Monday, April 12, 2010

Structure and Usefulness of Organization & Development Course

This blog post is in response to my graduate course assignment

An administrative/leadership team consists of leaders from a school with a variety of strengths and interests who come together to make a difference in the learning of all students. Typically, it is the principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, department chairs, library media specialist, teacher representative and community representative. The consistency of the team varies from county to county, district to district. The Organization and Administration course provides students with an opportunity to work in small teams simulating real-life.

Concepts of the Course
The balance between team discussion and individual assignments works well for me. The weekly discussion topics provide a scaffold for the successful implementation of the Administration Action Plan. Because the goal of a well-constructed Action Plan is shared collaboration and data-based recommendations, the individual assignment would be very difficult without the structure of the team activities. It is also nice to be able to design components of the plan within a team structure, even though ultimately, we are individually required to construct our own Administrative Action Plan. We are able to model a variety of roles represented on a leadership team, e.g., principal, assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, guidance counselor, etc. We are also able to implement the use of a variety of Web 2.0 tools so that we can gain consensus from the team, even in an asynchronous environment.

Preparation for Administrative Roles
One growth area for me is in learning to be succinct. Sometimes (a lot of times), less is more! Within the team, I am able to learn how to communicate without the aid of visual cues. While we try to use video or teleconferencing application like Skype or ooVoo, we are frequent users of email. One topic per email means that you will probably get an answer! Too much information is probably going to lost in a sea of other requirements. Just as in a busy school day, an administrator needs to quickly identify issues that are immediate, gather needed information and communicate with necessary staff in order to come to a decision.  I am learning to use visuals in order to express myself and to clarify information. A picture says a thousand words, as do graphs, bulleted information, and charts.

Areas of Growth
Probably the area where I need to the most growth is in the financial aspect itself. Our team has created a preliminary budget, but there is so much that we do not understand. Exactly how much does it cost to get a substitute teacher in the building? Exactly how to do you know what that textbook costs, that extra planning period for a teacher costs, etc. I learned a lot from my team during this exercise. We represent five different school systems, two virtual, and we are located in two countries (and two different states). If I had to prioritize what I learned from the budget exercise, it would be to ask questions! People were very forthcoming with information and there is a lot available in books.