Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reflection Week 1

I have recently started my last semester as a Graduate student at UNLV in the Master of Education, Educational Leadership program. My professor for my capstone course, Dr. Robison, is trying something new this semester and has asked us to begin thinking like an educational leader in everything we do. In continuing that theme, Dr. Robison has given us the task to put these reflective thoughts down on paper, in what he calls the "Role of Principal" journal. Being the tech savvy teacher that I am, I thought it would be a good idea to just integrate this into my professional blog so I can share my thoughts with others. In addition, I want to connect to other educational leaders and would love their comments, so please feel free to give your opinion.

All future reflective journal entries will be tagged with "UNLV." The first of many is below, I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 14th
  • Try not to command: don't be a leader that tells people what to do. This is from the old military way of thinking, that was largely involved in creating the "old" way of thinking in education. Dr. Robison discussed numerous classical educational leadership models that all incorporated this command style of leading. It is rather obvious that this way of leading now does more bad than it does good.
  • “I now know what I don’t know:” it is truly a good thing to realize how much you really do not know about any particular subject or content area. For me, I still have a long way to go until I even begin grasping a small percentage of what a retired school administrator knows. Even though this scares me quite a bit, I look forward to my first real challenge as a school administrator, where I have to put what I have learned into immediate practice.
  • You get to practice the craft and polish it throughout your career: this statement tags along with the previous one. Now that I know how much learning I still have to do, it is quite comfortable to know that I'll have the time and hopefully the opportunity to polish the craft of being an administrator. I'm hoping that my endeavors as an assistant principal will pay off greatly in the long run, and hope to be a sponge in this learning process.
  • The bigger picture: This course is going to help me grasp a view of the bigger educational picture. I am being challenged to not just think about leadership in my current school, but to think about it in broader terms; county wide, state wide, country wide, and globally. Dr. Robison says I'll be better for it, and I completely agree with him.
  • Leader is not a manager: to be a great leader, managing a team is not the way to go. Distributing your leadership to the team helps them to find their own leadership, and allows you to truly model the desired leadership behavior. This is highly tied to the culture you create in a school, without it you'll sink!
  • Respond as administrator: in all we do throughout this semester, we need to begin thinking about everything as if we are a current administrator, and the situation involves us directly. Questions to ask yourself should include; what would I do, how would I respond, what research can help me make this decision, who should I ask to gain teacher opinion and insight, etc.
  • Teachers are picked on, listen to them: teachers are the ones in the classroom, most directly affecting student achievement. Dr. Robison said that teachers are often picked on, so lending an ear and listening to them gives them a voice. It's not that you have to act on whatever they say, but just listening goes a long way.
  • Leaders adapt to staff: this makes a whole lot of sense, but without hearing this it may go to the wayside. Leaders should adapt to their staff, not vice versa. I definitely plan to use this thought in my first administrative position. I will be the new kid on the block so to speak, and it will be much easier for me to adapt.
  • You cannot treat all teachers the same: you need to judge their needs and act accordingly (adapting), then they will make changes (situational leadership – wrong leadership causes hostility).
  • Use charisma to your ability: “you don’t have power because you have the job.” Talk about an eye opener with this statement. Just because you get an administrative job does not mean you automatically have power to do what you want. If you lead this way, you'll make a lot of staff members angry right away, and will probably find yourself on the short end of the stick when it comes to contracts for the following year. Use your natural leadership skill of charisma to help staff see your point of view and vision.
  • Eye to eye and knee to knee for best communication: showing up and working with teachers in the trenches is a great way to establish respect and a bit of trust when it comes to communication. Be next to them and with them as you lead them, be visible!
  • Don’t have all of the answers: this is a tough point to get through your brain, but it is extremely important to know that you don't have all of the answers. I like this point because the same holds true for teachers in the classroom. A teacher that thinks they have all of the answers will lose students along the way (some just out of spite) and the same holds true for leaders.