Friday, May 11, 2007

Job Shadowing Pt. 1 - A Glimpse of the Future?

Part of this internship is to shadow two educational leaders. The obvious first choice is to shadow my principal, whom I did shadow back on May 4. But I also wanted to take a peek at a position that I would one day like to inhabit, Director of Technology. Between the two experiences I can see a clear distinction between one position and the other. The first experience was to follow my building prinicpal around for the day.

Generally speaking the day was a whirlwind of activity. The agenda for the day was fairly mundane - an observation in the AM and PM, a fire drill, and a meeting with the PTSA after school. However, at every turn there were various staff members and teachers wanting her attention to ask a "quick question" and want an answer. Several people came into her office before the scheduled observation at 10:00 AM. The meetings were impromptu and required her attention.
The first order of business before going to the AM observation was to finalize three "no tresspass" letters to students and parents who were involved in an altercation after school the previous Friday. Incredibly, it was the parents who provoked the incident. I discussed the legal implications of the incident and read the relevant COMAR regulations that authorized the prinicpal to issue a writ of no tresspass.
When we arrived at the first observation, we were to observe one of two teachers co-teaching in a Math class. The observation was unannounced, as all observations in the school are. The students were a lower level math class and were working on individual skill gaps. The teachers had compacted the curriculum to cover the required information in preparation for the Maryland State Assessments. Since the MSA had been given, the teachers were working on closing skill gaps. They gave each student functional tests and tracked the skills which were not mastered. The students then broke into small groups to work with one of the teachers on the skills they need.
I thought this was an excellent way to help prepare the students to move on to the the next level of Math. Each student essentially had an idividual learning plan for the remaining weeks of school. They worked toward the goal of mastering the objectives they show weakness. It would be interesting to see how the class improves as a whole during the remaining month of school.
Later in the day, I had the opportunity to pull the fire alarm for the drill. It's something I've always wanted to do and I can now cross that off my list. :-)
The second observation of the day was not as impressive but had great potential. It was a theater lesson that seemed to be more sage on stage of a vocabulary review. Students sat in their seats as the instructor read through each definition and talked about the meaning and offered a few examples of the word usage. When I ran into the teacher after school I shared some ideas of how I would have integrated technology with simple clip art that relates to the vocabulary. I also suggested having the students act out or pantomime the words and have the rest of the class guess what they were portraying. Points could be assigned to the words to make it a review game. The teacher was very open to the suggestions. I also told her about an idea from the TV show "Thank God You're Here." Students really enjoy impromptu. It doesn't mean they're good at it though. :-)
Overall the experience was eye opening. Half of the day was in observations and the remaining half was for impromptu meetings, admininstrative paperwork, putting out fires, and lunch. If I had the luxury of dedicating 50% of each day to instructional leadership activities, then I'd say I was very fortunate. The principal selected the day specifically for me to be part of observations and the fire drill. So it wasn't a complete representation of a "day in the life." But it did give me a good picture of what would be expected.

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