Throughout this program we worked collaboratively to present our work and practice to peers, receive formative feedback, and adjust and grow based on the feedback we received.
Presentations reflect an understanding of adult learning theories
A key learning for me was that adults learn differently from children, and adult learning styles and theory must be considered when designing reflective learning processes for adults. Unfortunately this is often overlooked by school leaders and can lead to staff disengaging from learning processes that could otherwise be valuable.
According to Zepeda’s Adult Learning Theory, “adult learning should be built on ownership, appropriateness, structure, collaboration, internalizaton, reflection, and motivation.” (p.47) Throughout the course I learned various strategies that can be implemented within the school setting to engage staff in professional development that responds to how adults learn including: embedding professional development within the job, giving teachers choice over what professional development (PD) they need and how they would like to learn and thus giving teachers ownership and making sure PD is appropriate for the teacher’s level of knowledge and expertise, making sure PD applies directly to the job, and engaging teachers in leadership opportunities throughout the school, including the opportunity to share their learning with others. (Zepeda, p.59)
Some practical steps to take in working towards addressing unique needs to adult learners would be:
- Make teacher professional development a priority and communicate this vision and goal to teachers, or even better, develop it WITH teachers.
- Create time and space to discuss values and vision. Link this to professional development.
- Create opportunities for teachers to choose their area for development and method for growth, whether it be in a PLC, a book study group, a coaching opportunity, attending a training or workshop and then sharing learning with staff as an in-house expert, learning walks, etc
-In our accomplished teaching course we practiced how to reflect in small groups and implemented a variety of protocols to aid the reflection process. We wrote a lesson plan for this and then filmed the lesson. With a partner we then reflected on the lesson, using protocols listed below to assist us.
Utilizing protocols helps keep all involved focused, as unbiased as possible, and allows us to work with a meaningful structure to our reflective session.
4. Get creative and create time for teachers to collaborate and work together
5. Follow through-administrators need to commit to emphasizing and dedicating time and resources to the same focus for a few years in order to truly change school culture. In the three years I’ve been at my school, passing attempts at PLCs/data teams, book studies, learning walks, and interdisciplinary teams have been attempted.
6. Intentionally work to empower teachers: Give teachers more voice. What development do they need? How can they share their learning, in a meaningful way, with all staff? How can more than just Team Leaders take a leadership role? Send out leadership surveys asking teachers in what areas they feel like they could lead or share expertise. What types of areas would they like to collaborate with others? Then admin needs to work to set up these opportunities for staff to both lead and participate. Respond to teachers concerns. Let them know you listen to and value their opinion. Keep shared vision and non-negotiable values at the center.
Presentations include reference to research
Before my studies in the Masters in Teacher Leadership Program, I had heard mention of Action Research but did not know what it entailed. EDU 6979 – Action Research in School Settings and EDU 6528 – Accomplished Teaching helped guide me through valuable learning experiences regarding the Research Action process itself, and also more specifically regarding my area of focus for my project. I now feel capable and confident enacting an Action Research Project on my own using 3-legs of data and presenting my research professionally to colleagues.
See full Action Research Paper here: Raising Cultural Competence and Sensitivity.
I have also reflected upon the idea that my PLC could significantly benefit from implementing some of the structure and research that is built into the RAP. As of now, PLC meetings are loosely defined and fairly unproductive. There is usually a general goal that defines our topic of discussion, but data is never discussed nor shared. We have yet to implement common assessments across courses to compare results and best practices. Frustrations are shared but rarely are concrete techniques or strategies discussed. I would love to bring my learning from this course to my PLC and suggest we follow some of the steps to conduct an informal Research Action Project and compare results among students to explore best practices across many classrooms and teaching styles. It would also benefit us to establish clear student outcome goals and specific data collection strategies.
Learned how to communicate professionally and verbally to an adult audience
Presenting practice for review does not just mean to teaching colleagues and staff, but also to the wider community. Schools operate as one of the great last social safety-nets and are one of the few experiences that almost all of us go through in our lives. In this way we have a great responsibility to share and collaborate with the community in the educational endeavors we undertake.
In EDAD 6589: Engaging Communities, I learned that involvement means doing to as opposed to engagement which means doing with. In this way, most schools involve parents and families through email, parent-teacher nights and/or curriculum nights, sports events, automatic caller systems, and mailing home school-related information. However, this is a one-way system where families and communities are the recipients of school information, but are not active contributors who have the power to shape the school culture or processes. As school leaders, we have a responsibility to not only involve families and communities, but to engage them in meaningful ways, to invite them and encourage them to be a part of the process where their voices are heard and considered and school-related decisions are made with them, not for them. (Ferlazzo, 2011)
I have come to learn that family engagement is critical for improving student achievement and is more than simply involving families. Involvement is making decisions for a group based on perceived needs, whereas engagement is making decisions with a group, based on real needs. As referenced in Washington State Leadership Standard Four, in order to consider needs of all stakeholders in our schools, we must establish a fluid feedback loop between families, students, staff and school leaders. This takes added creativity and effort when considering the needs of diverse groups, but is essential as we must recognize that as a school we are an integral part of a larger community, and by addressing the needs of our diverse student and family populations we are also enriching the school environment for our students and staff and modeling for our students how to function in a democracy made of diverse needs. I was able to put this into practice and design a theoretical Community Engagement Product (CEP).
The ability to reflect upon engagement practices is one of my great take-aways of this course.
This is often the difference between a good educator and a great educator who works as a change-maker: one who can engage families and the larger community to take responsibility and be part of students’ education can affect lasting, long-term change.
In the Leadership in Education course, I learned about various leadership styles and how a strong leader must be adaptable to varying situations, deliberately choosing decision-making models based on each unique situation.
Hoy & Tarter Decision Making Model
In this course we researched and presented to our peers on a leadership topic of interest, practicing both skills of presenting to adult colleagues, but also practicing our new-learned skills of being responsible consumers of educational research, distinguishing between reliable and unreliable research.
Ferlazzo, L. (2011). Involvment or Engagement? Educational Leadership, 68(8), 10-14.
Hoy, W. K., Miskel, C. G., & Tarter, C. J. (2013). Educational administration: theory, research, and practice. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional Development: What Works. New York: Eye on Education.