving understanding of leadership in early childhood education suggested by Siraj and Hallet (2014), where leadership is conceptualised as a communal concept, allows all educators to be leaders and engage in leadership. A commitment from leadership has been identified as the key determinant of the success or failure of accommodating diverse learners. Providing effectively for all children in early childhood settings requires effective administrative, management and pedagogical leadership. Administrative and management leadership are related to understanding administrative and management structures and processes, while pedagogical leadership is concerned with leading or guiding the teaching and learning process. The role of a pedagogical leader has been described as a partner; facilitator; observer and co-learner with educators, children and families underpinned by a commitment to building a culture of reflective practice and pedagogical research practice (Coughlin and Baird 2013). The Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years  (LINC) programme is designed to prepare early childhood teachers to lead inclusive practice, pedagogy and culture in their respective settings as Inclusion Co-Ordinators. Emerging findings from an interim evaluation of the programme suggest that while programme participants have developed pedagogical leadership competencies, the creation of inclusive settings remains reliant on building communal leadership responsibility.


KEWLEY, ABBIE L. (QUB): Ethos and Identity in Northern Ireland’s Controlled Schools: Exploring Ambiguity

Abstract: According to the philosopher A.C. Grayling (2006), ‘just two words state the objection to faith-based schools: Northern Ireland’ (112). For Grayling, Northern Ireland is the prime example of the ‘dire consequences’ of religious influence in education (Richardson 2008: 1), yet the majority of children continue to be educated in separate settings. Recent statistics indicate that 70.4% of pupils attending Controlled schools are of Protestant denomination (Topping and Cavanagh 2016), albeit the ethos and identity of such schools remains highly ambiguous. Whilst it is commonly described as de facto Protestant (Richardson 2016; Gallagher and Duffy 2015), ‘there are divergent views on what a Controlled school actually is’ (DENI representative, quoted in Byrne and McKeown 1998: 337). This paper discusses two perennial questions that have been asked as part of a qualitative PhD study. Firstly, to explore whether there is an aspect of Controlled school’s ethos and identity which might be described as ‘Protestant’ and if so, how that is reflected in school life. Secondly, to explore how ethos and identity is understood by Principals, Teachers and Governors within a majority Protestant school context. It will highlight the findings thus far of participants’ views via one-to-one semi-structured interviews.


KENNY, DR AILBHE (MIC): (Em)Bodied Research: Positioning ‘the Pregnant Researcher’ amongst Asylum Seekers

Abstract: A researcher’s positionality can both be established and shift according to the social, cultural, economic, and political values and norms in a given context. Even further to this, the researcher’s body itself can shape and be shaped by the research process and interactions within it. This paper highlights the role of the researcher as ‘embodied’, opening up a space to reflect critically on researcher positionality and specifically its influence on the research process in sites that seek to understand ‘the marginalised’. Taking one site-specific case study, I interrogate my own position within a participatory research project with asylum seekers based in a direct provision centre. Drawing on my field identity’, within a space that is separated from society at large, there are multiple facets to consider. I am white, Irish and female. I was also both music facilitator and researcher within the project. Of particular focus for this paper is that I was also pregnant while carrying out the research fieldwork. ‘Performing’ and being recognised as a ‘pregnant researcher’ manifested in various ways such as gaining access, building credibility and trust, forming relationships, and negotiating power in the field. Thus, the paper offers critical insights into the complexity of such a positioning for researcher leaders.


KINSELLA, ALAN J. (NUIG): Exploring the Use of Exploratory Mixed Methods when Carrying out Research with School Leaders

Abstract: Over the past three decades, the issue of data use by school leaders for accountability and improvement purposes has taken on increased significance in education policy and practice in most developed countries, including Ireland. This has come about in the context of neoliberal hegemony and the introduction of new public management systems within the education sector. International research suggests that the response of teachers and school leaders to this ‘datafication’ is multi-faceted and depends on a wide range of factors and contexts. This study seeks to identify the factors which impact on Irish post-primary school leaders’ attitude towards and use of data with a view to providing insights into how data and evidence use may be facilitated and promoted in a constructive and effective manner. This paper will focus on the use of the exploratory mixed methods approach to carry out such research among school leaders. It will examine the appropriateness of using this approach to identify and generalise key variables when carrying out research among school leaders and the steps taken to ensure research quality. It will also consider the potential ‘insider’ issues inherent in a practicing school leader carrying out research amongst his/her peers.


