Length of Leadership
To collect my thoughts on this topic, I looked to the government leadership in Canada and the United States of America, which have differing regulations on the length of their leadership as Prime Minister, and President, respectively. It is my understanding that the Canadian prime minister does not have a “term life”, or a limit as to his/her length of leadership. The Prime Minister serves at the Queen’s pleasure, or “her Majesty’s pleasure”. It is my understanding that only one American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, has served more than two terms (four, the final term being brief due to his death), with each term normally comprised of four years. In 1947, the 22nd amendment was signed, limiting the maximum length of a president’s tenure to two terms (maximum of eight years). You can make your own argument whether this is related to the length of an administrator in the education system.
I believe there are cases where administrators can be effective in, only the short term, and other cases where administrators could be effective over a great length of time. There will always be outliers in both cases, dependant on the community, staff, students, and the leader’s experience in administration. Upon reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “David and Goliath”, I reference my reflection to the inverted “U” he writes about. Gladwell relates class sizes to academic achievement, and finds that classes between 18 and 24 students experience the greatest academic achievement. Classes below 18 students do not learn as much from their peers, and some students feel vulnerable. In classes above 24 students, the class turned into an audience as opposed to a team.
I believe the tenure of an administrator would be similar to this inverted U, of which I will not put any exact numbers in. The first year, or the first few years an administrator is learning, observing, gaining valuable experience in their job, and this would be the left side of the inverted U. After those initial years, they are moving toward the climax of their potential, and the point they get to their prime is the top of the inverted U. The prime of their career does not have to be short (one year), but may last many years. However, eventually, I believe their effect will gradually become stagnant, and their leadership will decline, and this is the right side of the inverted U. The totality of this curve may happen over the course of four years, eight years, or any length of time. The President of the United States has a maximum of eight years (Obama is currently in his second term, while the Prime Minister of Canada does not have a maximum (Stephen Harper has held office since 2006).
I am sure each of you have an example that would contradict what I have written, through your experience as a student, teacher, or administrator. As an avid hockey fan, the motto is that “coaches are hired to be fired”, and rarely do you see a National Hockey League coach last longer than eight years (Lindy Ruff would be an outlier). However, in education, I consider longevity in administration to be a huge compliment to that school, that community, and everyone involved in that leadership team. Therefore, I do not believe there should be a set number years for an administrator to hold their position.
Student Reflection on my Teaching
I handed out my first “student reflection” papers on my teaching today. It is something that I have considered in my first two years of teaching, yet never followed through on. I decided it would be helpful to receive feedback from my students on what I can improve on, and what they really appreciate about me. I believe it shows confidence and a willingness to improve when you open yourself up to constructive criticism, especially from fifteen and sixteen year old students. This reflection is not for the faint of heart, as I soon found out, however, I really appreciated the honesty of the students, and the noticeable patterns in the answers gave me an accurate reflection of their thoughts. I stressed that students should not write their names on the reflections, and to stay away from any general statements about whether they like me or not. I stressed the sole purpose of this reflection is for me to improve as an educator, and the more honest they were, the more helpful they were being.
One student brought up an interesting point, asking why I wasn’t doing this in October or November, so I could improve within the school year. I explained that I was using this reflection to improve on my teaching for next year, but it could be a great exercise to use early in a school year to make changes immediately based on the first quarter of a school year.
I used the following questions for my reflection, and will continue to tweak these questions for the future, but will be continuing this practice, within the school year and at the end, always with the goal of improving as a teacher.
What am I really good at?
What could I do a better job of?
What was the best part about coming to Algebra 2?
What was the worst part about coming to Algebra 2?
2 Things you absolutely have to remember for Mr. David’s class are:
In order to survive Mr. David’s class you need to:
Mr. David really doesn’t like it when:
My final advice is:
I used to follow about 50 people on twitter, and had about 5 followers. I never tweeted, but reading twitter in the morning was like reading the sports newspaper. I followed mainly hockey writers, a few N.H.L. players, and a few other random people. By following sports writers/announcers, I found out anything major that happened in the NHL the night before, and I knew which highlights I HAD to watch. It was great for trade rumours, especially leading up the trade deadline, roster adjustments for the Edmonton Oilers (my favourite team), and funny tweets from some of the players.
I had a separate account, as a teacher, for my students in Kuwait at the American Creativity Academy. I tweeted their homework (not very often), posted a few pictures, and randomly mentioned them once in a blue moon, or asked questions if I needed something from the mall. I had about 70 followers, and followed those same 70 students. I logged into it about once a week, and it basically did not exist.
After being introduced to “The Principal of Change”, http://georgecouros.ca/blog/, the blog of the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, George Couros, I started following him on twitter, @gcouros, and I strongly recommend you do the same. Around this time I merged my two twitter accounts into one, and started following as many principals/teachers/technology experts as possible. My twitter feed was a lot busier, as I am now following 774 people, and I have begun to categorize them into lists (educators, hockey, sports, students, etc) so that I can continue to read my favourite tweets, while paying less attention to others.
I now have 317 followers, and although I am slowly starting to tweet more, I am amazed by the professional development I have received on twitter, reading educators tweets, links, links to blogs, etc. It is amazing the amount of knowledge I have learned through twitter, and I hope to begin to give back to the twitter/education community in the near future, instead of just re-tweeting information I am impressed with.
I have used the “hashtag” in the classroom to have students collaborate their thoughts on a certain lesson, or to build up the community at ACA, and I hope to use this twitter feature more in the near future. I am hoping to blog more as well, and have to realize (like most people), that I don’t have to be perfect to blog, this blog doesn’t have to be the most exciting thing to read in the world, but just to put myself out there and write.
I cannot stop reading professional blogs such as those by George Couros and Shelley Wright! The course I am taking for my Master’s of Education, Intro to Ed Admin, led me to George’s connected principals site, and I have been following all of his blogs since, and also any blogs re recommends. That led me to Shelly Wright, and I am very excited as to what she is writing about in regards to her classroom and education in general. I have bulked up my twitter account, am following as many teachers, principals, learners as I can, trying to list the best ones as favorites, while still tweeting for my students and following certain sports writers, bands, and athletes to fulfill personal interests.
Please be patient with me as I learn how to complete the computer aspects of this blog, but I hope to be beginning the creation of something special, and hope to collaborate with other educators around the world to accomplish what should be all of our goals, teaching what is best for our students.
I am teaching algebra 2 and business mathematics, and would to receive communication from any educators around the world who are teaching similar subjects, or are interested in helping me along this road of blogging. thanks
my twitter handle is @mrdavidaca. give me a follow, I’ll return the favor!