Archive for the 'Educational Administration' Category

To My Future Colleagues in the Educational Administration Program

downloadBy Oscar Silva

To my future colleagues:

The Educational Administration program in the College of Education and its faculty mean the world to me, so I hope my passion is able to be conveyed through this letter.

When I began looking for a program to get my administrative license, I had a set of expectations that the school had to meet. I needed the courses to be rigorous and relevant, and I needed to work with professors who were dedicated and experts in their field. Marquette met all of my needs and surpassed my expectations. One look at the curriculum, and you will see how relevant the work is towards helping our kids. You can immediately see the difference on paper between this program and others. Once you meet the others in the program, your decision will be solidified. The emphasis on equity and learning about the politics of education promotes the type of thinking to begin the work that is needed in the city. The concepts Dr. Ellwood and her colleagues teach you will seep into your way of thinking. Raw ideas are transformed into methodical plans with each project and research assigned. You are immediately able to put into
practice how they teach you to look at data. Each book and piece of research you will read can be applied to your work. The rigor is balanced with the relevancy of each course. There is not one piece of information or assignment that I was given that was irrelevant to the work I wanted to do in the future.

Let me be clear, the work is not easy. It will take dedication and motivation that is difficult to balance when you are still teaching, but the dividends will be fruitful. You will be working alongside other passionate individuals who have a similar mission. Work with them, confide in them, trust each other and the work becomes easier. The professors have a wealth of information and the resumes to prove their impact in various school districts. You will be learning from the best to become the best.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need more information about the program. I could go on for days, but I wanted to keep it short. Best of luck in your decision-making, and I hope to see you around campus soon!

Sincerely,
Oscar

Interested in learning more about our graduate programs in Educational Administration? We offer a supportive cohort model and generous financial support to teachers in the greater Milwaukee area and Catholic school personnel!

What Makes a Good Principal?

banner_good_principalBy Dianne Jackson — Being a teacher can be quite a thankless career.

As I pursue higher education in order to work in administration, I am beginning to see myself on both sides of the table. I never before considered how hard it must be to make decisions and how big and important decisions principals have to make.

However I have worked in schools where everything that I did was overlooked and I felt like I was constantly nit picked for things I allegedly did or ignored all together. Being a person who loves to self reflect, I always tried to revamp lessons, examine my discipline policies and question my actions during the day.

Now I look at situations and I think of me on the other side.

How would the students feel about this policy that I thought was brilliant?
How could I get more parents to attend the after school events?
How would I motivate and push my teachers while keeping the morale up?
How much decision-making would I share and what would I keep to decide myself?
How much emphasis and importance would we put into data?
What would we do as an administration to celebrate important days of the staff and express our condolences?

What I have gathered that people need to truly feel apart of a team. I think teachers also have to have some sort of pressure in order to perform at their absolute best. It could be knowing that you informally observe often or that you monitor the students results in their class and they have to make meaning out of the results. It should be light and supportive but education is high stakes so I would make sure that they do not lose sight of that. I want to also create an atmosphere where students and staff feel that I am personable and truly care.

Is there anything I am forgetting? What makes a good principal?

Welcome Back to School

download (1)By Matthew Olinski — Where did the summer go?

I wrote about that mid-way through June, as I lamented the upcoming schedule of summer festivals, and then the State Fair signaling the end of summer.  Well, as many of you know by already attending your beginning of the year in services – summer is officially over for teachers in Wisconsin.

There is some trepidation in this fact, and some excitement.  It is always a chance to start the school year fresh. We have a chance to reach out to a new group of students with a renewed focus and energy.

The questions is: Are you ready for the school year to start?

Ready or not – it is here.  I’m sure everyone has their back to school routine. For instance, I’ve already got my clothes picked out for the first day of classes. There is a commercial I always think of that states: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So I will be standing outside my door smiling at students as they walk into the high school and since I have several freshman level classes – it will be for the first time.  They’ll be nervous.

Some things to consider:

  • What routines do you have for the start of the year?
  • Do you have your clothes picked out for the first day of classes?
  • Do you have a mentor if you’re a new teacher?
  • Do you know the routines of the school?  There is a climate that is a part of each school.  They take on their own personas.
  • Do you know how to not become part of a negative school climate?
  • Most importantly: Do you have your bulletin board ready to go?

