Wednesday, June 29, 2016

DFS Week 7 Reaction

I have worked about 9 hours so far this week.

I met with Jason this week to discuss our next steps. We have completed the interviews and now need to start the analysis. The biggest questions we have now is (1) what gaps and needs exist, and (2) what do we do next? I see this tying into a lot of our readings, in particular my choice book Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education. It talks about the need to identify what are the issues, but then one of the big themes of the book is that there needs to be integrators.  These are people that address the “how” in ideas, within universities. In my field study, we are not working with universities, but rather kindergarten through 12th grade. The idea still holds strong. Integrators would combat the paralysis that is seen among leadership in implemented the different strategies that have been talked about for years. One of the problems we have seen is the need to have a better understanding of what the issues are. Speaking in public health terms, I see that a good needs assessment would be so valuable in many of the different programs/division areas. Many of the decisions made seems to be made based on how it has always been done rather than the reality of the situation. This brings me to another theme about needing to make decisions and implement programs based on evidence-based data rather than anecdotes. (Fullan & Scott, 2009)

I think the analysis will bring about some characteristics on being a good leader that is successful in implementing good organizational change. I am thinking that next week and for my final paper, I will have a bit more to expand on, but the themes on leadership I have seen thus far are:
  1. Leaders need to operate from a place of good data.
  2. Leaders should support their team, partners, and stakeholders by using a variety of customized resources.
  3. Leaders should support their team so they can individually be successful, which will achieve the end goal.
  4. Leaders need to have a way to base their evaluations and assessments of their efforts (back to that data again!).
Fullan, M., & Scott, G. (2009). Turnaround leadership for higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

DFS Week 6 Reaction

This week, I completed approximately 6 hours of work.

We wrapped up the interviews this week. That is, unless we are able to contact a few more people who were referred to us. The two interviews we had this week were just about polar opposites. First we talked to Mark McCall. He is one of the directors over Highly Effective Leaders and Teachers. Since we had talked to another leader last week, we skipped over some of the basic information that we already had. It was interested though to pick his brain about what makes an effective teacher and how he sees his role and administrations' role in supporting the teacher. He defines success as increasing the number of highly effective teachers in Arizona. Note, there are four levels of teachers: highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective. This is tricky since he said that while Arizona seems to have very high (about 93%) rates of effective and highly effective teachers, this does not translate to student performance and success. He suspects that if evaluations were more uniformed and fairly administered, we would have a lot lower of a rate. He sees the need to train administrators and leaders and remove biases in the evaluation process. To achieve a highly effective classification, a teacher must have met minimal student standards and be observed in the classroom showing one year of growth. He adds in that there should be a level of professionalism. That is, going above and beyond the minimums and what is expected, service, and add that something extra that makes students want to learn, making learning a combination of traditional and non-traditional deliveries.

The other interview was with Nancy Konitzer with Title I. This interview went particularly long (about 2 hours) and was quite overwhelming. Both Jason and I were a bit shell shocked walking out of that one! I knew somewhat about Title I (it's main goals, mission, and purpose), but did not understand the history and political impacts it has. For every question we asked, there were several avenues she explored to explain her answer. This included how things used to be, how they transitioned with No Child Left Behind, and the transition they now face. There is such a web of political maneuvering that occurs. I am relieved that there is not Title I at the university level, but am apprehensive since I know there is a whole different world of funding.

Friday, June 17, 2016

DFS Week 5 Reaction

This week, I completed approximately 6.5 hours of work.

On Monday, I met with Jason to review the interviews from last week and set up the rest of the interviews. One thing that was interesting is that Jason and I discussed mentoring programs. In the Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA), I have run the Mentoring Program Subcommittee and Jason participates in this. We are attempting to have a mentoring program for the members of the AzPHA. Its aim it to match experienced public health professionals with students and new public health professionals in a one-to-one relationship. It is intended to facilitate the mentoring process among public health professionals, recent graduates, and current students in Arizona for one year. The goals are to provide opportunities for mentors to enrich their contributions to public health and further develop as leaders; to enhance the professional development of the public health mentee; and
to strengthen the public health professional workforce network in Arizona. In theory, these mentoring relationships are intended to help students make the transition from an academic to professional environment, and to offer an opportunity for professional development, networking, and an exchange of ideas between experienced professionals and the next generation of public health leaders.

So, Jason and I have been trying to get a pilot program going for this summer. We have three mentees who we are working on matching with mentors. I almost feel like this is a trial run for my innovation for my action research. Understanding the moving parts and training needs has been a rough process, but one we are working through. We just sent out a survey to our membership to gauge their interest in such a program and to see how much structure they would prefer to see. In less than 24 hours, we received 46 responses. I see doing something similar for my innovation to get a feel for what people would want and how to best create excitement (and buy in!).

