Leadership Finale

I wrote in my personal blog about how learning can sometimes be like trying to take a drink from a fire hose. I think the explosion of ways for people to communicate, share, and collaborate has opened up so many new ways to deliver content in an educational setting that trying to keep up with it all it a 26 hour a day job. Sometimes we just have to turn off the spigot for a bit and let stuff sink in for a while.

One of the reasons I enrolled in Johns Hopkins was so that I could focus my learning. (the graduate credits and the administration certificate had a bit to do with it also) My thoughts were that if I focused on just one topic of learning instead of trying to learn everything about everything I wouldn’t get so overloaded.

Instead of drinking from the fire hose I was drinking from the garden hose with the spray nozzle turned to jet. Not as bad, but still leading to overload if I’m not careful.

After the first four weeks I guess I was feeling a bit overconfident. It was summer and I wasn’t working. I could take hours reading chapters and rewriting notes into evernote. (Do this for your next class, you can break it into section, tag each, and then search for keywords across everything) During the second four weeks I started school and suddenly I lost about 8 hours a day of study time. I tried to work 8 hours a day, give my kids at least two hours of undivided attention, and then study for 3 hours. It was too much. My brain was just not working very well during the last week.

I don’t want to make excuses. I didn’t ask for an extension and I don’t deserve it. I knew I should have put more work into my final paper during the first four weeks when I had the luxury. I tried, I think the first section of my paper is the best. The problem is, like my students, I have trouble working ahead. I take my lazy time when it happens, not at some unspecified date in the future.

With that long winded excuse out of the way. I present to you my final paper for Effective Leadership. I wish it were better, but one of the reasons I put my work out there is so in the future I will do a better job. Please feel free to submit constructive criticism.

Effective Leadership Assessment

Brendan Murphy

Johns Hopkins University

Part I Task:

Develop a plan for how you will create a vision for the school cited in the case study. The plan should focus on student learning and be supported by all stakeholders. This plan must be detailed and cite both theory and practice to support it.

Candidate Response:

With the new superintendent desiring leaders who can serve as instructional/educational leaders and the history of mediocrity in the school the stakeholders of this school are looking for a change. The change may be an incremental reform or a secondary change, depending on the staff perception (Marzano, 2005).  The perception may very well be that that the school needs a major shake up to change from accepting the status quo of minimal basic skills that lead to low paying blue collar jobs, into the reality that most graduates in the area will need college education or high technology skills to succeed. As a new leader with a new superintendent it would be an excellent time to try to create a sense of purpose and shared identity for the group. The leader would want the staff to pull together as quickly as possible, forget the past, and start planning for future success.

In order to engage the staff and create a sense of ownership we will work together during the first month to create a shared vision and shared mission. We will begin a transformation of the school by discovering new insights about the school as a team. As Peter Senge suggests we will develop a “shared vision” through “team learning”, by creating a “dialogue” and “allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individually”. (2005, p. 9) This will be accomplished during preschool meetings and after school professional development over the course of the first month of school.

Over a series of professional development meetings we will create a shared vision and mission for the school together. We will spend a portion of the two full day meetings before school start and one hour per week after that. The time we spend working together to develop a shared vision and mission will be time well spent. The staff of the school will earn who the principal is; they will build together a shared values and a trust in the leadership.  (Sergiovanni, 2005, p. 80)

Prior to the meeting the principal gather and review the data on the school:

  • Climate and culture of the school
  • Demographics and socioeconomic
  • Historical data on school population, leadership, culture, and expectations.
  • Past and present reforms
  • Communications systems with staff, parents, student, and community.
  • Technology infrastructure.
  • Current recommendations of BLT, SIP, and other committees.
  • Who the stakeholders are and who are the leaders.
  • Grade-level chair
  • administrative team
  • PTA, PTSA leaders
  • local businesses that are influential
  • community and social service agencies
    • Identify school leaders who will be useful allies in motivating the rest of the school
    • Data Collection on Student Learning

◦      MSA test data

◦      Attendance Data

◦      Suspension Data

◦      Retention Data

◦      School, student and parent climate surveys

◦      Disaggregate data on students successfully completing Algebra

◦      Disaggregate data on students receiving D’s and E’s in all courses

  1. Self-reflection for principal
    1. Identify strengths the principal can bring to the school. Principal creates a personal profile of school leadership assets using McREL balanced leadership profile. (“McREL,” 2010).
    2. Analyze the school data collected in I.2.a-f and identify areas of need and highlight trends.
    3. Examine personal vision and core values and translate them to the school’s situation; setting and communicating the direction for a student-focused, learning-oriented environment to guide the activities and decisions of the school.

