JELPP – Volume 37 (2023)

Culturally responsive policy development: Co-constructing assessment and reporting practices with First Nation educators in Alberta

S. Laurie Hill and Paolina Sietz
Faculty of Education, St. Mary’s University, Alberta, Canada


Informed by an adaption of the tri-level reform framework, we collaborated with a First Nation district student assessment committee, school principals, and district personnel to develop a student assessment policy. Through a series of workshops and meetings with school administrators and classroom teachers from Tsuut’ina Nation, located in southern Alberta, Canada, we created an assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy aligned to Tsuut’ina fundamental values, provincial priorities, and best practices in student assessment. Teaching practices that are aligned to the three educational pillars of learner outcomes, instruction, and assessment, as well as the Tsuut’ina fundamental values, have the potential to impact the Nation’s student educational success. We discuss implications of this work in relation to collaboration, Indigenous world view, and outcome- based reporting.

Storying family experiences in higher education: Surfacing, awakening, and transforming developing leader identity

Maria Cooper, Kiri Gould, and Louise Gorst
University of Auckland, New Zealand


Storying family experiences provides a means to explore and support leader identity development. The idea of recalling and reflecting on stories about and from families can surface how orientations to lead are learned early on in life. We report on students’ narratives generated during a postgraduate early childhood education leadership course to understand the significance of family storytelling in leader identity development and the awakenings this process encouraged for those involved. Using McCain and Matkin’s (2019) concept of retrospective storytelling, narrative inquiry underpinned our analysis of students’ family-oriented stories and the identification of two themes regarding their orientation to leadership: the influence of families’ hardships, work ethic and selfless actions; and the expectations associated with being the first-born in the family and the assumed responsibilities. Our findings affirm the transformative potential of selecting, telling, and reflecting on family stories to both understand the roots of leadership motivations and develop leader identities. Implications include promoting a narrative-based pedagogy for leadership development that centres on postgraduate students’ retrospective storying of family experiences.

Cowboy epistemology: Rural school and district leadership for diversity and social justice

William T Holmes
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA


This qualitative study focuses on the intersectionality of race and rurality by looking at the
responses of Wyoming principals and superintendents to the issues of diversity and social
justice within Wyoming. The responses are presented and analyzed through a new framework
called Cowboy Epistemology, and the Cultural Competency Continuum (Lindsey et al., 2009). It
appears that despite double-digit increases in diversity between 2010 and 2018, some Wyoming
school and district administrators continue to demonstrate actions and practices congruent with
the demographic divide, cultural homophily, and Whiteness along with cultural worldviews that
suggest a failure to: (1) value diversity, (2) engage political organizations and individuals in a
manner that advocates for the needs of diverse students, (3) implement multicultural instruction
beyond superficial means, and (4) engage the community in tolerance for others who are different
from the traditional White Wyoming ranching, conservative, materials extraction, isolationist
way of life. While outliers and standards for social justice and diversity exist in Wyoming among
and for administrators, more needs to be done to prepare and train administrators to engage
in culturally proficient and sustaining instructional leadership so that administrators can serve
all students, engage in community leadership, and resist the negative influences of Cowboy
Epistemology, demographic divide, cultural homophily, and Whiteness. Chief among the more
needs to be done for Wyoming administrators is the adoption of culturally responsive school and
culturally sustaining instructional leadership practices and training on the culturally proficient

Breaking through the glass ceiling: Experiences of academic women who have advanced to leadership roles in tertiary education in New Zealand

Michelle Dickson
Institute of Education, Massey University, New Zealand


Recent data shows a continuing trend of gender disparity in leadership positions in tertiary
education in New Zealand with men dominating higher levels of employment and advancing at
faster rates than women. This study explored the experiences of six academic women who have
advanced to leadership roles in New Zealand to examine the role that gender plays in their career
progression. It found a range of gendered experiences including negative incidents of sexism
and obstacles to advancing. There were also stories of positive experiences of supportive work
environments and initiatives such as mentoring that have aided them to gain leadership positions.
Participants recognised the complexity of gender issues acknowledging the range of factors and
perceptions that influence their experiences in academia.

Distributed leadership across a network professional learning community

Rachel Denee
School of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand


A network professional learning community (PLC) is characterised by a non-hierarchical approach to professional learning. Members are supported to engage and to learn when leadership is distributed across a network PLC. The mixed methods study reported here was designed to examine how a network PLC could effectively improve visual arts pedagogy in early childhood education (ECE) settings. The design and analysis were considered through a lens of distributed leadership. The research had two main stages, a nationwide survey and an embedded case study. The case study findings demonstrated the possibilities of a network PLC approach to foster distributed leadership across PLC members, the facilitator, ECE teams and leaders; participants successfully shared and applied new learning and improved pedagogy for visual arts learning. Overall, this study suggests that leadership is a critical aspect of the network PLC approach, and that attention should be paid to distributed leadership and to the role of the positional leaders in supporting the application of learning from a network PLC to education settings.

A Playcentre learning story: Te Whāriki as a framework for reflecting on emergent leadership

Carleen J Mitchell
College Work Based Learning, Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand


Research into leadership in early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand is in its infancy. At this early stage, distributed leadership has been identified as the most common style of leadership used in teacher-led early childhood education and care services. However, as a parent-led early childhood education service, Playcentre uses emergent leadership. Currently, professional development opportunities on leadership in early childhood education are geared towards teacher-led services. Therefore, how can a parent who has experienced emergent leadership identify the leadership skills gained that will form part of their professional practice when they return to paid work? This enquiry uses Te Whāriki as a leadership framework for reflecting on leadership skills gained through Playcentre. An autoethnographic case study method was employed to explore this framework in the context of the leadership skills that I gained while working at Playcentre over a 16–year period. The enquiry concluded that combining Te Whāriki with the early childhood education assessment for learning framework provides a matrix for examining leadership practice, as well as a way of developing insights into personal leadership practices. The use of the matrix provides scope for Playcentre leaders and other early childhood education leaders to reflect and gain insight into their leadership and for developing their own leadership framework of practice.