PAIS Newsletter

PAIS News, Volume 4:1 (March 2009)

by User Not Found | 10/28/2011
Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Magda Hayek, PAIS Chair,

Dear PAIS Members,
Welcome to our 2009 PAIS e-Newsletter. A year has gone by already and we are enjoying this newsletter because of the hard work and dedication of the two coeditors, Marina Cobb and Allison Pickering. Thank you, Marina and Allison, for the wonderful job done in putting together the spring issue of 2009. 
The purpose of this newsletter is to reach out to as many members as possible and to expand our membership base. As you may very well know, the PAIS Newsletter has something for all levels of readers around the world, from K-12 to higher education, and it also covers a variety of EFL and ESL contexts, including adult and refugee education. Despite a broad and diverse audience, PAIS members share similar responsibilities, such as strategic planning, budgeting, leadership, staff evaluations, and more.
I hope you enjoy reading our first 2009 issue and that it offers you a good share of practical ideas to use in your various contexts. We always need your help, dear members, to make this newsletter happen. I cannot stress enough how much we appreciate your contributions. Thank you and enjoy the upcoming conference!


Letter From the Coeditors

Marina Cobb,, and Allison Pickering,

Dear PAIS colleagues,

We welcome you to the second issue of the PAIS Newsletter for 2008-09!

As before, the current issue opens with the insights gained from an interview with an experienced language program manager. Marina Cobb has captured the views on educational leadership expressed by John Shannon, dean of the Jannen School of Arts and Sciences at Trine University, who has extensive international program administration experience.

Julio Cesar Gómez discusses how involving teachers in the process of formulating their own performance goals can be used to encourage them to become enthusiastic collaborators in their professional development.

Jon Phillips provides an overview of an Academic Session sponsored by PAIS at the 2008 convention which he cofacilitated with Claudia Bey, Marina Cobb, and John Shannon. The session covered best practices in language teacher supervision as a dynamic and interactive process, as well as common causes of conflict and selected conflict resolution tools.

We encourage our readers to contribute to the next issue of the PAIS Newsletter. You can find our submission guidelines at the end of this issue. We welcome a variety of submissions: articles, book reviews, conference summaries, interviews, supervision tips, and news items. It is our hope that this newsletter will serve as a forum for ongoing professional dialogue between language program administration professionals. We hope you enjoy reading this issue, and we hope to hear from you!

Marina Cobb
Allison Pickering

What Does It Mean to Be an Effective Leader and Program Administrator? An Interview With Dr. John Shannon, Dean of the Jannen School of Arts & Sciences at Trine University in Northeast Indiana

Marina Cobb,

I met Dr. John Shannon after he was selected to be the dean of the new Middle East School III at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). He struck me as someone whose always vibrant presence seemed to exude openness, optimism, and good intentions. It seemed that, in the eyes of the faculty, he epitomized enthusiasm and positivity. My first encounter with John was during an interview I conducted with him for the DLIFLC Re-Accreditation Self-Study Report in 2005. I was impressed by the conviction with which he spoke of many of his undertakings; it was obvious he was bringing his full commitment to new projects. I was later fortunate enough to work under his deanship in the new school for several months before he moved to his new position of dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the Trine University in Indiana.

John was undoubtedly a progressive, open-minded leader and was someone whose leadership style I very much wanted to emulate. I was very interested in finding out what personal beliefs about leadership may have contributed to John being the type of leader that he is. The following is a summary of his answers to each of my questions.

Question 1. How would you describe the main characteristics of your leadership style?

John commented that he might not necessarily have the same perception of himself as a leader that others do, but was certainly happy to share what kind of leader he aspired to be. The first and foremost quality he consciously wished to cultivate in himself was being inclusive. He believes in shared governance for the simple reason that one has a better chance to succeed if more people participate in the decision-making process. He listed the following as characteristics of an effective leader (not necessarily provided in order of importance).

