Friday, November 26, 2010

Spend Black Friday Watching These Education Videos

Animated Short Sums Up America's Education Problem [GOOD] - Waiting For Superman as summarized by a Taiwanese news program in less than 2 minutes.

An Education Reform Success Story (Video) [edReformer]

Documentary: Fermat's Last Theorem [mental_floss Blog] - The story of the most puzzling math problem ever!

Your Broken Meetings Need a Responsible Parent [Lifehacker] - Make sure somebody is the "parent" in your meetings at work, whether it be you or someone else.

Video: Math Teacher Meltdown [This Week in Education] - In case you somehow missed it, this is what it looks like when a teacher loses it.  It's worth noting that this is what we all look like when we lose our temper, even when we don't completely lose our minds like this guy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thoughts From My First Semester in an Ed Admin Graduate Program

As a follow up to yesterday's guest post on getting a degree in Educational Leadership, I wanted to share my own perspective.  I just started a master's degree program in Educational Administration, which at the University of Texas-Pan American is part of the Educational Leadership department and a precursor to its namesake doctorate.

For most of the last calendar year I've been working for IDEA Public Schools, a highly successful charter school organization that serves nearly 7000 students in 16 schools across south Texas.  I'm Chief of Staff for the Founder and CEO, which means I am privy to just about everything involved in running the organization--everything from what's happening at the schools to the painstaking details of finance and development.  While it's a welcome challenge, and very exciting to say the least, the learning curve is very steep.  There are many areas where I can contribute, but as my background is grounded completely in teaching, I have a lot to learn.  That's where this kind of graduate program comes in.

We've spent our time thus far discussing all of the issues schools deal with from the perspective of a principal and/or superintendent.  I've learned a lot about school law, finance and politics that has helped me in my job.  I've also learned more about the similarities and differences between how charters and traditional public schools must deal with these issues (hint: it's more similar than you might think).  Finally, I've had the opportunity to teach a lot of future leaders in my region that much of what they think they know about IDEA (and charters in general) isn't true.

I feel like I've gained quite a bit, and I'm only in my first semester.  My goal isn't to become a principal or superintendent necessarily (which puts me in the minority of my cohort) but that doesn't mean I can't get just as much out of this program.  I'm in a central office position in a growing and changing organization, which makes the need for the broad knowledge I'm getting from this program obvious.  Yet I also realize that even if I had still been a teacher who was undecided about taking an administrative position at the school or district level, I still would benefit greatly from looking at education from this very different perspective.

I hope that no matter where you are in your career in education that you consider what you could get out of a masters or doctorate in Educational Leadership.  Our profession needs great leaders at every level to ensure children are getting a great education.

As always, I'm happy to answer specific questions.  Please send me an email or leave a comment and we can dive into this topic a little more.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why You Should Get an Educational Leadership Graduate Degree

Educational Leadership graduate degree programs prepare education leaders to analyze and solve the types of problems faced by schools. The programs also provide the knowledge and skills required to motivate the staff to perform at a higher level.

Educational Leadership Master's Degrees

Educational Leadership Master's Degree programs provide educators with the tools needed to be effective leaders in educational organizations and in their school's community. Educators also learn to become effective advisers and mentors to beginning educators. The programs also teach individuals how they can affect change in the systems that govern national, state, and local education.

The master's degree programs review current educational trends and innovative curricular designs in the context of improving student performance. Popular concentrations include instructional leadership, school leadership toward administrative licensure, and leadership for community and organizational learning. Many of these program require an internship.

Some of the typical subjects covered in an Educational Leadership Master's Degree program are as follows:
  • Policies and practices in leadership
  • Leadership development
  • Education policy analysis
  • Development of organizational leadership
  • Administration and organization of public education
  • Educating a diversity of learners
  • School finance
  • Educational change/school reform
  • School - community relations and communications
  • Special education
Doctoral Degrees in Educational Leadership

Programs offering a Doctorate (Ed.D) degree typically require applicants to have leadership experience and a master's degree. Administrators and teachers enhance their abilities to influence and transform educational environments. The programs provide new and innovative models of leadership.

Many of the doctoral programs are designed for working educators and include full-time study during the summer and weekend terms during the school year. Due to convenience and flexibility, online Ed.D in Educational Leadership programs are increasingly popular.

Some of the common courses in doctoral programs are perspectives on leadership, qualitative research in education, data analysis for organizational leaders, and leaders as researchers.