… the five actions that Kouzes and Posner identify as being key for successful leadership:

Model the way

Inspire a shared vision

Challenge the process

Enable others to act

Encourage the heart

(Kouzes J. M. Posner, B. Z., 2002)

Model the way – Lead a discussion on why we are here and what we want to accomplish by sharing our views on education.

During the first before school starts meeting: After ice breaking and general housekeeping activities.

We will start with a discussion of our philosophy of education.  The inconsistent leadership and changing demographics over the years has led some teachers to long for the “good old days” while at the same time there has been a steady influx of new teachers and a more prevalent use of student-centered curriculum.  As Robert Evan’s states, most educators share a heartfelt commitment to students and to the development of their full potential, but they differ in their emphasis.  (2005, p. 145) There will be one commonality between every teachers philosophy.  Teachers will be asked to find the commonalities between the principal’s philosophy and theirs in order to start building a shared vision from a common point.

  • Ask teachers to discuss a their philosophy of education in small groups.
  • Distribute my philosophy of education to teachers.
  • Ask teachers to compare my philosophy with theirs and find commonalities.
  • Create list of major themes from each group on whiteboard or projector.
  • Break for lunch

Inspire a shared vision– Education is difficult.  It is easy to get caught up in the day to day race to manage the school.  Discussing our philosophy should focus us on the loftier goals of education, the  reasons why we became educators in the first place.  Our vision will be inspired by our ideals.

  • Bring in community leaders [PTO president, mayor, business owners, religious leaders, charity workers, doctors, health care workers, etc] to share their ideas of what they expect schools should be. Share our philosophy of education with them.
  • Invite parents and if they wish their school age children.  Their views and concerns for the school are also very important.
  • Break into small groups to study what a vision statement should do using the following guidelines. Parents, students, and community members are welcome to stay and help.

Create a copy of Creating a vision (n.d.)

When you begin the process of strategic planning, visioning comes first. When visioning the change, ask yourself, “What is our preferred future?” and be sure to:

  • Draw on the beliefs, mission, and environment of the organization.
  • Describe what you want to see in the future.
  • Be specific to each organization.
  • Be positive and inspiring.
  • Do not assume that the system will have the same framework as it does today.
  • Be open to dramatic modifications to current organization, methodology, teaching techniques, facilities, etc.

Key Components for Your Vision

Incorporate Your Beliefs

  • Your vision must be encompassed by your beliefs.
  • Your beliefs must meet your organizational goals as well as community goals.
  • Your beliefs are a statement of your values.
  • Your beliefs are a public/visible declaration of your expected outcomes.
  • Your beliefs must be precise and practical.
  • Your beliefs will guide the actions of all involved.
  • Your beliefs reflect the knowledge, philosophy, and actions of all.
  • Your beliefs are a key component of strategic planning.
  • When groups are finished working on a vision statement we finish with the whole group coming to a consensus on the schools new vision.
    • Whole group put the vision statements on the board.
    • As a group work to find combine the various statements into one vision we all can believe in.
    • Ask for volunteers to work on mission oversight team [community members are welcome to volunteer also]
    • Create partnership teams (ATP) between teachers and community members.

◦      Teachers and community members brainstorm ideas for enhancing classroom and community and set up a schedule for further meetings.

Questions to think about before the next meeting:

  1. Will I be able to live with the new vision?
  2. Will I be able to support the new vision?
  3. What will the new vision expect of me?
  4. How will my world change as a result?
  5. Will I be able to continue doing what I’ve always done? Why or why not?
  6. Do I believe in this new vision?
  7. Do I believe in my school’s ability to achieve this vision?
  8. Do I believe I can help make the vision happen
  9. What expectations do the people in the community have for school?