  • Understanding the big picture. True leaders keep their eyes on the big picture and do not get “caught in the weeds.” They choose to give their time to areas where the truly important issues are.
  • Empowering others. John commented that empowerment has unfortunately become somewhat of a buzzword; however, delegation combined with preparing people to succeed remains the core of true leadership. Delegation of responsibilities goes hand-in-hand with willingness to give credit to others for a job well done.
  • Rewarding others. Rewarding takes many forms, including a simple acknowledgment of the contributions. John pointed out that just the mere act of giving more responsibility can be a form of reward. In his words, empowerment is a bidirectional process of delegating and acknowledging the employees’ contributions.
  • Communicating well. John explained that by communicating well, he did not necessarily mean being articulate but rather saying what you mean and meaning what you say, without hidden agendas or ulterior motives.
  • Sharing information. Leaders share information with those who need it. John recalled an incident when he was given advice by a senior colleague not to share his decision about which course of action he was going to take on a particular issue because he was told that knowledge is power and withholding information would give him power over others. John’s response was that he was not interested in personal power but was very interested in enabling others to accomplish their responsibilities as efficiently and effectively as possible. John believes that providing information to others should not be used as a form of reward but rather as a tool to get things done because it allows them to make informed decisions.
  • Being transparent. John shared his observation that it is hard for people to accept a decision that affects them directly when they do not understand how or why it was made in the first place. Inclusive leaders actively seek input and do not make decisions in a vacuum; they carry in them a sincere intention to take all input into account in the decision-making process.
  • Listening carefully. John described listening carefully as a key component of effective communication and as an important characteristic of inclusive leaders. Being asked to give input that is not actually considered can be very frustrating for people. John pointed out how helpful it can be to let faculty members give their full input on an issue without saying much of anything in response; instead, just try to understand what their viewpoint on the issue actually is.
  • Taking responsibility. Effective leaders take responsibility when something does not work, and then they make sure it gets done correctly the next time. A true leader would never leave a subordinate exposed or turn someone into a scapegoat. He or she holds people accountable while recognizing that the ultimate responsibility still lies with him or her.
  • Being respectful. Effective leaders are always respectful, regardless of their position on the issue.
  • Keeping one’s cool. True leaders keep their cool under pressure and do not lose control of the situation or of themselves. In a difficult situation or when dealing with conflict, if the leader does not keep his or her cool, the other person cannot reasonably be expected to do it either. Because of the nature of their job, program leaders deal with stress all the time, not just in occasional situations. Having strategies for handling stress is imperative because without those strategies a leader cannot be maximally effective.
  • Engaging subordinates in solving their own problems. When people ask the leader to solve a problem for them, it is a good idea to encourage them to work on it themselves first. People who find their own solutions have ownership of their decisions and are therefore more likely to succeed in implementing them.
  • Truly caring. Caring is a basic building block of leadership. It is not enough to genuinely want the program or department to improve; we must also demonstrate that we care. There are many ways to do this, such as by “simply being there” by attending a meeting or an event in which faculty members are participating when it is not necessary or expected that the leader will be there. Knowing that their supervisor was there to support them out of a genuine interest in what they were doing is a powerful motivator for employees. Other ways to show that you care include being available to hear about the employees’ problems, listening well, going to team and class functions of any scale, and putting in the time, that is, coming to work early and staying late.
  • Being enthusiastic. A leader’s enthusiasm for the job rubs off on other people. Leaders set the tone for the whole group.
  • Question 2. Is there a program manager (or a leader in general) whom you consider(ed) to be your role model? What is it about this person's leadership style that impressed you the most? What did you want to emulate?

    John commented that he always looks up to his own supervisors as role models, trying to learn from what he perceives as both their strengths and weaknesses. He recalled having a very supportive supervisor in recent years who was widely respected by subordinates because she was so supportive. He also recalled having a supervisor who was always generous in giving his time to faculty, but who was not the most tactful person. Another supervisor from his past was a model program-builder but neglected to nourish his relationships with subordinates, who at times felt demoralized despite the growth of their programs. Surprisingly, John explained that one of the most valuable role models he ever had was a person that he least wanted to emulate. This person taught him a lot about how not to be a leader. The experience of others is always valuable, and if we are observant, we can learn something from every person.

