HIGH-IMPACT LEADERSHIP ON STEM EDUCATION IN CHALLENGING EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
Istanbul University (TURKEY)
The role of the school leaders is one of the most important aspects in the educational environment, especially in those poor schools. Therefore, evaluating the impact of the school leaders plays an important role to improve high-impact teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses in underprivileged educational environment. Since STEM courses are becoming very strategic, a new high-impact leadership, which is “do your best” strategy and set appropriate levels of challenges, is needed to encourage teachers, administrators, students, parents, and even communities by doing right decisions.
In this research, the high impacts of the school leaders in five different high schools in underprivileged regions had been systematically analyzed by conducting an ethnographic research. The participants (n=81) were the principals, the vice principals, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the responsible people who are playing active roles in the local governments to decrease the drop out rates at the schools because of the poverty. By asking 28 open-ended questions, the data collected and analyzed by using NVivo.
The results had showed that all the participants agreed about the high-impact leadership to increase the attendance rate of the students and to engage the students to the STEM fields. Since the high school dropout rate was high, the students could be engaged to STEM fields to make them find better job opportunities. As the principals and vice principals (%96) had mentioned that they were not aware about high-impact leadership in their challenging school environment, but they had done their own best to engage these underprivileged students to the schools. Most of the teachers (%87) had pointed out that all these students had to work rather than to study. Hence, engaging them in to STEM fields could be considered to find better jobs. The teachers agreed to have high-impact leadership of the school leaders to create awareness among the teachers, students, and particularly among the parents. The students (97%) said they could not see any future after the school so that as most of them (89%) had clarified that they needed new school systems to find better jobs. According to the students (76%), they were very poor in STEM fields. Although they (68%) were aware about the innovation-based works, they did not know how to manage this. They (93%) expected from their high schools because most of them could not go to the universities. Most of them (95%) had to work to help their families.
Most of the parents (89%) mentioned that they had concerns about the future of their kids. They were aware that they did not know how they could deal with the future, so they had important expectations from the high schools, particularly from the teachers and principals, including vice principals. Although all the parents were not aware about the STEM fields, they demand the best education, which could help their kids in their careers. Additionally, most of the responsible people (91%) at the local governments agreed that the high-impact leadership had needed particularly at the educationally challenging environment since the stakeholders were not educated and qualified to make right decisions. Only few of them (8%) had seen similar school systems, but all of them supported STEM fields at the underprivileged educational environment to decrease the high school dropout rates while developing good opportunities for the students.