Learning Leaders: Find Your Joy in Leisure Reading

By Jamon H. Flowers, M.Ed., SURN

The famous Charles Dickens quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” refers to both the French Revolution and my first year as a Ph.D. student at William and Mary. This year provided me with meaningful personal and professional growth that I never anticipated.  The first anxiety-filled day of each class was saturated with requirements, explanations of assignments, and seemingly impossible reading lists. I felt like I had been thrown into an extremely difficult culture that provided no time to become acclimated. Despite the initial impossibility of each class assignment list, each semester becomes easier to manage. In a word, Ph.D. means “sacrifice.” It demands late nights and less and less time with friends and family to survive. My initial frustration and self-doubt morphed into self-growth, and all the sacrifice was worth it at the end.

Summer is finally here, and I am no longer committed to a schedule that consumes my time with academia. What will I do with my free time? I will read; I will read for pleasure. This epiphany came to me when I realized I had read the entire May 2018 edition of Educational Leadership in one sitting. I was not compelled by guidelines of an assignment, therefore, I lost track of time while reading each article. Sure, I annotated sections that were thought-provoking, but it was what I chose to do. I became reacquainted with a familiar stranger. For the past nine months, required reading coupled with completing written and oral-speaking assignments temporarily halted my reading for pleasure. Now, I have the opportunity to resume this passion, and I am excited.

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As administrators pleasure reading is often not a routine. We become bombarded with pouring ourselves into our students, staff, and community, and we tend to neglect feeding our appetite for personal and professional growth. Our blazing fire of motivation extinguishes as the school year progresses. However, a great way to rekindle our drive is to read. Reading helps to replenish and to stimulate, setting the stage for novelty and ingenuity. For example, as I read the latest edition of Educational Leadership titled, Bolstering the Teacher Pipeline, Herrmann’s article, Rethinking Teacher Recruitment, triggered in me a “wonder,” a “want,” and a “will.”

  • I wondered how might innovative practices, such as “schools offering internships through which younger college students could shadow teachers, work closely with K-12 students, and support enrichment activities” (p. 21), be implemented in more school divisions, with the hopes of attracting a wider range of candidates.
  • I wanted to learn more about hiring and retaining millennial teachers. Abrams’ article, What Matters to Millennial Teachers: A guide to inspiring, supporting, and retaining the newest generation of educators, provided 6 principles that all administrators would find helpful as they enter the recruiting season.
  • I will share the article, To Diversify the Teacher Workforce, Start Early, with peers in human resources and high school principals. This piece presented by Goings, Brandehoff, and Bianco discusses the power in grow-your-own model and 6 guiding principles to recruiting underrepresented community members into education.

Needless to say, reading something I chose to read for less than an hour resulted in an abundance of learning and pragmatic approaches to improvement. (By the way, I strongly recommend reading this month’s edition!)

The end is near for another school year. I am sure you are exhausted and in need of a well-deserved vacation. As part of self-care, I encourage you to read. Reading literature that piques your interest. If you are like me, you start books but never finish them due a long list of demands. However, this summer I have committed 30 minutes a day to reading. For some of us this time will be the only professional development we receive, so let’s do it! Practice what we encourage our students and staff to do. Reading is a magical portal.

May books always be with you.

On my shelf this summer:

  1. The Principal 50: Critical Leadership for Inspiring Schoolwide Excellence

Author: Barati Kafele

  1. Closing the Attitude Gap

Author Barati Kafele

Jennifer Abrams Helps Us Use Our Best Voice

By SURN Staff

SURN leaders often share the need to continue developing human resources skills and competencies as they strive to cultivate collaborative cultures. This means communicating well, crossing generational divides, and leveraging conflict. We are pleased that Jennifer Abrams, international communications and educational consultant, will join us at the 22nd annual Leadership Conference this year.

Jennifer Abrams is a communications and education consultant and author.

Jennifer Abrams is a communications and education consultant and author.