    Question 3. Does supervising faculty from a different (non-Western) culture present additional challenges to you? Do you adjust your leadership and managerial behaviors when the faculty you supervise come from a different (non-Western) culture? How?

    John’s professional experience spans several continents and many countries: Germany, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He believes that the key to cross-cultural communication lies in listening well and showing a genuine interest in people, which means trying to learn about their lives, sharing experiences, and having a laugh together. There is no better way to break down barriers than to show a sincere appreciation of their culture.

    When working with people from different cultural backgrounds, it may be especially important to explicitly state one’s expectations because things taken for granted in one culture may be completely unknown in another. Making sure that the expectations are clear typically requires a lot of negotiating back and forth.

    Question 4. What insights do you have for new or aspiring language program managers (e.g., advice, pitfalls to avoid, observations regarding mistakes new program managers are prone to making)?

    John pointed out that there is really no substitute for experience, and that becoming a new program leader is not easy. With experience, what at first caused great anxiety may eventually become standard procedure. Asking for input and then listening carefully to it, especially when there is a need to make a decision that will affect others, is very important for new academic leaders. It is also important to rely on faculty to do their job, thus showing one’s trust. A new manager might be inclined to feel responsible for everything; however, providing oversight does not entail telling everyone what to do. It entails being kept in the loop without interfering with or obstructing people from doing their job.

    Also, it is essential to follow through on one’s word: When leaders say that something is going to happen, they need to make sure that it does happen. Most important, success is predicated on hard work. If you just do your best every day, you will have no regrets in life. Sometimes you may feel that you did not make the best decision, but it helps to know that you did the best you could at the time.

    One potential pitfall is for new leaders to assume that they will be able to continue doing things the way they had been done before, that is to say, the way they were done by the previous manager. Every situation is different, and each leader has to find his or her own way; there is no one shoe that fits all sizes here. However, new leaders who are set in their ways may also find that they are not a good fit within an institutional culture. The key question is whether or not the new program leader can adapt to and grow within the particular institution. The person may have strong ideas about what is right or wrong, and it is therefore extremely important that he or she does not make judgments before understanding the new setting. Sometimes leaders who assume that they will be doing things differently eventually come to realize that there are underlying reasons why things work the way they do in an organization. If this understanding helps the leader to adapt to the setting, the “fit” will improve. If it does not help, the leader will probably have difficulties moving forward in the position.

    In my observations of leaders, I have discovered that I find myself appreciating those who, like John, are business-like and focused on their work, yet exude warmth and genuine care for the people around them. I also admire leaders who appear to know when to go after their goals with full determination and when to set up their subordinates for success and step back, allowing their people to shine.

    I see an important source of John’s long-term success as a program administrator in his personal optimism, inner strength, self-reflection, and a genuine need to provide personal and professional support to faculty. On behalf of the PAIS Newsletter editors, I express sincere gratitude to Dr. John Shannon for granting this interview.

    John Shannon (PhD, The Ohio State University, MA, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale) is dean of the Jannen School of Arts & Sciences at Trine University in Northeast Indiana. He has previously served as dean of a large school of Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in California, spent 7 years directing the Intensive English Program at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia. He has also been an active member of TESOL, giving 13 presentations at the annual convention and serving as chair-elect and chair of PAIS as well as on the TESOL Awards Committee. Last, he is a productive scholar, with nine publications and nine professional presentations in the past 4 years.

    Marina Cobb has taught both English and Russian as foreign languages and has served as department chair, faculty development specialist, and academic specialist at DLIFLC. She holds a BA in teaching EFL and a MATFL and is currently a doctoral student in learning and instruction at the University of San Francisco School of Education.

