This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
In discussing Margaret, I would say her leader ship abilities evolved from having an event (field trip) that in its current form was a benefit to no one. Students weren't getting much from it and she had been down that road for so many years she saw an opportunity for a change. She displayed a "take charge" attitude for change, bringing about change by doing and by doing so has given herself a new position.
Elena played the role of a manager, gathering support of team members, teachers who could share the same vision and stay involved with the project from inception until fruition. By the team working together and with Elena in the lead position, meetings were held for staff and parents with positive presentations from months of data collection. She demonstrated how to use the appropriate chain of command her group -principal-parents to win support of her looping concept.
The role of teacher observation was critical in bringing about change, especially in Tom's case. He felt he was demonstrating appropriate and fair conditions in his teaching methods in his classroom. When he was critiqued and results were not what he thought they were, he had to show the group that he could not only talk the talk but walk the walk. He was willing to change his methods providing the opportunity for other teachers in the group to do the same. Evaluations can have positive or negative effects but Tom made the most of the constructive criticism. I don't know how well I would have handled that.
By exposing and sharing the critiques and actually following through on their mission to change the percentages boys versus girls and whites versus minority groups, they exposed themselves or more importantly, offered their skills for display to show flaws that each and every one of them were guilt of. Tom's leadership skill showcased how he was willing to be the 1st to be exposed and through his desire for change was willing to be on display for all to see. I think by him doing this, he showed members of the group how serious and dedicated he was to be an agent of change.
The litmus test of effective leadership is whether improved learning survives the departure of the leader, whether it has become institutionalized. It is both individual commitment as well as a collective mobilization as it all starts with an individual commitment. I think the true effectiveness of a leader is to have others follow through thick and thin. The power to motivate others to follow your ideas is golden.
Teacher leadership differs from principal or administrator leadership based upon results and motivation. Principal or administrator leadership reflects their school as well as their community with their goals usually being a slogan or catch phrase for improvement that starts with a pep talk to the entire staff of involvement and expectations. The "This year will be better and different than the previous years because ______" promise. Teacher leadership can become school wide but usually starts with a just a few individuals who would like to see change that really hasn't been a focus or that isn't quite the priority at this time. I see it more as a grass roots beginning that only recruits individuals who are on the same page but that page is started by someone who has the idea and needs others help to see it through.
I see teacher leadership as being more independent of the school administration, no parent's groups or community groups to answer to, just someone trying to make a difference or change in something they believe strongly about. I would not say carrying on without permission but more of a hidden agenda. Maybe not hidden but nothing made public outside of the school, maybe not even outside of the teacher's lounge.
I knew a teacher named Barb a few years ago and she always had a few irons in various fires. I have to say that she had a lot of energy. She had a role in the teachers' union; she was always involved with the prom and was very influential when it came to graduation. We worked in a special needs school so graduation and the prom were not of the traditional kind. She found ways to track down dresses and suits for students that otherwise might not have the opportunity to have a dressy event in their school life. I know I tied more than a few ties for the boys because my treatment room was right across the hall and it was something that made everyone feel good about the themselves, the students, and the school. She also was a little crazy and I think that being a little left of center gave her an edge when dealing with others in the school and getting some of the things that she needed. I know one year I donated a suit to a boy named Kenny that very well could still be hanging from a hanger in my closet. In her personality, she just kind of went for it and gave off the feeling that she didn't care what you thought of her as long as she got what she wanted. In the end she usually got what she wanted.
