Curriculum and instruction
I believe all students should have the opportunity to participate in a rigorous, relevant, and coherent standards-based curriculum that supports achievement and is influenced by expected school-wide learning outcomes. Every student should have equal access to the school’s entire program. Instruction needs to be engaging, blended with technology, comprehensive, collaborative, bridge across content areas, and build connections and relationships that support student learning and student pursuit of academic, personal, and school-to-career goals.
I believe this because I experienced a well-rounded education with the help of teachers who cared about me. As a child, I was not a great test taker and did not always perform well on multiple-choice based assessments. What motivated mean to learn were those personal connections and relationships. I knew that through hard work and perseverance I could obtain my goals. There is more to learning than textbooks have to offer and our experiences are enriched by the experiences of others and through multiple sources. Educational leaders need to be increasingly versatile and actively committed to adapting instructional strategies to meet student needs.
There are several relevant issues around curriculum and instruction. Recent rollout of Common Core standards, Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the continued need for school improvement, the use of data to personalize learning, along with recent LCFF funding allocations and LCAP requirements, all require educators to be competent in the use of technology and provide the tools and instruction necessary for students to be able to toggle between multiple devices and platforms.
I wish to discuss the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) because it ties all of these issues together.
Explanation: Currently, the integration of technology to assist school districts and school sites in fully meeting goals for student achievement and school-wide learning outcomes is limited or non-existent within the LCAP. Given the demands for today’s students to be able to compete in the global environment, technology must be integrated into curriculum and instruction as part of a blended learning model rather than isolated from the curriculum. The SBAC requires students to use technology, Common Core skills include a technology component, the SBAC is online, and requires skill in using technology tools. Finally, collaboration is enhanced and taken to the next level through the use of technology. What is needed is a broader interpretation of the role of technology to meet LCAP requirements and transparent communication of LCAP elements with all stakeholders.
As a veteran teacher and teacher leader, I see the need for an accessible and practical approach in education that bridges the demands of the global environment and is able to effectively align curriculum and instruction with Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the SBAC, integrate National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), and LCAP requirements.
Parent and community involvement
I believe Parents and caring adults within the school community play a pivotal role in creating a healthy school and in creating a climate that welcomes learning. Parents and community stakeholders help make the school the best it can be through their continued support and commitment to school programs and activities.
I believe this because I am committed to creating a personalized atmosphere of self-esteem, respect, enthusiasm, and cooperation, and to increasing school programs and activities. This involves parents and many stakeholders within the community. In terms of the classroom, it is important to build a classroom culture of mutual respect, where all individuals take responsibility for their learning, themselves, others, and the environment. This culture becomes a commitment that parents play a role in extending at home, beyond the classroom and school environment. Socialization plays an important role in shaping student agency, identity, and resilience. Part of this socialization takes place at home and outside of the school community, but much of it takes place at school. Thus, it is important that parents understand and feel welcome in being part of the school community and know that everyone is working together toward the same goal.
There are several issues/aspects involved in increasing parent and community involvement such as transportation, work, daycare, clear communication, need for recognition, meaningful engagement, understanding their role, outreach to parent groups that are traditionally not as involved, and awareness of volunteer opportunities.
I wish to discuss the need to increase involvement of parents of English Language Learners.
Explanation: Several years ago I had an opportunity to be the English Language Coordinator at my school site. During this time, parents of our English Language Learners were actively involved in the school. They attended monthly ELAC meetings, had picnics, evening events, and volunteered to attend meetings within the community as well. This changed a few years back as our site transitioned between several EL Coordinators, students graduated, and parent involvement declined to the point of being non-existent. With the growing diversity and increase in English Language Learners, and students who are refugees from other countries, I am passionate about reviving this involvement and commitment.
Discipline and School culture and climate
I believe in providing an inviting school learning environment, one that is safe and nurturing, where everyone is treated with respect and where no one is physically or emotionally harmed. Such an environment is embowering and builds the capacity to be a responsible global citizen.