    Activating Teachers’ Professional Development Through Performance Reviews

    Julio Cesar Gómez, 
    Teacher supervision and evaluation are often linked to accountability measures that inform stakeholders and administrators about the success of their programs. In addition, teachers may be expected to follow guidelines in both teaching strategies and overall policies and procedures determined by the institution. In such situations supervision can become highly regimented, leaving no room for teachers’ growth. For many teachers, supervisory evaluations are stressful, overly demanding, and not participatory. Educational institutions need to deploy supervision systems that allow the management team (or administrators) to learn more about their teachers’ skills and performance while empowering the teachers to take an active role regarding their overall performance and professional growth.

    The use of performance reviews can provide extensive information about teachers’ performance. These reviews can encourage teachers to define objectives in every area relevant to their performance evaluation. Supervisors and teachers should establish goals for the performance review together and determine their priority based on previous results. The resulting data about teachers’ performance inform the administration about the teachers’ skills and potential to undertake new tasks and also inform the teachers about areas for change and improvement. In addition, the data help teachers focus their efforts on realistic, doable—but still challenging—goals for a year.

    At the 2008 TESOL convention, I shared my experience in implementing a supervision system based on performance reviews and analyzing the results over a period of 2 years. I described the specific situation in our institution regarding curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and the need to learn more about our teachers. In addition, I highlighted the positive results in regards to our teachers’ reactivation of their professional development. Specifically, several teachers continued their undergraduate studies, others started master’s programs, and many more started attending national conferences and symposia as a way to further their expertise in the field of ELT.

    By implementing a supervisory model that encourages teachers to establish achievable goals in a performance review cycle, I and other supervisors at my institution, a mid-size intensive English program in a South American country, have been able to provide clear guidelines about what areas of professional development are important for the teachers’ work in the institution. These areas are teacher’s academic performance, student surveys, level of English, compliance with procedures and regulations, participation in institutional projects, and professional development.  The last area took a leading role in this implementation because for a long time teachers’ development was considered a personal endeavor and was overlooked most of the time. However, as the institution defined higher levels of expertise and expectations for all its teachers, it was necessary to help our teachers reflect on their career paths at our institution.

    The definition of goals has helped our teachers be more focused and centered in their performance. Supervisors have also played an important role by providing a balance between assessing performance and supporting and guiding teachers in the process of improvement. Finally, the impact on our institution goes beyond knowing who is following the program principles. We now have knowledge of our teachers’ potential to undertake new challenges in the institution. More important, the process is contributing to the teachers’ awareness of their own skills to continue observing, creating, discussing, and reflecting on their own performance. These teachers could gradually take more active roles in leading, training, and supervising other teachers. Perhaps this process will lead our teachers to define new academic interests in the field and further their education. 

    Julio Gomez is an academic coordinator who has been involved in education for 15 years, including 6 years coordinating teacher supervision in a binational center.

    Educational Leadership and Conflict Resolution: An Overview

    Jon Phillips,

    Most of us in our roles as educational leaders are of two minds about conflict. We say that conflict is natural, inevitable, necessary, and normal, and that the problem is not the existence of conflict but how we handle it. On the other hand, we are frequently reluctant to admit that we are in the midst of conflict. However, if we are to be effective in our leadership roles, we must start with an understanding of its nature. We need tools that help us separate out the many complex interactions that make up a conflict, that help us understand the roots of conflict, and that give us a reasonable handle on the forces that motivate the behavior of all participants, including ourselves.

    At an Academic Session entitled “Educational Leadership and Conflict Resolution: An Overview” at the 2008 TESOL Convention, four presenters (Claudia Bey, Marina Cobb, Jon Phillips, and John Shannon) provided an overview of educational leadership and conflict resolution. On the basis of their varied experiences, they shared selected concepts and approaches from the field, effective tools for facilitating group processes, lessons learned, and best practices that have been beneficial in their work in faculty development, supervision, and program leadership in ESL, EFL, and FL higher education and IEP contexts in the United States, Asia, and the Middle East.

