Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Instructional Leadership

Principals wear many hats within the school, but perhaps the most important hat is that of instructional leader.  The role of the principal as an instructional leader is to maximize learning for all teachers and in turn of all students (Fullan, 2014).  Often, the role of instructional leader is too constricted and thus results in micromanaging.  In previous years, principals focused on working with teachers one-on-one, molding each teacher individually into their vision. Micromanaging is not an effective way to teach educators.  Instead, the principal must invest in leading and learning alongside of the staff while creating a school culture that thrives on collaborative professional learning.  It is crucial for a principal to create autonomy amongst the staff.  This can be accomplished by developing and focusing on goals and expectations, allowing teachers the opportunity to be leaders, building a schedule that facilitates student learning, and establishing an environment that is collaborative and provides frequent opportunities for observation and discussion.
Dr. Robin Hamilton, principal of Parsley Elementary School, is a strong instructional leader.  Dr. Hamilton has established a school-wide schedule that allows teachers daily, collaborative planning time and maximizes instructional time.  Professional Learning Teams have been created to foster teacher learning.  Sterrett (2011) makes reference to a quote by DuFour stating that Professional Learning Communities should “focus on learning rather than  teaching, work collaboratively, and hold (ourselves) accountable for results” (p. 23).  During the weekly scheduled grade level Professional Learning Teams, teachers at Parsley Elementary School meet as a group to analyze student data and make adjustments to instruction.  As a team, they work collaboratively to choose strategies, make adjustments to small groups, and improve instructional practices.  Dr. Hamilton occasionally facilitates Professional Learning Teams throughout the year or when she is asked to come and participate. 
As a future school leader, it is imperative that when creating autonomy amongst the staff, I am celebrating successes within the school, allowing time for teachers to share ideas, methods, and strategies that are contributing to student success, and offer opportunities for teachers to observe other teachers and initiate their own professional learning experiences. According to Sterrett (2013), faculty meetings provide a platform to implement many of these components.  One of my professional goals is to establish meetings that maximize learning for teachers.  Certain information can be relayed in a daily bulletin, email, or video.  Professional learning, collaboration, and practice should occur during faculty meetings.  According to Sterrett (2013), faculty meetings could also serve as a platform for Professional Learning Teams.  These teams could be differentiated based on the needs of teachers and provide teachers the opportunity to collaborate with teachers in a different grade level. 
As a future school leader, it is also important to encourage teachers to learn from each other.  Sterrett (2013) states it is the duty of the principal to facilitate peer observations by establishing expectations, providing mental models, and building time in to the daily schedule for teachers to observe other teachers.  Peer observations motivate meaningful learning and collaboration amongst staff members and promote self-reflection (Sterrett, 2013). 
In addition to maximizing learning opportunities for teachers and staff members, it will be my responsibility to build a daily schedule that maximizes instructional time.  In order to maximize instructional time, it is crucial to provide substantial time for core academic instruction and a daily, common planning time for grade-level teachers and specialist teachers.  In efforts to ensure that the daily, common planning time is used effectively, it will be my responsibility to instruct and motivate teachers on how to use this time to collaborate and share instructional ideas and strategies to improve student learning. 
Instructional leadership is a prominent characteristic an effective principal must possess.  The principal must be knowledgeable of best practices, model instruction, facilitate teacher-to-teacher learning, and maximize instructional time for both teachers and students.  It is the duty of the principal to establish high standards for professional learning that will positively impact school performance.

Fullan, M. (2014).  The principal: three keys to maximizing impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Sterrett, W. L. (2011).  Insights into action: successful school leaders share what works.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sterrett, W.L. (2013).  Short on time: how do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Most Used Words

During the course of my first semester of graduate school, I completed this blog on administrative leadership in technology. I used a great site called Word It Out and entered my blog address in to generate a word cloud that emphasized my most used words throughout the blog.

Based on this word cloud program, my most used words were "technology," "learning," and "students." And...this really summarizes the focus of what this graduate course was all about. Administrators have the obligation to be digital leaders and promote and model technology to improve student learning.

A great digital leader:

  • Inspires and empowers teachers to use technology to improve student learning
  • Creates and models technology for teachers to enhance student learning
  • Creates opportunity for professional development in technology in efforts to improve student learning
  • Composes and maintains a strategic technology plan and provides resources to enhance student learning
  • Models and promotes digital citizenship so that students are learning to communicate through technology appropriately (International Society for Technology in Education, 2009)

International Society for Technology in Education. (2009). ISTE Standards Administrators. Retrieved from

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Promoting Literacy is EPIC!

Have you heard of EPIC!?

Photo from

EPIC! for Educators is a FREE online program that provides teachers access to thousands of free books for children 12 and under. There are a variety of genres that will appeal to all students. A collection of audiobooks are also available for younger children who can not quite read on their own yet.  Many books are can be accessed in Spanish for ESL learners. In addition to the online website, there is a free downloadable app available for iOS and Android.

EPIC! for Educators allows teachers to create up to thirty six profiles for individual students and track how long students have read. EPIC! also creates challenges for teachers to read with their students and provides a certificate for achievement when that challenge is met. The program recommends books based on previous ones read and all books are 100% safe.

The program also provides printable fliers for parents to purchase the program for $4.99 a month.

EPIC! Creations Inc.,. (2015). White iPad Educators. Retrieved from

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cyber Safety

How can administrators promote and model safe online interactions?

Administrators can promote and model safe online interactions by developing a plan to educate students and their parents on the dangers of online, social interactions and how to respond to them.

