Thursday, August 12, 2010

Action Research - Exploring Ways for Continuous Improvement

One insight that caught my interest from my readings during this course was the importance of scheduling a planned consistent time for reflection and inquiry. Taking time for reflection allows a greater sense of control and accomplishment, and enables leaders to make informed administrative decisions and to feel better about the important decisions they make on a day to day basis. I also came to understand the value of principals becoming a “head learner” and as Dr. Jenkins referred to in the video, a “servant leader” in order to be a role model for staff and students.

An area that I would like to explore more deeply is the idea of building interpersonal trust. I have worked in an environment in the past where there was little trust among staff and leadership and where the primary communication method was the grapevine which was often unreliable. I would like to discover more strategies for assessing and building the level of trust in an organization.

To continue building my applied knowledge in this area, I will conduct further research on this subject online and tag the articles under “trust” in my social bookmarking account, Diigo. I can also distribute the “Trust Inventory” found on page 10 of Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schools by Harris, Edmondson, and Combs, to our program staff and compile the results to determine if there are ways that we can improve in this area.

I agree with Matthew when he stated on the discussion board this week that many times we spend more time looking at quantitative data (i.e. test scores, progress reports, GPA's) than we do qualitative data. My approach to working with students is more like that of a case manager or counselor because that is how I was trained. I spend a great deal of time making notes about what I am observing with individual students but I find that I rarely take the time to compile or review what I have written to build a course of action that will help move the student forward toward his/ her goals. Something I learned is that you have to schedule times for action research in order for it to be effective and to become a habit. Blogging is a tool that I can use to help me accomplish this task. Taking the time to look at the numbers coupled with my observations as well as getting input from other program staff would help me get a better picture of the student in order to address his / her needs.

Problem solving is a major focus in my role as an advisor and I agree that research and inquiry are critical skills to impart to college students. Sometimes I teach those skills, and other times I must simply model them. Students often look to me as a problem solver, but if I teach them how to look for and find the answers to their own problems, it will make my job a lot easier and make me a more effective leader.

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