Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Encouraging a Global Viewpoint by Starting Small

This weeks' post comes from a paper I had to write reflecting on a two-year program I just completed known as Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence in partnership with the University of Virginia. The reflection involved reviewing Fullan's What's Worth Fighting For in the Principalship. This reflection reminded me that I can't always wait for those above me to make change happen. Sometimes I need to be the catalyst.

This excerpt discusses developing teacher leaders. How have you helped your teachers think globally?

The PLC is a team effort, with each member having, and being held accountable for, an important role. PLC norms are developed and agreed upon at the beginning of the school year, and revisited throughout. The PLC goes beyond agendas and minutes. To the teachers who are a part of it, the PLC signifies a voice, a role in the decision making process, and, most importantly shared leadership. A building can no longer be run by just one person. It’s up to administrators to nurture teacher leadership by providing opportunities for teachers to be leaders. A teacher who starts out as the person in charge of the meeting minutes during PLC time could turn into your next department chair, division level committee member, or building level administrator.

My desire to develop teacher leaders actually aided in my personal goal of “putting myself out there” more and as Fullan (2008)   puts it, “linking to the outside”. When two colleagues and I heard about what Hanover County was doing with the “Eyes on Instruction” program during a SCOPE session, we believed our own teachers could benefit from a similar model. The idea came to fruition when I wrote a proposal to central office personnel which aided in the establishment of the Teacher Ambassador Program; a professional development opportunity for teachers to visit other buildings, hear from the administrative team, and observe best teaching practices. These ambassadors then share what they learned with their colleagues. The experience opened us all to new ideas, and expanded our thought process to a more global level, a component that Fullan indicates is necessary for district reform.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Standardized Tests Are Changing..Are We?

Come this June, high schools all over the state I work in (Virginia) will be graduating 2nd batch of students who have gone through their entire educational career in the age of standardized testing. Now, with the help of online testing, a new shift has begun to take place. The tests are no longer designed to see how well our students are able to answer questions. Now, students are having to use skills which include critical thinking, problem solving, and drawing from past experiences to solve complex equations on these tests. To top it all off, student growth is about to play a huge role in the evaluation process for all educators.

This shift brings up a couple of questions for me. First: how are we preparing teachers to shift their methods to help ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to think and work at this higher level. Second: are the kids who have regular access to technology at an advantage over those who are not? I know that when I talk with my own teachers, they are frustrated because they feel they are not providing their students with the necessary technology to facilitate the mastering of these skills. I'm concerned because they may be right. How can they? Our four computer labs have been booked since winter break solely for benchmarks, simulations, pilot studies, and assessments.

These are not questions that can be answered in a few paragraphs; but it is food for thought. Things are about to change significantly in education; and I'm afriad a lot of mistakes are going to be made before a solid model exists which allows students from all backgrounds to achieve their highest potential.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Transparency - The New 21st Century Skill

OK, so every time I discuss a subject, I will cite the website(s), etc. I researched.

From the Harvard Business Review - Transparency is the New Leadership Imperative

Dorie Clark has a really good point here. By the way, if you have an iPad, you should download Flipboard. On Flipboard, I discovered, Mindshift, a wonderful education website. It's actually something I catch up on every Saturday morning when I sit with my husband at Starbucks after the gym. In addition to Mindshift, I check out the Harvard Business review. While Not directly related to education, there are some great articles on Leadership on there.

OK, getting back to Dorie. She discusses transparency as a necessary component for leadership. As far as I'm concerned, that goes hand-in-hand with the whole rigor, relevance, relationship piece that Willard Daggett has been talking about. We as administrators stress so often with our teachers the importance of establishing a relationship with the students they teach with. However, we tend to hide our personal lives from those we work with...even when an anectdote may actually help in solving a problem or making a connection.

Now, I'm not talking about airing out all of your dirty laundry for all the world to see, or posting every trial and tribulation on Facebook...I'm talking about letting your fellow staff members know what you stand for, your strengths and weaknesses are, and what your interests/passions are. You would be surprised who would get on your side just because someone found out you play golf, own a cat, or like the Red Sox!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Link

I am at a precarious point in my career right now. I am a middle school assistant principal with a interest in 21st Century learning. I really hate that term "21st Century learning". Aren't we already in the 21st century? With this blog, it is my hope that I look at the link between K-12 and higher-ed, and how this so-called 21st Century learning is affected by their relationship. If any of you out there have any ideas pertaining to this, please feel free to comment.

What this blog is about

I am a middle school administrator with a profound interest in 21st Century skills and how they transcend from higher-ed to K-12 education.