What principals LOVE to see in a classroom

This post is by Sherrell Coleman, an educational administrator. She holds a masters in public administration.

As an educational administrator in the K-12 arena, the classroom is home to 80% of my day. It is the very environment where my skills and abilities to coach, mentor and hone in on my expertise “of great teaching” comes to life. 

I find that the classroom possibilities — what is actually revealed – are endless.  Gone are the days of the traditional chalk board, textbook “sit & get” from direct teaching models.

Looking for Dr. Right

Board Members on What They Look for In a Superintendent

By Charles Boyd (president of the Board of Trustees of Valley Mills ISD) and David Schleicher (a former president of the Waco ISD Board), both in their personal capacities.

School districts can vary as much as the student populations that inhabit them and the towns that host them. There are nonetheless common elements to what many school boards look for in the superintendents that lead them. With one of us serving in a smaller rural district and the other having served in a mid-sized urban district, and both having taken part in superintendent searches, we collectively came up these five characteristics that we believe are central to the finding the right candidate.

Welcome to HEI’s New Blog!

You'll find the best resources to become a better educator

Jon Platt is a Texas-born, award-winning writer. He is a graduate student in Baylor University's journalism program. Jon coordinates HEI's digital marketing. He lives in Waco, Texas with his Dalmatian, Penny.

Have you seen what social media looks like after a national tragedy or natural disaster? People from everywhere pour in to provide support and awareness.

I love that part of the Internet — the ability to make tribes out of common experience, the chance to connect with like-minded people and experience alternative opinions. That’s what we’re planning to do here at HEI Today. What excites me is we’re doing it for and with people like you!

4 questions to ask before deciding on your graduate program

President of HEI

Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

1. What is my passion?

Let’s face it, teaching and working in schools is not for the faint of heart.  It will take more than a paycheck to keep, not only, persisting, but thriving in the classroom.  When selection a graduate degree, success will likely be mote forth-coming and the outcomes more fulfilling, if the field of study aligns with your passion. In my experience, the best fuel for success is to identify subjects, goals, missions, that tap into your passion or sense of calling.  This was the number one trait I have sought in my 20 years of hiring teachers and it proved to be extremely fruitful.  If you are not sure what you are passionate about, ask yourself where you experience joy; what projects do you enjoy so much that you would not only do them at work, but would do them for no pay and even stay up late by choice to work on them?

2. What are my greatest gifts and talents?

You likely know what you do well, what comes naturally, what you excel at.  These are frequently indications of your natural gifts and talents.  I have often found that students struggle with success when they do not align their degree choice with their natural abilities.  I have seen many students select law or medicine as a degree pathway, even though they have no real interest, aptitude or gifts that relate to those fields. It is my opinion that many of these students are attempting to please someone else by pursuing a field that they think will earn approval or praise from family, friends and community, or will make the most money, rather than an area that will be personally fulfilling and inspiring. So much financial expense, time and heartache could be avoided by tapping into the better fit to begin with.

 3. What are my long-term goals?

I know people with three or more Master’s degree.  This is perfectly fine, if a person loves going to school and has the funding to support it.  However, I have seen this happen more often from people changing their mind or deciding to go in another direction, often because they did not think things through regarding long-term goals, which can waist time, money and energy.  It can be a career limiter to become highly specialized, particularly if long-term goals do not exist.  If the long-term goal is to become a Superintendent, at some point a move needs to be made to educational administration and Superintendent Certification.  This process usually involves becoming a principal first and perhaps holding a Master’s degree in Educational Administration.  It is becoming increasingly common for Superintendents to hold a doctorate in Educational Administration along with their Superintendent Certification. Thinking your degree plans through to the ultimate goal, is the most effective and efficient way to pave your educational pathway.

4. What are my limitations?

Things that may impact your degree program choices and success that should be weighed accordingly may be:

  • Place-boundness – are you free to move for your career or not?
  • Financial limitations – how much debt to you have and what can you afford to take on?
  • Proximity – do you have to drive to attend or can you take course online?
  • Scheduling – time for study and class – will your schedule allow you enough time to study and attend class?
  • Available job opportunities – if you complete a graduate degree path, are there likely to be position options opening that you could consider?
  • Wellness level – is your physical, mental and relational situation strong enough to endure the stresses of graduate school?

Is life after graduation scary? It doesn’t have to be

President of HEI

Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

As students move closer to high school graduation, many are questioning not only what path to take – college, job, military, but even within each of the options, there are so many choices. It can be overwhelming.

The New York Times ran an article recently about three high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, who were struggling with these options. In many ways, these students appeared to be a good small sample of cross-section of various student types.

One student in the Times‘ story was worried about taking on a large amount of debt and still not having a job upon college graduation. I suspect he’s not alone. Parents are worried about this, too. With the high visibility recently of so many stories on crippling student debt, this is an understandable concern.

Of course, in a perfect world, students would like to focus on a college education that is both affordable and prepares students for jobs that are plentiful in the market. The trouble is that it is difficult for the average 17- or 18-year-old be able to discern and compare all of this information on their own. It’s tough enough for adults!

There are 4000 colleges in the U.S. and many hundreds of degree programs. The job market is pivoting faster than ever before. We do not yet know what all of the many new employment areas of the future will be.

Despite the fact that the last census showed that average income still correlates strongly with level of education, we know that there are no guarantees. Higher education remains a frightening proposition for many, yet so many jobs require a college degree.

Many school counselors have so many students assigned to them that it is virtually impossible to spend much significant time with any of them.

How do we help high school students to navigate these continually changing future options? How can we build a process that is more predictable, affordable, stable and less frightening? That’s one of the main issues I’d like to address in the weeks ahead on this site. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of joint discovery!

10 things a teacher should consider when thinking about grad school

President of HEI

Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

  1. What program are you interested in and what college(s) offers that program?
  2. Fit for your future career dreams – Think about the long-term goals.  What is your dream job – select a master’s that prepares for that goal.  Make sure it is something you love.
  3. Support – The greatest barrier for most people returning to higher education is fear and takes many various forms.  The greatest tool for overcoming fear is information and support — support from family, friends, and the college you plan to attend.  Make sure that you have the support of the people in your life.  If you have a friend who is also considering graduate school, talk about enrolling together and supporting each other through the process.
  4. Affordability – be sure to chooses a graduate program that you can either afford, or that you will be able to make financial aid payments for once you graduate. A financial aid calculator can help estimate your payments after graduation.
  5. Fit for you schedule and lifestyle – Obviously a Tuesday/Thursday 11 a.m. class will not work for most full time worker schedules.  If it is not a fit for your schedule, you will be unlikely to finish.  Online courses can help make learning more flexible.  Weekend or evening options work better for folks working during the day. 
  6. Institutional accreditation – both academic and organizational accreditation is important.  Check to be sure your college of choice is both regionally accredited academically and recognized by your state certification/licensing body.
  7. High pass-rates for sitting for certification exams – Ask college what their pass rates are for the certification(s) you seek.
  8. Students are treated as valued individual and not a number – This should be somewhat evident in the early communications with your prospective colleges.  Are your calls returned promptly, are people glad to hear from you, are your questions answered thoroughly, are all the bases covered?
  9. Assisting graduating student with career advancement – is the college willing and able to help you with the hurdles to employment with:
    1. Letters of recommendation?
    2. Advice and networking?
    3. Problem solving and referrals?
  10. Is your college well thought of – ask current students and other professionals. If other people have had a good experience at a college and/or working with graduates of that college, chances are better that you will too.