10. Are we meeting those expectations?

11. Do we have the same expectations?

Day two of before school meetings:

Challenge the process– Often teachers get comfortable with how they are teaching.  We will invite an excellent teacher to present to us what they do in the classroom, why they do it, and how they do it.  The presentation must include video of classroom in action, participation, and opportunities for further learning.  http://workshops.classroom20.com/index.html

  • Review of the discussion on philosophy and vision.
  • Start the day with a presentation of innovative teaching, emphasizing collaboration and using technology. Point out connections between today’s best practices and the successful teaching in the building from the 70’s.
  • Short small group discussions of what great teaching looks like
  • presentations to whole group – poster, demonstration, etc…
  • Breakout groups on different topics and brainstorm ways to bring the innovations into our classrooms.

Enable others to act-Working together to build the vision and mission statements gives the staff a clear idea of what As stated in the shortened version of What We Know About School Leadership, “Empowering others to make significant decisions.”

Week one examine data. The mission oversight committee meets and looks at the data during the week. They will present to us their discoveries.

  • SIS data

◦      SES – Low middle class

◦      blue collar manufacturing and service industries

◦      95% white 5% black changes to 79% white 12% black 9% hispanic

◦      Population growth – changes students needing services is growing

  • Assessment data

◦      Math scores

◦      Reading scores

◦      Where do we need improvement?

◦      How much improvement can we expect?

  • History of community

◦      Past leadership

◦      Past reforms

◦      Past expectations

◦      Past successful programs

  • For the meeting the teachers will discuss the data presented by the mission oversight team and suggest solutions to the mission oversight team.

Encourage the heart– The school has learned what we could from the data, from our own philosophies, and from the examples set by innovative teachers.  It is now time to set forth clear, timely, and achievable goals.

Second week: Presentation on SMART

  • Small groups are given mission statements from some of the best schools and companies in the world and asked to discuss them.
  • Questions to ask

◦      What makes a good mission statement?

◦      What can we do to make a good mission statement?

Questions from Developing a Mission Statement handout

  1. What is the overall purpose of your school?
  2. Are students a priority?
  3. Why do you do what you do?
  4. What is the school’s reason for being?

From http://changingminds.org/books/book_reviews/kouzes_posner.htm

  • Groups present their thoughts
  • All group discussion.
  • Mission is presented to school as a whole with community members invited to attend.
  • The whole group is invited to suggest changes if they wish.
  • When a consensus is reached the mission statement writing process is finished.
  • The mission is added to the website
  • banners and posters are created to spread the mission staement

Before week 3 Mission oversight team writes shared mission as group

Part II Task:

Describe in detail the procedures you would establish to ensure a true commitment to the vision by all stakeholders in the school cited in the case study. Cite both theory and practice to support your procedures.

Candidate Response:

It is necessary to start sharing the vision as much as possible and to as many people as possible.  While the principal did his best to include all stakeholders in the creation of the vision not everyone will have been a part of that development.  For those people who could not or choose not to participate developing the school vision the school still must try to include them under the umbrella of the school vision.

All new communications should include the vision statement developed before school started.  A special letter should be sent to all stakeholders informing them of the new vision and the process of developing it.  Using all the resources possible the school should tie the new vision to the school.  When people think of the school they will think of the vision.

In the chapter Teacher Leadership: Ideology and Practice, from the Jossey-Bass Reader, Lieberman, Saxl, and Miles state, part of the ideology developed in these new roles is the belief that there are different ways to structure schools and different means to work with teachers and other members of the school community.

  1. Placing a nonjudgmental value on providing assistance
  2. Modeling collegiality as a mode of work
  3. Enhancing teachers’ self-esteem
  4. Using different approaches to assistance
  5. Building networks of human and material resources for the school community
  6. Crating support groups for school members
  7. Making provisions for continuous learning support for teachers at the school site
  8. Encouraging others to take leadership with their peers.

(2007, p. 419)

To ensure commitment to the vision is it necessary to make the vision a part of the school.  Assemble a leadership team (Marzano, R,J., Waters, T. & McNulty, B.A., 2005).  Encourage veterans and people of influence to help create a sense authority with some weight behind it.  Emphasize achievable goals.  An improvement plan is only useful when it is doable.  (Gabriel J. G., Farmer P. C, 2009)  The goal of the school improvement team is to help guide the school in the direction of the vision while keeping us on track to achieve the goals of the mission.  The school improvement team helps keep the school focused, but also evaluates the progress.