Data is only as good as what you can do with it once collected. If all I want to do is plot a graph and show a trend or whatever, then 2 data points are all that is needed. But most questions are seeking more information and that is when statistics and a carefully considered research question play a big role. If I were trying to address something like home work assignments completed versus those assigned, then that would be a percentage that would pretty much speak for the question. But if I were gathering a list of excuses as to why the homework wasn't done, I could compile this as a pie chart and demonstrate the most frequent excuses as a larger piece of the pie and possibly be the color red. I could use a motivator to complete homework and have the student or students who consistently turn in the assignment on time some type of a reward, a judge the strength of the reward/motivator on the larger percentage and change this monthly to see at the end of semester or school year what was the most successful reward/motivator combination. If the effect can show the cause, then I believe the research question would be sound and the information would be reliable. First off, if the teacher cannot mobilize others to their cause, the cause may not truly be something that will gain support of anyone. Without others, the "teacher leader" doesn't truly exist because he/she needs others to be engaged in the cause. This teacher needs to be somewhat charismatic and to have a reputation of following through on their initiatives will help with credibility and having others want to give of their time and energy to the project willingly. Involving others help provide feedback and others' suggestions and criticisms can help refine the original idea of change that may have not been as clear at the beginning. An agent for change for the sake of change will always be met with resistance. The old adage, "If it ain't broke don't fix it" more than not arises when policy and procedure changes are suggested. As a therapist, my suggestions are always asked but not always welcomed. In one classroom I was asked to evaluate the printing skills of a class. I noticed some of the smaller children were sitting at desks where their feet were dangling and not touching the floor. When I mentioned this, it was noted but ignored because it was not something that the teacher wanted to hear. She wanted more item suggestions such as pencil grips and slant boards. She rattled off several excuses (not very good ones) as to why the desk heights or different chairs couldn't be used but all were just excuses and I had not told her what she wanted to hear so there was no follow through on my suggestions.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are always learning. We may not always be aware of it but we are. I know that I have met some teachers that having a year or two under their belt think they now know everything. What a dangerous place to be. I think the hardest thing for me is finding an organizational method that works and works more than short term. Whether it is filing physical papers or storing electronic files, I seem to start strong and then lose my routine and become cluttered again. I can start with a great system but then over time piles begin and then I have to do a mass filing which works most of the time but is not all that efficient. If I am doing well with a certain way, some new demand comes along and I become disorganized all over again. I recognize this in me a try to avoid the situation but easier said than done. And I guess I either become bored with the tediousness of it all or just become bored.
Taking information from recently attended in-services always brings new ideas and strategies directly following the presentation but as the in-services becomes further and further in the past, the fire that was ignited slowly burns out and if something wasn't tried immediately or did not have the expected success, then the new ideas and strategies are forgotten. The daily routine slowly dilutes what was in my mind as being energized and those plans quickly disappear. I know that I have to document a plan in the first 48 hours of an in-service for the plan to have a chance. For me, only then am I still clear on the goals and objectives. The longer I wait, the overall target becomes blurred or fuzzy and when this happens, the direction suffers.
I know of an administrator who stated how they were going to monitor a plan and actually stuck to their timeline. I have had others who continually cancel meetings on a plan and after a while the entire thing fizzles out because that lack of participation speaks volumes and after a period of time, no one wants to put forth any effort or additional time that is seen as a non-priority. I think communication whether through face to face discussions or email helps keep a project moving as smoothly as possible on the rails and helps keep morale up and involved. Also volunteering someone else for a role that they hadn't volunteered for themselves doesn't usually get the best a person has to offer because they resent having to be a part of it in the first place.
The other thing that kills morale is bashing the school district. I have seen this done too many times, placing blame for something that didn't go favorably such as equipment not being approved to not getting a grant. I have seen things like that mentioned in staff meetings and when I would hear that, the message came across as a losing battle and why would anyone want to be a part of that?
I think on the surface and through the mission statement the school gives the impression of respect for students. I think the school would like to see the number of dropouts decrease and have more graduates than what they have been seeing. I think the use of promotional posters and such is sending a message for the student to stay in school and learn tools necessary to go further in life. So I would answer yes to the school being respectful of students. I think the usual teasing goes on like in every school but overall I would say the students treat each other with a form of respect even though there appears to be more loners than I remember when I was in school. In the lunchroom, it can be a mixed bag depending on the day and the moment. I think the noise level is always an issue and the teachers are always trying to control that on a daily basis. Some teachers will joke with students while others are bent on being the disciplinarians.
