Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Connecting the practitioner and the professor: Establishing a strong professional organization

Pauline M. Sampson

Associate Professor
Superintendent Program Coordinator, IRB Chair
Stephen F. Austin State University

A strong organization such as NCPEA could further its identity by more recruitment of preK-12 educational leaders to join NCPEA. Educational leadership preparation programs strive to develop scholar-practitioners where leaders constantly use current research and best practices to form their decisions.  At the university level, professors develop their own research agendas and these research agendas may be connected to current needs of schools.  Additionally, NCPEA strives to be a forum to guide policy for educational leadership while providing its members opportunities to network.  This helps them keep current on research in educational leadership and publish their research.  This increases the accessibility of their research to both practitioners and other professors.

One way to ensure the success of an organization is to continue increasing its membership. This leads to increased revenue that could be used to conduct the mission of the organization as well as network with people in the same field. Organizations that network and engage their members have a greater chance of continuity.  Organizations also continue to change and evolve to meet the needs of its members for the recruitment of future members.
Another way to increase recruitment of new members is to examine the network of current school leaders, who are the practitioners, and involves them with the professors.  Suddaby and Viale (2011) identified one purpose for professionals to network was that they have an understanding of the field and are able to bring along new members to the field that help create new identities for the field. 

Many practitioners may desire to move into the professorate. Networking practicing school administrators with professors to compete research projects can benefit both groups. This combined work helps the school leaders to become stronger scholar-practitioners by providing a better understanding of the need for scholarship at the university level with service, as well as honing their skills as researchers with professors.  The professors are helped by having relevant research while working to develop future potential professors. 

Additionally, this collaboration could assist practitioners to learn more about the career of a professor so they could have a smoother transition should they decide to work at a university (Coleman, Christie, Culver, Erickson, Hunt, Williams, Kinsey, Smith, & Tareilo, 2007; Johnson & De Spain, 2004; Karanovich, 2010; Searby, Ivanlova, & Shores, 2010).  Exposure for practitioners to the expectations of higher education, especially for service and scholarship, could be helped with an early collaboration between school leaders and university faculty (Marshall, Karanovich, & Sampson, 2010).  Holberg and Taylor (2004) focused on the concerns of publications for the profession of English professors with lower opportunities to publish because of fewer book publishers.  Further Holberg and Taylor (2004) suggested the professorate must have a focus on teaching.  I would suggest that reconsideration is also needed for the connection to service.  This service can lead to research published by the professors and their colleagues who may desire movement to the professorate.  This type of connection would continue NCPEA’s engagement with practitioners while increasing a focus on the use of research by practitioners.

Coleman, J. C., Christie, E., Culver, M. K., Erickson, D. E., Hunt, J. W., Williams, F. K., Kinsey, G. W., Smith, S. J., & Tareilo, J. (2007). The transition from practitioner to professor: The struggle of new faculty to find their place in the world of academia.  NCPEA Educational Leadership Review, 8(2), 65-76.
Holberg, J. L ., & Taylor, M. (2004). Editors’ introduction: Getting the profession we want, or a few thoughts on the crisis in scholarly publishing.  Pedagogy, 4(1), 1-7.
Johnson, J. A., & DeSpain, B. C. (2004). Mentoring the reluctant writer. The Professional Educator, 26(2), 45-55.
Karanovich, F. (2010). Transitioning from the Superintendent’s Chair to the Professor’s Podium: A Narrative of Personal Reflections. In Michael Afolayan (Ed.), Multiculturalism in the Age of the Mosaic: Essays in Honor of Rudolph G. Wilson. New York: Nova Science Publishers. 
Marshall, R. L., Karanovich, F. A., & Sampson, P. M. (2010).  From practitioner to professor: The impact of mentor programs on the success of PK-12 practitioners entering higher education.  Paper presented at the National Council for Professor of Educational Administration in Washington, D. C.  August 2-6, 2010.
Searby, L. J., Ivankova, N. V., & Shores, M. L. (2009). Capable, contributing, and connected: New professors find support through a peer learning community. Learning Communities Journal, 1(2), 97-119.
Suddaby, R., &Viale, T. (2011). Professionals and field level change: Institutional work and the professional project. Current Sociology, 59(4), 423-442.