Develop a system for communicating the vision/mission to everyone who comes into the school.  How does what the school does affect everyone who comes into the building and how can the school do that better? One of the most important aspects of school improvement is communication.  (Marzano, 2005,  Lieberman, Saxi, and Miles, 2007, Fullan, 2007).  Constant reminders of our vision and mission should be spoken, heard, and seen throughout the school.  During the first month of school while the staff is developing a strong mission the students in the school can become a part of the shared vision also.  They can create banners, posters, wiki’s, logos, and more that express what the vision means to them and us as a school.  With the help of students and other volunteers the school can live and breath the new shared vision.

As we finish writing our mission statement be sure to include tasks and roles for the teachers and staff.  A useful mission statement cannot have a goal such as improving reading scores by 10% without a corresponding goal of improving teaching.  The goals of the mission statement must be doable.  (Gabriel J. G., Farmer P. C, 2009)

Bringing in the teaching presentation during the before school meeting was just the first step.  The next step will be asking some teachers to take the opportunity to form personal learning communities.  These teachers will strategically implement new researched based teaching methods and report back to the staff on their impressions.  Later they will also take the time to work with other teachers who would also like to learn these methods.  As the emphasis shifts from one level to the next, [from command leadership to leader of leaders] leadership increasingly becomes a form of virtue.  (Fullan M., 2007, p. 81)

From Kelley and Peterson’s chapter The Work of Principals and Their Preparations: Addressing Critical Needs for the Twenty-First Century, (2007) in the Jossy-Bass reader “Researchers have found the building of collegiality to be essential to the creation of a more professional culture in schools.  (Little, 1986, Rosenholtz, 1989) …the norms of collaboration are built through the interactions created by the principal’s facilitation of collegial work.  ..Daily routines of isolation were replaced by talking, critiquing, and working together.  (p. 407)”

The first PLC’s will study and learn together.  They will implement the new methods they learn and either be observed while implementing and/or video tape the lesson for critique later.  A sort of Japanese lesson study Such as taught by the DePaul professor Akihiko Takahashi (2009) As these groups become more comfortable they can assume leadership for the second semester and teach other teachers  some of the innovative teaching methods they found useful.

The teachers learning and using innovative teaching methods will be the most enthusiastic, they are volunteers after all.  Their excitement and enthusiasm will create a culture of possibilities in the school.  Schedules will be rearranged so that the teachers can have some common planning time during the week.  (DuFour, 2003; McREL, 2003) Substitutes will have to be hired so that the teachers can observe each others.  If possible free up some money in the budget to hire a master coach who will have the time to observe, critique, and substitute for the teachers.  This coach would have the freedom to move from classroom to classroom and have no set schedule.  He/she would be instrumental in implementing the program, but have no input on evaluations of teachers.  As Lieberrman, et. al. Suggest placing a nonjudgmental value on providing assistance. (2007).

The principal will allocate funds for teachers to join a program such as Atomic Learning http://www.atomiclearning.com/k12/en/home or host a workshop such as classrooms 2.0 workshops http://workshops.classroom20.com/index.html.  Emphasis will be on lifelong learning, and bringing innovation into the classroom.  As John Gabriel and Paul Farmer state in How to Help Your School Thrive Without Breaking the Bank, “If teachers aren’t learning and growing, it is not likely that students are either.” Teachers who learn and use new teaching methods in the classroom based on the vision created by the school are more likely to be committed to the vision.

Each week during the professional development meeting after school one or more PLC’s or ATP’s will be asked to present what they are learning and how it is positively affecting their classrooms.  Emphasis placed on successful experiments, but we can examine failed attempts and the lessons learned.  The purpose is “enhancing teachers’ self-esteem” (Lieberman,2007, p. 419) We will talk about how what they are doing furthers the vision and how it might achieve specific mission statements.

Teachers who are doing well in the classroom should be recognized.  Successes are important It is also important to improve the quality of teaching in the school.  In Marzano’s (2005) 21 Responsibilities of the school leader “Celebrate successes”  is included on the list.  Marzano (2005) also quotes  Goddard, Hoy, and Hoy (2004), the collective efficacy of the teachers in a school is a better predictor of student success in schools than is the socioeconomic status of the students.  Creating a culture that celebrates successes in the classroom is a great way of motivating more people to achieve success.

Part III Task:

Describe in an essay an ideal culture for the school in the case study. The culture would promote student learning and be responsive to and include in the decision making process the many stake holders who make up the school community. Cite both theory and practice to support the positions taken in your essay.

