May 13

A Superintendent Case Study: To Collaborate or Not to Collaborate?

Synopsis of the Case Study

Mr. McIntyre was hired as superintendent of schools because of his strong educational background and experience. The search team was impressed with his confidence and abilities; however, they were discouraged by his lack of community involvement and eagerness to reach out to community members and organizations. The search team began to question their choice of superintendent. Mr. McIntyre’s positive attributes did not serve him as well as projected after he joined the leadership team. The team was faced with choices and dilemmas of how to remedy the situation and choices of their hire.

Collaborate with Family and Other Community Members

Leaders must answer the relationship question about who is on the journey to reach the destination (Sweet, 2008). Children are taught to hold hands when crossing the street or walking so they stick together. Leaders must watch out, hold hands, and stick together (Sweet, 2008). Community collaboration is an essential part of leadership in choosing a diverse team with varied experiences, attitudes, politics, and theologies. Each team member adds personality and completeness to the team. The superintendent must build a relationship with a diverse team of school and community leaders to be aware of school and community needs and how schools can meet student and family needs within the community and district.

Respond to Community Interests and Needs

The superintendent must listen to the concerns of all members and explain his position and philosophy of community involvement; however, he must consider his involvement in regards to benefits to the district. The school board is an organization of the community similar to area businesses. Many community residents have high views and respect for school personnel; therefore, they must hold themselves to high standards and remain open to respectful transparency. Many business leaders become members of business organizations in which they can speak on behalf of their companies. The superintendent may choose to seek out business organizations and groups as well and form relationships with other business leaders. Principals must serve as instructional leaders in a multitude of roles; including transformational leader, empowering leader, servant leader, participatory leader, and moral leader (DuFour & DuFour, 2012). To create and maintain the many roles and responsibilities of school leaders, principals must create a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in which they work with teachers, other school leaders, other principals, and community members as committed stakeholders in the school system and school community. Each one of those individuals provides aspects and elements to meet student needs and support schools and families.

Mobilize Community Resources

The superintendent must work with community agencies within his Professional Learning Community (PLC) to achieve school success and support student learning. By participating in community organizations, the superintendent can build support systems and relationships to benefit student learning and teaching environments. Community agencies can be called upon when needed in times of financial assistance and family support services as well as teacher support services and training opportunities. By working with community agencies for student and family support services, schools can gain federal and state aid to benefit many families within districts and community areas.

Reflection

It is extremely important for school leaders to establish clear support groups with which to build rapport and to extend help and assistance. Education is built through teamwork; therefore, it takes a group to accomplish quality teaching and learning practices and environments. Teachers must collaborate with one another to create learning environments to meet student needs. Principals must collaborate with teachers and other area principals to create learning communities. Superintendents must collaborate with school leaders and community leaders to create business communities. All stakeholders must work together to create learning environments and maintain quality education practices for all students.

References

Sweet, L. (2008). 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Wilmore, E. L. (2002). Principal leadership: Applying the new educational leadership constituent council (ELCC) standards. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Fowler, F. (2013). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders. Boston: Pearson.

Blackwell, J. (2006). Empowering School Leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

DuFour, R. & DuFour, R. (2012). Essentials for Principals: School Leader’s Guide to Professional Learning Communities at Work. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

May 02

Friendship Politics

Lyndon Johnson: “The time to make friends is before you need them.”

Life is about the journey, and people need others to get where they are going (Sweet, 2008). People need friends and colleagues to travel with them on the journey. School board colleagues make the journey with others through interaction and educational experiences. When people go out into the world, watch out, hold hands, and stick together (Sweet, 2008). Board members must stick together and collaborate on decisions and discussions while seeking feedback from many stakeholders, including teachers, school leaders, and student families. Johnson’s quote is correct about making friends before people need them. People must build and establish relationships with others before decisions arise; therefore, they are already comfortable and familiar with a colleague’s way of thinking. Each meeting must have a meeting before the meeting to eliminate a surprise element on the agenda. All members and stakeholders can be aware of and prepared for discussions.

Each board member and stakeholder has his own viewpoint and thinking process, therefore, interprets policies in his own language (Fowler, 2013). Because of different interpretations, there must be multiple meetings and discussion attempts to allow each member to express his viewpoint and thoughts. By having relationships with stakeholders and members in advance, each member is able to communicate comfortably and professionally to discuss policies. Because board members are comfortable and acquainted with one another in advance, they must be cautious of maintaining professional friendships. They must maintain a professionalism of business, not social status. They can be business friends but not necessarily social friends unless they learn to draw the professional line when talking business outside of working hours.

