TL Standard 7
Having only 5 years of teaching under my belt, I still classify myself as somewhat of a new teacher. The word leadership holds a lot of meaning and can honestly be quite intimidating. I got my first taste of a leadership role when I was only in my second year of teaching. I was asked to be the core leader for my grade level team in a school wide project called CEL: Center for Educational Leadership. This program was brought into our school to help restructure and rewrite units of study for our writing curriculum at each grade level. I spent the whole year working with 8 core member in our school, alongside my principal and our CEL Leader from University of Washington that helped lead this process. We spent the year designing, writing and scripting units and individualized lesson plans for an entire year. It was our job as core members to go back and train our grade level team this process and debrief our learnings. Our grade level team members would do learning walks and observe lessons we would teach. This was a great leadership learning experience for me. It taught me several critical skills needed in order to be successful at leading a team. This past year I had another opportunity to practice my leadership skills. This time however, I was asked by my principal to be our building leader for the new teacher evaluation system, known as the Professional Growth and Evaluation (PGE) system. It required several trainings and to quickly become familiar with the Danielson Framework that our district uses for evaluations. As the PGE building leader it required me to attend district trainings, professional development classes as well as reporting back to my building and training the staff on the new system during LEAP days and staff meetings. This really allowed me to hone in on my strengths as well as where I had room for improvement in regards to leadership skills.
In EDAD 6580: Leadership in Education course really allowed me the opportunities to look even deeper into these areas of not only building leadership skills but also my strengths and weaknesses in my own classroom practices as well. During this course I completed a Professional Growth Plan, which required me to analyze the Association of Washington Principal Standards (WPS) as well as complete and analyze my results from six self-inventory assessments during the course which allowed me to look at current practice, and help me plan on how to better these practices as a teacher leader and possibly a future administrator. These assessments were, The Managerial Grid, Leadership Survey, The Ross-Barger Philosophy Index, X-Y Questionnaire, Jung Typology Test, and Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument. During this same course, I also completed a Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA. The VLA required you to really delve into the dynamics of your school. These skills are important to have as a building administrator or any leadership role within your building. Completing the VLA helped me understand who makes up my school and it helps answer the why for a lot of questions that might come up in a school year.
WSP Standard One: Visionary Leadership
In order to advance a school’s achievement or program, a school must have a shared vision for learning. This vision is essential to help keep a school and its stakeholders on the same page regarding high standards of academic achievement and working towards the same goal [Disposition #17]. WSPs Standard One states, “a school or program administration is an educational leader who has the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to improve learning and achievement to ensure the success of each student by leading the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by school/program and community stakeholders.” It is not only critical to collaboratively create a vision, share it and have it be known to the members within the school as well as the community, it is also just as important to put this vision into operation. Implementing a shared vision allows for continuous school improvement [Disposition # 18]. As a school leader, you are required to have done your research and have analyzed how different systems within your school would be affected by this shared vision. The leaders within the building need to know how the school vision serve the students, staff and community alike which ensures the educability of all students [Disposition #16].
According to Humanmetrics Jung’s Typology test, I am ESFJ (Extravert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). As a future leader within a building, these skills would be put to use in helping lead my staff to collaboratively rework or create a shared vision for the building. The above personality traits would cater to all staff needs in making sure that everyone was heard and all needs were met. This helps staff ensure students’ success [Disposition #20] within our school walls.
A piece that I feel I could work on is to continuously examine my own assumptions, beliefs and practices [Disposition #21]. Continuously being the key word. I feel that looking at and reviewing such concepts at the beginning of every year (or maybe even more frequently) is very important. Different events or circumstances can occur during a year to change or slightly alter your views or beliefs. It is so easy to get stuck in your set ways and beliefs to a point where you couldn’t necessarily even explain the reason why you do what you do. There are times where I have fell into this broken record routine. With an ever so quickly changing education system, it is critical to stay on top of your thoughts, beliefs and practices. One way I can improve these skills as a future leader is to schedule during staff meetings to my staff members revisit, analyze and evaluate their beliefs and practices and note any modifications or adjustments they feel need to happen. Finding a few professional development books to implement an optional book study that provide teachers with strategies could be beneficial too.
WSP Standard Two: Instructional Improvement
Promoting student learning within a school takes many forms. It requires teachers and staff understanding diverse cultures and customs of their students. It also requires you to be knowledgeable of the needs of your students and being able to advocate and provide a nurturing culture. In the times of need, it also may entail implementing an improvement plan that allows for continuous learning. This continuous learning is for not only students but teachers as well. Working with your grade level team to align curriculum, being knowledgeable on your teacher evaluation system and taking the necessary steps to be prepared and perform well. It also includes exposing yourself to types of professional development to strengthen teaching practices.