Jennifer brings a dynamic keynote based on her popular workshop, Swimming in the Deep End – What Does It Take, to open the day Tuesday, June 19. “No matter what role we play in a school or district, we all want to make a difference. However, things move fast in education these days, and often in our communications we are left confused, overwhelmed and not as successful as we could be. We need to build up a skill set of effective decision making capabilities, ‘resistance management’ communication strategies and for the sake of our health, our ‘stress tolerance (Abrams, 2018).’” Additionally, Jennifer will lead a concurrent session later that morning.

Jennifer’s books are best-sellers. In Having Hard Conversations, Jennifer leads us through replicable processes as we navigate work-related difficult situations as leaders. The sequel, Hard Conversations Unpacked: The Whos, the Whens, and the What-Ifs, takes readers on a deeper dive into the nuanced world of communication. The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate, and Create Community provides readers with tools for navigating beyond their personal “generational filters” as they lead.

We hope you’ll join us as we learn from Jennifer Abrams and our other esteemed presenters at this year’s conference. You will leave with tools, resources, and experiences designed to enhance your leadership performance.

A little more about Jennifer: Jennifer considers herself a “voice coach,” helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague, supervising an employee and in her new role as an advisor for Reach Capital, an early stage educational technology fund. Jennifer holds a Master’s degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California (www.jenniferabrams.com/about/).

 

What are you letting go of in 2018?

Guest post by Jane Core Yatzek

As we welcomed in a New Year, many of us participated in the age-old tradition of creating New Year’s Resolutions.  I have set goals over the years for more sleep, more exercise, more time with those I love, more professional reading, more of any number of things.  But as we find ourselves in March – almost 12 weeks into the year – I am looking at resolutions that are sagging in progress or worse have been forgotten.  I find myself wondering what about less?

With the same 24 hours a day in 2018 that you had in 2017, you are not going to have more time for anything unless you have less of something else.  Administrators in education today have such complex jobs – they are data analysts, organizational managers, team motivators, vision setters, all while acting as in loco parentis for hundreds of students daily.  How can you possibly let go of something?

Research has found that letting go of something or declining a request maybe the best way to get ahead as it relieves anxiety and helps us set (or reset) priorities.  Recent studies on scarcity reveal that when time gets limited we feel more pressure to take on more commitments, when realistically we should be minimizing commitments to balance our schedules.  So, if you are ready to get some of your time back, what will you try to do less of?  Here are some ideas to get you started:

*Let go of working through lunch – get up and eat lunch in a new spot without answering email, checking voice-mail, proofreading the newsletter.  You can also multi-task this “let-go” by reconnecting with a known colleague or meeting a new colleague as your lunch buddy!

*Let go of a project that you can delegate – Hate how the front bulletin board always need attention? Picture schedule needs to be redone?  After school tutoring data needs collecting? Give the basic parameters to budding teacher leaders and let their creativity fly and skills grow!

*Say “no, thank you” when someone asks you to be a part of something – and be fine with watching from afar or not watching at all.

*Need a baby step?  Try letting go of something for a week. Reflect on Friday if it can be a more permanent “less”; either way you had less of something and more time for something else for five days!

Less may very well be more, let’s spend the next part of 2018 finding out!

Jane Core Yatzeck is a doctoral student in Curriculum Leadership at William & Mary School of Education.  She has 20 years of experience in education; first as a special education and general education elementary school teacher, and then as a school administrator at the middle and elementary levels.  She can be reached at jacor2@email.wm.edu or on Twitter @jcoreyatzeck.

Resources:

https://hbr.org/2010/01/say-yes-to-saying-no

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_research_based_ways_to_say_no

Like this post? You might find Lisa’ Nelson’s Stop, Continue, Start visual template useful in planning. http://seeincolors.com/stop-continue-start-template-a-visual-tool-for-productivity/

The 5 Cs across the Disciplines

By Sarah P. Hylton, SURN

The Profile of a Virginia Graduate is a framework aimed at preparing our students to be life ready citizens. Positioned as part of the VDOE’s Standards of Accreditation, the Profile is the response to an essential question: “What knowledge, skills, and dispositions should a Virginia high school graduate possess?”