NEACHTAIN, CAITLÍN (MIC): From Assessment to Achievement: The Effect of an Individualised Diagnostic Resource on Language Learning

Abstract: Irish language learning has proven a contentious issue at all levels of the Irish education system, with increasing concern over attainment levels at key stages. Various studies suggest that the vast majority of school leavers plateau at a lower-intermediate level of language acquisition (cf. Ní Mhaonaigh, 2013; Ó Duibhir, 2011; and Little, 2003). Preliminary results indicate that students are largely unaware of the deficiencies in their Irish language proficiency levels. Building on the work of Ní Chlochasaigh (2013) in investigating the nature of students’ awareness of their individual language competencies, this paper explores the use of an individualised diagnostic resource in promoting learner motivation and achievement. This paper also highlights the usefulness of using corpus data and learning analytics to meet the evolving needs of students in higher education and to effectively implement strategies and supports for more effective language learning by exploiting student teachers’ inherent capacity for autonomous learning. This study recognises the primacy of high-quality primary school teaching in reversing the downward trend in Irish language literacy, and aims to provide educators with insights into how to support autonomous learning in teacher training through the use of specialised interventions that enable students to succeed in higher education.


NOHILLY, MARGARET and O’SULLIVAN, EILÍS (MIC): Students’ interpretation of leadership in educational contexts

Abstract: Though the phrase is not used specifically in the Education Act, 1998 it appears that ‘distributed leadership’ is envisaged for Irish schools of the twenty-first-century. The term encompasses meaningful, democratic, delegated and collaborative leadership and seems appropriate to the needs and demands of today’s children, parents, teachers and schools. The Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) Programme at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick has been reconceptualised in recent years. It now offers students the opportunity to develop specialisms in chosen areas. Graduates of the College have, therefore, the capacity to become leaders of programme and policy initiatives at school level. In Autumn 2015 and 2016 final year B.Ed. students at MIC completed an extended School Placement, during which they undertook a ‘curriculum focus’. This was essentially an opportunity to interact with school personnel and with children from disparate class levels on an area of the curriculum in which students had already undertaken some specialist modules and/or were particularly interested. Students from these two cohorts were invited to take part in research regarding leadership in education, specifically students’ interpretation of their potential to contribute to such leadership. As part of the research, students were prompted to reflect on leadership in educational contexts as they had observed it, to consider their experiences of leadership throughout the B.Ed. programme and to envisage what leadership roles they might eventually undertake as teachers. Some 500 students responded. This paper provides an overview of the findings which suggest that student teachers consider the structure of B.Ed. programme in MIC supports them in contributing to distributed leadership in the educational context.


Ó MURCHÚ, DR FINN (MIC): An Innovative Response to Teachers’ Professional Learning in Ireland: Eleven years into the Instructional Leadership Programme.

Abstract: In this paper the author explores what facilitates and inhibits attempts to bring about long-term large-scale systemic change focused on extending and refining the instructional practices of post-primary teachers and leaders. The content for this paper comes from our continuing analysis of eleven years of sustained engagement with post-primary schools in Ireland through the Instructional Leadership Programme. This voluntary programme currently involves 45% of post-primary schools as well as personnel from a range of Ministry support services. In keeping with the conference theme the author interrogates troublesome knowledge and learning in relation to teachers’ professional learning, some of which is proposed as counter-intuitive, alien and alternative to prevailing policy and research orthodoxies. Tangentially attention is given to obstacles now emerging in our eleventh year that require re-thinking our future efforts as set against our understanding of teacher learning and enacting current research related to change and systemic change.


O’REGAN, MAEVE A. (TCD): Exploring Leadership, Autonomy and Self-Directed Learning: Doctoral students’ experiences

Abstract: Third level education in Ireland has changed in the last decade with policy makers and practitioners facing the challenge of meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse, and growing student body in the context of limited funding and resources (Department of Education and Skills, 2011).  Policy makers have recognised the need to provide more flexible learning solutions to students including part-time, doctoral, mature and online learners (Department of Education and Skills, 2011). The current doctoral study explores how a sample of (full and part-time) doctoral students engage with the academic institution (via face-to-face and online supports) to enhance progression, completion and quality of the student experience.  The study also examines how students demonstrate personal agency and resourcefulness to navigate their own learning journeys.  The goal of the presentation is to encourage a discussion on how policy makers and practitioners can lead change and develop innovative and flexible learning solutions to meet the needs of a diverse body of learners within Higher Education in Ireland.


REILLY, DAVID (TCD): An Investigation into the Role of Mentoring in 6th Year Student’s Post-Secondary School

Abstract: This study explores the effectiveness of Trinity Access 21s mentoring program in aiding the post-secondary school decisions of final year 2nd level students. The study also hopes to understand the variety of factors that influence the student’s decisions on what to do when 2nd level concludes. It will investigate how the program has been operationalised in each school and how the mentors experience the program. It uses a case study approach drawing on mixed methods such as interviews, observations and an end of year survey. There are three schools selected with a sample of 5 6th year students in each school. Also interviewed is 1 mentor, teacher, peer and parents/guardians of the 5 mentees from each school. The study is framed through Robert Putnam’s theory on social capital. The three elements of his theory – bridging, bonding and linking, are at the core of many relationships and how they form part of the mentor/mentee relationship will be of interest. Initial findings indicate that the mentoring sessions have an impact on the student’s post-secondary school plans – 47% of students surveyed (n=168) agreed that the sessions had an impact.  Further qualitative instruments plan to go into more depth on these responses.