    Marina Cobb began the session by providing an overview of the reflective practitioner model of teacher development and selected concepts in language teacher supervision, teacher development, educational leadership, and organizational development. Using actual situations from her own experience, she illustrated important components of supervision, such as teacher evaluation, autonomy, and authority, and the KASA model (knowledge, skills, attitude, and awareness). Her summary review of the literature on best practices of supervision offered valuable insights into the dynamic, interactive process of language-teaching supervision. The discussion included issues of empowerment and academic freedom, and concluded with the characteristics of an effective language teacher supervisor.

    Claudia Bey focused on the common causes of conflict resolution in educational leadership, providing the cultural perspective of conflict, organizational culture change, and common sources of resistance to change. Included in this session was a discussion of the stages of team development, the role of “crazy makers” in disrupting team performance, and suggestions for dealing with problem people. Ms. Bey went on to illuminate each key point through her comprehensive analysis of a conflict scenario at her organization, the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. This section also included a hands-on activity with participants in small groups reviewing and discussing handouts with concrete approaches or techniques that may be useful in handling conflict situations and applying them to their own situations. Techniques included appreciative inquiry, force field analysis, needs and offers, nominal group technique, multivoting, setting group norms, using I messages to give feedback, and strength bombardment.

    Jon Phillips presented selected tools for conflict resolution and facilitated analysis of three case studies. He briefly discussed Thomas and Kilmann’s five main styles of dealing with conflict, which vary in their degree of cooperativeness and assertiveness, based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument: competitive, collaborative, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding (Thomas and Kilmann, 2007). He also presented guidelines for the interest-based relational approach to conflict resolution, which respects individual differences while helping people avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position. On the basis of these approaches, a starting point for dealing with conflict is to identify the overriding conflict style employed by oneself and others involved in the conflict. The follow-up activity was interactive with a focus on audience involvement: In small groups, the participants were tasked with reading one of three case studies (ESL, EFL, and FL), discussing it, and resolving the conflict while using ideas gleaned so far in the session. The outcomes from the small-group discussions were shared with the whole group and processed, concluding with lessons learned from these conflict situations.

    John Shannon outlined strategies for preventing conflict from occurring in the first place, and discussed skills needed to mediate in times of conflict. Drawing on his experience in EFL and FL, he illustrated his points with numerous anecdotes and stories from the field. Regarding the prevention of conflict, Dr. Shannon presented common-sense best practices for educational leaders, including how to promote a shared sense of program ownership, being accessible, empowering others, and recognizing accomplishments, with concrete ideas for doing so. He also discussed the reasons for why leaders fail to resolve problems—they don’t know what to do, they avoid taking action, or they don’t care—with scenarios for each, and the ramifications of failed conflict resolution.  He concluded with a summary of successful conflict resolution practices for educational leaders to follow.

    At the upcoming TESOL 2009 Convention, Claudia Bey, Marina Cobb, Jon Phillips, and John Shannon will be expanding on the ideas presented here in a preconvention institute session entitled “Conflict Resolution Strategies in Language Programs.” This practical, interactive workshop addresses causes of conflict, effective strategies for resolving conflict, and mechanisms for preventing it from occurring in the first place. Participants will explore case studies and scenarios involving various types of conflict, determine ways to resolve them, share ideas, and reflect on their responses in order to refine their techniques for resolving conflict.

    Thomas, K.W. & Kilmann, R.H. (2007). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Available from CPP, Inc., 1055 Joaquin Road, 2nd Floor, Mountain View, CA 94043.


    Jon Phillips is a faculty development program manager who has been involved in second language education for 20 years in the United States, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

    Announcements and Information PAIS Newsletter Mission Statement

    The goal of the PAIS Newsletter is to present information to program administrators from a variety of settings. It provides articles, columns, and review sections that keep the membership abreast of current administrative issues, new materials, and current trends in the fields of language teaching and administrative practice.

    The PAIS Newsletter is oriented to program administrators from a variety of ESL and EFL contexts, including higher education (IEP, community college, university, etc.), adult and refugee education, and K-12 settings. Each of these arenas has administrators with varied experience and expertise, making for a broad and diverse readership.

