Toward an Educational Reform Movement in the Arab World: TAMAM Lebanon Hub Experience
The TAMAM Lebanon Hub project was launched in 2015 upon receiving a grant from Lore Foundation, a local foundation that supports educational initiatives targeted at the Lebanese public schools to provide every child with the best education possible.
The objectives of the Hub project were set to achieve school improvement that: 1) focuses on developing students holistically and prepares them to be productive and responsible citizens; 2) improves teachers’ performance and involvement in the school improvement process to become agents of change capable of facing the challenges of public schools while sustaining their momentum; and 3) engages the school’s parents, community and students in the shared responsibility of this improvement process.
During its five years, the Hub project has succeeded to build the leadership capacity for change of six leadership teams in geographically distributed public schools in Lebanon following the TAMAM Capacity Building Program. The schools were : Bzal Mixed Public School (Students: 243; Teachers: 32; Leadership team: 4), Ghbeiri Second Mixed Public School (Students: 400; Teachers: 38; Leadership team: 7), Jezzine Elementary Public School (Students: 160; Teachers: 45; Leadership team: 8), Kfarruman Second Intermediate Public School (Students: 657; Teachers: 57; Leadership team: 11), Rachel Edde Public School (Students: 233; Teachers: 36; Leadership team: 3), and Tarbiya Haditha Public School for Girls (Students: 852; Teachers: 70; Leadership team: 6).
In addition to that, the Hub steering team (HST) which comprised the TAMAM director, a senior coach, an expert in community building and local development and a senior researcher/Hub coordinator added, in collaboration with the TAMAM steering team, two new dimensions to the original TAMAM Capacity Building Program which are forming “Partnerships with the Parents and the Local Community” using the Socio-cultural approach and “Promoting Student Leadership”. During the first four years of the project, each of the six schools identified a school improvement need and were able to implement their improvement initiatives, within the project’s period, under the guidance of the Hub steering team and the help of expert coaches who were recruited to train educational practitioners at the participating schools as needed by their improvement plans.
The schools’ improvement needs were the following:
|Bzal Mixed Public School
||Developing the love of learning and the motivation of Cycle One students
|Ghbeiri Second Mixed Public School
||Increasing the engagement of Grade 7 students in school life
|Jezzine Elementary Public School
||Enhancing an Inclusive learning environment: Designing differentiated learning experiences in Arabic language for Grade 4 students
|Kfarruman Second Intermediate Public School
||Designing an educational and developmental model for Supervision enhanced by Information Technology
|Rachel Edde Public School
||Addressing the psycho-social challenges to improve the learning experience of Grade One students
|Tarbiya Haditha Public School for Girls
||Adopting a comprehensive educational approach to develop the personal and social aspects for Grade 6 students
The Hub steering team completed many activities during the project period. These activities included 9 workshops held at AUB – an average of 2 workshops per year, 4 gatherings that included networking activities with the TAMAM community in Lebanon and the Arab countries, advocates of TAMAM, international researchers and expert coaches, 15 individualized visits by the senior coach to each school – an average of 3 school visits per year, 8 individual strategic meetings between the TAMAM Director and each school principal – an average of 2 meetings per year, 2 Principals group meetings, a number of trainings by the internal and external expert coaches (Bzal:2 workshops; Ghbeiri: 3 workshops, 15 training sessions and 7 coaching visits ; Jezzine: 3 workshops and 110 coaching visits; Kfarruman: 6 workshops, 7 follow-up visits and 13 coaching visits; Rachel Edde: 2 workshops and 2 follow-up visits; Tarbiya Haditha: 3 workshops, 3 follow-up visits and 3 coaching visits), daily interactions by the HST with the school teams for support and guidance via WhatsApp messaging, phone calls and emails, 116 weekly HST planning and monitoring meetings, periodic coordination meetings with the TAMAM steering team- an average of 2 meetings per academic year, ongoing research and experimentation for refining the TAMAM Capacity Building Program, 3 proposals for expansion submitted to the Advisory Committee and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 16 meetings with the Advisory Committee and chairperson – average of 4 meetings per year; and 4 presentations at international conferences and 1 publication in international peer reviewed journal.
