Faculty

Dr.  Walter Polka

Dr. Walter Polka

Professor of Leadership and Policy

Phone:
716.286.8475
Office Location:
Academic Complex, Room 325F
Office Hours:
Contact for Appointment

Bio

Throughout his 45 years as an educator, Dr. Polka has held numerous professional positions, including high school social studies teacher and advisor for various clubs and organizations as well as an interscholastic coach at Lewiston-Porter High School; Williamsville Central School District social studies/science curriculum coordinator K-12; assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and superintendent of schools of the Lewiston-Porter School District.

Since 1970, Dr. Polka has also served as an adjunct professor at various institutions of higher education including Brockport State College, Buffalo State College, Medaille College, Niagara County Community College, Niagara University, SUNY Buffalo and Loyola University in Maryland. Dr. Polka’s full-time university professional responsibilities also included associate professor of educational leadership; doctoral dissertation chair; and doctoral program coordinator in educational leadership at Georgia Southern University. He is currently the leadership and policy doctoral program coordinator and full tenured professor in the professional programs department at Niagara University.

Focus of Teaching

Dr. Polka continues to pursue his professional goals of improving his own teaching skills, modeling his creative strategies and continuing his advocacy for constructivist teaching and learning at all levels of the instructional spectrum. During his tenure-track experience at Niagara University (January, 2008-present) he has taught a total 46 graduate courses including 15 different courses including three advanced doctoral studies courses. Student evaluations of his teaching historically fall between the Very Good and Superior levels as illustrated in student course evaluations.                 

In addition, Dr. Polka has presented clinics, workshops, and speeches at various state, regional, national, and international conferences of numerous professional organizations including the American Association of School Administrators, American Educational Research Association, Association of Teacher Educators, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, International Conference on Technology and Education, International Society for Educational Planning, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Professors of Educational Administration, National School Boards Association, National Staff Development Council and other educational associations and agencies. The topics of those presentations included administration, curriculum improvement and implementation, diversity issues, school law evolution and staff development recommendations. He has presented his research in 40 states and 24 countries.

Current Research

Current research relates to educational leadership and policy, specifically in the following areas: superintendent decision making and problem solving; curriculum and instructional improvement; school law evolution; professional development concepts and diversity issues.

Books and Book Chapters

Polka, W. (Ed.). (Manuscript submitted). Good to despicable: How contemporary leaders fall from grace due to their dalliance with the seven deadly sins.

Polka, W., Fernandes, A., Smith, E., & Flynn, K. (In Press). Professional Challenge: Efficacious Teachers View Obstacles as Opportunities.

Polka, W., & McKenna, J., (Eds.). (2016). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications.

Polka, W., & McKenna, J. (2016). What are we really doing to our children? Rethinking federal and state education reform policies. In W. Polka & McKenna (Eds.). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. 1-20).

McKenna, J. & Polka, W. (2016). Using an industrial-age paradigm for education is not smart, especially in the digital age. In W. Polka & McKenna (Eds.). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. 21-33).

McKenna, J. & Polka, W. (2016). Thoughts on what to do next at the local level. In W. Polka & McKenna (Eds.). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. 113-123).

Polka, W., & McKenna, J. (2016). Political perspectives regarding changing the current educational reform agenda: The winds of change are blowing sronger. In W. Polka & McKenna (Eds.). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. 147-159).

McKenna, J. & Polka, W. (2016). Why not create a brighter future for all of our students by legislative changes to the educational current reforms? What if we just do it! In W. Polka & McKenna (Eds.). Confronting oppressive assessments: How parents, educators, and policy-makers are rethinking current educational reforms. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. 161-178).

Polka, W. (2016). Book Foreword. In R. Litchka Exemplary leadership practices: Learning from the past to enhance future school leadership. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications. (p. ix-x).

Sheeran, T., Rinaldo, V., Polka, W., Smith, R., (2015). Dispositional discipline: The challenge to institutional prerogative. In S. Bon & J. Sun (Eds.). Law and educational inequality: Removing barriers to educational opportunities. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. (p. 159-171).

Polka, W. (2014). The American school as an open-social system: A continuously evolving institution due to the interactions of six key heterogeneous sub-systems. In N. Pang and J. Huang (Eds.). East-West perspectives on educational leadership and policy. (p. 133-152). Niagara Falls, NY: Untested Ideas Research Center.