As the last couple of days wind down, take a moment to breathe.  Whether you are student teaching for the first time, starting a new job for the first time, or coming back for your 13th year (I can hardly believe that myself…)  the first day of school is sure to be filled with its own challenges and experiences.

Good luck to everyone in the new school year.  Keep focused on why you entered the education field in the first place, and make an impression on those students.

Going to the Source: School Administrators’ Advice for Teaching Candidates

Top-10-Primavera-Interview-questions-and-Model-AnswersBy Joel O’Brien — Throughout the course of my first-year working at Marquette, I have been privileged to sit down with several area school administrators and discuss the skills and qualifications that they are seeking in teaching candidates. While answers varied slightly based on the individual school administrator and the specific needs of their districts, below are action steps they consistently recommended for teaching candidates:

  • Your application must be complete. Failure to do so will eliminate your candidacy.
    •  Read and follow application instructions (e.g., required documents)
  • Update your application, so it reflects your current experiences.
  • When completing your resume, include key information such as your certification, teaching experience, leadership/diverse experience, and technological skills
  • Application materials should contain NO SPELING ERRERS
  • Language used during application should be student-centered, focusing on the impact of your actions on others rather than simply stating what you did.
  • Be careful with copy and pasting….  Address documents to the correct district
  • Do your homework, know information about the school districts, and demonstrate thaknowledge by customizing your cover letter and resume accordingly.
  • Experience descriptions should highlight key words such as desired skill sets.
  • Tell an authentic, consistent story about your experiences and philosophy as an educator rather than disconnected brief answers.
  • Field experiences are appropriate to include, especially if the experience is unique.
  • Highlight specific experiences, skills, and programs avoid generic language and buzz words.
  • Positive references from administrators are very valuable (Develop rapport)
  • Reach out to individuals (e.g., friends, family, teachers, and administrators), informing them about your job search….  You never know who may be able to help you!

Hopefully these insights give your application the competitive edge during the summer job search!

If you have additional questions about the teaching job search, Marquette University students and alumni can schedule career counseling appointments or mock interviews with the Marquette University Career Services Center at (414) 288-7423.

Reflecting on Endings

OlinskiBy Matthew Olinski — My students recently had a project in which they were in the computer lab doing research on topics they would later give presentations on in class.

As is the case at times, some students began to look up subjects other than their topics, including information about me.  It is no secret to them that I am a student at Marquette. In fact, they ask quite often how things are going. Some of them discovered this blog, and it was interesting to hear some of their comments.

They wanted to know why I had used my yearbook picture for my first blog. One of the comments was, “No one is going to follow you if you use serious pictures.”  I used it as a teaching opportunity — to discuss discuss why this is more of a professional blog and not necessarily the place for posting silly pictures.

But, their comments made me think about all the endings that I was experiencing this week.

For instance, this is the last blog for me of the semester. I have truly enjoyed being able to write down my thoughts on education every two weeks.  It was also humorous to see the reactions to students when they did read the blogs I wrote.  I’m looking forward to the possibility of continuing on at some point and at some level in the future.

My AP European History class took their national test this week, and I’m sure they are excited to be done with that. Although I prepare constantly for all of my classes, theses students are relying on me to impart the knowledge and skills to take and hopefully successfully pass this test, and most of them are sophomores, which makes it no easy task. This is the first AP level class available at the school, and their skill development level is heavily placed into my hands. It is very rewarding however, as I’ve come to see over the past two years.

I had my final evaluation of the school year. It went well, thank you.  I did not dread this conversation as much this year as I remember from past years, so that is always a positive note.  Once the final evaluations begin to be finished, that means the end of the k-12 school year is near as well. I believe there are 13 school days left with students this year. When you quantify the amount, it seems like the time has gone so fast.

I also finished my master’s degree this week. Graduation was the culmination of a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, both on the part of myself and my family for the long hours I have put in. By the time you read this, I will have walked across the stage and listened to Bill Cosby give an inspiring speech.

And so my final thought in closing this post is a to everyone else who is meeting with endings as I am this week, including this weekend’s graduates — congratulations, good luck, and remember the lessons that you have learned while attending Marquette.