I believe this because children are our future and they will be the ones making decisions that impact not just themselves, but a much wider community. By providing a safe and caring environment, and by building relationships and respect for diversity school-wide, there is a strong possibility that this culture will extend beyond the school environment to the global world.
There are several issues focused around discipline and school/climate such as bullying or cyber-bullying, harassment, intimidation, zero tolerance policies, advisory groups, attendance, truancies, tardiness, and school discipline policies and procedures.
I wish to discuss school discipline policies and procedures in more detail.
Explanation To provide an inviting school learning environment, where everyone is treated with respect and safe, it is important to have consistency and have a student/teacher/parent handbook that is up-to-date and reflects current laws, policies and procedures, uses language that is clear to all stakeholders, and eliminates minor infractions such as chewing gum and focuses instead on larger issues and on improving behavior. For example, procedures for conflict resolution and restorative practices, or incentives to improve school attendance.
I believe integration of technology can improve teaching and learning, and knowing how to effectively use technology is a survival skill for all students in the 21st century.
I believe this because of my experience both as a classroom teacher during the transition to the digital age, and as an instructional leader at the forefront of this technological revolution.
Despite issues involving the use of digital information and the use of technology in an educational environment such as security, privacy, responsible use, not functioning efficiently, technology has more benefits for students, educators, and all stakeholders concerned than it does drawbacks.
I wish to elaborate on the use of technology to improve curriculum and instruction.
Explanation As a veteran teacher with years of classroom and leadership experience, I have observed the transition from overhead projector and dry-erase boards to document camera and electronic projectors with the full use of i21 technologies in a wireless classroom and school environment. The use of technology has enabled teachers to partially or fully flip their classrooms, or blend the learning environment within the classroom. Students who are absent, “pulled out from class”, or who need additional assistance, can now access content at home, on their phones, easily connect with instructors and peers, can collaborate on projects with students not just in their own class but cross-departmentally, and can revisit lessons or get additional instruction. The challenge of the digital age is teaching responsible use in this environment where there is an abundance of information and distraction, and in providing the necessary training and professional development for educators to be successful so that once the tools are available everyone can achieve.
Recently, my role as the Digital Teacher Leader, has afforded me with opportunities for additional training in technology, and I am currently assisting other educators at my school site to integrate technology into their curriculum and instruction. This is done through sharing lessons, modeling, or providing onsite workshops. After conducting a school-wide survey to assess the technology needs at my site, I am looking into the use of Open Badges, a new online standard to provide recognition and additional motivation resource for onsite and online professional development for educators, and for student engagement in the classroom.
Waters, Tim. Ed.D. & Cameron, Greg, M.A. (2007). The Balanced Leadership Framework: Connecting vision with action. PDF.
In today’s educational environment, effective leaders have self-efficacy, are confident, understand themselves and others, what they wish to accomplish, and take the initiative to achieve a shared vision (one that represents the interests of all stakeholders). According to Green (2013) and the results of several studies, there are four dimensions that make-up the foundation of effective leadership. These include understanding self and others, understanding the complexity of organization, building bridges through relationships, and engaging in leadership best practices (p. 60). Effective school leadership occurs from these dimensions as well as leadership style.
Reflecting on the various leadership styles I have adopted over the years, the leadership behavior I exhibit depends on the situation. Overall, I use democratic practices, unless the boat is about to crash into the rocks and I need everyone to row. In terms of understanding myself, I know I value building connections and relationships. I also know that I am a very task-oriented individual, competitive, and diligent. I know that not everyone shares my same traits or strengths, but that everyone has attributes to tap into. Part of the challenge is being able to mobilize all of one’s resources. This involves understanding the culture and school climate (how everyone interacts), establishing a compelling purpose and direction and aligning the vision with areas that might be out of compliance. To do this requires building and repairing relationships and collaborating with all stakeholders. Finally, it is important to be knowledgeable and competent in best instructional practices and be able to implement the practices school-wide.
