Posts Tagged With: Leadership

Ethics and Values in Education

core values

Ethical values are critical to the success of any organization. Values are instilled during a person’s formative childhood year. Once in adulthood, values are difficult, if not impossible to change. The greatest difference between successful and unsuccessful teachers is not in what they know or do; it is in how they think and how they interact with others. Thinking patterns and social behaviors are a direct result of the values that one holds dear.

The reality of education in America is that the profession is not revered as it once was. The cynicism of our culture permeates every aspect of our lives. The airline industry’s most prevailing press exposure is inevitably the airplane crash that kills hundreds; no one is there to document the thousands of flights that begin and end without incident. So goes the business of education. Many believe non-ethical values, such as greed or the desire for fame, are at such an all time high that they will be the downfall of our generation. A teacher must have a strong set of values to be able to maintain a positive outlook and continue to meet the needs of their pupils in such a cynical and self-serving world.

A teacher is in a unique position. They have the ability to influence the ethical values and behaviors of tomorrow’s leaders. Teachers can inspire students to want more for themselves than they ever dreamed possible. They can instill trustworthiness, respect, and justice. A teacher can complement excellent parenting, or help a child to overcome a miserable childhood. Teachers who operate from vision outperform their resources. Teachers can make a difference. Stephen Covey identified four needs of people: to live, to learn, to love, and to leave a legacy. The legacy for every individual, for our country as a whole, is realized in our children.

What is more crucial than teaching our students the pitfalls and the cost of non-ethical behavior. Teaching is about the mind and how we shape the minds of our children, but it is also about stirring hearts. That makes the work significant. Part of the responsibility of teachers is to summon the next generation to duty. After all, individuals owe society a citizenry with the very best ability to be leaders in the future.

Reference:   The organizational behavior: Behavior reader by Kolb, Osland, Turner, and Rubin (2001)

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Bridging the Generation Gap between Teachers

Many new teachers are leaving the profession after only a couple of years in the classroom. Proponents of public education and educational leaders have expressed their concern about the growing number of teachers who leave the profession prematurely. Just one generation ago, when new teachers entered the profession, they expected to be launching careers that would span thirty or more years. Today’s beginning educators are the first of a new breed of teachers who are products of the new information age. In the world in which they have grown and matured, things change rapidly and, in many cases, profoundly.

The departure of these new teachers, virtually on the very heals of their arrival, has caused great disruption to schools who face the growing employee turn-over. The building principals of these schools spend much of the fall of each year  troubleshooting and then launch into recruiting more teachers each spring. These schools are characterized by two large groups of teachers, the retiring generation and the new generation.

The retiring generation has enormous professional knowledge and skills which have been honed over many years in the classroom. These teachers entered the profession in the 1980s when teaching was a respected profession. They embraced the “egg-crate” structure of the school, as each classroom became its own island within the confines of the school. This generation of teachers found education to afford them a long-term career.

The new generation is not without merit. These teachers have incredible energy and fresh ideas that can be very valuable in today’s schools. Many of the new teachers have followed alternate routes to obtain their teaching credentials and certification. These teachers are anticipating several careers in their lifetime. The new generation expected teamwork and collaboration, as it exists in many other fields, only to surprisingly find the isolation of the classroom.

Johnson & Kardos (2005) developed seven strategies for bridging the gap between these two types of teachers upon which a building principal can rely.

old and young teachers

  1. The first step is to “treat the hiring process as the first step of induction”. In order to obtain the best information about potential employees, the interview process should include a search committee, interview panel, and other collaborative strategies.
  2. The second step would be for the building principals to assign new teachers to work on teams with experienced teachers. Intentional mixing of novice and experience teachers in each grade level or department will strengthen the team.
  3. The authors are proponents of purposeful scheduling of opportunities for the veteran and new teachers to meet. they can jointly plan lessons, observe each other teaching, and provide feedback that is valuable to the improvement process.
  4. The fourth step is to expand upon typical one-on-one mentoring with a formal and comprehensive induction program. According to the authors, this pairing leads to a higher retention rate for new teachers.
  5. The fifth step in this process is an emphasis on the development of the school-based induction programs, not by administrators, but by expert teachers. Those in the closest to the problem can most readily find the solutions.
  6. Organizing ongoing professional development on topics of the curriculum is a sixth and vital step to the success of new teachers. Even veterans teachers can benefit from curriculum refreshers and updates.
  7. The final step to closing the generation gap is for a principal to encourage teacher leadership and differentiated roles. As teachers are encouraged to develop their own leadership skills, the entire school will benefit.