Blackwell (2006) explained that school leaders must make friends with policy makers to make the education system work for their schools and students. Legislators want to be partners in education; therefore, school leaders form partnerships and friendships to manage policies and decisions. Tip O’Neill referred to politics as local and personal, which means policy decision makers work to solve real problems of people groups where they live and work and who are affected by real and personal problems. Because of these personal situations, leaders must establish friendships and relationships before decisions arise.

References

Fowler, F. (2013). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Blackwell, J. (2006). Empowering School Leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Sweet, L. (2008). 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

May 01

From Novice to Expert: The Dreyfus Model

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition categorizes individuals from novice to expert. I classify my work as competent because teachers are intense learners and always have room for improvement and growth opportunities. As a new leader in early childhood, I am competent because of the constant additions of new rules and developments. I have been teaching and working with early childhood students for many years, therefore, feel almost expert in my knowledge of teaching and child development. In the administrator role of my position, I only feel at the competent level because of the need to know many business and accounting practices. Educators are not trained in business, therefore, are ill equipped to succeed in that role. I am forced to train myself in much to do about business practices.

In an ideal work setting, individuals would be qualified for positions based on knowledge, education, and experience at a higher level than novice, yet continue to learn, grow, and develop toward the expert level. However, many individuals may never achieve expert level because of new advancements in the field. Experts will be deeply involved with the environment and identify with scenarios with which they are involved (Ajay, 2003). Individuals reach each level through skills and mastery. The teaching and learning experience is tied together to enrich the student-teacher experience. Through these experiences, individuals move through the Dreyfus levels of mastery. To climb the Dreyfus Model, individuals must be self-directed learners with motivation to grow from the lower novice level to the higher proficient and expert levels.

References

Capella University (Eds.). (2010). ED8222—Professionalism in the 21st Century. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN: 9781118029558.

Ajay, B. (2003). Student Profiling: The Dreyfus Model Revisited. Education For Primary Care, 14(3), 360.

Mar 18

Rhyme to Read app review

The following is a review of the Rhyme to Read learning app written by a mother of preschool-age home schooled children:

Rhyme to Read is an app designed to help children learn to read using rhyming words. I downloaded this app for my 4-year-old daughter who is currently homeschooled. The app includes one book of words free and subsequent books may be purchased. Strong knowledge of the alphabet is required. Each book contains a series of short vowel words that rhyme (pat rat cat).

My daughter enjoys using Rhyme to Read. She used the app for three days for about 20 minutes each day and recognized all of the words in book one. We agreed that she had to know all of the words in the first book before we purchased book two. This became a very big incentive for her. She was very excited to move on to the next book. While using Rhyme to Read, she learned how to sound out words. The voices in the app sound the words out as the child touches the part of the word. I feel this is a very important early reading skill for her to gain. It is a skill we are now able to use in other areas of learning.

Pros: Very user intuitive. She opened the app and after very quick instruction, she was able to use on her own.

The incentive to learn new words by opening new books was a big plus. We have used other apps that give a “sticker” or similar reward. This app made her excited to learn.

The design and graphics used in the books was minimal and simple. This was a good thing for me as I prefer my children to not require constant bells and whistles to learn.

Cons: The only con I had was the size of the text. At times, I had a hard time touching the correct part of the word. My daughter seemed to do fine with her little fingers.

Overall, I recommend this app. It is a free download that includes one book. Other books come with a cost per book. This app and learning tool appeals to young learners of the iGeneration.

 

Mar 04

My Story. A Guest post

I guest posted my story in the Danger Days series. Click here to read my story and how God has never let go and His love never fails.

Feb 26

What do a can opener, a pencil sharpener, and a lock have to do with Jesus?

canopener

pencilsharpenerlockkey

 

 

 

 

Where do we go when things get too tough and get to be too much for us? How do we relax and keep our focus on Jesus?

Use this object lesson to teach how Jesus got away and knew how to keep his focus on His Heavenly Father.

Materials: a can opener, a can, a pencil sharpener, an unsharpened pencil, a key, a lock, a bottle, and a bottle opener

Choose 4 children to each hold on to one of the following items: the can opener, the pencil sharpener, the lock, and the bottle opener.

Choose 4 more children to choose one of the remaining items in the bag: the can, the unsharpened pencil, the key, or the bottle.

When each child chooses an item, ask him to choose which of the other objects his item goes with, which object the item works, opens, or operates.

Once the children decide the correct item and object, talk about how appropriately each item matches the correct objects. It would be silly to try to sharpen the pencil with a bottle opener or unlock the can opener with the key.

Each object was made for a purpose and has a direct job to perform. Say that the children knew which item goes with which object without much help at all. But sometimes we all need help. Where do we go for help? Where did Jesus go for help?

Luke 5:16 explains that Jesus decided to go away to a quiet place and talk to His Father. Jesus knew where to go to ask for help. He knew He needed time away to listen and pray.

As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.We all must learn where we can go for quiet time and learning.

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