K-12 Administrator in the U.S., Egypt, South Korea, and China. Author and Videographer.
Dual citizen of the United States and the Republic of Armenia
Gulf War Veteran - U.S. Air Force Target Intelligence Captain
Educator with 27 years of experience at all levels of K-12 education, including state level regional director, school district technology director, science teacher, technology teacher, assistant principal, and international head of school.
Experienced with American Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate PYP, MYP, and DP curriculum.
Served in the United States, Egypt, South Korea, and China. Teacher and school administrator for many diverse groups of students, including American and international students, upper economic students, poverty students, minority students, special needs students, and at-risk students. Responsible for developing and implementing school budgets, interacting with U.S. and international government agencies, initiating change in school curriculum and teacher practices, and helping students to achieve their educational goals.
As a leader, I believe in communicating with the entire learning community: staff, students, and parents. We should foster an environment where our students are balanced and open-minded inquirers, who are willing to take risks, become knowledgeable, practice thinking skills, effectively communicate, act with honesty and integrity, show empathy and compassion, understand the importance of balance, and thoughtfully consider the world and their ideas and experiences. These capabilities should be self-directed through engaged-learning and supported by educators who are innovative and dedicated.
How do we help our students to be successful? Educators must focus on teaching and assessing for understanding and learning transfer. Through the use of “Understanding by Design” (UbD), teachers identify the desired results, then determine acceptable levels that support the desired results, and finally design activities that will make the desired results happen.
As instructional leaders, we must help our teachers reach the desired results. We should “think big and start small.” Nothing can destroy a teaching environment more than to have a new administrator to start making systemic changes, before leading and inspiring the teachers to join in the process. We must understand the existing school culture, the capabilities of the teachers, the expectations of the parents, and the motivations of the students. Changes may be incremental and may involve just a few innovative teachers. Once they have been fully supported and successful, then it is possible to lead the rest to new techniques, curriculum, and learning opportunities. One way to describe this process is the “Oregon Trail Process.” Just like the original software simulation program, the first teachers to innovate are the “trail blazers,” who want to adopt new ideas and processes. Once the trail has been blazed, then we can help lead the rest of the teachers to become “settlers,” who can establish a stable learning community.
An American author, Tom Peters, wrote that “leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” An effective administrator will discover a teacher’s strengths, and then build upon those strengths through encouragement and positive support. We must value a teacher’s expertise first, before we help them develop into educational leaders. When an administrator holds to this belief and proves it through actions, it positively influences the entire learning community.
Effective administrators will tap into the “wisdom of the classroom,” by walk-throughs, examining existing lesson plans, reviewing standardized testing data, and getting to know the teachers, parents, and students. One effective tool is MAP (Measuring Academic Progress) data, or similar assessments, to see how mastery of a grade level and subject supports success in another grade level and subject. Effective learning is collaborative and cross-curricular. Standardized data can help determine areas for improvement, for the student and for the teacher.
An effective learning environment will involve all stakeholders, especially the parents. A partnership must exist between the school and the parents, in order to help students to learn and develop. There must be consistent and quality communications, that originates from the school. When this is done, we can help students to obtain their dreams. The phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child,” has been used before, but it is as true and relevant today, as it has been in the past.
In summary, an effective educational leader must communicate, guide curriculum, support teachers, develop leaders, use data, and involve all stakeholders. These are my goals and objectives, as a leader and educator.