Human relations, interactions and communication are the foundation of educational leadership. As with most businesses, the need for strong leadership and communication is more important than ever, especially because of the growing accountability of schools and school systems. In order to work well within the organizational environment of a school, superintendents, coaches, teachers, parents, community members and students must be able to communicate in a variety of effective modalities (Razik & Swanson, 2010). Behind these modalities are human relationship concepts and communication theories that help leaders to make decisions based on research that can help improve their organizational communications systems.
Over time, the theories have developed and the ways of effective communication have changed along with the technology that promotes them. There are many communication and human relations theories that can still be applied today given the effective and efficient ways that educational leaders can now communicate. Hill: Interactional Conventional Theory and Modern Forms of Communication A theory on communication that looks at how society continues communication or may even change the ability to communicate is the Interactional Conventional Theory (Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 132). Society continuously evolves throughout history. With these changes the ability to communicate also has to change. Over the last twenty years technology has redefined our idea of how to communicate. As students become more comfortable with chatting, texting and other new forms of communication this has lead teaching to evolve its forms of communication as well.
If communication is based on cultural norms then as technology changes the norms of society so must the ability to communicate (Razik & Swanson, 2010, pp. 132-133). New forms of communication are created all the time. Technology has enhanced communication from the traditional face to face or group conversations to e-mail and social media. Written letters as communication have transformed into instantaneous e-mail communication, which can be received at a moments notice from a smartphone. One of the most widely used forms of communication for college and high school students is social media like Facebook (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 1).
Educational leaders have accesses to technology of e-mail and social media, which make communication more accessible than ever before. One of the modern challenges of educators is how to use technology like Facebook as an educational tool (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 1). Educational sites have emulated the flexibility of sites like Facebook in order to make learning and educational communication more accessible for students (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 1). Educational cites such as Edmodo and Web 2.0 can be used to further student education in an off campus capacity (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 2). These sites also provide opportunity for students to communicate with teachers during non-school hours where they can ask questions about homework or that day’s lesson. This is no different from the traditional face-to-face contact or calling by telephone (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 2). A study done on twenty college students showed that they preferred to use text based communication to face-to-face communication (VanDoorn & Eklund, 2013, p. 6). Just as how students use text-based communication for recreational communication they also feel more comfortable with this form of communication with educators. A useful educational tool used by teachers is the Edmodo website.
This site is designed to have the same make up as Facebook but it allows teachers and student to communicate about educational topics. Teachers can create groups for students to join where communication can take place at their convenience (Harper, 2010, p. 19). From these groups students can post responses to questions posted by the teacher. Edmodo also allows students access to lessons that they may have missed from being out of school (Harper, 2010, p. 20). The site reinforces educational skills of writing, which students have to do in by posting responses, and having them use higher order thinking skills to develop personal responses (Harper, 2010, p. 21). Edmodo is also a great way to assign paperless homework for students.
Kristianson: McClelland’s Social Motives and Intrapersonal Relationship Theories One of the prominent human relation theories that are still evident in schools today is the McClelland Social Motives theory. McClelland noted that there are three main social motives that exist within organizations: power, achievement, and affiliation. “Achievement refers to the desire for people compete against a standard of excellence” (Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 112). This is clearly evident within most school sites, because successful educational leaders have the natural desire to achieve and set goals, visions, and missions for their district or school.
There is always a bar set and leaders are motivated to reach that percentage of student mastery. At Granada Primary School, in Phoenix, Arizona, there is a sign posted on every single door: A- 152. Our leaders expect that we will “Build a Legacy” and continue to achieve “A” status with 152 overall points needed to maintain that goal, an increase of nine points from the previous year. This is an excellent example of an achievement goal. The leaders at our school use their positional and personal power to influence others, as outlined by McClelland as a power motives for leaders. Lastly, the affiliation motive is also quite evident. The need for affiliation, or a need for positive relationships within an organization, is one of the most evident theories. Leaders, teachers, students, and community members all desire positive relationships, and that puts leaders in power by building positive relationships. Those that have positive relationships tend to have better communication, and as a result, better job performance (Razik & Swanson, 2010).