    1. The PAIS Newsletter is essentially a forum for administrative concerns where the membership can express their viewpoints.
    2. The PAIS Newsletter is a source of information where the membership can learn about new program models for program management, student services, and curriculum design.
    3. The PAIS Newsletter provides articles about administrative practices such as program evaluation, teaching effectiveness, budgeting, strategic planning, and programming for student services.
    4. The contents are immediately accessible and practical. Published articles are professional in style and written in a clear and understandable way.
    5. The newsletter will balance items from the constituent audiences.

    PAIS Newsletter Submission Guidelines

    The Editorial Board is expecting to publish two issues of the PAIS Newsletter in 2009–10. The fall issue is expected to come out in September/October 2009 and the spring issue in February/March 2010. We are soliciting submissions for publication from TESOL members and nonmembers that inform ESOL program administrators and support the PAIS mission.

    The requirements for submission outlined below are general guidelines and are subject to editorial discretion; for example, authors may be granted reasonable leeway in regards to word limits for quality submissions that are found beneficial to the PAIS Newsletter readership.

  • Author information

    o Name and place of employment must be included in your submission.
    o Reliable contact information (telephone and e-mail) must be available to the editor, though it need not be listed in the newsletter if that is your preference.

  • Formatting

    o All submissions should be e-mailed as attached Word documents. Please name your document as follows: 
    surname type PAIS NL issue.doc (e.g., Johnson tip PAIS NL Sept 2007.doc)
    o Please follow APA style in your submissions.
    o Formatting in the newsletter is static. Any special formatting you use in your submission may be altered or deleted to fit standard formatting. Please understand that this is not editorial preference but is a TESOL-imposed standard.
    o Please include headings in your submission and format as follows:

    First Level Heading
    Second Level Heading
    Third Level Heading

    o Photos and charts must be submitted in JPEG format in separate files.

  • Submission types and word limits

    o Article (2,000 words)—Share your personal research results or literature review impacting language program administration.
    o Tip (500)—Describe a specific language program administration “best practice” that you have used or learned about.
    o Book/Article/Web Site Review (500)—Share your thoughts on current literature in the field that addresses language program administration issues.
    o Presentation Summary & Conference Report (500)—Submit summaries of your recent relevant conference presentations. We also welcome reports from conference attendees. The conferences are not limited to those sponsored by TESOL and the affiliates but should be relevant to the interests of PAIS members and our mission.
    o Current Events (200)—Submit information about what is happening in the field that language program administrators need to know about (events, conferences, language policy notices, political situations and changes that affect the field, etc.).
    o Interview (700)—Send us a record of an interview with a program administrator who has knowledge and skills to share that contribute to the field of TESOL.

  • Abstract and author bio: You must include an abstract (max 50 words—not included in the word limits above) with each article, tip, review, presentation summary, or interview. You may also include an author bio of up to 25 words. Please place these items in the same document as your submission, between the title and the text.
  • Works cited: Any sources cited in your text must also be referenced at the end of your piece, using APA style.
  • Deadlines: All submissions, regardless of type, are due for the September newsletter byJuly 15 and for the February/March newsletter by January 1. Any deadline extensions will be announced via e-mail and will also eventually be posted on the PAIS Web site (currently under construction). Please state the newsletter issue for which you are submitting. Some accepted submissions may be published in future issues.
  • References to political entities, events, or situations must not be in opposition to official policy statements made by TESOL.
  • Submissions should be respectful and professional in tone.
  • Copyright

    o Authors retain copyright to the material published in the PAIS Newsletter.
    o It is not permitted to lift content (including photos) from Web sites (including TESOL sites), even with attribution.
    o Please follow fair use copyright law.

    Unless otherwise noted in the call for submissions, please send all submissions to Marina Cobb or Allison Pickering at In the subject line, write PAIS e-NL submission; in the body of your e-mail, please note the month and year of the issue you are submitting for, the submission type, and the word count (not including title, abstract, and author bio).