By design, the program facilitates each candidate's development of a professional leadership perspective by providing extensive opportunities to analyze implement and reflect on the relationships between theory and practice concerning leadership, teaching, and learning in the context of contemporary school issues in California. The program offers exposure to the essential themes, concepts and skills related to the performance of administrative services, including but not limited to: relationship building; communication skills; the ability to articulate, apply and evaluate theories of leadership; an understanding of and ability to apply, model, and analyze curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessment; an understanding of standards-based accountability systems; and the ability to use data to make decisions regarding program improvement. The program develops each candidate’s understanding of how successful resource management affects successful instructional leadership.
The very design of the Educational Leadership and Administration Program of California State University, Fresno, incorporates the essence of instructional leadership in the era of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Indeed, our program design has been modified to put the curriculum and instruction course in the first semester which includes an introduction to gathering and using data to determine needs and to inform classroom instruction. The other course is an introduction to the entire program and our intense focus on developing strong instructional leaders. The program is informed by the long-standing knowledge base of the profession that is presented to candidates including such authors as John Goodlad (2004), Carl Glickman (2010), Terry Deal and Kent Peterson (2007), Wayne Hoy and Cecil Miskel (2009), Roland Barth (1990 and 2004), Michael Fullan (2001 and 2003), Jonathon Kozol (1991), Warren Bennis (2008), Robert Greenleaf (1996), Max DePree (1989), Howard Gardner (1993), Peter Senge (1994 and 2001), Robert Hargrove, (2008), Mike Schmoker (1996 and 2008), Robert Marzano (2001 and 2008), Douglas Reeves (2002, 2004, and 2009), and Thomas Sergiovanni (1992 and 2002) among others. A great deal of work has been done in California under the auspices of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) through ongoing training and publications, such as the professional magazine Leadership. Also, WestEd has provided much guidance in linking leadership to standards (2003). Finally, the ISLLC standards (1996) and the work of ETS have been instrumental in the work in developing and understanding the CPSELs (2002).
The activities and experiences in the program are informed by the everyday responsibilities of educational leaders in our schools. The need for curriculum aligned to the content standards, continuous formative assessment, effective and differentiated instruction, ongoing professional development of staff, and interventions for students not meeting the standards are woven throughout course- and fieldwork in the program.
The CSTP (California Standards for the Teaching Profession) and the CPSELs are dealt with continuously through courses and fieldwork, case studies, problem-based learning activities, and other sessions sponsored by the Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute.
One of the strongest aspects of the entire Educational Leadership and Administration Program is the incorporation of reflective practice. All courses and fieldwork include activities in which candidates must incorporate new learnings into their understanding of the workings and leadership of schools.
As mentioned earlier, the overall structure and sequence of course and fieldwork contributes to the application of principles and techniques used to provide effective leadership, to motivate, to delegate, and to build a common vision for the organization. Application of these principles and techniques takes place through such activities as case studies, scenarios, role play, discussion and analysis, group processing, and ordered sharing, to name a few. The assessments utilized in each course by instructors as well as self-assessments by the candidates provide feedback on a regular basis. These assessment help build candidate understanding of major concepts and theories and their application to the real-life of schools. In addition, an individual portfolio is developed throughout the entire program and is assessed at the end of the program.
Candidates also take an active part in small and large group class discussions, candidate presentations, and in other activities. The final course contains the culminating exercise for the entire program: a mock interview where candidates participate in an interview with a real school administrator. Not enough can be said regarding the importance of this particular activity (269 Signature Assignment 4).
Case studies of real situations are presented for analysis, discussion, and resolution throughout the program.
Returning to the major theme of our program, we strive to prepare candidates to become instructional leaders with activities and content that is relevant to their needs, applicable to their situations, and is credible to our profession.
From the very beginning of the program, candidates are required to reflect upon material that is presented in class about class activities, about fieldwork activities, and about how each of these contributes to their growth and understanding of leadership.
Through this reflective practice mentioned above and in the previous response, candidates must examine their own beliefs, their leadership style, and their practices. Some of the examples of activities leading to self-examination include the educational platform development and presentation to fellow classmates in EAD 263 Seminar in Supervision of Instruction. Candidates consistently rate this exercise as one of the most fulfilling of the entire program. Another is the mock interview exercise that takes place in the final course, EAD 269 Site-based Leadership.
The first course, EAD 261 Management of Educational Organizations, opens the door to many new learnings and a common practice that takes place in this course and others is that of ordered sharing, where candidates are required to write a short reflection from a provocative piece of writing or from an activity in the class, share each reflection individually with a small group, then discuss within the small group. This is then followed by a short, whole class discussion on the topic. In this course, candidates are first asked to begin reflecting upon and developing their own vision of education and leadership. In EAD 263 Supervision of Instruction, candidates must go through a complete cycle of supervision with a teacher (263 Signature Assignment 1), including pre-conference, observation, lesson analysis, post-conference, mutual analysis of the process, and follow-up activities with the teacher. At the end of this major exercise, candidates are required to write a personal reflection on each stage of the process and their own growth.
Signature assignments and embedded fieldwork are similar in many respects. The candidate is asked to participate and even lead activities in her/his school and generally to write a reflection regarding new learnings from the experience.
In the course, EAD 272 Seminar in Advanced Curriculum Evaluation and Development, candidates are asked to reflect upon various curricular and instructional practices and to analyze the effectiveness of each for use in a variety of different academic situations and in understanding how to provide access for all students to the core curriculum. An emphasis is placed on standards-based instruction and assessments (272 Signature Assignment 1 and 272 Embedded Fieldwork 2).
One course, ERA 288 Measurement and Program Evaluation provides a venue for learning to look at student, school, and district data; reflect upon the meaning and value of data at each level; and to determine how to use these data to improve the teaching and learning process (288 Signature Assignment 1). Candidates are provided with multiple opportunities to reflect upon verbally and in writing the new learnings they obtain from the activities in this course.
The final course has a major focus on helping the candidate synthesize learnings from the entire program and how to successfully manage resources in the most effective manner to continually support the goal of student learning. Three linked activities prepare the candidate to step into a leadership role: Prepare a Personal Professional Growth Plan to present to the candidate’s supervisor and receive feedback, (269 Signature Assignment 2), prepare a Statement of Philosophy, Resume, and respond to a Practicum prompt (269 Signature Assignment 3) and then participate in an interview simulation (269 Embedded Fieldwork Assignment 4), and finally, to prepare a capstone paper on the current state and desired state of the candidate’s site (269 Signature Assignment 4)
The research components of the program (ERA 220 Educational Research and EAD 298/299 Master’s Degree Thesis or Project), while not officially part of the credential program, but nevertheless an essential part of the work educational leaders do, afford many opportunities to read and analyze research with the final goal of putting the new learnings obtained to work in improving the achievement of all children.