Shadowing an Administrator Competency Write-Up – Competency X: Leadership Casey Clark, Midland Public Schools, Administrative Clinical Practice Related

task: Job Shadowing Narrative description of task: During the first day I am shadowing Mrs. Greif I will assist her, when appropriate, in accomplishing responsibilities including but not limited to: greeting students in the morning, reading morning announcements, monitoring students during lunch, attending any planned meetings, monitoring student progress and behavior after school, and attend planned athletic events. I will maintain a journal of activities and prepare a thoughtful analysis of the number, nature and focus of activities, and with whom the administrator interacted. Describe and assess the decision-making process and style used by the administrator in responding to various categories of demands or problems. Identify several crucial lessons the day taught and about the art of administration and school leadership. The second day of my shadowing will be attending a meeting for planning and preparation of professional development. This meeting is attended by all administrators in the district. They will be coordinating PD activities. During this time I will observe and assess the proposed activities and justification for said activities. I will also journal the activities and analyze. Process: February 19, 2014 I completed my first competency which was shadowing my administrator, Ms. Greif. 7:15 - Met in Ms. Greif’s office and went over the day’s agenda. On the schedule was a meeting at the administration building to evaluate fifteen proposals regarding curriculum development, an evaluation, and two athletic hearings in the afternoon to determine whether students should be reinstated. She also shared information about a lawsuit that has been filed against Midland High School regarding the violation of a student’s civil rights. Although the case seems rather frivolous; the student was left out of the football picture because he wasn’t in attendance, the district is still required to devote monetary resources and time meeting with lawyers and producing paperwork. 7:30 - 7:45 - After discussing the agenda we went into the main hall to welcome students. All of the administrators stand near the doors greeting students and talking amongst themselves until about five minutes after school begins at 7:40. We then spoke to counselors about ACT test prep and how to review information with students without taking them out of class. This is an increasingly difficult issue as weather closings mount. No decision was reached. 8:45 -11:00 we left for the administration building to evaluate curriculum proposals. Administrators were given a score sheet with the proposals listed and several categories to consider such as does the proposal support equity? Does it support a major change proposal? How many students does it benefit? Each proposal was summarized by the parties involved and participants had an opportunity to ask questions. Afterwards participants were asked to list their top five proposals and turn them in to the

person who will calculate the totals. Interestingly, Ms. Greif noted that her top five proposals did not score the highest which led me to question what would take precedence, the score or the level of importance attached to the proposal. 11:00 – 11:30 – Lunch and monitor halls as students return from lunch 11:30 – 12:25 – Observation of Merchandising class of juniors and seniors taught by an experienced teacher. This was an awkward position to be in as the teacher did not perform well. I was able to complete the evaluation sheet and compare with Ms. Greif. We had many questions and concerns in common which was comforting but both of us concluded that there were a number of things that could be improved upon. I did express my discomfort in witnessing this class and Ms. Greif was mildly amused but said she was glad I was viewing a less than exemplary performance because it illustrates the need to work and improve and that there are teachers who are not performing as well as they could. I will also be sitting in the post evaluation meeting and will be anxious to see how these deficiencies are approached. 12:30 – 12:45 - After our evaluation we had a brief meeting with the assistant principal regarding the number of overloads which was low. 1:00 – 2:30 - Drove to Dow High School for two athlete reinstatement hearings. These are conducted by a committee of four; the principals of both schools and both athletic directors. The committee must reach a unanimous decision for a student to be reinstated. This was an interesting process as I got to sit in on the hearings and the post hearing discussion. The first hearing was for a sophomore girl who had two incidents; one was for smoking marijuana at lunch and the other a minor in possession (MIP) just a month later for drinking at a party. Athletic training rules state that a first offense, not involving another person (i.e. fighting, selling drugs) requires that athlete sits out 1/3 of the season and a second offense involves one year ineligibility with a hearing. If the committee agrees then a student may receive only 90 days ineligibility. The girl stated her case and said a number of things that were troubling such as that after she was caught smoking she “cut way down” on smoking. The MIP was given just one month after her first violation and according to her this was the first time she had been allowed to go out since then. She is also on probation and is supposedly required to undergo drug testing. She hasn’t yet been tested. Lastly, she claimed she wasn’t drinking to get drunk but just sipping and that she was hanging out with much older kids, some graduated. After she left the administrators very quickly and unanimously decided she should be reinstated because she had a troubled life and needed something positive to associate with. I was a bit surprised about this decision and wondered if there shouldn’t be conditions to her reinstatement. She is young and although the reality is that this is her last chance I’m not sure if she understands that. If she has another training rules violation she will be ineligible for one year. I hope that will be conveyed to her when the athletic director meets with her to inform her of the committee’s decision. The second hearing was a bit more contentious as it involved a fight that occurred between two hockey players, one from Midland High and one from Dow High, directly after the Midland v. Dow game (at the arena). The Midland High student received a five day suspension and was told, incorrectly, by an