SHARKEY, AISLING (Tralee IT): ‘Being There’: An (Auto)ethnographical Representation of the ‘Understory’ of Being a Woman in Higher Educational Management in Ireland

Abstract: “Gender inequality in higher education is an internationally observed issue.  Women continue to be ‘vastly under-represented in top positions within the higher education sector’ as well as in ‘top academic decision-making positions’ across Europe.” (HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education, 2016, Executive Summary) The story of a male dominated leadership environment in academia is one which has been well told both nationally and internationally, as has the description of the academy as one in which the devaluing of women has become socially normalised (HEA 2016; Morley, 2013; Lord & Preston, 2009). There is also the underlying problem of the gendered organisation, whereby work practices and embedded attitudes to male and female stereotyped roles have evolved from the life experience of the traditional male wage earner (Bilen and Green, 2008; Lynch et al, 2015; Chappell & Waylen, 2013; HEA 2016).  For my Phd study, I have chosen to look beneath the surface of this grand narrative of underrepresentation of women in educational leadership.  I became a Head of Department in the IOT (Institute of Technology) sector in 2007.  I have chosen therefore to tell the story of what it is like ‘being there.’  I engaged in a narrative inquiry approach and co-constructed stories with other women who have held or continue to hold similar leadership positions.  Their stories resonated with me and our co-constructions have helped me make sense of my own story, both personal and professional.  The creation of an (auto) ethnodramatic script has emerged from this work, (an excerpt from which I would like to present).  In the literature, leadership is generally taken to refer to people who can bend the motivations and actions of others to achieve certain goals (Cuban 1988).  It involves ‘social influence’ or the action of influencing a group, leading to the achievement of ‘desired purposes’ (Spendlove 2007, p. 408; Kreitner & Kinicki 2004, p. 595).  But in this story of ‘being there’, just who has been leading who? On that very first day I asked, ‘How do I handle things? What am I supposed to do?  Where am I supposed to be?’ ‘Don’t worry, sit back,’ I was told, ‘They will come to you,’ I knew then that I was there to serve their needs. They could shape me and mould me as they pleased.

 


TREACY, DR MIA (MIC): Task Complexity and Diversity: Competing Realities for a Newly Appointed Principal

Abstract: Research indicates that the volume, range and diversity of tasks proves challenging for newly appointed principals. This paper investigates one newly appointed principal’s experience of this volume, range, and diversity of tasks during the first month as principal, as indicated through formal meetings. Data includes a reflective journal outlining details of these meetings including dates, purpose, tasks, and attendees. Findings suggest that of the 59 meetings recorded, special educational needs featured most strongly with more than one-third of the meetings focusing on this area. External professionals such as psychologists, occupational therapists and Special Educational Needs Organisers attended 8 of these twenty meetings. Almost one-quarter of meetings involved parents of which 7 related to involving parents (e.g. Parents’ Council) and management issues (e.g. enrolment) whilst 5 related to parental complaints and 2 related to parents’ concerns about their child’s academic progress. Other themes include “at risk” pupils and in-school management whilst teaching and learning featured in only 4 of the 59 meetings. The limited focus on teaching and learning in this study highlights a dilemma for newly appointed principals—the need to lead teaching and learning as indicated in recent Irish policy developments juxtaposed with the realities and immediacy of other school-related tasks.


TYNAN, DR FIONNUALA (MIC): Reluctant Leaders: Experiences of Parents of Children with a Rare Genetic Condition

Abstract: Parenting children with a disability has both positive and negative effects. These children can make valuable contributions to family life and ‘are sources of happiness and fulfilment’ (Turnbull et al. 2011, p.17). However, mothers of children with a disability have higher stress levels and incidences of stress-related illnesses than other mothers (Crnic et al., 1983; Orr et al., 1993). The diagnosis of a rare genetic condition elicits greater stress than that associated with cognitive disability or behaviour problems (Eisenhower et al., 2005). This presentation combines the researcher’s personal experience of having a sibling with Williams syndrome (WS), narratives from parents of children with WS and interviews with parents and teachers of 12 children with WS of school-going age. These parents see themselves as reluctant leaders, having to communicate information on their child’s condition to share with education and health-care professionals to ensure their child’s needs can be met. A majority of parents feel unqualified for this role and resent the responsibility they carry.  The issue remains, if they reject this role, who will ensure their child’s need are met? This raises the bigger issues of professional development and the debate of whether we should expect professionals to be knowledgeable about over 750 genetic conditions that cause an intellectual disability? The presentation proposes a model of ‘distributed leadership’ for parents as a means of meeting their needs, the needs of their child and the needs of the professional.


