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Theories Supporting Site Based Management

Theories Supporting Site Based Management


In this lesson, students analyze the theories supporting Site Based Management.

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Source: Pacman, Pixabay,; Tombs, Pixabay,; A Nation at Risk, Wikimedia Commons,; Albert Bandura, Wikimedia Commons,; Peter Senge, Wikimedia Commons,; Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,

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Hello and welcome. My name is Gino Sengiuliano. And in this lesson, we will take a look at what site based management means and learn about some of the theories that support this practice. Let's get started.

I was recently at a technology conference geared towards educators around the state. It was a thrill to be there as I was exposed to new ways to utilize digital media in school as well as being able to connect with many colleagues. I bumped into a former mentor of mine who had retired a year earlier. I was of course very happy to see her but surprised as well. I asked her what she was doing there. She responded, I retired. I ain't dead yet. I still have a lot to learn. That phrase epitomizes an individual who clearly cares about lifelong learning and her role in making a difference.

Let's begin by looking back at the history of site based management, which has its origins in business. In the 1950's, in order to improve how businesses function, William Edwards Deming developed something called total quality management. Both TQM and SBM include eight key elements vital to success. They are, ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, recognition, and communication. Obviously those are traits that are great in any field.

Site based management is also an offshoot of Edward Lawler's high involvement management approach. This approach has been used to help reform and improve cooperations. Like site based management, Lawler's method was aimed to increase employees' responsibilities and place them at the center of the decision making process.

Fast forward to the 1980's. Site based management and education began as a way to reform failing schools following the publication of a nation at risk in 1983. The idea was to take what worked in the business world and apply it to education, namely decentralizing how urban schools were being run. School accountability would now be owned by those closest to the students, teachers and principals. And thus site based management was born.

Furthermore, this model would be a means to address issues surrounding school structures and day to day operations that often got in the way of learning. For example, antiquated teaching methods and schedules that no longer made sense for learners. Ironically we find ourselves in a similar situation again today living and learning in a digital world.

Now to some of the theories that support site based management. We'll begin with Bandura's social learning theory. According to Canadian psychologist, Albert Bandura, learners evolve based on their interaction with one another. And grow through working collaboratively. These are practices you are very likely to find in organizations that follow the site based management philosophy.

Next is self-efficacy. Bandura also stated that self-efficacy is the belief in your ability to accomplish your goal. For educators self-efficacy requires training and support and is critical to the successful functioning of site based management. Individuals need to come together to build capacity, implement change, impact improvements, and sustain efforts that support continuous improvement. Members of the site based management team need to be provided structure and opportunity to see and celebrate successes in order to maintain the feeling of self-efficacy.

Systems theory has its roots in the field of biology. However has been modified to fit organizational theory, and management, and education by American system scientist Peter Senge. This theory states that the whole is the sum of the parts. I think of the individual threads that make up a rope. In an organization, like a school, it is the way in which each member works together that defines success. According to Senge there are five disciplines that make up schools. They are systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning. And it is his contention that these disciplines work together to create the systems and structure of schools.

Similar to Bandura's, Senge also believes that strong learning organizations or schools are communities where the members communicate and collaborate around a shared vision and mission to achieve a goal through mutual hardwork and support. You often see this kind of thinking in classrooms as well. Where teachers create an environment in which students take ownership of their learning. So when you step back and look at the structure and purpose of site based management, you'll see that it really exemplifies Senge's organizational systems theory noted in his five disciplines.

This brings us to actual research theory, which was first defined by German psychologist Kurt Lewin in the early 1900's. As a cyclical process of defining a problem, acting upon that problem, assessing the impact of the action, and adjusting accordingly. In classrooms you will often see this process referred to as plan do study act, or PDSA. Action research continues to be a growing field in education because at both the classroom and building levels it helps support continuous improvement. This is why site based management teams use action research as a tool to make their organizations better.

Next we have adult learning theory. Since learning is an intrical part of a site based management community it is important to understand how adults learn. The term, lifelong learner, has become part of our educational lexicon. Back in 1980, andragogy was developed by Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy consists of teaching strategies focused on adults.

He indicated that there are six principles of adult learning. They are, as a person matures his or her self concept shifts from a dependent personality toward one of a self directing human being. Second, an adult accumulates a growing reservoir of experience, which becomes a rich resource for learning. Think of all the things you would do differently if you could go back. The readiness of an adult to learn is closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role. As we get older we are more equipped to see the big picture and our place in it.

Next there is a change in time perspective as people mature. From future application of knowledge to immediacy of application. Adults are more problem centered than subject centered in learning. We have all heard students say, why do I have to learn this. What am I ever going to use this for? As adults, we can identify what we need to learn and immediately utilize those concepts to solve problems.

Next, for most adults internal motivation is far more effective than external motivation. And finally, adults need to know the purpose or why they need to learn something.

Finally we will take a look at the critical thinking theory by Steven Brookfield. His work is important to consider in the context of site based management and professional learning communities. Because every decision we make is influenced by our personal beliefs and values. According to Doctor Brookfield, there are four processes involved in critical thinking. And they are, contextual awareness in deciding what to observe and consider. Being aware of what is occurring within the particular context of a situation and what is important to take notice of. As an educator this skill is I often used when interpreting data, looking beyond the numbers.

Exploring and imagining alternatives. This entails developing different solutions to problems. We often refer to this as thinking outside the box. Thirdly, another element of critical thinking is assumption recognition and analysis. This requires the learner to admit personal biases and preferences that may influence thoughts and actions.

And finally, reflective skepticism and deciding what to do. This requires one to look within and self reflect in order to determine why you have identified the problem and how the potential action is influenced by your beliefs and values. This is especially important when you are part of a group, because you will want to make sure that your decisions and role support the collective mission, vision, and goals.

Let's go ahead and summarize the theories that support site based management that we covered in this video. We looked at social learning theory, self-efficacy theory, systems theory, action research, adult learning, and critical thinking. I would like to leave you with this food for thought. Think of a time you were part of a group or committee that was charged with making an important decision or recommendation. What was your role and how did you contribute to the final outcome?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out our additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Theories Supporting Site Based Management"

(00:00-00:11) Intro

(00:12-00:45) Life Long Learning

(00:46-02:37) History of SBM

(02:38-03:38) Social Learning/Self Efficiency

(03:39-04:58) Systems Theory

(04:59-05:38) Action Research

(05:39-07:13) Adult Learning Theory

(07:14-08:43) Critical Thinking Theory

(08:44-09:30) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Stephen Brookfield’s Four Critical Thinking Processes 

This handout provides useful questions to guide your critical thinking as you engage in problem solving and continuous improvement as part of SBM and PLCs.

Teacher Self-Efficacy and Site-Based Management as a Decentralization Strategy

The research presented in this article indicates that teachers in site based managed schools have greater self efficacy than those in top-down management models.