Of the various leadership theories discussed in Green (2013): servant, transformational, transactional, expectancy, distributive, synergistic, and exchange (pp. 72-73), I lean more toward using a transformational style or a distributive style. In terms of transformational style, I am good at mobilizing resources and motivating others. Some of this probably stems from my coaching experience in competitions such as Mock Trial and International Economic Summit and professional leadership experiences such as department team leader for History-Social Science. Although one of my years as department chair our department decided on two chairs to share the position, which appears to fit more with participation leadership theory where there was more of a sharing of power and authority (p. 114). In terms of a distributive leadership style, I have developed this area more in recent years partly because of growing school needs and my realization that more can be achieved through collaborative work and sharing responsibilities, than through individual effort alone.
My Essential Leadership Traits:
My Leadership Behavior:
Democratic overall, but it does depend on the situation.
My Leadership Styles:
Green, Reginald L. Practicing the Art of Leadership (2013). 4th Edition.
Given the changing demands of the global environment, the future of public education requires that educational leaders be increasingly versatile and actively committed to adapting instructional strategies, to maintaining academic rigor, and to effectively integrating technologies in schools. Teachers need to provide the tools and the instruction necessary for students to use and to toggle between multiple devices and platforms—for example, operating systems, presentational software, video, smart phones, online education, and electronic collaboration systems. All of this requires trust and building a community where everyone feels safe, welcomed, and valued.
As a veteran teacher and teacher leader, I see the need for an accessible and practical approach in education that bridges the demands of this global environment and is able to effectively align curriculum with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and integrate National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Although I already hold an advanced degree in Political Science, my objective in pursuing a second advanced degree in Educational Leadership Technology is to develop the leadership skills and acquire the technological knowledge that I need to become an educational leader capable of bridging the gap between traditional pedagogical demands and the new wave of educational technologies. To achieve this requires building connections and relationships with all stakeholders.
After earning a Masters from the University of California San Diego in the area of Comparative Politics, I went on to secure a teaching credential from the University of San Diego and have taught in all areas of Social Science, grades 7 through 12 at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SD SCPA) for the past seventeen years. I remain deeply committed to education, my content area, and to learning about new technologies and finding ways to use them productively in the classroom and school-wide. As the digital teacher leader and PowerSchool Lead Teacher at SCPA, I attend district workshops and participate in professional learning communities so that I can train staff to set up and use My Big Campus (MBC), NBC Learn, Illuminate, educational apps for the iPad, and troubleshoot the technical issues involved in the rollout of PowerSchool and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium Testing (SBAC. At the district level, I presented workshops on Moodle and on integrating technology in the classroom. I have attended several Computer Using Educator (CUE) conferences, and I presented on “Flipping World History” at the 2013 World History Association Conference. My more recent projects include creating a unit for the Intel Program Essentials on global conflicts, writing Common Core lessons that incorporate educational technologies, and developing strategies for integrating digital citizenship into my classroom instruction.
In addition to my experience with educational technologies, my years as a teacher have afforded me several leadership opportunities. I coordinated and led the History-Social Science department to develop SMART goals as part of a five-year plan to raise student achievement and improve learning outcomes, served on several steering committees such as the Department of Advanced Studies task force charged with the revision of AP District Policy, participated in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for History-Social Science, served on a textbook evaluation and adoption committee, participated in a course redesign pilot for AP World History, and provided leadership on Governance, School Site Council, WASC, and Instructional Leadership Council. I also served as a BTSA Support Provider for several years, and have mentored several student teacher interns. Most recently, my fellow SCPA department chairs and I are leading our teachers in the transition to meet the Common Core State Standards. Our goals include developing and implementing a Common Core Action Plan, designing cross-curricular units and lessons that integrate technology and differentiate instruction, coordinating interdepartmental collaboration, and developing Common Core compliant assessments.