As a teacher leader, it is critical to understand that members of the staff have a different management preferences. This preference in leadership could dictate their success as a collaborative team member. I feel the best way to positively impact a school’s environment starts with understanding the range of management styles. According to McGregor who developed The ‘X-Y Theory’ my self-assessment revealed that fall in Theory Y management style. The results state Theory Y management styles enjoy work and accept responsibility. It also states Theory Y management styles are ambitious and enjoy being creative. My results also showed that I strongly prefer the Y Theory Management style. I resonated with my results because I feel that a strength I have is instilling trust in my teammates and our collaboration. I feel that I do a great job at providing a nurturing culture for my students and also a safe environment for my teammates to feel comfortable with coming to me with any concerns as well. The Managerial Grid self-assessment showed that I have a high concern for both people and production. I value and utilize feedback and criticism and learn from experiences. “Mutual trust and respect where people are not afraid to take risks which allows me to test the limits of creativity” is vital for me.
I feel I have room to improve with this standard by learning how these management styles directly connect with the different learners in my classroom. Being culturally responsive and modifying teaching styles based upon the needs and culture of my students is important. I would be interested in providing my students with a similar type of Theory X and Theory Y test with my students to better understand how they prefer to be taught. I feel that furthering this research which ultimately improve student achievement in my classroom. Flexibility is one of the most important qualities a teacher and leader can possess. This is something that I feel I do well with regarding scheduling and reading my students during a lesson. However, I feel that I could improve me flexibility with students who need a different style of teaching or management. Not every size fits all.
WSP Standard Three: Effective Management
Standard three in the Washington Principals Standards revolves around effective management. It is comprised of four strands that focuses on (a) using continuous cycles of analysis to ensure efficient and effective systems- this strand looks are the effectiveness of school programs, systems and issues. Using data collection to outline options for actions taken. (b) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the organization. This strand looks at how theories are created and used to support structures that promote school safety, behavior management and other onsite issues. (c) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the operations, which looks at effective building-wide operations that involves awareness of legal and ethical issues, problem solving and decision making models. (d) Ensuring management of the resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. This strand looks at demonstrating that a teacher can manage and maintain a safe and orderly learning environment.
My ability to use feedback and analyze the good and bad in a classroom or system as shown in the Blake and Moutan Managerial Grid questionnaire, is a big component to applying and demonstrating this standard in my classroom. I continuously collaborate with my peers about the systems within the school to determine if they are best meeting the needs of our students. My ability to trust my coworkers and grade level teammates allows me to ensure the best procedures are put into place to promote school safety. As a future leader, it is also important to possess high expectations of your staff. Shown in my results from the Managerial Grid it states that I take a paternalistic approach with others around me but I still maintain a high standard of performance. I do a good job at maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment in my classroom. Much of the beginning of the school year is spent with my students getting to know each other and learning how to be respectful of not only each other but each other’s thoughts too. They need to feel safe to take risks in the classroom and know they will not be judged [Dispositions # 27].
However, a weakness that I know I possess is directly connected to the Jung Personality trait assessment. As an ESFJ, feelings and emotions are often brought into play. I have a hard time standing ground in regards to my point of view with fellow colleagues that may have a sense of seniority. I often would rather everyone be heard and keep the peace than be demanding at times. There are a few professional books I would be interested in reading up on regarding this issue. Another component I would like to pay more attention to with this standard is analyzing the system, as educators we are often handed materials and curriculum to teach. Often times, we find that the curriculum or program that was given in fact is not what best meets students’ needs. I would like to continue working with my grade level team and have the conversations that at times, could be difficult in looking at and working through these issues. Adapting or modifying processes that might not be working for our students will ultimately enhance student achievement [Disposition #20].
WSP Standard Four: Inclusive Practice
This standard is based around collaborating with families and community members. It looks at inclusive practice that responds to a diverse community and their interests and needs. It requires understanding the challenges of family partnerships and being able to break barriers to help overcome challenges and lead to success and academic performance.
Each school year, working so closely with all of your families you are bound to run into conflict at one point or another. In the Conflict Style Questionnaire, my highest score was in compromising (sharing-Fox) and in second was, collaborating (problem solving-Owl). I feel I excel in situations where I need to sit down with families and discuss issues, concerns or conflict. I value other’s opinions and often appreciate the feedback from not only parents but grade level teammates and my principal as well.