Focused on the four pillars of Content Knowledge, Workplace Skills, Community Engagement/Civic Responsibility, and Career Exploration, the Profile insists that creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship – which we commonly refer to as the 5Cs – be incorporated into learning experiences in every classroom, pre-K through 12.

The 5Cs are not the purview of secondary teachers only (a common misconception given the reference to graduation in the name), nor are they intended to reside primarily in one discipline or another. Rather, this focus on the 5 Cs obliges all teachers to develop a common understanding of these skills and attributes and to understand how the 5 Cs exist across the standards and goals of the various academic disciplines.

Creating opportunities to build teachers’ capacity to incorporate these skills is the work of all school leaders. As each division considers how it will begin to implement the Profile, consider having teachers review the strands and/or goals of the various disciplines to determine where the 5Cs are mentioned in the standards of their own discipline as well as in others. Such a task should provide a good starting point for teachers to develop operational definitions of this language and will give them insight into how they are working in tandem with their colleagues to ensure that all students are developing these critical skills. Because reading, discussing, and writing with purpose in every discipline is fundamental to developing the 5Cs, further faculty conversations might center on how to offer instruction rich in these opportunities.

5cs

EPPL Goes to Washington

By Sarah P. Hylton, SURN

EPPL students take part in a policy field trip to Washington, D.C.

EPPL students take part in a policy field trip to Washington, D.C.

At SURN’s Board Meeting on Wednesday, Dr. Mike DiPaola promoted William and Mary’s EPPL cohort and its goal to develop capable school leaders. The EPPL acronym stands for educational policy, planning, and leadership, and students in the program take courses in each of these areas, ultimately synthesizing those classroom experiences during comprehensive examinations. The natural extension, of course, is how these areas will interact in their professional lives as school leaders. Students in the program are reminded often of the necessity of leaders being conscious of the policy process in order to be able to engage positively and intentionally in that process.

Students currently doing policy coursework, including SURN Graduate Assistants Jamon Flowers and Sarah Hylton, took part in a policy field trip to Washington, D.C. on October 27, 2017. The trip, organized by Dr. Pamela Eddy, provided us with the opportunity to meet with K12 and higher education interest groups and with congressional education legislative aids and staff. We were reminded of how critical it is for school leaders to envision themselves as policy actors and to foster relationships with a broad swath of individuals and organizations. Those we spoke to urged us as school leaders to know our own narrative and to use it to shape our policy goals and aspirations. Faithful commitment to the organization’s best interests framed consistently and positively serves schools leaders well as they navigate policy issues at the local, state, and even federal levels.

Leadership and Learning @WMSURN Leadership Academy 2015

United Kingdom Trip Highlights

Jan Rozzelle (SURN Executive Director) and Jenny Hindman (SURN Assistant Director) has an amazing trip through the United Kingdom to visit potential schools for the 2016 SURN Study Tour. They built relationships with school leaders and learned about how these schools are using research and practices.

Check out some photo highlights from the trip!

On February 23, 2015 College of William and Mary faculty met Head Teacher of Steiner School, Dr. Mark Burgess. Picture is Dr. Mark Burgess, Dr. Jenny Hindman, and Dr. Jan Rozzelle.

On February 23, 2015 College of William and Mary faculty met a teacher and class guardian of Steiner School, Dr. Mark Burgess. Pictured is Dr. Mark Burgess, Dr. Jenny Hindman, and Dr. Jan Rozzelle.

On February 24, 2015 College of William and Mary faculty visited Holy Trinity First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. Pictured are Dawn Groves (Head Teacher), Dr. Jan Rozzelle (SURN Executive Director), and Dr. Jenny Hindman (SURN Assistant Director).

On February 24, 2015 they visited Holy Trinity First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. Pictured are Dawn Groves (Head Teacher), Dr. Jan Rozzelle, and Dr. Jenny Hindman.