WEST, DR JULIA M. (Columbia, NY): Riffing on the Past, Responding in the Present

Abstract: Evidence throughout Western European art music history reveals practices that encompassed improvisation. Yet, in the present, classical music is often considered to exist as notated, with a reverence for upholding the composer’s intentions as represented in the score. Historically, the composer’s intention was to explore, experiment, and interact with conceptual structures within pre-existing works. Furthermore, in past eras of music history, composers and performers realized variability in compositional techniques and performance practices through improvisation, according to immediate conditions of setting and reimagined possibilities beyond interpretative liberties assumed in the present day. Through the cyclical design of collaborative inquiry (CI) research methods, New York City-based music teacher-participants as co-researchers explore strategies for taking creative license within the structure and practices inherent in music making, exploring well-known repertoire in new ways through creative processes of improvisation, promoting cooperation, dialogue, and imagination. Like collaborative inquiry, improvisation cultivates a form of interaction that derives its character from responsiveness to others in the environment. While the effects of riffing and improvisation can be seen as fleeting, shifting, and ephemeral, this paper examines the implications of a collaborative exchange of spontaneous ideas for the purpose of seeking creative license within the structure of a knowledge base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keynote presentation 1:

DR ALAN WALL: Leadership as a Policy Perspective in the Republic of Ireland

Abstract:

 

 

Keynote presentation 2:

PROF. JOANNE HUGHES (QUB): Leading Research in the Area of Shared Education: Exploring the Research to Policy Nexus

Abstract: The relationship between research and policy has been a longstanding subject of debate in education and more generally in the social sciences. Drawing on the case study of Shared Education in Northern Ireland, and the role of the Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s in leading research that informed the policy process relating to the mainstreaming of Shared Education, I will argue that the research impact can be enhanced by an understanding of the nature of politics. Referencing the work of Hannah Arendt and Donald Gillies, knowledge activism and critical advocacy are proposed as means by which research evidence can be operationalised in policy terms. Also considered is the risk to academic integrity that can arise in adopting overtly political approaches, and the tension between engagement within the political sphere and research impact.

 

 

Keynote presentation 3:

DR HELEN GUNTER (UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER): The dynamics of our education histories as educational leaders

Abstract: Our professional identities and practices in educational services are subject to rapid change with an emphasis on one best way. However, our intellectual histories as educational professionals demonstrate that the field of educational leaders, leading and leadership is plural with a range traditions and purposes. In this keynote, I intend scoping this history and considering the possibilities for educational professionals to regain control of their identities and practices in educational organisations and services.

 

Keynote presentation 4:

DR REBECCA LOWENHAUPT (BOSTON COLLEGE): School Leadership in the Context of Immigration: Leading for Diversity in Times of Change

Abstract: In this talk, Dr. Lowenhaupt focuses on the role of school-based leaders in crafting schools to support diversity. Drawing on her research about the US public schools, she will examine leadership practices that engage communities and promote understanding in the context of immigration. Not only do leaders design support for academic and language learning, they also structure opportunities for social integration, provide access to information and resources, and broker relationships with other social service agencies. Given recent anti-immigrant policies which have impacted diverse communities across the US, school leaders have new and increasingly important roles to play in fostering sense of belonging, responding to trauma, and engaging in outreach to ensure their schools remain safe spaces for students and their families. As policymakers charged with both implementing reform and buffering schools from external demands and influences, school leaders make important decisions about whether and how to respond to a changing policy landscape.  In this context, research about school leadership can help create an empirical understanding and theorize the role of leadership in supporting diversity through times of change.

 

 

Oral presentations in alphabetical order:

 

 

BOWLES, DR RICHARD and O’DWYER, DR ANNE (MIC): Learning to Lead: How do We Lead the Leaders?

Abstract: Sports coaching is a complex process with, increasingly, a focus on athlete learning (Jones 2006). Consequently, coaches need to be aware of their impact on this learning. Miller and Kerr (2002) suggest coaches should focus on the development of “leadership and self-responsibility in their athletes”, thereby facilitating player empowerment. In team sports contexts, coaches can scaffold effective player leadership though mentoring (Mallett et al. 2015), with potential benefits for individual players, and for the whole team (Mead and Gilson 2017). In this paper, while adopting a self-study perspective (LaBoskey 2004), we examine how our coaching practices supported player leaders as they carried out leadership tasks within a Gaelic football team over the course of a season. We selected five players to form a leadership group and linked closely with this group throughout the season to mediate feedback and communication amongst the team. We, as coaches, facilitated much of the group’s actions.  Data generation included coaches’ reflective diaries and a focus group with the player leaders designed to gain insight into their perspectives and experiences as leaders. Our preliminary findings highlight strategies that supported players’ efforts to lead, and suggest leadership development is a complex, non-linear process.

