Alternative Administrative Specialist

Mar 06, 2015

I’ve come by this profession through odd twists and turns.

I started teaching because of a girl. That’s not the entire story, but a good start. Back in the early aughts, southern districts hired any able bodied individual to teach in the population exploding inner city schools. The girl, who eventually became my wife (and was well worth following to Texas), was hired over the phone two weeks before school started. She didn’t have a teaching certificate. Neither did I when I followed in her footsteps 1 year later. Didn’t matter. I had gumption, grit, a great education from the University of Michigan, and could speak Spanish. So I started teaching Texas history and completely, totally, and absolutely fell in love with the profession.

Greatest gig in the world.

I received an alternative teaching license. I slugged through education classes at the University of Houston. These classes were, frankly, a joke. They were not challenging. And they were HIGHLY devoid of the day to day experiences I encountered in my classroom. But whatever, these were the hoops. I’m good at jumping through hoops. They’re algorithms for getting a preferred end result. I eventually received my license. And the profession – along with my peers – continued to teach me all kinds of truths and skills.

Here is a truth. If you are a life long learner, the internet is the most wonderful thing to ever happen.

The internet means learning is no longer confined to a syllabus. It’s not constrained to a teaching curriculum that focuses on what’s been the norm for the past 2 decades. It means knowledge isn’t only found in dusty libraries and slow moving lecture halls. It means I can follow leaders in the field as the write about pedagogy, interactions, and the exchange of ideas. It certainly has its dangers. There is a temptation to self-select the voices I want to hear. But at least I could find a wide selection of voices. And try out my own ideas.

Moving Sideways & Up

One idea opened doors. I installed an opensource software application on my server and started using it for the backbone of my history classes . My students loved the online discussions and instant feedback on assessments. I loved the efficiency.  I landed a solid job in Ohio partially because I wrote about the experiences of online classes. The job in Ohio eventually turned into a gig teaching other teachers how to create online classes. And then, after more schooling and more opportunity, a Director of Technology position.

My master’s degree is in Education Technology and it did not come with the opportunity to obtain an administrative license. Fortunately, the Director of Technology position presented an opportunity to obtain an Alternative Administrative License. As with my teaching license, I’m credentialed through unconventional means.

And I am very excited.

Because this particular pathway of certification allows me to take a massive amount of ownership in my learning. That is always the best means to become proficient in any area.

The Framework

Ohio defines the base requirements. Basically, I’ve developed a personal learning plan based on ISLLC self-assessment (results are for a future post). There’s also mentoring, which I’m also excited to complete. I’m surrounded by a lot of talented peers and colleagues. I’m constantly picking their brains.

Edlightenment will be used as my platform for my personal learning plan. Posts will document learning, categorized under Alternative Admin License, and be tagged with:

  • ISLCC Standard(s)
  • Knowledge, Dispositions, and/or performance

The goal is to have my learning be very public. I will have a large body of work available for review when renewing my license.

Many administrators go through an existential crisis when they move out of the classroom. The impact on kids’ lives is large, but diffused and certainly a good bit more abstract. It can be very difficult to wrestle with the elements of the job that lack concrete terms. One strong desire I have with working through this license is to find elements of practicality in leadership. Practical application is a goal.

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