Litchka, P., Polka, W., & Calzi, F. (2014). Living on the horns of dilemmas: Superintendents, politics, and decision-making. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publications and American Association of School Administrators.

Polka, W. & VanHusen, M. (2014). Applying teacher reflection strategies to promote greater differentiation of instruction: A practical research model and procedural guide. In E. E. Pultorak (Ed.). Reflectivity and cultivating student learning: Critical elements for enhancing a global community of learners and educators. (p. 111-135). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education Publications.

Polka, W., Litchka, P. & Calzi, F. (2013). American school superintendents living on the horns of dilemmas: A review and analysis of contemporary decision-making approaches and leadership issues. In S. Eacott, & R. Niesche (Eds.). Empirical leadership research: Letting the data speak for themselves. (p. 63-96). Niagara Falls, NY: Untested Ideas Research Center.

Polka, W. & Kardash, J. (2013). Managing in the effective change zone to implement a "1 to 1 laptop" program in a rural school district: A case study of the Colton-Pierrepont experience. In B. Ran (Ed.). The dark side of technological innovation. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. (p. 323-346).

Heaggans, R. & Polka, W. (2012), The diversity merry-go-round: Planning and working in concert to establish a culture of acceptance and respect in the university. Reprinted in Gallavan, N. (Ed.). Multicultural education, 16th edition. (pp. 121-129). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Original article published in Educational Planning; 18(2), 22-34.

Polka, W., Denig, S., Litchka, P, Calzi, C., & Mete, R. (2011). Living on the horns of dilemma: A study of superintendent decision-making and problem-solving. In B. Alford et al. (Eds.) Blazing new trails: Preparing leaders for improving access and equity in today’s schools. The 2011 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (pp. 93-108). Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications.

Denig, S., Polka, W., Litchka, P., Calzi, F. & Brigano, M. (2011). Problem solving and decision making. In Dipaola, M., & Forsyth, P. (Eds.). Leading research in educational administration (pp. 147-159). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Polka, W. (2010). Facilitating instructional differentiation via teacher reflections about desired constructivist practices and current realities: A pragmatic research model. In E. Pultorak (Ed.), The purposes, practices, and professionalism of teacher reflectivity: Insights for 21st century teachers and students (pp. 163-188). New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publications.

Polka, W. (2009). Leadership in the effective change zone: A case study of the high-touch needs of educators implementing the Georgia performance standards. In C. Achilles, et. al. (Eds.), Remembering our mission: Making education and schools better for students (187-199). The 2009 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications.

Polka, W., & Litchka, P. (2008). The dark side of educational leadership: Superintendents and the professional victim syndrome. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publications. 

Polka, W. & Litchka, P. (2007). Strategies for surviving the professional victim syndrome: Perspectives from superintendents on navigating the political waves of contemporary leadership. In L. LeMasters, & R. Papa, (Eds.), At the tipping point: Navigating the course for the preparation of educational administrators. (255-265). The 2007 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. Lancaster, PA: Pro>Active Publications.

Mattai, P., Perry, R., & Polka, W. (1999). Can technology deliver on its promise of being the great equalizer? Some reflections of disadvantaged students in technology. In Quisenberry, N. & McIntyre, D. (Eds.), Educators Healing Racism (127-137). Reston, Va.: Association of Teacher Educators and Association for Childhood Education International.

Refereed Journal Articles

Polka, W., Litchka, P., Mete, R. & Ayaga, A. (2016). Catholic school principals’ decision-making and problem-solving practices during times of change and uncertainty: A North American analysis. Journal of Catholic Education. 20(1), 218-243.

Pearman, C., Bowles, F. & Polka, W. (Manuscript submitted). Dispositions of self-efficacy within a framework of coping with change.

Polka, W., VanHusen, M., Young, W., & Minervino, K. (2016). Facilitating Greater Instructional Differentiation Via Research-based Teacher Reflections and Site-Based Procedural Guidelines. Educational Research: Theory & Practice, 28(1), 37 – 52.

Karorsa, D. & Polka, W., (2016). The equity-quality dilemma of higher education expansion: A goal-oriented planning approach for maintaining high quality standards in Ethiopia. Educational Planning. 22(3). 19-35.

