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Final Paper for Fall Internship ED 691 Deidre Jenson December 3, 2012

Reflecting upon what I have learned from the fall internship is difficult. It feels like the first day of the school was yesterday, so you think it would be easy to summarize. At the same time, we have done so much and so much information has come into my brain that I feel like I’m in Kansas, swirling around with the school building and faculty, papers flying everywhere, and random thoughts flitting around. I find myself heading to Oz in search of the wise man, yet wishing I could go back to where I came from. Somehow I have to find a way to organize those flailing thoughts, file those projects, summarize what I have learned, only to rest a short while and finally arrive at the desired location – home. Home is a restful place; a place where you feel confident, secure, needed, but also welcomed and wanted. It doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing and there are no challenges; there certainly are. You have to learn to work together for the common good. Sacrifices have to be made, work done, but in the end, everyone wins to a certain degree. That is where I hope to end up, but again, I feel like Dorothy wandering down the yellow brick road in search of the answer and hoping I am gaining the needed expertise; a brain, heart, and courage. I feel very much like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. He began his journey, doing his job relentlessly and successfully, only to stop and listen to an old crow that tells him about the importance of brains. He then sets out on a journey to find brains. I often begin these projects we have been doing with relentless vigor, only to stop and listen to the old crow inside of me that questions my ability to problem solve and waivers any confidence I may have. The Scarecrow travels on, only to discover he already has a brain he just has to learn to use it. Marty and I had this discussion while he was here regarding the Parallel Curriculum and I have noticed this about other projects like the grant proposal. I make the task much harder than it is when I don’t trust that I do have understanding. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything new to learn to add to what I do know, but it’s not like starting from ground zero. I have a knowledge base and I need to learn to trust it, listen carefully in order to learn, and add the new tools to my toolbox. Another way I feel like the Scarecrow is that we have been given so many bits and pieces of information that I feel like I am just stuffing them into my head and as I put some in, I feel like a handful of straw falls out the other side. These bits of information are starting to stick, but I’m having a hard time right now because my head is hurting from thinking so often. These projects that we have been given are very hands on and practical. I have learned so much about our school, it’s dynamics, procedures, and ways to successfully lead a group, rather than just contribute to a group. The crisis management plan, the SIP and the agenda analysis have been particularly helpful to me. The crisis management plan brought to my attention our procedures, but I saw the importance of drills first hand. I was left in charge of a wrestling tournament, where Ketchikan, Wrangell, Craig, Kake, Hydaburg, Klawock

and Thorne Bay were in attendance. The bleachers were packed when the fire alarm went off. Suddenly, knowing all the procedures, didn’t really count when I had probably 200 people that we needed to direct and I didn’t even know how to turn the alarm off. We never really figured out what happened; could have been the barbeque going outside under the covered area where smoke came in through the door or the pizza oven in the concession stand (which wasn’t producing any smoke.) Regardless, I learned the importance of drills and knowing those procedures like the back of my hand! It reminded me of teaching CPR and water safety rescue; you practice and practice and practice so in an emergency, it comes naturally. Working through the SIP and leading it, I learned about creating a shared vision. It appeared at one point that I was not succeeding, because it seemed that the group disagreed on how to accomplish the task. In the end, the collaborative process worked and I think we’re all aligned. So, even if I have a brain and some head knowledge, with a lot more to gain, there is more needed. The Tin Woodsman is looking for a heart. My mentor constantly models this for me. In her position she oversees the lead teachers of many small sites. Emotions and politics are heated in these sites and she says to me; “Deidre, you have to be emotionally stable for these teachers. They feel like their world is falling apart and dealing with these issues day in and day out they get pretty battered. You have to be ready to take some of the heat for them because these issues come at you all at once and if you don’t stay strong and level, it will fall apart.” I have learned that people really do rely on you for that emotional stability. One day, someone comes to me in tears because another adult got upset at them. Another is upset because the secretary undermined her. And then there’s the parents that get upset and teachers get frustrated with kids. Remaining calm is crucial and I continue to learn not to react as if things are a crisis, just because someone is upset. Listen to the smaller things, choose what to respond to, and when the big things happen, listen again, and react appropriately and calmly . Then there are just some things you can’t fix. About two weeks ago one of my paraprofessionals lost her husband to cancer. It’s in these times, especially, that it’s important to have heart. It is not only a heart of compassion and emotion that I am looking for. I ‘feel’ I have that, at least at the outset of working with people. The heart that I am looking for is the stick-to-it-iveness. The heart to see things through when the going gets rough. The heart to keep working with people when you feel like you’re not making any progress. The heart to keep trying after something didn’t work. I feel like I have that with my students with special needs, but for some reason, working with the very able and educated, it’s slightly easier to lose patience. Robbin’s titles one of her sections under Leader as Shaper of Culture as, “Core Beliefs and Values are the Heart of Culture.” The heart is the center of the system. Without it, nothing within the system can function. I have been making a list of things that I want to do “if I were an administrator…” (That’s the title of my list.) This list includes things like this: *Interview parents – set up meetings through the summer where they feel comfortable. Give them a list of questions before hand. Possible questions: What changes would they like to see in the school?