assistant principal that he would not be playing the rest of the season. This was a first offense and because it involved another student the punishment should have been 1/3 of the season +1 or 2 games depending on the severity. He ended up sitting out ½ of the season and was requesting to be reinstated for the last game and districts. Administrators feared the reaction Dow High parents would have upon hearing that he was reinstated but there was no past precedence for suspending him longer. The student told his side and the father weighed in. It was also mentioned that the parents of the Dow High student had pressed criminal charges. 2:30 – 3:00 – Debrief the day. Ms. Greif then had a cabinet meeting at the administration building which I was not allowed to attend. There were no evening activities but those are generally divided up among the administrative staff. Ms. Grief usually attends 25% of the after school events. Lessons Learned: My first observation was calm in comparison to some I had heard about but by no means dull or uninformative. I was witness to a great deal of decision making on the part of Ms. Greif but also many other administrators. The morning meeting focused on curriculum proposals that would add money to the budget which is already short. Many of these proposals centered around technology implementation, necessary to keeping the district relevant, attracting new and retaining current students. Everyone understands this but the district has no money to spend on new proposals. A decision in favor of these means money has to be cut elsewhere. This was my thinking while I listened but I was disappointed to listen to the proceedings because there were very few questions and little discussion. Ms. Greif asked a couple of questions and was greeted with defensive posturing. She tried to explain that her questions did not indicate that she disliked the proposal but simply that she wanted clarification. She mentioned this on the way back, stating that if what they want is a rubber stamp she could do that from Midland High rather than waste two hours at the administration building. This meeting reminded me of the Board of Education meetings where it seems decisions have been made before they are presented at meetings. During the observation Ms. Greif and I both completed the evaluation sheet and she explained her thought process as the hour progressed. We often had the same comments and questions which was encouraging. The difficult thing about this observation was that it did not go well. The teacher is very experienced and it wasn’t an impromptu visit but there was no discernable lesson, the students were working independently on a project, the teacher spent a large portion of the hour entering grades and working on her computer. It was embarrassing to witness and I was uncomfortable. While I know there are some poor performing teachers in our building I did not suspect her, nor did I suspect any teacher in a planned visit would behave in such a manner. I wasn’t able to attend the post observation meeting due to a scheduling conflict and although it would have been a good meeting to attend it would have been uncomfortable. I hope to talk to Ms. Greif later and see how it went and how things were addressed. Ms. Greif has been very open to discussion and willing to share her thoughts and rational for her actions.

The reinstatement meetings were another lesson in decision making. These decisions are completely subjective as the students have clearly broken the athletic training rules. The meetings with the students were brief but the conversation between administrators afterwards was really interesting. The biggest consideration in the first case was the at risk nature of the student. She has clearly made some poor decisions but everyone believed reinstating her was important because softball would be a positive influence for her. I agreed and hope that she will start making better choices. The second issue involved a much more prolonged conversation. The primary consideration in this case was public opinion and Midland High’s image. Ms. Greif felt that this was an extremely embarrassing situation and was worried that reinstating the young man would send a message that the administration was lax. The perception of Midland High, particularly by Dow High parents is that Midland has a “thug” mentality and this was perpetuating that perception. Ms. Greif was most reluctant to reinstate while the principal and athletic director of Dow High were most in favor. While I think it is true that this was an embarrassment for Midland High I don’t think keeping him off the hockey team for two more games would remove the perception. Overall, spending the day with Ms. Greif was a beneficial learning experience. It was not as hectic as a day of teaching but the decision making at that level has far more repercussions than decisions a teacher makes.

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