About Me

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I've been an educator since 1995 where I've served as both a teacher and administrator. I believe that serving others is the key to success and make it my goal to be a servant leader for students, teachers, parents, and the community. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflections on AP Workshop 2

In my last post, I started reflecting on the recent TASSP Assistant Principal's Workshop.  This is a continuation of that post.

As I mentioned last time, one of my major goals is to improve in the area of instructional leadership.  Sean Cain and John Crain's workshops provided the impetus to get that improvement started.  I was also able to learn how to use systems to help manage a school system.  BJ Paris (www.bjparis.com) gave some great ideas about developing staff development using Google Docs, responding to bullying incidents, school and community communication, and incident command.  Her five step processes for each were invaluable and easily adapted to a new school setting. 

Carrie Jackson of Timberview Middle School in Keller ISD taught attendees the value of using social media.  Although I don't often use Twitter, I plan on beginning now.  Her weekly talks using Twitter and Storify were a great idea for communicating with parents and building community.  She also presented some ideas for how to start becoming more adept at social media including developing norms for school related media to maintain safety, scheduling time to blog and using walk-throughs as opporunities to record and the great things happening at the school, and bringing others along.  On this last point, her ideas included never ever mandating SM use, recognizing risk taking (even when it doesn't always work out), modeling expectations, pointing out the benefits, making it advantageous, and using SM in addition to the standard lines of communication. 

As a future administrator, I hope to be able to use what I learned at this workshop to positively affect schools and bring learning to new levels.  Honestly, the more I learn, the more I want to get started applying it to my practice. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

TASSP Assistant Principal's Workshop

Last weekend, I went to the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals AP Workshop.  This was the first time I have been to an administrators event and it felt like a good fit.  While I am still in the classroom, I took back a number of ideas that I can apply as my preparation for the move up continues.  In fact, it never hurts to gain as much practical experience as possible.

One of my professional development goals for this year is to become better at instructional leadership as well as what to do with teachers who are not positively serving kids. Several of the sessions helped me to work toward this goal.  First of all, I forked over the cash and went to John Crain's Documentation Training.  Crain's philosophy is that the instructional leader needs to help their teachers improve or, if they choose not to want this or are incapable of doing so, to help them "get gone."  As a leader, I know that this will not be an easy task. Fortunately, the session not only presented solid advice in how to work with teachers, but also provided the forms to help document when poor performance is leading towards non-renewal. 

Sean Cain's session "How to be an effective instructional leader in three easy steps" provided a simple (but not necessarily easy) plan for improvement.  The three steps are simply, Teach (which all administrators should have already done), Observe lots of classes and instructional methods, and Coach.  Cain also pointed out ways to schedule time for lots of classroom observations as well as side benefits of being out in the building, such as fewer office referrals.  While I can't necessarily use Crain's training right away, I can quickly put this session into practice by using my conference time to visit classes and observe teachers.  The good ones should be flattered and I believe that I will learn a lot more in the visits than any book could possibly teach. 

More reflections to come in the next couple of days.

Friday, February 8, 2013

PDAS Training

I spent this week at PDAS Training in Kilgore.  I am now a Certified evaluator.  Going in, I didn't think it would be too difficult to evaluate teachers on their performance.  Coming out, I realize that it is much more difficult than I first thought.  For one, I am dealing with people and lives.  That should never be taken lightly.  At the same time, I have to remember that every evaluation needs to be focused on helping the teacher improve as well as increasing student success.  Less than that is not acceptable. 

One area that I have to work on is wearing my heart on my sleeve.  It can no longer matter what anyone thinks about my performance as long as what I do is in the best interest of students.  As a school leader, student success must be first and foremost and no excuses can be accepted for letting a student fall through the cracks.  Every effort must be made to serve that student.  In hiring teachers, I must find those who have that same heart and are willing to do whatever it takes.  I certainly hope that I fall into that category myself. 

In viewing case studies of teachers, it was exciting to see some great teaching going on at different levels.  It was also disheartening to see some poor excuses for a lesson.  I hope the bad ones were acting.  As a school leader, I have to be able to recognize effective teaching and help those who are not meeting the standard.  This will take some work on my part, especially since I have not spent much time outside of science. 

Finally, Proficient is good teaching.  That is key, especially as I tend to be a person who wants others to look good.  Telling staff upfront what to expect will make that much easier in the long.

Overall, I have a long way to go to be a truly effective evaluator.  I will make some mistakes along the way, but at least I have now taken the first step.