Systemised Collaboration and Empowerment for Crisis Management: What Senior Teachers Can Learn From Supervisees

Systemised Collaboration and Empowerment for Crisis Management: What Senior Teachers Can Learn From Supervisees

Ardene Nicole Virtue
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4331-6.ch009
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Schools were plunged into emergency situations consequent to the spread of COVID-19. School leaders, educators, and other stakeholders engaged crisis management procedures to resolve the accompanying challenges of meeting students' learning needs via remote learning modalities. The primary aim of the chapter is to provide lessons senior teachers could learn from supervisees' employment of problem-solving approaches. Sixty-seven teachers participated in a survey that revealed most employed collaboration as a method for addressing the encountered difficulties. From the supervisees' experiences, senior teachers could garner insights into the need for them to activate self-empowerment in the process of actively assisting institutions' recovery and success. In addition, they should exercise their agency by involving supervisees, and other stakeholders, in sustainable collaborative practices which potentially function as a crucial element of crisis management. The chapter offers recommendations for systemising collaboration in ensuring that the greatest benefits are attained.
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The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated social distancing as a component of public health practice aimed at lessening transmission of the virus. Consequently, educational institutions had to engage emergency response measures while altering teaching and learning methodologies to suit online, distance and hybridised modalities. For many teachers and students across the globe, such contexts for teaching and learning were absolutely new which caused educators and learners to encounter challenges with transitioning from the familiarity and comfort of face-to-face (F2F) operations. Researchers such as Ramirez et al. (2021), Adedoyin and Soykan (2020), Besser et al. (2020), and Kaur and Bhatt (2020) informed of some of the difficulties which included lack of adequate time and knowledge to transform courses taught F2F to befit online modalities, inadequate access to technology and challenges with use, learner isolation and disinterest, struggles with regulating supervision and assessment, physical and mental fatigue. Hence, problem-solving became a demanding imperative because teachers and students grappled to resolve the multifaceted impediments while seeking to satisfy the requirement for optimal teaching and learning experiences.

One solution was involving teachers in training sessions geared at increasing their competences for the use of technology in teaching and learning methodologies. In Jamaica, for example, training sessions were facilitated by school administrators and the Ministry of Education (UNESCO, 2020; Caribbean Policy Research Institute, 2021; Blackman, 2021). In addition, some teachers sought to fill some of the competence gaps through self-teaching, experimental use of technologies and practice. As students and teachers sought to adapt to what was dubbed as the ‘new norm’, the alleviating of challenges was characterised by a cycle of learning, implementations, and modifications.

Significantly, instead of passively awaiting top-down instructions, some teachers undertook agentic action by employing collaboration as an additional problem-solving approach. Collaboration typically involves teachers working together to share information, plans and resources, discuss students’ learning, and exchange solutions (Eschler, 2016; Kalra, 2020). The outbreak of the global health crisis resulted in traditional teaching rules being jettisoned, and teachers having the primary responsibility of adapting their methods to suit the new instructional contexts which reinforced the necessity of collaboration (Kalra, 2020). Varied educational landscapes maintained a unifying agenda which was to provide students with access to quality learning opportunities, and the challenges caused an extension of collaboration. Teachers did not only partner with other educators who belonged to the same institutions, but engaged teachers and other educational stakeholders from national and international spaces.

As a result of schools’ struggles to satisfy their fundamental purposes, the need for overcoming difficulties to increase the probability of success brought into focus the role of leaders in crisis management. Boin et al. (2013) define crisis management as “the sum of activities aimed at minimizing the impact of a crisis” (p. 81). Primarily, the definition conveys that in order for crisis management to be effective, there has to be an interconnectivity of the ideas and actions aimed at accomplishing calculated undertakings. Thus, school managers, in their leadership strategies, should prioritise collaborative efforts that guard against the execution of disconnected and arbitrary solutions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainability: The process of implementing measures that maintain well-being over an extended period of time ( Kuhlman & Farrington, 2010 ). The implementations formulated for collaboration should prioritise stakeholders’ best interests, and procedures should be undertaken to ensure consolidation of improvements and continuity.

Crisis: An occurrence that threatens the functionality and success of an institution. For schools, a crisis may be a happening that prevents leaders and educators from providing students with quality teaching and learning experiences.

Crisis Management: The execution of implementations for the purpose of preventing and lessening the threats to an institution’s survival and recovery.

Empowerment: An individual’s power and confidence that enable their active undertaking of steps to become engaged in problem-solving.

Systemised Collaboration: A planned and structured process that engages teachers and middle leaders in cooperative actions that are facilitated by school culture and policy.

Agency: An individual’s ability to act autonomously which may be influenced by environmental factors such as school policy and culture (Priestly et al., 2015 AU63: The in-text citation "Priestly et al., 2015" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Middle Leaders: Senior teachers such as heads of departments and subject leaders who both teach and have leadership roles allowing them to bridge the gap between instructional practice and school management ( Grootenboer et al., 2020 ).

Teaching and Learning: Classroom engagements that involve teachers’ employment of instructional approaches which primarily cater to students’ range of academic needs.

Supervisees: Subject teachers in schools who do not hold positions of leadership.

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