To what extent is UAE school leadership transformational? #BELMAS2019

Without Reflection, We Go Blindly: The Direction-Giving Power of the Process of Writing Education Leadership & Management Reflective Journal Entries During Times of Change in the UAE. Webb, C., July 2019, Conference: BELMAS Annual Conference 2019 – ‘Educational Leadership for Social Change’. At: Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. 12-14th July 2019.
To complete the titular quote, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” (Margaret J. Wheatley). Conversely, this paper highlights the learning achieved and focus gained for the continuing professional development of 10 UAE-based current and aspiring school leader managers as evidenced in their own qualitative reflective journal entries as completed over the duration of 7 months. The 10 research participants each made 10 entries of approximately 200 words into their work-based diaries over the time period from October 2017 to April 2018. To give structure to the task they were required to focus on a different topic pertaining to education leadership and management in each entry, to reflect on their own experience or observations of others in practice, to relate this to relevant theory, to create personal learning and professional development targets, and to reflect on their own progress made over the course of the 7 months. The richly qualitative yet pithy accounts collated provide insights into the UAE’s current efforts in educational leadership and management transitions from the challenges of the autocratic transactional towards transformational leadership approaches grounded in more collegial and distributed styles. Amidst the backdrop of this dramatic tension, the research participants each relayed snippets of their own stories of sense-making, while clinging to their own visions of ideals of leadership and management in education, and continually striving ambitiously to meet them. In spite of the use of reflective journal writing being far from new, the context, content and mode of application in evolving time and space invariably leads to new insights – in this case on the emergence of a new group of visionary education leaders in the context of a rapidly changing UAE knowledge-based society and post-oil economy. Extracts from the data to be discussed will highlight the highs and the lows of such journeys, and point to new directional futures.

Without Reflection We Go Blindly - C Webb 2019 BELMAS

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