Despite the challenging environment surrounding the participating public schools, the commitment of the school lead teams was secured due to the responsiveness of the TAMAM program and its skilled steering team leading to the achievement of the Hub project’s objectives. The school lead teams successfully implemented their initiatives following the TAMAM Capacity Building Program starting with identifying their improvement needs up to evaluating their implementation plans. They also acquired, as part of the program, the TAMAM competencies of inquiry, evidence-based decisions, reflective practice, decisions based on needs, evolving design planning, professional collaboration, systematic documentation, de-privatization of practice, job embedded experiential learning, participative leadership and mentoring. By the end of the fourth year, the school principals succeeded in developing strategic plans for improvement to their schools and were able to disseminate TAMAM culture over the whole school. They fully adopted the TAMAM approach for school improvement and started applying it in new initiatives of their own, involving the whole educational staff.
Women Leading Educational Change in the Arab World: The case of the TAMAM Project – forthcoming
In the twenty first century, women are increasingly attaining gender equality with men in education and in the workforce (The World Bank, 2019). However, these promising figures have not been paralleled with an equal access to positions in the higher echelons of the organizations specially in Arab countries (The World Bank, 2019). Historically, leadership has been considered as a role for men rather than women, as men are deemed to have characteristics necessary for successful leadership such as aggressiveness, forcefulness and objectivity that women lack (Brenner, Tomkiewicz & Schein, 1989). Surprisingly, in the midst of all those challenges that hinder women from attaining leadership positions and from being successful as leaders, a group of women succeeded in leading a school improvement project called TAMAM that aims at developing leadership capacity of members in schools in different countries in the Arab world (Karami-Akkary & Rizk 2011; Karami-Akkary et al., 2012; Karami-Akkary et al., 2013). Such a project that is led by women is worthy of examination since these women who were socialized to be subservient are not only defying an unfavorable environment for women’s leadership but are also empowering and building leadership capacity in others, be it women or men. Hence, it is of added value to investigate what led to the success of this group of women who, without holding any formal leadership position, managed to implement an initiative that was neither popular nor supported by an authority and that consisted of inspiring others to become leaders in their schools. Thus, this research study focuses on the success stories of the project steering team (PST) leading TAMAM, and aims at examining the challenges that this team made up of only women faced and the factors that enabled them to overcome these barriers. For the purpose of this study, the following questions will be addressed:
From the perspective of the TAMAM project steering team:
- How does TAMAM view and lead change?
- What triggered the PST members to perceive themselves as leaders of change?
- What were the enabling conditions that allowed the PST to lead change successfully?
- What were some strategies the PST members used to overcome the challenges they faced?
The study will employ the narrative inquiry methodology for its data collection and grounded theory for its data analysis. The participants in the study will comprise all the eleven members of the project steering team. Individual interviews as well as focus group interviews will be the sources of data. The expected findings of the study add to the scarce literature and empirical data on the success stories of women leading school improvement, and would add to the understanding of how leadership is affected by gender. Also, it can provide strategies for women who aim at being leaders or who are in leadership positions to overcome the challenges that they will face.
Building capacity for school-based improvement: A Resource Book for TAMAM coaches- Forthcoming
The “TAMAM Resource Book” presents the TAMAM Capacity Building Program and makes it available as a resource for coaches who support schools that adopt the TAMAM vision and engage in building their leadership capacity for sustainable school-based improvement. It can also serve as a resource for practitioners, researchers and policy makers who want to be introduced to the TAMAM capacity building model. The TAMAM Capacity Building Program aims at building leadership capacity for sustainable school-based improvement at all levels and comprises of a job-embedded learning experience through which a team of practitioners acquire a set of leadership competencies to lead school-based improvement.
The Resource Book aims at providing university and school level coaches with the theoretical foundations of the program, its rationalized outcomes, and a general framework of its job-embedded learning experiences. It provides practical guidelines for potential coaches on how to engage school teams in the TAMAM Capacity Building Program. It includes 11 chapters that give an overview of the program, its foundations, as well as the role of coaches in training educational practitioners and building their capacity to lead sustainable school-based improvement. Moreover, the resource book gives an overview of the targeted learning outcomes and the job-embedded learning experience that the school teams go through as well as the coaching process that the coaches follow in training these teams. This resource book also highlights the tools available for coaches to manage the knowledge generated through the on-going action research throughout the implementation of the Capacity Building Program.