Current projects include developing and implementing a computer lab at SCPA to serve students without Internet and computer access and serving as an online mentor teacher for the War Comes Home program through Cal Humanities and The California History-Social Science Project. War Comes Home is an initiative that aims to raise awareness of and promote greater understanding of our veterans and explore the impact of war on communities.
Connections and Relationships
I believe it is important to build connections and relationships. As a child, what motivated mean to learn were those personal connections and relationships with teachers. If I felt a teacher cared about me, I would work extra hard, as I didn't want to let them down. Given my home environment at the time, education in a lot of ways, saved me. I was an only child and, for the most part, the center of my parents' attention. This could be both good and bad. I had a few close friends. Neither of my parent's finished high school. Both had emigrated from Canada to the U.S. My dad worked in construction and my mom stayed at home and occasionally had a part-time job. She eventually went to night school to complete high school and took a few community college courses. Both wanted me to get a good education, but were not exactly sure what was involved and how the process worked. My mom would attend school functions and events. My dad seemed to never have time. Although I'm certain my parents loved me, they both drank and fought a lot. The arguments were so bad I'd often sneak out of my window and go to a friend's house to spend the night. As soon as I was old enough to work, I got a job while in high school through Long Beach Parks and Recreation. I discovered I loved working with children and eventually saved enough money to buy a used car. I took classes at the community college at night while in high school during the day, partly to get out of the house. During the summers, I worked at summer camps through Parks and Recreation and eventually became a lifeguard and swim instructor. While working at Jordan High School one summer, I noticed a group of students with various learning disabilities in the shallow end of the pool. I spoke with the head counselor who brought them there and told him I teach swimming. I currently had no students and saw this as an excellent opportunity. They looked at me like I was crazy. I also had no training in adaptive aquatics or how to work with students with disabilities at the time. The counselors agreed I could work with the students and told me a bit about each one and the type of disability. I worked individually with a few of their students, about 30 minutes each Saturday. The other lifeguards often referred to my students as "my special group." One of the students' who was initially scared of the water, I eventually taught how to swim. I was quite proud of myself and many of the counselors were excited and surprised as well.
Trust is the Basis for Student Success and Progress
I believe that trust is the basis for student success and progress. Once you build a community where everyone feels safe, welcomed, and valued, you can make a difference. All children can learn and deserve the opportunity for a good education. The challenge and joy in teaching is to find what works for each child.
I continued working in adaptive aquatics and continued to teach swimming until I moved from Long Beach and went off to college. While at UCSD, I transitioned from teaching swimming to teaching scuba diving. While teaching scuba, I had the opportunity to take a group of hearing impaired students on a tour of the underwater canyon. I felt left out, everyone was talking (signing) underwater and I only knew a few underwater signals. Given my love of teaching, I eventually decided to get a credential. All of the jobs I loved involved teaching in one capacity or another.
I believe it is important to build connections and relationships. Children do not care how much you know. They care that you care about them as people, that their teachers know them. Once you build those connections and relationships, you can teach them anything. They will be motivated to learn, more engaged, and will even be willing to take risks in their learning. To achieve this involves building a community where everyone feels safe, welcome, and valued. It is important to focus on the children we have, not the children we used to have or would like to have. All children can learn and deserve the opportunity to for a good education. The challenge and joy in teaching is to find what works for each child.
Children in today’s world also face some unique challenges in terms of their learning. With the growing interconnectedness and abundance of information, as educators, we have an even great responsibility and an opportunity to teach our students how to be responsible digital citizens. This requires that we provide the necessary resources and supports for them to be successful in this global environment.
As a World History teacher, I use simulations to engage my students and help them to make connections and care about the world they live in. The picture below shows my students becoming more involved in Global Affairs by role-playing American Red Cross volunteers at the 17th Annual WorldLink Youth Town Conference. Many of my students have continued their involvement with WorldLink and have become active in Human Rights issue and monthly meetings WorldLink sponsors.