In addition, interpersonal relationship theories are highly evident within this school site. Positive interpersonal relationships are key for building a climate of trust in which a principal must be consistent with their words and actions (Green, 2013, p. 142). When this occurs, stakeholders will begin to approach the leader and communicate directly. This is evident in many principals “open door policy” in which staff members can come freely, without fear of superiority or negativity, but a reciprocal relationship. This is not limited to the relationship between teachers and leaders at a successful school site, but all stakeholders. It is evident that those who maintain positive interpersonal relationships with everyone around them have more success in the classroom.
This past year, a teacher that responded negatively to lack of student achievement was reciprocated in the students’ abilities and motivation to perform for that teacher. Conversely, the teachers that responded positively to the same situation had more student growth. This is seen in Fig.2 of Weiner’s interpersonal relationship theories and motivation of both parties involved in said communications (Weiner, 2000, p.8). The beliefs about the responsibility of other stakeholders, and their subsequent reactions, are very similar as seen in Granada Primary’s school achievement data for the 2012-2013 school year. This is important in leadership because the same attitude can be applied for principals and their staff. McAdams: Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Social Exchange Theory, and Theory “Y” Communication and human relation theories are very important in the success and operation of a school. At the school where I work communication is foggy most of the time with people playing the guessing game. The administrator (principal) constantly says one thing and does another.
This is the Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Lamourex, 1996). This theory makes for a chaotic environment. He also says he is going to ensure that the school dress code is adhered to by the teachers but his actions allow the dress code to be violated without consequences. He is so indecisive that people don’t know whether to take him seriously or not. In the midst of a meeting, he will change what he beliefs to match other actions. He also seeks reassurance from others after making a difficult decision. He often feels that more seasoned people have more to offer than he does so he looks at them for approval. If he were confident in his ability to lead he would not waver so much. This makes him an ineffective leader. Presently, the Social Exchange Theory is also used. This theory requires the leader to compare benefits and costs of actions. This is beneficial because it forces us to think things through carefully before acting on anything. It also helps to ensure we use instructional time wisely in order to make the most of our teaching abilities.
Time on task is stressed at our school. When we have staff meetings the administrators are constantly tell us to put in the time it will take to produce the outcome we desire. Teachers work extra hours (before and after school) to make sure students have the extra intervention needed to pass the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Along with Communication Theories there are Human Relation Theories present within the school system. Administration has the belief that staff will do the job they are supposed to do. This causes them not to micromanage us. This is an example of Theory “Y” of the human relations Theories. They believe “Individuals will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which they are (Green, 2013).” This allows the teachers to feel free to be creative and do what’s best for the students. Operating under the “Y” theory puts my administrator under the facilitator of information category.
He allows the staff to accomplish the tasks as they see fit as long as it is productive and in the best interest of the students. This theory is a demonstration of Standard 2, which states: “An education leader promotes the success of every student by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth (Green, 2013).” McClary: Organizational and Pygmalion Leadership Theories
At William J. Clark Middle School organizational theory is used. They do a lot of individual and group interaction with the ultimate goal of every student can learn and be successful in mind. “A focal interest of organization theory must be inevitably be the understanding of how to organize people and resources in order to collectively accomplish desired ends” (Greenwood, 2010, 78). Within the school several meetings occur weekly. Every Tuesday is team and faculty/departmental meetings. The administration uses the team leaders and department chairs to relay messages to other faculty members. Furthermore, the administrators will sit in on the meetings if there is something they would prefer to personally state on their own or to monitor to make sure that these meetings are being conducted.
Tuesday Academy meetings are the whole school meetings that are conducted by the administrators. Then, they have grade level content are meetings on Wednesdays and grade level content area data meetings on Thursdays. The administrators are involved in these meetings on a weekly basis. They often sit and participate to make sure they are communicating in an effort to effectively plan for the students. They participate in these meetings as well by providing suggestions, materials, and resources that will allow them to possibly reach every to increase student success. In every meeting, you have no choice but to communicate and get the job done. Emails are used to communicate frequently communicate. Also, monthly calendars are printed with important dates on them as a reminder. The school uses different aspects of mass communication to reach the people within the school and the public.
The school has various school meetings and events that allows the public to be involved such as the “Back to School Bash”, Open House, Parent-Teacher Conference Day, Parent/Academic Nights, Honors and Awards Banquets, PTA, Athletic Banquets, Winter and Spring Musicals, and etc. However, in order to inform the school and the public about what is happening at the school they use various means of communication. They send out emails. The school’s website is used to display information. Memo letters are sometimes sent home but not as often in an effort to save paper.
