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Who am I? This question gets to the very essence of my values and beliefs. When I ponder this question, my first thoughts had nothing to do with education. My mind quickly went straight to my family and their faces jumped in front of my eyes. But, I think that's the answer to this question. I am a person who cares deeply about his family and wants to make sure that his family is safely and happy and grows to be successful at whatever they try. As an educational leader, it's the same answer. I care about the success and future of everybody that I am associated with. It is more exciting for me to see a student succeed than it is for me to be recognized for something I have done. It is more important for me to see a staff member overcome a struggle than it is for me to continue with the status quo no matter how successful that status quo has been. I care too much to let people settle for anything less than their best effort and to give up on growing as a learner and a person. I started this program looking for ways to help fellow professional educators grow in their individual abilities and become more successful at what they do. After almost 20 years in education, it is very frustrating to see talented young educators leave the district or the profession due to lack of administrative support. I wanted to have the opportunity to affect change for these people. I felt like I had the communication skills and relationship skills to help these people. I knew that our administration had supported some teachers, but I wanted to see why they weren't more supportive all the time? What was the reasoning for not being in the classroom every day and not taking the time to work with struggling teachers more often. I wanted to see if there were things that I could do, as a leader, to make our school better by helping the staff. It's the same frustration that I share when I see students struggle or walk away from education. I also felt that students were being left behind and being left out because of the methodology of teachers and the structure of our current educational setting. Is our schedule an

asset or a hindrance for students? Is the schedule affecting the way teachers are preparing and leading classrooms? I went into the program looking for strategies and for answers to the questions of why and how. I wanted to develop a tool box of content knowledge and best practices that I could use to help teachers and students feel a part of the process and feel invested in their future even to a greater degree than normal. I have seen growth and change in my perspective on schools and education in general. I have had the opportunity to read and study literature from a variety of sources. One of the authors that have affected me the most is Diane Ravich. She is someone who has dedicated her life to improving education for everyone. In her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, she talks about numerous attempts to improve our schools. We have known for many years that we need to improve our schools. We keep stumbling, however, because there is widespread disagreement about what should be improved. (Ravitch, p. 223) A short two years ago, I was the staff member sitting in the audience at faculty meetings asking myself why we were doing this. What were we going to accomplish with this and just tell me what extra work I had to do. I had never looked at the idea of professional development as a tool to improve teaching. I had viewed PD as a hoop that the state required us to jump through to get Phase III dollars or to fill contract days. During this program I started to think as a school leader at some point. I started to look at how the PD we were doing could have the potential to change our school and make it better. I better understood the reasoning behind some of the activities and articles and I knew where the principal was going. As I realized this, I actually found myself more involved in the process and more a part of the process. I found myself sitting up more at the meetings and participating more than just at a basic level. I was participating to learn and grow.

I have more respect for the role of being a leader and better comprehend the responsibilities involved in the position. A leader has to have a vision for growth and success and must share that vision with his staff. In the book, Leadership for Equity and Excellence, James Scheurich makes the statement; If you are going to successfully lead a school to attain both equity and excellence, you first have to believe it is possible. (2003, p. 10) This is very true. While I sit and watch other administrators and how they conduct meetings and professional development activities, I am constantly reflecting on whether or not I would do things the same way or if I would do things differently. Would my actions be as effective as or more effective than what I am seeing? Do I have the knowledge to be the leader who affects change positively? Even in the times when I disagree with the delivery methods of the information or disagree with some of the motives, I am very respectful of the intent and purpose of the activity. I absolutely no longer think that some activities are a waste of time, but I see them as a leadership concept and a way that the administration is trying to build relationships, teach a concept, or express a specific point of view. I have a new level of respect or the process. The last major piece of knowledge I have gained through this is a deeper appreciation and dedication to students and to education. I have reflected on my beliefs and actions as a teacher and tried to view myself through the eyes of a student and also through the eyes of a fellow staff member. I had viewed myself as a good teacher, but had never looked at what I was actually doing to be a good teacher. I had also never really looked at what I was doing to be a leader. This program forced me many times to reflect on the same process over and over and eventually things started to become clear. I am a good teacher, but I am not a good leader and not a great teacher. I had lost a lot of passion for teaching and desire to improve as an educator. I was ok doing the same activities year after year and having students become fairly successful. Most

students enjoyed my classes and showed growth and knowledge in the subject areas. I accepted this and moved on. Now, I look back and think that there were many wasted opportunities that I missed where I could have taken learning to a higher level and challenged students to be even better, simply by challenging myself. I have to ask the questions of why and how more often and then find the answers. I need to stay current with methodology and research and look at ways to improve. The use of PLC's and peer collaboration are tools that can help everybody, not one more thing being added to a teachers plate. This process has brought about a new energy and excitement for education. I want to share what I have learned with teachers all over. In the past, I was a believer in some of the older philosophies of education. In reading Mike Schmoker, I struck by some of his comments about the importance of working collaboratively with my peers. The sentimental notion emerged that teachers, left to themselves, will automatically and consistently engage in effective practices. (Schmoker, p.23) I was this person. As I have grown and been exposed to new ideas, I have changed. I want to take my PLN (Professional Learning Network) and expand my knowledge base and help others connect as well. I'm excited for professional development and the opportunities it provides the help teachers grow. As teachers grow and challenge themselves to be better, students will be benefit as well. They will reach new levels of individual success and will go forward with more confidence in the knowledge that they can handle situations as they arise. I entered the program hoping to find tools on how to help teachers be better teachers and I did. The extra benefit was also finding a passion for leadership and education that I had lost some time ago.

Sources:
Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. New York: Basic, 2010. Print. Scheurich, James Joseph, and Linda Skrla. Leadership for Equity and Excellence: Creating High achievement Classrooms, Schools, and Districts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2003. Print. Schmoker, Michael J. Results Now: How We Can Achieve Unprecedented Improvements in Teaching and Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2006. Print.