What do you like about the school? Weaknesses in the school? What is important for life after school? What have you noticed about comments on report cards? *Question the evaluation process…Talk to the teachers about how to improve that process without necessarily changing it. *Set aside a time every week to: Give encouragement notes; cards; emails; *Make use of the secretary – build a relationship with her. *Monthly showcase learning: each month a teacher displays their work in the showcase. *Have a theme for the year or month-Introduce it on Monday and have posters around and have the teacher’s connect the theme in their lessons. The one’s I’ve listed here are seem to be related to heart – vision, culture, connections, support, etc. I have got these items and others not listed here, from the projects and readings. I need to add to this list more frequently. Every assignment that I have done, has been done with the prospect that I may be in that role in this actual building. I’m not only completing these assignments to learn about the tasks, but the school culture as well as the teacher’s that are a part of that culture. I have frequently asked teachers for feedback regarding topics like the agenda analysis. I may not end up in that position, but I will still learn by that process. Finally, there is the Lion in search of courage. Wikipedia stated this: “Since lions are supposed to be "The Kings of Beasts," the Cowardly Lion believes that his fear makes him inadequate. He does not understand that courage means acting in the face of fear, which he does frequently.” I have gone through a cycle of never imagining I would be a principal, to excited, to nervous, to fearful, to questioning whether I should do this at all. This is probably a good thing to have humility, but I also believe that fear can be paralyzing and so I am on the quest for courage; courage to act in the face of fear; to act confidently in spite of fear; but also to act confidently without arrogance. I think that leaders need to be humble and listen to their constituents, but the constituents need to trust their leader in order to act confidently themselves. I have received encouragement and confidence from many people, but I question my own ability to be successful in what I would like to accomplish. The success from the professional development plan was one of the experiences that I was encouraged by. The votes of confidence from my principal, mentor, and even my superintendent should encourage me more. Faculty, including the principal, come to me with suggestions for next year, as if I’ll be in that position. I am trying hard to state 3 points when people ask if I will be principal next year; 1. There has to be a position open, 2. I have to apply for the position, and 3. I have to get hired for the position and none of those have happened yet, so…we’ll have to wait and see if any of those do happen. I don’t want to be presumptuous! Hopefully practice, like with emergency drills, will ring true for running meetings; the more I do, the more efficient and effective I will become. I have run oodles of meetings, but for some reason, when I think about running faculty meetings, my confidence really waivers. I wonder if it’s the fear of approval. I have been working through some personal things about acceptance and needing reassurance from people. This is one area that I need to learn to NOT to rely on. This is kind of contradictory to my way of thinking, but from visiting with my mentor and my principal, (and other leaders in other organizations I’m involved in) they truly feel they are out there on their own. I’m tempted to say the successful

one’s succeed no matter how supported they feel, but I don’t really believe it. They get their support from somewhere don’t they? Maybe this is one way I have grown as a leader; I love the analogy of the conductor being the silent partner – and how they get to a certain point the orchestra no longer needs a conductor; they just play. Like I said in class; many conductors stop directing and the song continues. The success of the orchestra spurs the conductor to begin again and just join in with the song. That is where the support comes from – the group they are leading and the group they originally supported. That’s teamwork. And when it’s time, they tackle something new again – together. Interestingly enough, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, all end up leaders. The Wizard appoints the Scarecrow to rule the Emerald City in his stead, the Tin Woodman returns to the Winkie Country to rule as emperor, and in the Forest of Wild Beasts in the Quadling Country, the Tiger and the other animals, bow to him and ask the Lion to be their king. They all had what they needed, they just had to learn to recognize it, add to it, and use it. So, here I am in my red shoes, clicking my heels together, stating, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” We’re half way through the program, but I’m pretty sure I won’t end up in Kansas, until long after I’ve been doing the principal gig for a while. Until then, I’ll follow the yellow brick road and keep clicking, and maybe one day I’ll find that I have those things I need.