Information is displayed on the school’s bulletin board. Also, Parentlink is used. The purpose of Parentlink is to inform parents through telephone. This is a great tool for those people who are not tech savvy, don’t have access to a computer or the Internet. You can set Parentlink to call all numbers that are stored in the database and the receiver will hear an automated or recorded message informing them about something pertaining to the school. The good thing about this source is that it lets you know who received the message, if it went to voicemail, or if the number was not a working number, therefore, it needs to be updated in the system. The Pygmalion leadership theory is frequently used at William J. Clark Middle School. Weekly the administrator is required to perform a minimum of 10 observations. Therefore, that means they are always in the classrooms monitoring instruction. These frequent observations allow the administrator to see strengths and weaknesses in a person. It allows them to see if there is any room for growth.
After every observation is done the administrator provides immediate feedback. An individual meeting with each person is scheduled. In these meetings positive feedback is given and negative feedback if necessary. If weaknesses are observed the administrator provides suggestions, resources, and materials for them to improve. The administrators provide themselves as a resource as well. The administrator will model for them what she expects to be done in the classroom from start to finish. She will send them to different teachers to observe. Also, a Support Institutes for Teachers (SIT) is implemented at the school to serve as a lifeline for new and struggling teachers. Rogers: Miles’ Resource Model, Likert’s Supportive Model, and Theory “X” Saltonstall viewed human relations as the study of people in action. (Razik, & Swanson, 2010, p. 105) Davis explained the term by referring to the interaction of people in all types of endeavor- in business, government, social clubs, schools, and homes. (Razik, & Swanson, 2010, p. 105) Although human relationships have existed since the beginning of time, the art and science of trying to deal with them formally in the work setting is relatively new. (Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 103) It is important to note the different human relation theories and how they are displayed in schools in order to better understand human relations and communication. Miles’s human resource model assumes that work is not inherently distasteful and that people want to contribute to a meaningful goal.
(Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 104) At Plymouth high school, this theory is displayed by teachers’ willingness to go the extra mile for students to achieve the goal of improving test scores. Many teachers say they are not in education to become a millionaire. They teach because they want to make a difference. Sure we have teachers that dislike the current state of education, but for the most part teachers focus on achieving the goal of educating the youth of tomorrow. Likert’s supportive model emphasized the more the members of an organization feel supported, the more they will feel a sense of personal worth and importance in all their interactions and relationships with the organization.
(Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 104) The new administrator displays this theory at Plymouth high school. She is very conscious of her efforts of making sure everyone feel valued and supported. She has an open door policy. Teachers can talk to her about their concerns without being afraid of any consequences. She makes sure the teachers concerns are addressed in a timely manner. During staff meetings, she praises teachers for various accomplishments. She has encouraged teacher’s collaboration. She has even gone as far as allowing teachers to recreate the vision of the school. The new administrator has changed the culture of the school. Teachers are now taking ownership in the school and in the process of achieving its goals. The support that was generated from the principal has now improved the interaction of colleagues throughout the building.
Theory X assumes that average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he can. (Razik & Swanson, 2010, p. 106) Most people that are like this must be coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth effort to achieve objectives. At Plymouth high school, we are struggling with test scores in the CTE department. Many of the students do not take the class seriously. The teacher has become complacent, and avoids working hard at all cost. He allows the students to control the classroom. The principal walked in on his class watching a movie that did not have any relation to his CTE course. Administration had no choice to put him on an action plan. The action plan spelled out what it would take in order for him to keep his job. He responded by completing the entire list of task on the action plan.
He actually planned meaningful lessons. The students are actually learning. It took the threat of him losing his job to get him to actually begin putting forth maximal effort. In conclusion, a variety of human relations and communication models must be implemented at school sites to have an effective, efficient organization. Modern communications play a large role in the implementation of these theories. Many different modalities of communication must be used.
Face to face interactions need to remain interpersonal and motivated. Leadership must carefully weigh the benefits and costs of different conversations in order to communicate more directly and positively. Communication must be backed through careful observation and proactive, frequent feedback. Barriers to effective communication must be broken down at all costs to the well being of the school site. When these theories are combined, it is evident that schools are progressing towards new and exciting achievements that will continuously improve education.
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