Mary Ewart's bPortfolio

EDAD 6580 Leadership in Education – Meta Reflection – Standard 7

EDAD 6580 Leadership in Education – Meta Reflection – Standard 7

 

Standard 7: Teacher leaders utilize instructional frames to improve teaching.

 

“Enlightened leadership is not an end in itself. It is a means – a means of bringing more wisdom to the world and of shaping a better future for our organizations and the children we serve” (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2008, p. 34)

 

Leadership is always something that has come naturally to me, without even really trying. The process of considering what it means to be a leader, what qualities make a leader enlightened, and how to use leadership principles in an educational setting is very interesting to me. That being said, as I started this course, I knew very little about what it meant to really be a leader, in the sense of an administrator, and what kind of thought process goes into each and every decision that an administrator has to make. Although I do not have any desire to move into school administration, I do feel that as a teacher leader it is important to understand what it takes to be a good administrator, as being a teacher leader requires many of the same requirements. At the beginning of the course, I had really only considered what it takes to engage a community in a school setting, because of the previous coursework I completed as part of this program.

This course followed two pathways that continued to weave in and out of each other. One thing that we did every week was focus on one of the eight principles of leadership that are covered in Spirituality in Educational Leadership: intention, attention, unique gifts and talents, gratitude, unique life lessons, holistic perspective, openness and trust (Houston, Blankstein, & Cole, 2008). By focusing on a topic each week, and considering how that impacts us as teacher leaders now, and potentially future administrators, we were able to have both virtual and in-person discussions about how these principles will impact us all as leaders. Although I feel that trust is, perhaps, the most important principle, I loved discussing gratitude. Being grateful and expressing gratitude can go so far when it comes to developing trust and respect between people and leaders.

The second pathway that the course followed was working through Organizational Behavior in Education: Leadership and School Reform by Owens, R., & Valesky, T. and considering the more nuts and bolts of leadership in education. Through this text and several supplemental resources, we considered the development of organizational behavior in education, how and why it has changed, what different types of management styles there are, and how that impacts both leaders and people who are working for the leaders. We also took the Jung Personality Test to determine our personalities, and then had a large discussion as how that personality will effect us as leaders, as well as how different personality types might be best suited for different roles. I am personally an ISFJ, which is a change from when I was in high school and was an ISTJ. ISFJ is Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. This means that I am a person who gains my energy from quiet, alone time that is organized and loves lists, and bases decisions on things I can sense, as well as how it will make others feel. Although the SFJ portion of my personality was shared by many, there was only one person in the cohort who was also introverted and shared the other three aspects. As a leader this means that I will have to do my best to make sure I get the time alone that I need to think and reflect throughout my days in order to do the best job I can do.

 

Another part of this pathway was a project where I picked an area of education that can be controversial, and engaged in a literature critique (Ewart Research Critique)and presentation (Research Presentation). I chose to research co-teaching as an intervention and inclusion strategy because I currently work in two co-teaching classrooms that we use as an intervention strategy. Although I have seen a great deal of success with this, it is not without its challenges, and can be very controversial for administrators to implement because it is costly and causes major master schedule challenges. Other topics covered by class members are technology, school uniforms, year-round school, inclusion, restraint, and universal preschool. It was very interesting to see how many of us ended up changing our opinion on our chosen topic based on the critique of the literature.

 

An underlying theme we discussed for most of the first portion of the class is the importance of a leader creating a shared mission and vision for all stakeholders in their school building. We learned about why this was necessary and how to use it to best achieve a functioning school with student success for all students. Then we used this learning on mission, vision, and leadership dispositions, and completed a Visionary Leadership Analysis (VLA Ewart) of a school of our choice. I considered the community and data surrounding past performance, and used that to analyze the work the school is doing. Then I compared what is currently happening in the school to what I would be doing as a future leader. Considering the work a school building is doing as a reflection of the school’s mission and vision is a perspective I had not previously considered, but one that impacted my thinking a great deal.

 

As a teacher leader, I need to consider how my personal mission and vision for what I want to achieve will impact those that I am leading. It is important for me to keep that mission at the heart of my work, to be a leader who is open, intentional, and grateful. Making sure that I trust and am trustworthy, and am aware of my personality strengths and management styles are also necessary as I form relationships as a leader.

 

References:

Cook, L., & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for creating effective practices. Focus

on Exceptional Children, 28(3), 1-16.

Dieker, L. A., & Murawski, W. W. (2003). Co-teaching at the secondary level: Unique issues,

current trends, and suggestions for success. High School Journal, 86(4), 1-13.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Public Law No. 105-17. (1997). 20 U.S. Code

Section 1400 et. Seq.

Houston, P., Blankstein, A., & Cole, R. (2008). Spirituality in Educational Leadership.

Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Jung, B. (1998(. Mainstreaming and fixing things: secondary teachers and inclusion. The

            Educational Forum, 62(2), 131-138.

Keefe, E. B., & Moore, V. (2004). The challenge of co-teaching in inclusive classrooms at the

high school level: What the teachers told us. American Secondary Education, 32(3), 77-88.

Nierengarten, G. (2013). Supporting co-teaching teams in high schools: Twenty research-based

Practices. American Secondary Education, 42(1), 73-83.

Owens, R., & Valesky, T. (2015). Organizational Behavior in Education: Leadership and School

            Reform (Eleventh ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Ploessi, D., Rock, M., Schoenfeld, N., & Blanks, B. (2010). On the same page: Practical

techniques to enhance co-teaching interactions. Intervention in school and clinic, 45(3),

158-168.