Bringing this all back to leadership, one of the things Jason and I talked about was how to get people to buy in into this program. How do you create value for a program that does not have a proven history in a setting? He suggested to bring to my leadership at ASU the different ways mentoring has helped in other schools and even within my department. As lecturers and professors, we are matched with a mentor/mentee. This is a recent policy adoption and so I am curious to see what types of data they have been collecting in order to evaluate and assess. He said that with bringing in a policy and program that is already enacted, using their own language to justify my program, it would be easier to get it pushed through and approved.

This week, we also had a couple more interviews. The first defined success as students having higher performance scores. An obstacle to her programs was having enough funding to do what needed to be done, to carry out their programs. Once program is 21st Century. It is funded by the federal government and they have to turn away about 85% of the applicants. Many of these applicants are still qualified for the moneys and need the program; however, there is not enough to go around for everyone. Prioritizing who gets what funding is decided by several entities within the program, including a 43-person advisory board. Consensus must be a bear! Funding is one of the reasons why I want to keep my intervention small and simple. I know that funds are always a stretch coming from the college, especially in the last one to two years. The likelihood of getting funds for an action research project is rare. I am hoping to apply for a HRSA grant that may help to fund the project once I have pilot data collected. Then again, this is a grant and as with all grants, there is a time limit applied to it and it is rarely secure. Potential long-term funding sources would need to be identified if this intervention is successful.

The second interview which I just completed was with the Deputy Superintendent of Schools. It was fascinating! His focus is on highly effective teachers and leaders. They focus on what makes teachers most effective, which is not only on content knowledge, but also on understanding human cognition (the how to teach, get messages across). He is learning is a science, but teaching is an art. He talked about success as being effective across the board. Meaning students all have individual challenges and obstacles (socioeconomic status and instability are huge ones). Highly effective teachers should be ones that are able to transcend all those challenges and obstacles to reach the student.

Friday, June 10, 2016

DFS Week 4 Reaction

This week, I completed approximately 8 hours of work. I had the first interview yesterday with the director of School Health and Nutrition Services. It was the perfect person for me to start this process with as he also straddled the education and public health fields. Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about!

Some of the challenges he talked about was getting buy-in of school administrators and leadership. There often is a disconnect between health and education (speaking my language!) and he said that many times schools will focus on math and English scores. They do not see that there is a connection between a healthy and well-nourished student body and academic achievement even though there has been so much research on how nutrition (and other health measures) impacts learning. For example, just 20 minutes of physical activity significantly improved math scores. I asked him how he approached this issue, how he persuaded leaders to come on board. I was surprised that it seemed to be more reactionary than a proactive approach. Many times teachers and kitchen staff will approach them for help in implementing standards and changes to their programs. Teachers may notice that their students hit that afternoon slump after eating poorly during lunch. They will in return give resources, such as curriculum, for teachers to talk to their students on better food choices to fuel them throughout the day. Of course, this is only effective when students are the purchasers of food (such as in high school) rather than having their parents just pack them food.

Otherwise, he tries to appeal to the Rider side of the administration and show them how provided reimbursable meals can improve their bottom line. They appeal to the logic. I still am surprised that they do no react to the data on improvement of testing scores and health.

One thing that stood out to me were the program's activities with the lunch staff, those making and serving food to students. He said they had no problems with buy-in and that they were often enthusiastic about adopting higher standards. I'm sure this is because they are immersed every day and see the impact of food and nutrition on students. They did have a hard time knowing how to make changes to achieve these higher standards. The program sends trainers to individual schools, as well as larger trainings/workshops, to give the hands-on training. He said this motivates people by seeing their role and learning exactly how to achieve the goals. Now that the lunch staff have to complete a certain number of training hours per year to remain certified (and employed), the program acts as a resource that positively empowers them. It sounded like many lunch staff are Elephants, that is, people who are motivated by the emotional impact to the work and the program plays on this to keep them motivated and enthusiastic to learn.

Additionally, on a large white board in his office, he had a brainstorm of a strategic plan. They had in the past only focused on areas that needed to be brought up to minimal standards. They had never looked at all the areas of responsibility of the program and specified goals for each one, even if it meant keep up the status quo. I have some experience developing a strategic plan for programs, so we discussed different areas and how to measure goals.

This interview was fascinating to see how he tried to motivate different people in the implementation of their activities and promotion of their overall goal. I have always found my leadership style to be one that emphasis the data to motivate people, as that is what motivates me. There needs to be a balance and it is even more important to recognize when to use what type of motivation with who.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

DFS Week 3 Reaction

This past week, I completed approximately 7 hours of work so far. I met with my mentor yesterday and we finalized the questionnaire...again! We went through it one last time to make last minute edits. This was helpful to look at it after we both had set it aside for the long weekend. Fresh eyes! Jason then emailed the different directors, attaching the questionnaire, for scheduling the interviews. We are hoping that we will set up interviews starting next week. There are some who are located in Tucson and Flagstaff, so those will likely be done via phone or skype. One of the people attended the networking/happy hour last week, so it was nice to get a positive and excited response already. A couple of people stopped by to say hello and check in on my work so far. So more people are hearing about what I am doing, which will hopefully make these interviews more feasible. In the future, I will be attending any other future events. The exposure has been quite beneficial to get me known around the department.