Candidate Response:

As noted in the survival guide for new administrators Assume that changing the culture of institutions is the real agenda, not implementing single innovations (Fullan, 1991, pp. 105-107 )

The long drawn out vision and mission building process had an ulterior motive.  That is to change the culture of the school.  Not to institute the culture of the new principal, but rather for the school to begin the process of developing it’s own culture.  It is a process that grows and changes with the growth and changes of the school.

The leadership at the school has been in flux and school culture is trapped in a state of change, but has no clear direction.  Having the staff of the school spend time developing a shared vision and mission is intended to have the effect of creating a culture of improvement.  Staff will take ownership of the direction of the school.  They will feel empowered to make decisions based on the shared vision of the school.

The empowerment rule (that everyone is free to do whatever makes sense, as long as decision embody shared values)…  (p. 86) Chapter 6 Leadership as Stewardship; “Who’s Serving Who?” Thomas J. Sergiovanni

At the beginning of the year most of the staff will be at the first stage of the The concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM).  The problems of the school lay undefined.  The staff, leadership, and some community members will work together through the development of the vision to define the problems that the school is facing.  During the process of developing the mission statement most of the staff in the school will move together to develop solutions or ways of attacking these problems.

By then end of the first month and the creation of the new vision and mission many of the staff will have moved quickly through the first three stages and be working on the management stage.  There will be some leaders pushing towards collaboration.  There will be others wondering if the change is working.

As principal it is time to identify those staff with reservations and negative outlooks and give them the task of creating solutions for the problems they find.  The principal will also identify the staff who are looking for collaboration and ask them to work with the staff who are still in the informational or personal phases of adoption.

Using the data gathered it should be clear that the students need more than a basic skills-based education.  (see chart below) For students to be successful they will need to be able to think critically.  They will need to be able to think outside the box.  They will need to be able to be leaders in their own right.  The culture of the school will need to change away from wishing for the “good old days” and towards a vision of a bright future.

Values Challenges Opportunities
Academic Skills based changing to student centered 40 – 50% AYP

inconsistent leadership

8th grade scores dropped on last test

difficulty hiring best new teachers.

Want to improve. There was some improvement in the past with student-centered approaches to learning.
Social Old School work ethic, hard work and discipline will make a person successful. Low to middle SES

No mentor

whites are going to private school Hispanics are moving into neighborhood.

Better jobs in area, more management and technology.
Emotional Neighborhood is changing around the families. Future prospects good but mostly for white collar and technology.

Changing SES

growth of Hispanic population older established white families opting for private school

College bound students not unusual. Students don’t have to feel as if they won’t be able to be successful in life.

Possible goals from looking at data and expectations

  1. Recruit/Retain quality new teachers
  2. Implement student centered curriculum to prepare students for college and future jobs
  3. Start a comprehensive technology integration program
  • How will it look in the classroom
  • How will it change the front office
  • Where will the money come from

◦      Long range planning

  1. In what ways can we get parents more involved with school
  2. Can we help build a sense of community and pride in the neighborhood
  3. Is it possible to create a sense of history or pride in the history of the neighborhood
  4. How do we integrate school vision with community based services

There will be some teachers who are steadfastly unwilling to change with the school.  Often these will be experienced teachers with a lot of influence.  The principal is attempting to create an atmosphere where the teachers will be willing to experiment in the classroom.  Where they will be open to new ideas and innovations.  Where observations and critiques of lessons will be done by a team of teacher volunteers without the tension of a job evaluation and in the spirit of improving teaching.

It is important to protect the teachers who are willing to make this difficult change from negative influence.  The teachers who are willing to take risks and try new things will be given time to work together, away from those unwilling to change.  As Kelley and Peterson state in the Jossy-Bass Reader, “the norms of collaboration are built through the interactions created by the principal’s facilitation of collegial work.  ..Daily routines of isolation were replaced by talking, critiquing, and working together.” (p. 407)

Building collegiality among the teachers, staff, and others will help develop a sense of trust.  Trust in the abilities of each member to do his or her part in maintaining the vision and mission of the school.  With trust comes the ability to try new things without fear of failure.  We know there will be times when new things fail, but trust allows a person to fail and learn from our mistakes.

It is also clear from the demographic data that the school population is becoming increasingly diverse.  The Hispanic population is increasing at a very high rate and simultaneously the white population is decreasing due to flight to private schools.