Based on the Norton Online Family Report, 62% of students claimed they have had a bad experience online and four out of ten students described their bad experience as cyberbullying or receiving inappropriate photos (Steinberg, 2012).  Cyberbullying is just one of the dangers lurking on the Internet today. According to Hinduja and Patchin (2015), in their 2015 CyberBullying Data, based on a random sampling of teenagers, 34.4% have been cyberbullied at one point in their life. Digital citizenship education would help teach students the appropriate ways to use the Internet and communicate online. Sites like Common Sense Media and Netsmartz Kids are perfect starting points when administrators are developing a digital citizenship curriculum. It is important, with the advancements in social media today, that our students are education on appropriate online social etiquette.

It is important that administrators have developed policies that address cyber safety and that the school community is educated on these policies. Educating the parents of our students is extremely important especially since most of them did not have experiences with technology growing up. I agree with Steinberg (2012) that is concerning that a quarter of young people claim their parents have no clue what they are doing when they are on the Internet. It is important for administrators to not only develop a digital citizenship curriculum for the students, but to share and promote the curriculum with the parents. According to Steinberg (2012), the process of learning online social norms is an ongoing process and needs to continue at home. Administrators can create videos and post them on the school's social media site, or they can create a blog to encourage learning and discussion outside of school. For families with little or no access to the Internet, informative fliers, similar to the Family Tip Sheets (Common Sense Education, 2015).

 Administrators must take the lead and create a school environment that promotes safe and appropriate digital learning.

Cyber Safety, Digital Learning, and Digital Citizenship Resources

Common Sense Media

Netsmartz Kids

Think U Know

Cyberbullying Research Center


Common Sense Education,. (2015). Family Tip Sheets | Common Sense Media. Retrieved 23 November 2015, from

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2015). 2015 Cyberbullying Data - Cyberbullying Research Center. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved 23 November 2015, from

Steinburg, S. (2012). Why Digital Citizenship Must Be Taught in Schools. All Things D
Retrieved from

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NETS A: Digital Age Learning Culture

Digital Age Learning Culture:

In this article, Technology Leadership for the Twenty-First Century Principal, Flanagan and Jacobsen (2003) discuss how the role of a principal has been impacted due to the push of technology integration (p. 124). The article looks deeper into the leadership components it takes a principal and his/her staff to successfully implement technology integration across the curriculum.

Flanagan, L., Jacobsen, M. (2003) "Technology leadership for the twenty‐first century principal",Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 41 Iss: 2, pp.124 - 142.

In this article, On School Educational Technology Leadership, Davies (2010) explores principals who take a leadership role in technology and develops an organized method of technology integration that focuses on teaching and learning (p. 55-56).

Davies, P. (2010). On school educational technology leadership. Management In Education24(2), 55-61.

In this article, Technology Leadership Among School Principals: A Technology- Coordinator's Perspective, Wang (2010) looks deeper in to an elementary school's attempt to integrate technology and why it was not successful (p. 51). The principal did not take a leadership role during the process. In reference to the International Society to Technology in Education's Standards for Administrators: Creating a Digital Age Learning Culture, the principal did not promote or model technology for his staff and was not involved until later in the process (ISTE Standards Administrators, 2009). 

Wang, C. (2010). Technology leadership among school principals: A technology-coordinator's perspective. Asian Social Science,6(1), 51-54. Retrieved from

ISTE Standards Administrators. (2009). Retrieved from

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Learning Strategies and Performance In a Technology Integrated Classroom (Review)

In the article Learning Strategies and Performance In a Technology Integrated Classroom, Debevec, Mei-Yau Shih, and Kashyap (2006) discuss the how a student's use of technology plays a role in their efforts to learn (p. 294). The article focuses on student initiative to use technology, attendance, enhanced performance on tests, and how much of a role does technology play in their learning (Debevec, Mei-Yau Shih, & Kashyap, 2006). After completing the study, Debevec, Mei-Yau Shih, and Kashyap (2006) determined that most students utilized technology to prepare for lessons and exams, that students who accesses course content outside of the classroom attended class although the information was available online, and that learning is enhanced and performance is maximized as a result of proper technology integration (p. 304-305). 

This article is from the Journal of Research on Technology in Education. The journal is a peer-reviewed technology journal provided by the International Society for Technology Education. The journal focuses on the evolution of educational technology around the world.

Debevec, K., Mei-Yau Shih, & Kashyap, V. (2006). Learning strategies and performance in a technology integrated classroom.Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 293-307. Retrieved from

Friday, October 23, 2015


Plickers is an amazing app and online program that allows you to track the progress of your students from the touch of your phone or iPad. Each student has a designated, computer generated answer sheet used to answer multiple choice questions. The students can hold up their answer sheets and the teacher can use their phone or iPad and scan the answer sheets. The program will then graph the results and provide data with the click of a button. 

Plickers is easy to use and offers these great features: 
  • Library- In this section, you can create questions to use for future lessons. You can create folders to easily organize your questions.
  • Reports- This section provides reports that teachers can use to assess their class's knowledge. The reports can be broken down by question and the teacher can see which students struggled to answer correctly and which students have a clear understanding of the information.
  • Classes-  You can set up your classes in this section of the program. This is great for middle school teacher, high school teachers,and curriculum specialists that see multiple classes throughout the school week. This program allows you to add multiple classes for assessment and will provide a unique answer sheet for each student.
  • Live View- This section allows the teacher to instantly show the students the results of the questions .
Plickers is a great tool for assessment and data collection. Plus, it's FREE to use!