Shaffer, L., & Thomas-Brown, K. (2015) Enhancing teacher competency through co-teaching

and embedded professional development. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 3(3), 117-123.

Weiss, M. P., & Lloyd, J. (2003). Conditions for co-teaching: Lessons from a case study. Teaher

            Education and Special Education, 26(1), 27-41.

Zigmond, N. & Magiera, K. (2001) A focus on co-teaching. Current Practice Alerts, 6, 1-4.

 

 

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EDU 6528 Accomplished Teaching– Meta Reflection – Standard 4

EDU 6528 Accomplished Teaching– Meta Reflection – Standard 4

 

Standard 4: Teacher leaders engage in analysis of teaching and collaborative practice.

 

“Although much of educational practice occurs in the fast lane, educators must locate a rest area to reflect on past practice and to determine adjustments for future practice” (York-Barr, Sommers, Ghere, & Montie, 2006, p. 3)

 

I have always felt that reflection is a key process to continual improvement in my teaching, but as the above quote describes, teaching has always felt like the “fast lane”, or maybe, the game Frogger, where the frog is desperately trying to cross the river that is full of obstacles. It seems rare that there is time to complete that critical component of accomplished teaching: reflection. Extending that reflection to include reflecting with others seemed like something that would be impossible to do.

As we began this course, we started by considering something that we wanted to change or focus on in our classroom as well as the framework by which we would be evaluating the teaching change. The Lake Washington School District uses the Danielson Framework for assessing instruction, so that is the framework that I will be referencing through the work in this course. At the beginning of this course, I decided that, based on reflection on my classroom in previous years, and area of growth I wanted to explore was introducing more student-choice assignments. This is something that I have observed being done really well in others’ classrooms, although none of them math, and I wanted to see if I could find ways to introduce it in mine as well.

After I prepared a focus and considered how I would be evaluating the instruction, the class started working on appropriate ways to collaborate and reflect upon teaching. The text, Reflective Practice to Improve Schools, started by focusing on individual collaboration, and then moved into strategies and justification for partner and group reflection. This was to prepare us for our major assignment of this course, a videotaped lesson and then partner/group reflection on the lesson using the framework that is used in our district. Based on the timing of this activity, I was unable to work a student-choice assignment into my Formal Lesson Plan, but originally planned on working with my partner to determine what I could change in order to add something that was a student-choice activity. We met as partners to discuss the lesson plans that we created, and then prepared to teach the lesson. Our partners were intentionally chosen to be teacher who were not in the same age level/content area to encourage the type of collaboration and reflection that was discussed in our course text. It is a very challenging and rewarding activity to collaborate with teachers who are in different grades and content areas; the focus of those discussions truly becomes about the framework and instructional strategies rather than things a teacher may have tried to use during the same lesson.

After I taught and video-taped the chosen lesson, I met again with my partner to use the framework and evaluate the lesson. Although my original focus was student-choice, I determined after reviewing the lesson that I needed to change my focus for my Safety Net Algebra 1 classes. Rather than focusing on student-choice opportunities, I decided I needed to brainstorm some ways to get my students focused and engaged in deeper thinking, class and small-group discussions. As a result of this reflection, I focused my efforts in my Elements of Accomplished Teaching Paper to finding current research and practice on questioning to inspire discussion, and deeper thinking.

As a result of this class, my view on Accomplished Teaching has deepened and matured. Teaching is a skill that is able to be continually improved upon. Being an accomplished teacher is more than effective lesson planning, aligning standards, and using instructional strategies. Accomplished teaching is also about formative assessments, responding to the needs of your students, and reflecting at multiple points along the way. Reflection is something that can be done independently, with a partner, or group, and can be done both synchronously or asynchronously. When you make the time, as a teacher, to collaborate with others at multiple stages of the lesson plan, and then meet together to reflect upon your successes and areas of growth, you – as the teacher – grows as well.

As I move forward as a teacher leader, I will work hard to make time in my day to collaborate throughout all processes of the lesson planning and teaching process. This is an element that I feel is best taught to others by example. By starting with my Algebra 1 content team, I will be able to work with three other teachers on the processes we practiced in this course. From there, after those three teachers have experienced the benefits of this practice, they can bring them to their other content teams (Algebra 2H, Algebra 3 with Trig, and 9th grade Physical Science). From there, it can only continue to spread. Additionally, I will continue to lead the efforts to collaborate between the English and Math departments to focus on consistent writing instruction in math classrooms as well. The collaborative and reflective process that we followed during this course will be beneficial to the working inter-departmental relationships as well.

 

References:

Billings, L. & Roberts, T. (2014). From mindless to meaningful. Educational Leadership, 72(3),

60-65.

Clark, K. (2015) The Effects of the Flipped Model of Instruction on Student Engagement and

Performance in the Secondary Mathematics Classroom

Journal of Educators Online, 12(1), 91-115

Downs, D. (2015). Using open questions to engage pupils in mathematics. Mathematics

Teaching, 247, 41-42.

The Danielson Group (2013). The Framework. Retrieved from

http://www.danielsongroup.org/framework/

Goodwin, B. (2014). Get all students to speak up. Educational Leadership, 72(3), 82-83.

Tovani, C. (2015). Let’s switch questioning around. Educational Leadership, 73(1), 30-35.

Pratt, N. (2002). Mathematics as thinking. Mathematics Teaching, 181, ­34-37.

York-Barr, J., Sommers, W., Ghere, G., & Montie, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve

schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

 

 

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