Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tips for future leaders

There is a growing need for quality educational leaders in schools across the country. While the number of individuals enrolled in school administration programs has not decreased, the number of individuals putting those degrees to work has. Teachers have opted to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership and stay in the classroom and earn master level pay without some of the headaches and time commitments placed on administrators.

It is important for individuals that are pursuing a degree in educational leadership to know what to expect in the administrative position as well as how to make themselves marketable.

First of all, there are plenty of administrative jobs to be had. However, there is fierce competition for jobs in wealthy school districts and schools that have a good academic reputation. To get the jobs at these locations require you to separate yourself from the competition. The first way to do that is by having impeccable references. To do that you must do the right things in the classroom as well as during your internship. Throughout your Ed leadership program you should latch on to a principal or assistant principal and learn from them as much as possible. During this time you should make yourself available to do various administrative tasks that they can delegate to you. These hands on experiences will only help you in the future. Another way to stand out is by creating a portfolio with programs or experiences you have that show your leadership ability. For example, if you have implemented a program at your school or written a grant to start a program in your school you should detail this in your portfolio and emphasize this at your interview. You can also stand out by communicating with confidence what you feel are your strengths. I have found that persistence pays off when looking to get a specific job. Principals are often looking for individuals that blend in with the leaders they already have at the school. They want people with different strengths and abilities to create a complete administrative team to lead the school to success.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Is Size Crucial to School Improvement?

In today’s classrooms teachers are providing discipline, being a caregiver, and teaching citizenship and character education while covering the required state standard course of study to prepare students for standardized tests required by No Child Left Behind. All this is being done as the number of students that enter the classrooms is increasing. With all the demands placed on a teacher, does it matter the number of students that are in their class.
Leaders disagree with the effect class size has on school improvement. Some leaders feel that small class size helps improve student performance because the smaller class size helps teachers build significant relationships with their students, finding what learning styles work best for each student and implementing practices that will help each student succeed. During the 20th century, schools became increasingly larger in an attempt to provide more opportunities for students. While the average class size in a U.S. public high school is about 14 students, low performing students are usually grouped together in a larger classroom environment. By not reaching out to these lower performing students and finding ways to effectively meet their needs they will continue to perform below standard on state tests.
Some leaders think that by reducing class sizes, we are hurting the students by putting less qualified teachers in the classroom. Most leaders agree that while the laws are being put in place to reduce class size, large class sizes still remain in areas with a high percentage of minority, low income, or English as Second Language students.
In my experiences I have found students with the greatest needs are in larger classroom settings. Students that are academically gifted and taking advanced classes have much fewer students and receive much more individualized instruction. School enrollments are expected to increase, class size is expected to decrease, and the number of teachers will increase. My question is where will find qualified teachers to fill these growing classrooms? Will our students’ education continue to suffer because of inadequate teachers? With all of the demands put on teachers how are we going to get them to stay in the profession?

Gang problems

CK, BK, red, blue, throwing C’s, and hearts with pitchforks.

What do these things have in common? They are all gang symbols and can be seen on student notebooks, writings, and backpacks in schools throughout the country. Middle school students in particular are being targeted to join gangs and begin a lifestyle of drugs, sex, and money. The question is what can we do to stop this spread of violence and criminal activity that is sweeping the nation? One of the first things you can do as an educator is build a relationship with your students. An open relationship will allow a student to feel comfortable talking to you when they are confronted with a difficult situation or when they know a friend is in danger. The second thing that must be done is educators must be trained in how to recognize and deal with potential gang behaviors as this is not a phenomena that is going away. After training the teacher in what gang activity is, we must teach that individual on how to communicate this sensitive subject to the parents. Most parents are in denial when it comes to their child and a possible involvement in gang activity. However, if we can involve the parent, the child, and community services (such as police, churches, social services, etc.) in teaching the dangers of gangs and what positive alternatives to gang life are available we might have a chance in making an impact in some of these students lives.