 

 

BOURKE, RUTH (MIC): Networking as a Forum for Professional Learning and Leadership Development: Case Study Analysis

Abstract: This paper will discuss emerging findings from doctoral case study research that focuses on understanding member’s perceptions about their participation in two school networks that emerged in an organic, grass roots fashion in Ireland over a twenty year period. The PLUS and OSCAILT networks of DEIS schools are facilitated and supported by the Transforming Education through Dialogue (TED) Project, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and the Department of Education and Skills (in the case of OSCAILT). Emerging findings indicate that participants conceptualise their involvement as a form of professional learning and a forum for developing leadership skills. This paper will explore research participants’ perceptions of the manner in which in the networks have supported both the DEIS schools and individual representatives involved to meet the needs of the children and families they serve. Additionally, research participants’ perspectives on recent policy measures under the DEIS Action Plan 2017 to encourage networking and collaboration between DEIS schools will be considered in the context of professional learning and developing leadership capacity.

 

 

CORCORAN, SANTHI (MIC): Exploring a new paradigm for Intercultural Competence Development and Leadership

Abstract: The Central Statistics Office of Ireland predicted that the population of overseas-born nationals will increase to 1 million by 2030, (CSO, 2008). In terms of integration and community relations, this transformation of Ireland from being a largely emigrant society to that of an immigrant society is significant, (MacGreil, 2011; Devine, 2011; Tormey and Gleeson, 2012). As part of the European Union, Ireland will continue to receive new communities, and see growing human movement, and migration from Europe and further afield. Therefore, state education facilities and organisations at all levels need to be prepared, their personnel trained and capable of working with diversity.  Schools approach to diversity and the experience of immigrants can provide broader understanding of inclusion and exclusion in Irish society, (Devine, 2011). Schools that manage change successfully not only invest in the development of both teachers and pupils, but require leadership with vision and authority towards change, (Apple, 1999; Reese, 1986). This researcher explores, using her recent doctoral research data, whether young people in secondary schools are taught to understand the global world without limitations and prejudice, their teachers equally prepared for this task and their principals empowered to promote change.

 

 

FITZGERALD, DR JOHANNA (MIC), LYNCH, JOE and MARTIN, ANGELA: Leading Learning and Teaching: Using the Process of School Self Evaluation as a Methodology for Deepening the Learning of Students Identified with Additional and Special Educational Needs

Abstract: This paper reports on preliminary findings from a collaborative research-to-practice initiative involving MIC and Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB). The process schools engaged with will form the focus of the paper. In response to recent changes to educational policy, six post-primary schools were invited to participate in a process to support the development of a whole-school systematic, collaborative response to inclusive and special education. Specifically, senior leadership teams, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and Curriculum Leaders (CLs) were recruited to implement a cycle of School Self-Evaluation (DES Inspectorate 2016), informed by the Looking At Our Schools Quality Framework (DES Inspectorate, 2016), to develop a whole school provision map, reflecting current provision to support learners identified with additional and special education needs across the Continuum of Support (DES, 2017; NEPS, 2010). The initiative recognises that school improvement is linked to a school’s collective capacity to respond to change (Fullan 2005). Thus, it aims to support schools in developing organisational structures which ‘stimulate and support processes of interrogation and reflection’ to identify areas in need of reform (Ainscow and Sandill 2010, 405; DES Inspectorate 2016; Fitzgerald, 2018; Fullan, 2005; Senge, 1990).

 

 

HEANY, SHIRLEY, RING, PROF. EMER, FINTAN BREEN, TERESA HEENEY (MIC): The Efficacy of Communal Leadership for Inclusion: Interim Evaluation Findings from the LINC Programme

Abstract:  Adopting the evolving understanding of leadership in early childhood education suggested by Siraj and Hallet (2014), where leadership is conceptualised as a communal concept, allows all educators to be leaders and engage in leadership. A commitment from leadership has been identified as the key determinant of the success or failure of accommodating diverse learners. Providing effectively for all children in early childhood settings requires effective administrative, management and pedagogical leadership. Administrative and management leadership are related to understanding administrative and management structures and processes, while pedagogical leadership is concerned with leading or guiding the teaching and learning process. The role of a pedagogical leader has been described as a partner; facilitator; observer and co-learner with educators, children and families underpinned by a commitment to building a culture of reflective practice and pedagogical research practice (Coughlin and Baird 2013). The Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years  (LINC) programme is designed to prepare early childhood teachers to lead inclusive practice, pedagogy and culture in their respective settings as Inclusion Co-Ordinators. Emerging findings from an interim evaluation of the programme suggest that while programme participants have developed pedagogical leadership competencies, the creation of inclusive settings remains reliant on building communal leadership responsibility.

