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Judgment and Problem Analysis

Judgment and Problem Analysis Philosophy Statement
          Of all the competency areas, judgment and problem analysis, in my opinion, represents one of the most crucial skill sets for educational leaders.  Without the ability to engage in effective problem solving, an educational leader will encounter roadblocks they will be unable to overcome.  It is my philosophy that educational leaders need to have a framework for problem solving and must strive to engage in collaborative problem solving with their staff.
          According to Allen and Graden (2002), "problem solving refers to the systematic approach used to conceptualize a problem situation and identify needs, analyze factors contributing to the problem situation, design strategies to meet those needs, and implement and evaluate the strategies" (cited in St. Croix River Education District, n.d., n.p.).  As an educational leader, I plan to utilize a five-step problem solving process: problem identification, problem analysis, plan development, plan implementation, and plan evaluation.  This framework can be applied to any type of problem - individual student, class-wide, school-wide, or systems-level.  The following important questions should be considered at each step to help guide the process (St. Croix River Education District, n.d.):

  • Problem Identification:  What is the discrepancy between what is expected and what is occurring?
  • Problem Analysis:  Why is the problem occurring?
  • Plan Development:  What is the goal?  What is the intervention plan to address this goal?  How will progress be monitored?
  • Plan Implementation:  How will implementation integrity be ensured?
  • Plan Evaluation:  Is the intervention plan effective?

To engage in effective problem solving, one must work systematically through these five steps.  When careful attention is not paid to the guiding questions above, decisions may not result in the desired outcomes.  For example, a rushed, incomplete problem analysis can lead to the development and implementation of an ineffective plan.  This can be time-consuming and frustrating for those involved.  As a result, it is important for the problem solving process to involve the key players in the situation and be collaborative in nature whenever possible.   
          Utilizing a collaborative approach to problem solving is beneficial because it can promote teacher ownership in the decision, as well as instill strong problem solving skills in staff.  According to Zimmerman (2006), "by providing opportunities for teacher collaboration and participation in decision making, principals and other school leaders can also develop a supportive culture for change" (p. 242).  In addition, Short and Greer (2002) believe that shared decision-making can create teachers who are effective problem solvers and a culture where teachers are willing to try new ideas and strategies.  It is important to mention that a collaborative approach to problem solving may not be appropriate at all times.  For example, an administrator should not use this approach when they need to maintain some control over the outcome of the collaboration, when they need to make a quick decision, or when this level of staff involvement is inappropriate given the nature of the decision.  Overall, however, I prefer the collaborative problem-solving model as an educational leader.
          Educational leaders are presented with a wide-range of problems on a daily basis and are expected to come up with wise decisions and innovative solutions.  As a result, it is important for educational leaders to be critical thinkers, who have solid judgment and who can carefully analyze a problem.  In my future role as an educational leader, I plan to utilize the five step problem solving process as a framework for my decision making and will try to encourage and engage in collaborative problem solving with my staff whenever possible.

References
Short, P. & Greer, J. (2002). Leadership in empowered schools: Themes from innovative efforts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

St. Croix River Education District (n.d.). Problem solving model. Retrieved on June 9, 2018, from: http://www.scred.k12.mn.us/rt_i/problem_solving

Zimmerman, J. (2006). Why some teachers resist change and what principals can do about it. NASSP Bulletin 90(3), 238-249.


L.  Judgment and Problem Analysis: Core Competency

  • identify the elements of a problem situation by analyzing relevant information, framing issues, identifying possible causes, and reframing possible solutions;
  • demonstrate adaptability and conceptual flexibility;
  • assist others in forming opinions about problems and issues,
  • reach logical conclusions by making quality, timely decisions based on available information;
  • identify and give priority to significant issues;
  • demonstrate understanding of and utilize appropriate technology in problem analysis;
  • demonstrate understanding of different leadership and decision-making strategies, including but not limited to collaborative models, and model appropriately their implementation.

Artifacts

The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of judgment and problem analysis:

This artifact demonstrates my ability to identify the elements of a problem situation by analyzing relevant information, framing issues, identifying possible causes, and reframing possible solutions (L1).  The attached presentation outlines the five-step problem solving process that I employed with the assistance of the Student Assistance Team to create the Chisago Lakes High School Check and Connect Program.  Through careful identification and analysis of the problem, we were able to create an effective Tier II behavioral intervention program that worked within our system.  As the program's administrator, I continue to provide oversight to the program and assist the program's coordinator with troubleshooting any issues that arise.  I have given this presentation and provided consultation on program development for numerous districts interested in implementing a similar program.

This artifact demonstrates my understanding of different leadership and decision-making strategies, including but not limited to collaborative models, and model appropriately their implementation (L7).  During my field experience, I had the opportunity to use a five-step problem solving process to collaboratively solve individual student, class-wide, and school-wide problems with a wide-variety of stakeholders.  I have become well-versed in problem identification, problem analysis, plan development, plan implementation, and plan evaluation procedures.  As a future educational leader, I plan to use the problem solving skills I have developed to help frame situations and to engage in collaborative data-based decision making.

 
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