From NPR “There are many reasons to question whether schools will ever become more diverse here and in other urban districts.  For one thing, some of the city’s most successful schools are completely focused on educating low-achieving, inner city kids.  The conventional wisdom here is that these students need a lot of structure to catch up.” This sounds great on the surface, but actually seems to lead to less diversity because students who don’t need rigid rules to learn end up fleeing the public schools.  The model we want to use at our school is similar to “Morris Jeff Community School, where diversity ranks right up there with test scores as a central goal.” [Broderick] “Bagert says that just by knocking on doors in the school’s Mid-City neighborhood, he managed to attract a student body that is 40 percent white and 60 percent black, just like the city overall.  “

Creating diversity means reaching out to the white and black members of the community and helping them to understand that the school will reflect the values of the community if and only if they want it too.  That means bringing their children to school, it means partnerships with the school, helping with homework, volunteering at school, etc.  A quality education and a quality school is built through the collaboration of all the stakeholders in the community and not through tuition payments.

Caroline Shirley, head of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, is quoted in the NPR article, Parents Push For Diversity In New Orleans’ Schools, by Larry Abramson “And you have parents that were working multiple jobs to make sure that their children did not have to go to a school that was not only not academically excellent, it was not a safe place to be,” she says.  “It was not a good facility.”  working two jobs and losing family time with their children might be doing a disservice to our children when what we really want is to give them a better education.  Building a support and commitment to the local school translates into a better school and better family life.  For many parents the time spent in commitment to the school will also be time spent with their own children strengthening both school and family.

Part IV Task:

Develop a plan for addressing the major shifts in the school community as described in the case study and for increasing the external support for the school. The plan must include consideration for collaboration with families and other community members, means for responding to community interests, and how to mobilize community resources. The plan is to be highly detailed and to be supported by both theory and practice.

Candidate Response:

We have already reached out to the community by asking them to help develop the school mission.  We will continue that outreach by developing long and short term partnerships with various community organizations.  During our meeting on the first day we will end with community members and staff volunteers creating Action Teams for Partnership (ATP).  The volunteers should discuss the following list to generate some ideas for community partnerships.

All schools can use six types of involvement to develop a comprehensive program of school, family, and community partnerships (Epstein 2001; Epstein et al. 2002).

Parenting

  • Plant and manufacturing jobs are being replaced with white collar and technology jobs.  The school can be a resource for parents who would like to get their GED, or some initial training on technology.

Communicating

  • Revamp school website
  • Create interactive resource board for volunteering and partnerships
  • Create Scholarship fund, partner with local business and donations from long time residents.

Volunteering

  • Volunteer for school/community clean up
  • Create service corps for students
  • Parent/ community volunteers for school homework help line.

Learning from home

  • Contract with parents to help with homework.

◦      Special homework helpline for parents

  • partnerships with online tutoring

◦      teachers can volunteer or earn extra pay for hosting virtual office hours in an Elluminate room.

Decision-making

  • PTO
  • Parent partner on school improvement team

Collaborating with community

  • Explore partnerships possibilities with universities

12.  Art Fair

13.  Science Fair

14.  Theater Production

We have a lot of staff volunteering to do a lot of different things.  It is a part of the changing culture of the school.  The limitations of public schools in Illinois is such that a principal cannot give teachers extra duty without compensation.  Teachers however have been known to volunteer and many put in extra work on their own time to improve their own classrooms.  The trick then is to convince teachers that the personal time and effort they put into school would be more effective if they worked collaboratively with teachers and outside partnerships.

The principal will emphasize the implementation of innovative researched based approaches to learning.  Fewer practice sheets and more collaborative school work.  Partnerships with community members can mean lesson planning is collaborating.  One or more of the ATP’s will focus on bringing the community into the classroom.  These teams can work in partnership with the PLC to create real life lessons that meet standards and include community and technology integration.

Many teachers ask student to come in after school to get extra tutoring.  The principal should encourage this practice.  He can also extend this practice by supplying teachers with virtual classrooms such as Elluminate, Goto meeting, WebEx, or even Wiggio, which is free.  It would be nice to extend the school day to match the workday of our working parents and thus keep students in a safe and productive environment, the reality is that students often just want to get away from school at the end of the day.  It is only later after their parents come home that students are compelled to do homework.  Then there are two main excuses, I don’t have any, or I forgot it at school, and I don’t know how to do my homework.  Virtual homework help can not only inform parents what the homework is, but it can be a resource for necessary help.

