Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Passion Areas" in our Schools

Our text this week focused on the following nine areas of passion that school administrators use to identify areas of growth/inquiry on their campuses.  

1.    Staff development
2.    Curriculum development
3.    Individual teacher(s)
4.    Individual student(s)
5.    School culture/community
6.    Leadership
7.    Management
8.    School performance
9.    Social justice or equity issues

In reading through this chapter, I kept coming back to the same question... most of what I see the assistant principals on my campus doing daily is a result of management.  Discipline, organization, email,  lunch duty, fire drills, etc.  How do they find time to address the other eight areas of the job and do they feel unfufilled due to the large amount of time spent in one area?  I think I'll ask a couple this week.  Perhaps I'm just not privy to observing the time they get to spend in the other eight. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Educational Leaders as Blog Afficionados

Our textbooks have great information.  It's the result of intense study and much review.  Likewise, the articles we read and the professional development opportunities we pursue are vast resources for new information.  But where, I ask, do I get my best new practices?  From the teacher down the hall! 

Sharing information through the use of blogs can be a great way for educational leaders to communicate in a casual way.  My honest, personal reflections may be the catalyst another educator needs to address an area of concern at her school.  Sometimes we think our ideas have all been seen or done before.  In reality, what is being done at another school or in another classroom might just be the solution I haven't yet considered. 

I'm looking forward to following my classmates as we plan and execute our action research projects. 

Debunking My First Impression on Action Research

When I read that "Research" was the next course on our journey, I must admit I wasn't thrilled.  While I like to write, I am haunted by those experiences of college "research papers" that were so time intensive and light on substance.  Visions of APA styling floated through my head. Boy, was I relieved when I started delving into the "action research" of EDLD 5311!

What first looks to be just another research project is, in reality, a valuable procedure for each of us to learn.  In visiting with a new administrator on my campus earlier this year, I was puzzled to hear her state "reflection" as her primary goal for our staff.  I get it now...

I've learned that the reflection of which she speaks really should be a cornerstone of my teaching protocols and that deliberate wanderings based on this reflection can result in incredible change in my classroom.  I've learned that  I can use the current knowledge I have of my school to find problems and solutions moving forward.  In addition, I can use data by my own students to support the choices I make in our curriculum!  This is a truly empowering model for improving our schools. 

In our readings this week, one idea kept resonating with me.  Time.  How many times have we all wished for just a little more time to re-work that unit or brainstorm another way for students to demonstrate their learning?  We know there are “kinks” in the material, and yet, we continue to teach around them because it is so difficult to restructure what has become natural.  Our action research plan and project are going to force us to address at least one of these issues in our school or classroom.  I’m excited to see what the rest of my classmates choose… I bet our schools and students are more alike than they are different.    

I plan to use this opportunity to study my audition process.  As a teacher of the fine arts, I facilitate two major auditions each school year.  The current process is filled with issues that can be improved upon.  I'm looking forward to answering the following question:  "How can I modify the current Highland Belle audition protocols to make the experience more reasonable and satisfying for all stakeholders, regardless of the outcome?   Good luck to each of you!