EDLD 5333 Leadership for Accountability


Leadership for Accountability, EDLD 5333, delivered a clear process for identifying and addressing problems in schools– the Action Research process. Often the challenges faced by schools can be daunting. Having a process to clarify a vision is empowering. This process requires a leader to have a solid commitment as indicated in the following quote. "A vision is what you expect to occur once you have articulated your goals to your team. Components of a shared vision are: clear, motivating, attainable, and positive results. A team leader has to have the support of the team for the vision to come into fruition. Even if there are some who cannot see or believe the vision, a good team leader can have them support the vision by having a positive outlook. The team leader cannot allow others to doubt the vision, nor can the leader give up on the vision. There are times when the visionary may want to throw in the towel; in that situation, look at small victories (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 2004)." Having this sort of focus is essential but will not render the desired results unless a clear concise problem solving method is implemented as is the case with Action Research.

No Child Left Behind has provided the expectation but as witnessed in the following statement, NCLB gives each individual state the responsibility of identifying the targets for success. “Each state begins by setting academic standards–a process of deciding what all students should know and be able to do” (The Education Trust, 2003). Texas has provided the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, TEKS and the Long Range Plan for Technology LRPT as targets for success.

With these very specific goals in mind and the clear expectation for success for all students, it is essential that data driven decision making and research based methods be used. The Action Research process is cyclical having the following steps: identify the problem, gather data, interpret data, act on evidence, and evaluate results (Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory, 2000). Also key to my thinking is the realization through this course that not all solutions designed for a specific problem apply in all situations where that problem occurs. One schools solution maybe another school’s demise. Due to the intricate set of variables in any given situation, it is important that a plan to remediate a problem be design specifically for the environment that the problem functions within. Action Research addresses this by emphasizing that solutions must be developed by those working in the school.

Besides the above mentioned expectations for success and the Action Research process, when developing an action plan for the requirements of this course, three things determined my focus: my decision to become a leader in the use of educational technology, my district’s technology initiatives, and the AEIS data for my school, Horace Mann Junior School.

Goose Creek CISD technology plan had led to a pilot project at my school. We implemented the use Classmates, a mini-laptop computer for each student in the school. The goal was to provide the ability for one-to-one computing during the school day and at their homes. The first year, in my estimation, was a dismal disaster. Several issues including limited connectivity made the devices difficult to use. Teachers experiencing these problems were reluctant to continue using them.

Horace Mann Junior School’s site-based decision-making team, the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), identified the problem. I was a part of that team and we discussed solutions to the problem. This became the focus of my Action Research project. With authorization of the ILT, I formed a Professional Learning Community with the use of the Classmates our number one issue. We believed that increasing the usage of the devices was important and knew that we needed to support the teachers to solve issue related to the use of the Classmates to accomplish this. Measuring an increase in usage would indicate our success. Consequently, I designed a Google survey administered to all teachers to gauge our usage. This information was used as a baseline for comparison. This survey clearly indicated a major hurdle in using the Classmates in class. Students were not bringing the Classmates to their classes. The survey indicated that about 50% of the Classmates were not brought to school each day. The PLC suggested that the ILT decide to issue the Classmates to teachers as class sets to ensure that the devices where available for use during instructional time. The ILT adopted this policy and as witnessed by a subsequent Google survey, availability increased significantly. The PLC used the Action research process to identify a significant problem through research and then design action that would address the problem.

The PLC continued the process. Based on the information from the baseline, it was understood there remained significant connectivity issues and that the instructional methods using the Classmates were mostly “traditional” essentially to complete worksheet assignments digitally and for research. We discussed the need to implement more Problem Based Learning, PBL, and to provide teachers with a way to report connectivity issue so that the IT department could seek to find solutions. Consequently, I created a wiki for the PLC and teachers to use for these purposes. Pages were dedicated for sharing examples of successful instruction and ideas. Participation in the Classmate wiki has been limited primarily due to the frustration teachers experience with connectivity. The classmates are often not used because teachers have experienced major difficulties with students logging on to the network. Approximately 33% of any given class cannot log on successfully. The district’s IT department has been working to resolve the issues related to this problem. They have determined that the architecture of the Classmates conflicts with the district’s network security programs.

Overall, I see my Action Research project as a success, but the work is incomplete and dependent on finding technical solution that are beyond the PLCs abilities. This process will be invaluable to me as I continue as a leader in the use of educational technology.

References:

Education Trust, The. 2003. The ABCs of “AYP”: Raising Achievement for All Students. Retrieved January 22, 2012 from http://www.seacinfo.org/no_child_left_behind.pdf

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. 2004. Develop a Clear, Educationally Focused Vision. Retrieved January 22, 2012 fromhttp://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le1clear.htm

Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory. 2000. Themes In Education: Action Research. Retrieved January 22, 2012 from http://www.lab.brown.edu/pubs/themes_ed/act_research.pdf