On the same day, they visited Tweedmouth West First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. Pictured is Anne Rutherford, Head Teacher.

On the same day, they visited Tweedmouth West First School in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. Pictured is Anne Rutherford, Head Teacher.

On February 25, 2015, Jan and Jenny visited Brudenell Primary School in Leeds England. Pictured are: Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Jill Harland, co-Head Teacher, and Dr. Jenny Hindman. Not pictured is Jo Davies, co-Head Teacher was teaching teaching at the team.

On February 25, 2015, Jan and Jenny visited Brudenell Primary School in Leeds England. Pictured are: Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Jill Harland, co-Head Teacher, and Dr. Jenny Hindman. Not pictured is Jo Davies, co-Head Teacher who was teaching at the time.

On February 26, 2015 Jan and Jenny visited Gallions Primary School. Pictured is Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Harriet Goodman, Chair of Governors, Shazia Hussain, Head Teacher, Dr. Jenny Hindman, and Lisa Naylor, Lead Practitioner.

On February 26, 2015 Jan and Jenny visited Gallions Primary School. Pictured is Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Harriet Goodman, Chair of Governors, Shazia Hussain, Head Teacher, Dr. Jenny Hindman, and Lisa Naylor, Lead Practitioner.

 

Another Visit to a P4C School

Another stop in the UK for Jan and Jenny involved traveling to London’s East End to visit a school that is using P4C. In this session, a video was used as a stimulus to get students to generate questions for discussion. One student recorded the following question for her group- see images.

The school has approximately 600 students ages 3-11. The outdoor space is designed to be used in all kinds of weather including rain- see image of all the boots. It was raining the day Jenny and Jan visited the school and some younger children were experiencing cause and effect by jumping in puddles in school- provided rain gear. Like other schools we have visited to discern possibilities for the 2016 SURN study tour, music is an integral part of the school with students starting at age 3 with rhythm lessons and acquiring skills and a keen ear so that when they get a school-provided stringed instrument at age 7 they are well prepared.

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SURN Around the World

Jan Rozzelle and Jenny Hindman, SURN Director and Assistant Director, have been spending this week in Edinburgh. They had an amazing conversation with The Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School  teacher and class guardian, Dr. Mark Burgess, who described the values and hallmarks of a Steiner Education. Dr. Burgess trained for two additional years to become a Steiner teacher. The focus of learning is on the student. The format for learning includes verse, song, recall of the previous day’s learning, time for the new material, a portion of the day is called the will where students continue to develop and show their learning. Jan and Jenny experienced through Dr. Burgess’ words the Steiner vision.

Jan

Jan in Edinburgh with a Scotsman playing bagpipes

Jenny

Jenny petting Greyfriars Bobby, a faithful dog whose legend is a popular children’s book

CREATE Conference

On October 2-4, 2014, SURN partnered with the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness (CREATE) at the School of Education for CREATE’s 23rd annual conference.  The conference topic for this year was Assessing Student Learning: The Impact on State, National, and International Accountability.

Over 200 researchers and practitioners came together to focus on assessment and teaching.  Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Director of SURN, presented with Amy Stamm of Middlesex County Schools and Tony Vladu of Newport News Public Schools on Visible Leadership and Action Research: Formative Feedback to Teachers Enhances Student Engagement and Learning.  Dr. Jennifer Hindman, SURN Assistant Director, presented with Amy Williams, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral student in Counselor Education.  Their session was titled, Empowering Elementary Educators in Nonfiction Literacy: Professional Development Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation.  Julie K. Marsh, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral student in Curriculum and Educational Technology, presented on Design Thinking and Participatory Culture.  Kerrigan Mahoney, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Educational Technology, presented on Transfer of Learning: Professional Development to Classroom Practice for Secondary ELA Teachers.

The CREATE conference was a wonderful opportunity to engage with researchers and practitioners of all levels in both K12 and higher education, especially current doctoral students.  While it was a larger conference, it still had an intimate feel that allowed more discussion during and between sessions that fostered scholarly engagement and feedback on research.

 

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