Charter School Leadership

A few schools, such as Central Michigan University and Nova Southeastern University's Fischler School of Education and Human Services, offer an online Master of Art degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Charter School Leadership. (It should be noted that the author has no connections with these schools.)

Online Graduate Degree Programs

Some online graduate degree programs offer students the opportunity to meet multi-state, course-work requirements for academic licensing of principals, assistant principals, and instructional supervisory personnel. Graduates of some of these programs are qualified to take the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) test. Some of the programs are based on the Intestate School Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards which place children and their learning as the foundation of school administration.

Another option is the graduate certificate of advanced studies in educational leadership. A number of colleges and universities around the country offer these programs.

School Rankings

The top ten ranked schools in education by U.S. News and World Report in 2010 are as follows:
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Oregon
  • John Hopkins University
  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • University of California Berkeley
Numerous accredited colleges and universities offer graduate degree programs in educational leadership. Educators interested in advancing their careers while affecting positive change should definitely consider these programs.

Brian Jenkins, a member of the writing team, writes about a number of topics related to education.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Does Depression Affect Your Students?

You may have noticed one or two students in your classes who just don't seem all that interested in your teaching. This might surprise you, right? After all, you're probably a very dedicated teacher: you put effort into your class plans, you respond to your students' work, you try to treat everyone well. But for some reason, there are always a few students who just don't react as you would expect. Naturally, this is frustrating, and it may be tempting to think poorly of these students or to see their lack of interest as evidence of a bad attitude. However, check these initial thoughts before you talk to the students. There's a chance your student could be dealing with depression. Below I've tried to describe what they might be experiencing so you'll be better able to empathize with them during your next class.

Physical Exhaustion

Students who are depressed often feel physically exhausted. They might have trouble sleeping at home. They might lose their appetite. They tend to avoid physical exercise. Due to this exhaustion, they may struggle to stay awake in your classroom no matter how exciting the activities are for the day. Students who do sleep well might still be tired during school. This is part of the physical toll that depression takes upon those who suffer. Naturally, this physical exhaustion can consume a student's ability to concentrate in class, thus harming his or her learning process.

Mental Anguish

Along with the physical exhaustion, depressed students can suffer from mental anguish. Feelings of low-self esteem, a desperate sense that nothing matters, and a loss of interest in daily activities can greatly hamper a student's education. If his or her thoughts are devoted to investigating the anxiety he or she feels, then it will be harder for that student to apply his or her energy to the day's lesson.

Social Problems

Because students who are depressed often have issues regarding self-esteem, they tend to avoid social interaction or they might interact awkwardly with their peers and their teachers. Social anxiety adds to their reluctance to participate in class. Imagine feeling depressed and being called on to answer a question in class. Not only could this challenge your low self-confidence, it also seemingly exposes it for all to see. The threat of judgment greatly affects a depressed student's social presence, causing him or her to withdraw as much as possible. These students might relegate themselves to a corner of your classroom.

Of course, every one of your students is an individual, so depression will manifest itself differently in each student. The above write up is only meant as a tentative guide to allow you to see how depression could affect your students. If you do believe one of your students is in fact depressed, contact your school's counseling center or someone who is professionally able to handle the problem. But remember that although you may not be qualified to help in serious instances, you are the first line of defense in protecting the student from danger.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Five Quick Reads to Make You Think Over the Weekend

10 Shocking Stats on the State of U.S. Education [Accredited Online Colleges]

Use it or Lose It [GOOD] - Explains one reason schools piss away money.

Engage Kids With a "Do Something" Curriculum [The Innovative Educator]

Review: Tin Man Press, Makers of Fun Thinking Activities [Wired: GeekDad]

Later School Start Time Leads to Better Students [Scientific American]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finding the Right College for Your Students & Children

Students Need Help Making College Choice [edReformer]

30 Ways to Rate a College [The Chronicle of Higher Education via Lifehacker & GOOD] - The Chronicle compares how different magazines rank colleges in an enlightening infographic.

Which Rankings Can Actually Help You Pick a College? [GOOD] - Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, "endeavor[s] to rank the rankers."

SweetSearch Finds Credible Research Sources for Students [Lifehacker] - Help get them prepared for college-level research by using tools like this before they get there.

The Real Value of College [The Quick and the Ed] - Have an intelligent discussion about what's right for your students/children.