Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013 - (Page C4)

FOCUS ON: LEADERSHIP Principal Development Goes Back to School New programs aim to give aspiring leaders context-specific learning experiences Greg Ruffing for Education Week By Jaclyn Zubrzycki Rituparna “Rita” Raichoudhuri, who is going through a one-year principal residency at Wells Academy High School in Chicago, monitors students as they head to class. Like a growing number of other aspiring principals across the country, Ms. Raichoudhuri is getting much of her training inside the kinds of schools where she is likely to end up working. A growing number of principalpreparation initiatives are forsaking university classrooms in favor of much more familiar training grounds: the schools and districts where those aspiring leaders will end up working. Through coaching and mentorship initiatives, residencies and internships, and other new programs, both districts and university education schools are turning their focus to building practical readiness, in context, and offering continued learning and support for principals already on the job. Traditional principal-training programs “haven’t been as connected to the realities of the profession as they need to be,” says Dick Flanary, the deputy executive director of programs and services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, based in Alexandria, Va. “Universities talk about preparation, and school districts talk about readiness.” National Teacher of the Year: Educators Need Career Paths By Liana Heitin Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, is on a mission to give her profession a facelift. When she received her award last April, the 7th grade science teacher from Burbank, Calif., said she planned to use her yearlong platform to help restore “dignity and admiration to teachers.” She has also been outspoken about her support for tiered career ladders—coupled with differentiated pay—as a way to give teachers more career-advancement opportunities. In the months since her selection, Mieliwocki has had no shortage of influential audiences. She has given speeches at several large, national conferences, discussed education policy with governors, and sat down for a two-hour meeting with arguably the country’s most influential education funder, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Education Week Teacher recently asked Mieliwocki about her visions for the teaching profession and how she sees some of the most pressing education issues playing out for teachers across the country. What are your strengths as a teacher? What would your students say makes you different from other teachers? I feel a tremendous responsibility to provide an education that’s relevant to kids’ lives. I refuse to be the teacher that pulls out from the shelf the dusty book and peels off another dated worksheet and tries to make kids fill in the blanks. I just don’t think that’s the world they live in. So it’s trying to combine an intense delivery system that gives them both information and knowledge that at the same time is lively and engaging and relevant and real to their lives, which are very media-saturated, crazy wired and connected, vivid and psychedelic. I’m also very attuned to what kids are going through. There’s not enough language being devoted to helping kids 4 navigate emotional terrain—and I teach middle school; it’s all emotional terrain. For example, if there’s some misunderstanding, and you get some name-calling and shutting down and anger, a lot of teachers would move on with the lesson. But right then, what’s more important is these two kids solving that beef. Because one way or another, it’s going to ripple somewhere else. If I don’t handle it now in English 7, it’s going to flare up again in algebra. Or tonight on the Internet, on Facebook, a flame war is going to start. So instead of letting that happen, why don’t I take just one minute right now and talk about the solution, then move on? What would be your definition of a teacher leader? Do you consider yourself one? How? First of all, teacher leaders see themselves as an important and vital part of something bigger than themselves. A teacher leader doesn’t just see his or her class of 30 or 150 or seven, they see themselves as embedded in the fabric of an entire school and believe that every kid is their kid. They see themselves as on a quest to learn and improve. A teacher leader is somebody that has thrown open the door to the classroom, has invited in as many people as possible, and has asked for feedback. And a teacher leader expertly and elegantly finds ways to speak difficult truths to the people that need to hear them. Not in a negative way. A teacher leader touches another teacher on the shoulder and says, “When I hear you talk about your kids, it’s very negative. The standard that you verbalize you’ve set for them is very low. I would like to hear you talk about how your kids can do anything. When we give little people a reason to reach, they will.” That conversation is a very difficult one for professionals to have. But true leaders are not afraid of that conversation because they’ve opened themselves up to it in their own careers. Education WEEk 2 0 1 3 CA LENDA R O F EV EN T S & P ROFESSIONAL DEVELOP MENT DIRECT ORY Leadership-training programs in Philadelphia; Chicago; Prince George’s County, Md.; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Denver; New York City; and elsewhere all aim to give aspiring principals—and in some cases, even struggling midcareer principals—contextspecific advice and support from experienced educators. And, in a similar vein, districts in Sarasota County, Fla., in New York state’s Hudson Valley region, and elsewhere have created homegrown leadership academies and career tracks to supplement universitybased principal-certification programs with hands-on experience, mentoring programs, and training in district-specific information and initiatives. Academies and Mentoring “Homegrown programs often set out to fill a gap” in the training provided by traditional principal-certification programs, says Cheryl L. King, the director of Tell me about your meeting with Bill Gates. The thing that struck me the most was that, No. 1, he listened far more than he talked. I think he listened 95 percent of the time and he scribbled notes furiously. And the second thing that I noticed was that he’s fully engaged in the process, and he shows it, by listening, by looking, making eye contact, smiling, and just seeking to understand how we can be better, do better. As you know, many teachers are critical of his involvement in education, especially his support for teacher-evaluation systems that rely on student-test scores. How do you respond to that? What I say is that I’m first and foremost a teacher and I experience the same struggle and disappointment and frustration with my profession that they do. And if we as teachers had the ability to transform education ourselves collectively, and to get to a place where all of us feel we need to be, it would have happened by now. But for whatever reason, we haven’t gained the traction that unfortunately a gazillionaire can get. It’s interesting that when teachers say we need to improve schools, it floats dreamily to the ground. But when Bill Gates says we need teacher reform and when Bill Gates says, “I’d like us to have an effective, high-quality teacher in every classroom and learn how to create that in every teacher we already have,” people listen. So I understand that people are skeptical. I understand they want to know his agenda and his motives, but for right now, he gets us the traction that we don’t have on our own. And I’ll take that traction. He doesn’t have as much expertise as teachers do but he has an open ear, I hope an open mind, and a lot of money and resources and smart people to bring to the table. We shouldn’t back away from that table, we should be right there beside him. The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher last year said that teacher satisfaction has hit a low point. Is that what you’re seeing? If so, what can we do to improve morale? It’s such an oft-touted statistic. But when we talk about morale, I’m not sure we’re talking about the joy that teachers get out of the job they do. I’d say that’s a really strong num-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013

Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013
Principal Development Goes Back to School
National Teacher of the Year: Educators Need Career Paths
Creating a School Culture That Is Collaborative
Teacher Satisfaction: A Matter of Principal
Lessons From Reality TV on Supporting Teachers
2013 Calendar of Events
Sponsors of Events
Subject Index
Directory Table of Contents
Directory Index
Directory Listings

Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013