As administrators and teachers, educators must become more flexible and collaborative. We must have a vision for a future that is quite different from our past. The goal is to obtain a higher teacher retention rate so that “before they retire, experienced teachers will bestow a legacy of skills and knowledge on the school and on their successors”.

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Reading Strategy – The Daily Five

The Daily FiveI have not read this book yet, but I’ve read several blogs about ‘The Daily Five’ and seen it referenced in several places. It is not a reading program, but an organizational framework and set of strategies that a teacher can implement. The Daily Five is a series of literacy tasks (reading to self, reading with someone, writing, word work, and listening to reading) which students complete daily while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals. If you know anything about this topic, please comment.

Here is the link to an elementary principal’s blog. Two of the posts are about implementing this strategy schoolwide.

Be sure to watch this youtube video with interviews from students and teachers who have experienced The Daily Five.

Another great resource is this youtube video about what happens after kids leave elementary school. High school students share the truths about their reading habits and it’s eye-opening.

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Book Review – Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

I am really enjoying the Kindle App on my iPad. This summer I read ‘Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It’.  As a former elementary teacher, I was familiar with many of the facts stated in the book.   Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. It’s sad but true, our children are reading (emails, texts, blogs) but reading novels for pleasure is on the decline. Why? Well for many issues I answer, “don’t blame everything on the schools”. However, in this case, the educational system is partially to blame.  But it’s not the fault of the teachers, it’s what the insane pressure from high-stakes standardized testing has done to our schools. We are afraid NOT to spend huge amounts of time in test-prep. It is also due to this test pressure that teachers have lessened or completely abandoned the time devoted to independent reading (i.e. SSR). When we do read real literature, we chop it up and over-analyze it to the point that there is no enjoyment in it.  What can we educators do about this? Read the book. I was glad I did.

With the help of Kindle, here are some of the most popular quotes from the book:

“The stakes are high. If those students who enter schools linguistically impoverished—thirty-two million words behind—do not read extensively, they will never catch up. This bears repeating: struggling readers who do not read voraciously will never catch up.”

“WYTIWYG” (pronounced “witty-wig”): What You Test Is What You Get. Students immersed in massive test preparation classes receive massive amounts of shallow instruction. In the quest to raise scores and make teachers and administrators look good, our students are paying a price. Simply, a curriculum driven by multiple-choice assessments creates an oxymoron: many students are drowning in shallow “water.” When instruction is driven by narrow assessment, instruction itself is narrowed.

“Students who read the most for fun scored the highest on standardized reading tests.”

“Sternberg suggests that we should be emphasizing those skills that would make our students ‘expert citizens’: creativity, common sense, wisdom, ethics, dedication, honesty, teamwork, hard work, knowing how to win and how to lose, a sense of fair play, and lifelong learning.”

“Reading consists of two factors: (1) being able to decode words on the page and (2) being able to connect the words you are reading with the prior knowledge you bring to the page.”

“Want to extinguish an adolescent’s curiosity? Cover as much material as possible.

“Ray Bradbury said, ‘You don’t have to burn books to destroy culture. Just get people to stop reading them.’”

“If students are taught to read and write well, they will do fine on mandated reading tests. But if they are only taught to be test-takers, they will never learn to read and write well. A terrible price is paid when schools value the development of test-takers more than they value the development of readers.”

“Should our students be spending all their time chopping up the novel?”

“My job is twofold: (1) to introduce my students to books that are a shade too hard for them and (2) to use my expertise to help them navigate these texts in a way that brings value to their reading experience.”

“Schools value the development of test-takers more than they value the development of readers. Schools are limiting authentic reading experiences. Teachers are overteaching books. Teachers are underteaching books.”

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Paradigm Shift in Educational Leadership

effectiveleadersLike many facets of our society, the very fabric of educational leadership has changed over the last generation. In a world where children learned from their parents the skills that they would need for an occupation that would last the entirety of their lifetime, change was a slow process. In today’s society however, change is constant and revolutionary. Education has followed a similar pattern. The autocratic educational leaders of the past managed their schools by giving attention to the tangibles, such as buses, books, discipline, organization, and the physical building structure. The majority of school leaders were Caucasian males who managed their buildings with competent organizational skills.

Today, educational leaders are multi-faceted versions of their older counterparts. Today’s administrators are complex, data-driven leaders, who must become competent not only the managerial responsibilities required in the running a school, but also become the formative instructional leader. Many of these administrators have become masters of staff development, as well as, agents of change. They excel in their ability to bring people together to work collaboratively toward common goals. Successful educational leaders today have attained an intricate balance of many coveted leadership qualities. Since school is the reflection of the society in which we live, the transformation itself has been a requirement for today’s school leaders to prepare the students for the increasing complex society which they will inhabit.

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