 

 

 

KEWLEY, ABBIE L. (QUB): Ethos and Identity in Northern Ireland’s Controlled Schools: Exploring Ambiguity

Abstract: According to the philosopher A.C. Grayling (2006), ‘just two words state the objection to faith-based schools: Northern Ireland’ (112). For Grayling, Northern Ireland is the prime example of the ‘dire consequences’ of religious influence in education (Richardson 2008: 1), yet the majority of children continue to be educated in separate settings. Recent statistics indicate that 70.4% of pupils attending Controlled schools are of Protestant denomination (Topping and Cavanagh 2016), albeit the ethos and identity of such schools remains highly ambiguous. Whilst it is commonly described as de facto Protestant (Richardson 2016; Gallagher and Duffy 2015), ‘there are divergent views on what a Controlled school actually is’ (DENI representative, quoted in Byrne and McKeown 1998: 337). This paper discusses two perennial questions that have been asked as part of a qualitative PhD study. Firstly, to explore whether there is an aspect of Controlled school’s ethos and identity which might be described as ‘Protestant’ and if so, how that is reflected in school life. Secondly, to explore how ethos and identity is understood by Principals, Teachers and Governors within a majority Protestant school context. It will highlight the findings thus far of participants’ views via one-to-one semi-structured interviews.

 

 

KENNY, DR AILBHE (MIC): (Em)Bodied Research: Positioning ‘the Pregnant Researcher’ amongst Asylum Seekers

Abstract: A researcher’s positionality can both be established and shift according to the social, cultural, economic, and political values and norms in a given context. Even further to this, the researcher’s body itself can shape and be shaped by the research process and interactions within it. This paper highlights the role of the researcher as ‘embodied’, opening up a space to reflect critically on researcher positionality and specifically its influence on the research process in sites that seek to understand ‘the marginalised’. Taking one site-specific case study, I interrogate my own position within a participatory research project with asylum seekers based in a direct provision centre. Drawing on my field identity’, within a space that is separated from society at large, there are multiple facets to consider. I am white, Irish and female. I was also both music facilitator and researcher within the project. Of particular focus for this paper is that I was also pregnant while carrying out the research fieldwork. ‘Performing’ and being recognised as a ‘pregnant researcher’ manifested in various ways such as gaining access, building credibility and trust, forming relationships, and negotiating power in the field. Thus, the paper offers critical insights into the complexity of such a positioning for researcher leaders.

 

 

KINSELLA, ALAN J. (NUIG): Exploring the Use of Exploratory Mixed Methods when Carrying out Research with School Leaders

Abstract: Over the past three decades, the issue of data use by school leaders for accountability and improvement purposes has taken on increased significance in education policy and practice in most developed countries, including Ireland. This has come about in the context of neoliberal hegemony and the introduction of new public management systems within the education sector. International research suggests that the response of teachers and school leaders to this ‘datafication’ is multi-faceted and depends on a wide range of factors and contexts. This study seeks to identify the factors which impact on Irish post-primary school leaders’ attitude towards and use of data with a view to providing insights into how data and evidence use may be facilitated and promoted in a constructive and effective manner. This paper will focus on the use of the exploratory mixed methods approach to carry out such research among school leaders. It will examine the appropriateness of using this approach to identify and generalise key variables when carrying out research among school leaders and the steps taken to ensure research quality. It will also consider the potential ‘insider’ issues inherent in a practicing school leader carrying out research amongst his/her peers.

 

 

NEACHTAIN, CAITLÍN (MIC): From Assessment to Achievement: The Effect of an Individualised Diagnostic Resource on Language Learning

Abstract: Irish language learning has proven a contentious issue at all levels of the Irish education system, with increasing concern over attainment levels at key stages. Various studies suggest that the vast majority of school leavers plateau at a lower-intermediate level of language acquisition (cf. Ní Mhaonaigh, 2013; Ó Duibhir, 2011; and Little, 2003). Preliminary results indicate that students are largely unaware of the deficiencies in their Irish language proficiency levels. Building on the work of Ní Chlochasaigh (2013) in investigating the nature of students’ awareness of their individual language competencies, this paper explores the use of an individualised diagnostic resource in promoting learner motivation and achievement. This paper also highlights the usefulness of using corpus data and learning analytics to meet the evolving needs of students in higher education and to effectively implement strategies and supports for more effective language learning by exploiting student teachers’ inherent capacity for autonomous learning. This study recognises the primacy of high-quality primary school teaching in reversing the downward trend in Irish language literacy, and aims to provide educators with insights into how to support autonomous learning in teacher training through the use of specialised interventions that enable students to succeed in higher education.

