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.