I think with more of technology available to teachers and in turn students, the support is there to challenge the student and give more opportunities for grasping a lesson plan or concept. On the other hand, many of the students come from a background where one or both parents do not speak English and Spanish or another language is spoken at home. Because of this, communication between the school and the parents is compromised and this has an overall effect on the student in regards to say homework, or possibly the importance of education. Many times an interpreter is required in a meeting and I know that voice inflections get lost in translation. I do believe that hard work does equal success. My own vision is that thanks to technology and downloadable material such as well as CD-ROMs make the explanation of concepts more universal and if a student struggles with something the first time, they have an option to hit "play" again, something I did not access to a real person. And forget it if I was paying attention.
Teacher leadership is encouraged and supported by the administration in ways of having teachers attend continuing education courses. The in-service days are only as good as the presenter and the topic though. I have been to in-service day trainings that have felt like a waste of a day while others have sparked curiosity in a new method to try the next time with students. I think if there is a good topic or idea, someone who is a teacher leader could take that and run with it. But again, there are things that have to be allowed to happen and professional development is now just accepted. It's not like the administration is doing something radical by bringing in a speaker on a day of no students. A good way to encourage leadership might be a needs assessment in the school, a project that the administration deem worthy and see if anyone would like to rise to the challenge.
I think parents are seen more as the bridge in their child's education than partners. If there isn't a problem with a student and they are earning acceptable grades, the school doesn't seem to communicate more than a parent-teacher conference appointment or send of progress reports home. Failing grades, bad behavior, or lack of motivation are reasons to get the parents more involved because these are things that indicate a student is struggling in one or more areas and the school needs to try to stop the situation from getting worse. I do not believe there is a form of PTA at the school, the mail box at school is just stuffed with literature. I interact with parents through phone calls and making entries in the daily communication journal but this was insistent upon by the parent and has been in place for the student for a few years now so nothing that I came up with on my own.
I think of myself as someone who gives out tips and techniques on what I have tried in the past and just because it may not have worked with one student doesn't mean it won't work with another. In the scope of providing consultation to teachers, I have to share what and how I teach students. They are looking for ideas and I have to become the solutions man even if sometimes I really don't know the answer. With other therapists I am a little more guarded when opening up and sharing my bag of tricks mainly because they are equally or more guarded than I am so I learn from experience. On the other hand, if I am responsible for teaching a student therapist, I don't hide anything and try to give that person the proper tools to become an effective therapist. Just the other day I had to hand off my caseload at one school to another therapist. I first went over each student's file. I then took her to the school, introduced her to the teachers, students, secretaries and principal. I tried to make this transition as easy for her to starting treating the kids this week. She had many questions, too many I think but she appears to feel uneasy around autistic children.
I foremost look at functional skills and go from there. If a student doesn't get a good foundation in the basics, how can they learn when they are still somewhat struggling with tying their shoes, zipping their coats and going to the bathroom with all that entails. I mix up my treatment sessions with functional exercises, games, toys, and board work to develop upper extremity strength and posture. There are always areas that can get a little vague, especially when someone mentions the term sensory integration which truly is always the buzz word with children and occupational therapy mainly because someone has an idea if what it is from the internet or what someone has told them and usually rely on misinformation. That is always hard and I always feel that I am somewhat at a disadvantage because of a preconceived notion of their expectations of what I can do.
I associate change with risk taking because there is always that bit of the unknown and not being able to go back to where you were once you get started. But I guess that is true with any type of personal growth. Quantitative data taken on an area of targeted improvement is one way to validate that the teacher is on the right track but also that the right questions are being asked. A teacher could end up with all the right answers to all the wrong questions if the exploration is for change is not relevant. The teacher has to have that gut feeling that something is wrong and can be improved upon.