 

 

 

NOHILLY, MARGARET and O’SULLIVAN, EILÍS (MIC): Students’ interpretation of leadership in educational contexts

Abstract: Though the phrase is not used specifically in the Education Act, 1998 it appears that ‘distributed leadership’ is envisaged for Irish schools of the twenty-first-century. The term encompasses meaningful, democratic, delegated and collaborative leadership and seems appropriate to the needs and demands of today’s children, parents, teachers and schools. The Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) Programme at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick has been reconceptualised in recent years. It now offers students the opportunity to develop specialisms in chosen areas. Graduates of the College have, therefore, the capacity to become leaders of programme and policy initiatives at school level. In Autumn 2015 and 2016 final year B.Ed. students at MIC completed an extended School Placement, during which they undertook a ‘curriculum focus’. This was essentially an opportunity to interact with school personnel and with children from disparate class levels on an area of the curriculum in which students had already undertaken some specialist modules and/or were particularly interested. Students from these two cohorts were invited to take part in research regarding leadership in education, specifically students’ interpretation of their potential to contribute to such leadership. As part of the research, students were prompted to reflect on leadership in educational contexts as they had observed it, to consider their experiences of leadership throughout the B.Ed. programme and to envisage what leadership roles they might eventually undertake as teachers. Some 500 students responded. This paper provides an overview of the findings which suggest that student teachers consider the structure of B.Ed. programme in MIC supports them in contributing to distributed leadership in the educational context.

 

 

Ó MURCHÚ, DR FINN (MIC): An Innovative Response to Teachers’ Professional Learning in Ireland: Eleven years into the Instructional Leadership Programme.

Abstract: In this paper the author explores what facilitates and inhibits attempts to bring about long-term large-scale systemic change focused on extending and refining the instructional practices of post-primary teachers and leaders. The content for this paper comes from our continuing analysis of eleven years of sustained engagement with post-primary schools in Ireland through the Instructional Leadership Programme. This voluntary programme currently involves 45% of post-primary schools as well as personnel from a range of Ministry support services. In keeping with the conference theme the author interrogates troublesome knowledge and learning in relation to teachers’ professional learning, some of which is proposed as counter-intuitive, alien and alternative to prevailing policy and research orthodoxies. Tangentially attention is given to obstacles now emerging in our eleventh year that require re-thinking our future efforts as set against our understanding of teacher learning and enacting current research related to change and systemic change.

O’REGAN, MAEVE A. (TCD): Exploring Leadership, Autonomy and Self-Directed Learning: Doctoral students’ experiences

Abstract: Third level education in Ireland has changed in the last decade with policy makers and practitioners facing the challenge of meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse, and growing student body in the context of limited funding and resources (Department of Education and Skills, 2011).  Policy makers have recognised the need to provide more flexible learning solutions to students including part-time, doctoral, mature and online learners (Department of Education and Skills, 2011). The current doctoral study explores how a sample of (full and part-time) doctoral students engage with the academic institution (via face-to-face and online supports) to enhance progression, completion and quality of the student experience.  The study also examines how students demonstrate personal agency and resourcefulness to navigate their own learning journeys.  The goal of the presentation is to encourage a discussion on how policy makers and practitioners can lead change and develop innovative and flexible learning solutions to meet the needs of a diverse body of learners within Higher Education in Ireland.

 

 

 

REILLY, DAVID (TCD): An Investigation into the Role of Mentoring in 6th Year Student’s Post-Secondary School

Abstract: This study explores the effectiveness of Trinity Access 21s mentoring program in aiding the post-secondary school decisions of final year 2nd level students. The study also hopes to understand the variety of factors that influence the student’s decisions on what to do when 2nd level concludes. It will investigate how the program has been operationalised in each school and how the mentors experience the program. It uses a case study approach drawing on mixed methods such as interviews, observations and an end of year survey. There are three schools selected with a sample of 5 6th year students in each school. Also interviewed is 1 mentor, teacher, peer and parents/guardians of the 5 mentees from each school. The study is framed through Robert Putnam’s theory on social capital. The three elements of his theory – bridging, bonding and linking, are at the core of many relationships and how they form part of the mentor/mentee relationship will be of interest. Initial findings indicate that the mentoring sessions have an impact on the student’s post-secondary school plans – 47% of students surveyed (n=168) agreed that the sessions had an impact.  Further qualitative instruments plan to go into more depth on these responses.

 

 

 

SHARKEY, AISLING (Tralee IT): ‘Being There’: An (Auto)ethnographical Representation of the ‘Understory’ of Being a Woman in Higher Educational Management in Ireland

