May 28

Partnership and Collaboration

In my profession and position as Early Learning Administrator, I am charged with marketing the school and maintaining a constant flow of student enrollment. Each year we graduate a large group of students who promote to kindergarten; therefore, we must have a continuous stream of students moving up with each age and grade level. Our goal is to build the youngest classes of infants and toddlers and maintain quality early childhood education practices to retain students as they age to each class group. Because of the need to grow the school and add new enrollment, we must focus on marketing and selling our school among competitive area schools.

My colleague, the children’s minister at the church in which our school is affiliated, provides many children’s events and activities to grow the ministry and encourage young families to attend church services and classes. Because there are many churches in the area with similar programs and activities, she must market her programs and ministry areas to create exposure and interest. Through each of our events, we collaborate frequently to combine our activities and share volunteers and staff since the events reach to the same age group of children and similar clientele. Most recently, we have planned and organized summer and fall events are children prepare to finish school and start school again. My colleague’s event is focused on fun children’s events and my events are focused on gaining exposure to our school through fun events.

The original intent of our collaboration was to combine calendar dates, volunteers, and expenses of special event rentals. We collaborated to plan a summer camp carnival and a back to school carnival. My colleague’s intent was to provide fun events for her ministry children and families to celebrate the school year. My intent was to create times for the public to know our school exists to gain enrollment exposure for marketing purposes. We shared volunteer staff and only took one date on the church and school calendar. We shared expenses to rent carnival equipment to eliminate exhausting one budget over another.

Collaborating to share events allows us to share calendar dates and volunteer staffing and be budget conscious. My colleague benefitted a great deal by providing fun events for her ministry families to share and celebrate a day together. I benefitted by gaining new enrollment students for the school and by creating new exposure for future school news and programs. Collaboration in my profession can be enhanced and grown by establishing communication between collaborating professionals. Each person must be open and willing to be actively involved in the planning stages and fulfill her tasks of contributing to the event or activity. There are many roles to complete in collaborating and in the planning of events and activities. Each person has a role to play and is equally important in the process. Collaboration can be viewed as a journey with many elements and people involved.

Leonard Sweet (2008) explained eleven roles necessary to complete tasks and fulfill partnerships. People must find and develop relationships with at least eleven character types to complete tasks and manage the journey. Each one of those character traits fulfills an important role with which is necessary for any task. There is an editor, a true friend, an encourager, and even a butt-kicker to keep on track and moving in the right direction. Each one of those character traits is necessary in collaboration and completing the partnership journey. Professionals establish partners through work settings and relationships as well as through professional learning communities (PLC) through technology. Some of those eleven character partnerships may be found through online PLCs and valuable professionals in which to invest, share, and collaborate.

References

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

May 25

A self-reflection assessment tool: What kind of Leader are you?

leader

Self-reflection is a great way to evaluate and assess work duties and communication skills. As a leader in early childhood education and one who recruits, hires, and supervises staff, I must be efficient in communication skills to set the tone and attitude of my staff. Employees take on the personality of the leader; therefore, I must maintain professional attitudes and characteristics to create a positive work environment. Effective communication is a key aspect for positive school experiences and work environments and plays a crucial role in employment candidates with whom I interview and observe. I often add a working interview component to the hiring process in which I ask interview candidates to volunteer an hour of their time in classrooms so I can observe work habits and compatibility. Working interviews allow me to observe where candidates will be the best fit, and interviews allow current staff to have input regarding candidates as well. This collaborative method of hiring staff creates a teamwork approach and gives current staff a sense of ownership and adds value to their positions.

I searched the Internet for leadership assessment tools on effective communication and found two resources: Leadership & Management Shop (2014) and Speak Strong, Inc. (2014). Both tools are effective self-assessment tools to evaluate leader communication and offer explanations and improvement suggestions.

When I answered the questions for the Leadership & Management Shop (2014), I scored a 79 on a scale of 100, which stated that I am a pretty good leader with scope for improvement. My score of 79 was at the top spectrum of the second bracket of scores. There were five categories of answers to choose from never to always; however, I usually eliminate the lowest and highest choices because there is a lack of perfection and there is some performance. Therefore, in reality, I scored myself from seldom to often.

When I answered the questions for the Speak Strong, Inc. (2014) assessment tool, I scored under the Harmonizer label. A Harmonizer is people-oriented with a relaxed pace. As a Harmonizer, I am social, friendly, and interested in relationships. This label fits well with my position as school administrator because of my responsibility to connect teachers to students to student families. A large portion of my position is public relations and maintaining positive school environments to build enrollment; therefore, I must build positive relationships with school families and my teaching staff so they build strong relationships as well.

With every task, leaders must reflect and evaluate themselves to maintain high standards and professionalism. Employees look to leaders as examples of work ethics and effective communication. Leaders must exhibit strong and positive communication skills and set examples with staff so those skills trickle down through the organization.

References

Kehoe, D. (2014). Leadership & Management Shop. Western Australia. Retrieved from http://www.dkmanagementtools.com/free-leadership-self-assessment-tool

Runion, M. (2014). Speak Strong, Inc. Cascade, CO. Retrieved from http://www.speakstrong.com/

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.

 

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