Classroom Management: Data Driven Discipline

big_dataBy Ryan Krienke — Data, data, data.  In the world of education we rely heavily on data to make decisions.

SAT\ACT guide colleges and universities in their admissions decisions.  We have become so cut-throat that 8th graders take high stakes tests to gain entrance to the best local high schools.  The notion of merit pay is emerging in some districts where teachers are paid by performance, a performance that is largely measured on their student’s test data.  Some of our schools give computerized tests to our students, multiple times per year, use the data to group students, plan interventions and track progress.

In many of our schools and classrooms maintaining strong classroom management is an important element of creating a strong learning environment. However, collecting and analyzing data on behavior trends is not always used to guide classroom management.

I am not talking about the notes we send to parents.  I am talking about actually looking at spreadsheets that show how many students were sent to the principal’s office and for what purpose?  How many of these kids who were in trouble were repeat offenders?  How many teachers are sending them to the office?   What time of day?  What day of the week?  Has the trend of poor behavior increased or decreased over the last week?

Data, data, data.  It can be overwhelming, but it tells us a story, a story that is free from bias.

As principals we can use data to determine if teachers have different expectations for student behavior.  We can learn if a child is struggling socially with something in a specific class or with certain students at a specific time of day.  We can probably even tell which classes a child likes and which they find boring just from looking at behavior data.

Teachers can analyze data to determine if a student is acting up in all classes or just a particular class.  Am I the only teacher who is having a problem with students being tardy?  What routines are my colleagues using that are more effective?

Just like teachers should be looking at assessment data to make instructional decisions, schools can use behavior data to make policy decisions, classroom management decisions, as well as decisions for school and classroom routines.  Student referrals, notes home, name on the board or any number of things we do as teachers to curb bad behaviors should become something much more useful than just a communication tool or deterrent for bad behavior.  These things should be logged as data to inform our processes.   And with today’s educational world being so fixated on test data, we need to find ways to use all of the stats available to our benefit.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil – Gaining Administrative Experience

ExperienceBy Ryan Krienke — It’s the question that all of us face whenever we are looking for a job outside of our current role.

How do I get experience without having experience?

Especially in school administrative positions, districts and school leaders seem very apprehensive about hiring someone to lead their schools unless you can show that you have successfully done it before.  At some point, someone had to give everyone a chance, right?  The key is to create your own opportunity.  If you are currently a teacher looking to break into school administration (i.e. the principalship), you cannot simply hope a pastor or superintendent will take a chance on you.  Rather, show them that you already have what they are looking for.

First, it is important that you differentiate between being a teacher who goes above and beyond in their duties from quality administrative experience.  Staying late to work on signs for a school fundraiser shows your commitment to your school, but it isn’t enough to show the person hiring their future principal that you are prepared to lead a school community.  Instead, find ways to lead school initiatives like organizing a system of peer observations among teachers where formal feedback is given between colleagues.  When you propose an idea such as this to your principal, also be sure to volunteer to execute the project and present it to your colleagues.  Principals in all school districts, in all settings are spread very thin.  Teacher leaders are integral in making a school successful.  As a strong teacher with an eye on a future administrative job, you should be thinking constantly about ways you can be a leader in your school and take some of responsibilities from your principal.

Second, step up to the plate and engage yourself in your school’s learning support teams, faith formation committees, etc.  Typically these groups meet before or after school for planning and this may lengthen your work day.  However, the work you accomplish with these groups will assist in building your resume of administrative experiences.

Third, be transparent with your principal and other school leaders. Tell them of your aspirations. They will help you.  Principals know they needed help along the way in order to gain experience and prepare for their first principalship.  Sharing your career goals with these folks is likely to get them thinking about ways you can gain administrative skills within your current school and who knows they may even do some networking for you!

Lastly, don’t leave your principal search to chance.  Only part of the job search is about the actual application. If you’re like me you can’t remember the last time you got a job without knowing someone or being privy to the unpublished details of the position.  Information is power, so conduct informational meetings to learn more about administrative roles in various settings and the skills you’ll need to succeed. It’s amazing what you can learn in 30 minutes over a cup of coffee.  Plus at the end of the interview if things went well you might be able to get one or two more contacts.  If you think about it, after a few successful informational interviews you might have people telling those doing the hiring about you. After all, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil!


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