Abstract: “Gender inequality in higher education is an internationally observed issue.  Women continue to be ‘vastly under-represented in top positions within the higher education sector’ as well as in ‘top academic decision-making positions’ across Europe.” (HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education, 2016, Executive Summary) The story of a male dominated leadership environment in academia is one which has been well told both nationally and internationally, as has the description of the academy as one in which the devaluing of women has become socially normalised (HEA 2016; Morley, 2013; Lord & Preston, 2009). There is also the underlying problem of the gendered organisation, whereby work practices and embedded attitudes to male and female stereotyped roles have evolved from the life experience of the traditional male wage earner (Bilen and Green, 2008; Lynch et al, 2015; Chappell & Waylen, 2013; HEA 2016).  For my Phd study, I have chosen to look beneath the surface of this grand narrative of underrepresentation of women in educational leadership.  I became a Head of Department in the IOT (Institute of Technology) sector in 2007.  I have chosen therefore to tell the story of what it is like ‘being there.’  I engaged in a narrative inquiry approach and co-constructed stories with other women who have held or continue to hold similar leadership positions.  Their stories resonated with me and our co-constructions have helped me make sense of my own story, both personal and professional.  The creation of an (auto) ethnodramatic script has emerged from this work, (an excerpt from which I would like to present).  In the literature, leadership is generally taken to refer to people who can bend the motivations and actions of others to achieve certain goals (Cuban 1988).  It involves ‘social influence’ or the action of influencing a group, leading to the achievement of ‘desired purposes’ (Spendlove 2007, p. 408; Kreitner & Kinicki 2004, p. 595).  But in this story of ‘being there’, just who has been leading who? On that very first day I asked, ‘How do I handle things? What am I supposed to do?  Where am I supposed to be?’ ‘Don’t worry, sit back,’ I was told, ‘They will come to you,’ I knew then that I was there to serve their needs. They could shape me and mould me as they pleased.

 

 

TREACY, DR MIA (MIC): Task Complexity and Diversity: Competing Realities for a Newly Appointed Principal

Abstract: Research indicates that the volume, range and diversity of tasks proves challenging for newly appointed principals. This paper investigates one newly appointed principal’s experience of this volume, range, and diversity of tasks during the first month as principal, as indicated through formal meetings. Data includes a reflective journal outlining details of these meetings including dates, purpose, tasks, and attendees. Findings suggest that of the 59 meetings recorded, special educational needs featured most strongly with more than one-third of the meetings focusing on this area. External professionals such as psychologists, occupational therapists and Special Educational Needs Organisers attended 8 of these twenty meetings. Almost one-quarter of meetings involved parents of which 7 related to involving parents (e.g. Parents’ Council) and management issues (e.g. enrolment) whilst 5 related to parental complaints and 2 related to parents’ concerns about their child’s academic progress. Other themes include “at risk” pupils and in-school management whilst teaching and learning featured in only 4 of the 59 meetings. The limited focus on teaching and learning in this study highlights a dilemma for newly appointed principals—the need to lead teaching and learning as indicated in recent Irish policy developments juxtaposed with the realities and immediacy of other school-related tasks.

 

 

TYNAN, DR FIONNUALA (MIC): Reluctant Leaders: Experiences of Parents of Children with a Rare Genetic Condition

Abstract: Parenting children with a disability has both positive and negative effects. These children can make valuable contributions to family life and ‘are sources of happiness and fulfilment’ (Turnbull et al. 2011, p.17). However, mothers of children with a disability have higher stress levels and incidences of stress-related illnesses than other mothers (Crnic et al., 1983; Orr et al., 1993). The diagnosis of a rare genetic condition elicits greater stress than that associated with cognitive disability or behaviour problems (Eisenhower et al., 2005). This presentation combines the researcher’s personal experience of having a sibling with Williams syndrome (WS), narratives from parents of children with WS and interviews with parents and teachers of 12 children with WS of school-going age. These parents see themselves as reluctant leaders, having to communicate information on their child’s condition to share with education and health-care professionals to ensure their child’s needs can be met. A majority of parents feel unqualified for this role and resent the responsibility they carry.  The issue remains, if they reject this role, who will ensure their child’s need are met? This raises the bigger issues of professional development and the debate of whether we should expect professionals to be knowledgeable about over 750 genetic conditions that cause an intellectual disability? The presentation proposes a model of ‘distributed leadership’ for parents as a means of meeting their needs, the needs of their child and the needs of the professional.

 

 

 

WEST, DR JULIA M. (Columbia, NY): Riffing on the Past, Responding in the Present

Abstract: Evidence throughout Western European art music history reveals practices that encompassed improvisation. Yet, in the present, classical music is often considered to exist as notated, with a reverence for upholding the composer’s intentions as represented in the score. Historically, the composer’s intention was to explore, experiment, and interact with conceptual structures within pre-existing works. Furthermore, in past eras of music history, composers and performers realized variability in compositional techniques and performance practices through improvisation, according to immediate conditions of setting and reimagined possibilities beyond interpretative liberties assumed in the present day. Through the cyclical design of collaborative inquiry (CI) research methods, New York City-based music teacher-participants as co-researchers explore strategies for taking creative license within the structure and practices inherent in music making, exploring well-known repertoire in new ways through creative processes of improvisation, promoting cooperation, dialogue, and imagination. Like collaborative inquiry, improvisation cultivates a form of interaction that derives its character from responsiveness to others in the environment. While the effects of riffing and improvisation can be seen as fleeting, shifting, and ephemeral, this paper examines the implications of a collaborative exchange of spontaneous ideas for the purpose of seeking creative license within the structure of a knowledge base.