A virtual school homework room can give students the opportunity to ask questions about homework and get help from the teachers he or she is familiar with.  The room can be left open 24/7.  Students or parents can stop by at any time and get information on the homework and leave a message or question for the tutors.  Teacher or parent volunteers can work the room an hour a week.  School improvement or other funds might also be available to pay these tutors a small stipend depending on the number of hours they work.

The school website will be changed to include classroom pages for each teacher.  Teachers will be required to post at minimum a classroom syllabus or outline.  Teachers will also be encouraged to post homework on a regular basis and a link to virtual office hours.  Each teacher will also have a password protected area for virtual tutors to get more in-depth understanding of the homework if necessary.  The goal is to get the community more involved and the best way to do that is to give them the opportunity to participate.

Each school organization will manage an interactive wiki type page.  All activities of the groups will be posted on the wiki page with interested parties encouraged to participate in planning and implementing activities.  It is important to note that some or even most of the parents will not have broadband internet service.  Some local alternative internet service providers might be willing to offer discounts to parents and students.  Even then some homes will not have internet service to access these interactive wikis.  Schools can go further and sponsor internet kiosks at places of employment or area businesses that are populated by many of the school families.  (Personal communication, Thomas Waldron, September 4, 2010)

There is no reason why a middle school cannot be a strong resource for parents who desire to extend their own learning.  Parents and community members who need or want job training of GED help can find that at the school.  Through partnerships with the local community college the school can host courses in the evenings that are staffed and taught by the local community college.  If there is not enough interest to justify the class being held at the school then the school will have information on how to sign up and if possible the school librarian can walk parents through the process.  Monthly computer literacy classes will also be developed and taught by PTO or community volunteers.

Combining the revamped school web site, interactive wikis, and continuing education we learn that wikis can and are sometimes used as a resource for learning.  Wikis can hold  resources, links and other information that will be useful to the school and community.  These resources can and will change as necessary depending on the needs of the community.  Each ATP and each PLC and every school group large and small should keep some sort of well maintained resource for informational and learning purposes to be used by both their membership and interested outsiders.

References

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DePaul Distinctions, (June 2, 2009) DePaul professor champions collaborative Japanese teaching method

Retrieved September 8, 2010 from http://distinctions.depaul.edu/Pages/Aki.aspx

DuFour, Richard & Eaker, Robert.  (2008). Professional Learning Communities at Work: New Insights for Improving Schools  Bloomington, IN:  National Educational Services.

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Evans, Robert. (2007). The Authentic Leader. The Jossey-Bass Reader on Educational Leadership, 135-158 San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Gardner, J.W. (2007). The nature of leadership. The Jossey-Bass Reader on Educational Leadership. New

York: Jossey-Bass.

Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W.. K., & Hoy, A.W. (2004) collective efficacy beliefs: Theoretical developments, empirical evidence, and future directions. Educational Researcher, 33(3), 3-13

Kelley, C., Peterson, K. D. (2007) The work of principals and their preparation: Addressing critical needs for the twenty-first century. The Jossey-Bass Reader on Educational Leadership. New

York: Jossey-Bass.

Kouzes, J. M.,Posner B. Z. (2002). [Review of the book The Leadership challenge.] San Francisco, Ca. Jossey-Bass. Retrived September 5, 2010 from http://changingminds.org/books/book_reviews/kouzes_posner.htm.

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Philadelphia, PA: Laboratory for Student Success, Temple University.

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McREL. (2010). Balanced leadership profile. Retrieved September 5, 2010 from https://www.educationleadershipthatworks.org/Default.aspx

Munger L, (2003) The Survival Guide For Iowa State Administrators School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) Retrieved September 5, 2010 from http://resources.sai-iowa.org/change/index.html

Murphy, J.T. (2007). The unheroic side of leadership: Notes from the swamp. In The Jossey-
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The Center for Comprehensive School reform and Improvement. (2009) Professional learning communities. Retrieved September 5, 2010 from http://www.centerforcsri.org/plc/index.html

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About dendari

I finished my program at JHU in 2011. If you have enjoyed my writing here please follow me at philosophywithoutahome.com.
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