Polka, W., Wolfgang, J., Mete, R., Ayaga, A., & Khokhar, A., (2014). Planning to effectively motivate digital-age learners by addressing their “high-tech” interests and their “high-touch” needs. Educational Planning. 21(4). 51-68.

Polka, W., Litchka, P., Calzi, F., Dening, S., & Mete, R. (2014). Perspectives about living on the horns of dilemmas: An analysis of gender factors related to superintendent decision-making and problem-solving. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership. 9(1). 1-16.

Lewis, M. & Polka, W. (2014). Planning to change student behaviors in a small city school district: A Case Study of Managing in the Effective Change Zone. Educational Planning. 21(2). 4-18.

Polka, W., Litchka, P., & Calzi, F. (2013). The decision-making approaches and leadership dilemmas of contemporary American school superintendents. Leadership & Policy Quarterly. 2(3), 157-178.

Griesmer, J., Lonneville, J., Scully, E., Haseley, D., & Polka, W. (2013). Applying the effective change zone paradigm to develop recommendations for improved student achievement in mathematics: A case study by prospective school leaders. Journal for the Practical Application of Constructivist Theory in Education. 7(1), 1-21.

Polka, W., Latorre, J., & Rossi, R. (2013). The digital professional Ph.D. portfolio: A case study of the Niagara University experience. International Journal of Education and Culture, 2(2), 136-146.

Polka, W. & Litchka, P. (2013). COMPASS: A leadership survival guide for school superintendents. Southern Journal of Educational Administration, 1(2), 29-42.

Polka, W. (2012). Rethinking federal and state educational policies associated with the current standards movement: A collection of selected references to stimulate reflections and dialogues. Critical Issues in Teacher Education, 19(1), 98-111.

Polka, W. (2012). Rethinking federal and state educational policies associated with the current standards movement: A collection of selected references to stimulate reflections and dialogues. Critical Issues in Teacher Education; 19(1), 98-111.

Polka, W. & Litchka, P. (2010). Managing yourself and others for personal and organizational satisfaction and productivity: Critical components in contemporary leadership programs. Educational Leadership Review; 11(2), 100-110.

Polka, W. (2010). The art and science of constructivist supervision: Transforming schools by applying needs-based research. Journal for the Practical Application of Constructivist Theory in Education; 5(1), 1-28.

Polka, W. (2010). Zur Enwicklung von konstruktivistisch orientiertem Fuhrungshandein (“The art and science of becoming a constructivist leader” - Translated into German). In Westermann, P., & Berntzen, D. (Hrsg.), Kooperation in Schule und Unterrich: Implementationsansätze und -perspektiven. Münster, Deutschland: ZfL-Verlag. 137-145. http://dnb.ddb.de

Litchka, P., Fenzel, M., & Polka, W. (2009). The stress process among school superintendents. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation; 4 (4), http://ijelp.expressacademic.org.

Polka, W., Litchka, P., & Davis, S. (2008). Female superintendents and the professional victim syndrome: Preparing current and aspiring superintendents to cope and succeed. Journal of Women in Educational Administration; 6(4), 293-311.

Polka, W. (2007). Managing people, things and ideas in the ‘effective change zone’: A high-touch approach to educational leadership at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Educational Planning; 16(1), 12-17.

Reavis, C. & Polka, W. (2006). A tale of two districts: Planning for the professional development of school leaders to improve student achievement. Educational Planning; 15(2), 13- 24.

Educational Background

Post - 1989-98 Harvard University, Educational Programs

Doctorate 1993 Florida State University, Educational Administration

Ed.D. 1977 State University of New York at Buffalo, Curriculum Planning

S.E.A. 1974 Niagara University, Educational Administration

M.S. 1971 Niagara University, Educational Foundations

M.A. 1970 Niagara University, History

B.A. 1968 State University of New York at Buffalo, History

Current Professional Involvement

  • National Commission on Teacher Self-efficacy
  • Association of Teacher Educators (ATE.)
  • Co-Chair of the ATE Summer Conference in Washington, D.C., August, 2013
  • President, International Phi Delta Kappa, Buffalo-Niagara Chapter 0047, 2008-2013
  • Member, International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP); Conference Chair, 2013 (Niagara Falls, NY.)