One area of improvement in this standard is my ability to mobilize community resources. I feel that overall I need to find ways to better incorporate and implement resources like technology in my classroom for student use. I would like to find ways to bring in the surrounding community members to share resources. This could be in a professional development class that is offered or even a technology class that could be offered by the district. Our school district is very technology driven. I all too often feel that because I teach kindergarten that my options are limited. I know however that by digging a little deeper there are always ways to modify unique ways to use technology in the classroom with my students [Dispositions # 19, 21].
WSP Standard Five: Ethical Leadership
Standard five covers teachers and administration acting with integrity, fairness, and making ethical decisions. As a teacher and future leader, it is important to have an understanding of and to also demonstrate these qualities not only professionally but personally as well. It is critical to understand the expectations to withhold the frameworks of being a leader. This includes legal and ethical aspects. Treating people equally is mandatory at every level of leadership. Teachers and future leaders need to understand each of the standards and the expectations they are being held to. Principals and teacher leaders must lead their staff to success my modeling self-analysis and reflection. They must model and identify areas where growth is needed and be knowledgeable of how to create and implement a growth plan democratically with their staff.
In the Leadership Survey I scored in Quadrant 2, meaning I value and demonstrate high task and high relationships. I am concise, organized and very productive but I see the value and take time to build relationships with those that I work with. I treat others around me equally and with the upmost respect allowing me to make ethical decisions that are unbiased [Dispositions #23, 24]. I assume responsibilities and take pride in always demonstrating putting forth my best efforts. I accept consequences for decisions I make as a teacher and also as a future leader. I value using my resources and collaborating with peers to reflect and always find ways to improve my practice and ensure a quality education for all students [Dispositions # 22, 25].
One downfall, however being an ESFJ, I know sometimes I make decisions based off of feelings rather than facts. My strong sense of feeling is directly connected to the Jung Typology assessment. In a leadership position, I will be faced with several difficult situations that I will not be allowed to let my feelings on the subject overrule an ethical decision that should be made. This is a skill that I will need to work on before taking on a major leadership role. I am able to start working on this skill in my classroom with the students and parents in my classroom that I currently have. Speaking with my current administrator to get insight on how she many handle particular situations I feel would also be a very beneficial. This would help me learn how to constructively and productively influence the service of all students and their families [Disposition #26].
WSP Standard Six: Socio-Political Context
In order to be an effective teacher leader or administrator, you need to understand how the educational system works and know how to respond to several different context surrounding the system. Leaders need to be able to professional discuss and influence legal, cultural, political and social context within their building and in their school district. Leaders must know how to advocate for the students within in their buildings and their staff members too.
I am very hands-on and feel that students learn best by doing, trial and error, which according to the Ross Barger Philosophy Survey classifies me as Pragmatism/Progressivism. I also feel that schools should be truthful and non-manipulative which classifies me as following the Existentialism philosophy as well. Encouraging exploration and projects that are inquiry based allows students to learn how to problem solve and ask critical questions. I feel that I do a really good job at advocating for my students in my classroom to allow a more age appropriate style for learning. Our district mandates several pencil and paper tests. Often, the curriculum given does not demonstrate what good teaching practice looks like. I feel a strength I have is understanding the cultural and social contexts and several required pieces that the district pushes and I find a more appropriate and engaging method for my students to represent their knowledge on the topic.
I feel my area of weakness lies in the politic aspects of the education system. I have only received courses on school laws in my undergrad degree. This course was brief and didn’t go very in-depth in many components. The areas I feel that would be the most critical to learn first would be laws in regards to students on IEPs and laws surrounding students in special education. More often than not, issues from parents in a building are often set around these types of issues. I feel that these laws also directly connect to ensuring educability of all students [Disposition #16]. I have a book in my professional library from my undergrad covering school laws that I could read to brush up on my knowledge of the political contexts.
Overall these assignments have really opened my eyes to several strengths as a teacher and future leader that I did not know I had. It has also helped expose the areas in which I need more work in developing. Strengthening the skills mentioned above in each standard will help me become a better leader for my future staff and also a better teacher for my current group of students. I would like to use my strengths in the use of collaboration, building trusting relationships and utilizing my resources to help assist me in developing my practice as a better leader. Using the Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA would be critical as a future administrator to help made big decision within a building. An administrator and any building leadership role requires you to have knowledge and a solid foundation of what the school represents and its mission statement. Mission statements for a school represents not only the students that make up the school but also the staff that works within those walls. I feel the PGP and the VLA assignments have helped prepare me for the future, as I begin to take on more leadership roles and potentially take on an administrator’s position.
Alsbury, T. (Professor) (2014, October 23). Mainstream of Organizational Thought, Chapter 3.
EDAD6580. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Redmond, WA.
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Washington State Report Card. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=5324&reportLevel=School&orgLinkId=5324&yrs=&year=2006-07