Monday, August 18, 2008

What’s it like to be a ....Director of Curriculum and Instruction?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed? 
Everyday is different. I might be doing “administrivia”(creating budgets, investigating textbooks for purchase, keeping up with current state GLCEs or HSCEs, acting as the district contact for MEAP and MME), training teachers, modeling lessons in classrooms, planning with school improvement teams, working with building principals, etc.  Over the last few years, we have become much more focused on data; using the data from certain tests to help us to make good instructional decisions.  A great deal of my job has become gathering and interpreting data for principals and school improvement teams. The use of technology has exploded and trying to keep teachers up to date with shrinking funds has been a challenge.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I was at preschool teacher and director for 15 years, then I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade for another 14 years.  At the end of my career, I was an elementary principal (K-4) and finally, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a 3500-student district. (All except the preschool part of my career has been in the same district.)

What’s This Career Really Like?
What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?
I have a BA in Education, an MA in Early Childhood Education, and 30+ hours (beyond my MA degree) in classes that would enhance my current position. Anyone wanting to go into Educational Administration must teach first for a number of years and also should pursue a MA degree in Educational Administration.  I don’t think I could have done either of my administrative jobs without understanding what the classroom teacher deals with on a daily basis.  In addition, joining professional organizations, (I would suggest ASCD and IRA), reading professional books and publications, and attending conferences in order to remain current would be very helpful.
As far as personal attributes, I think you need to be an extremely organized person, someone twho gets along easily with a wide variety of people, and enjoys being a problem solver.

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you?
The rewards of being an administrator are when challenges and problems are solved to everyone’s satisfaction.  Also, introducing a new initiative that begins to show results in the data is very rewarding.  Working with parents can be challenging at times; usually, when the problem reaches you, it has polarized the teacher and parents on opposite sides.  Solving the problems can be challenging, but at the same time, very rewarding.  A good day for me is when I can leave the building looking forward to coming back the next day!! (Which in my case, is almost always!!)

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, administrators will have to become stronger instructional leaders…aware of the newest trends and best practices in education and know how to help their staff become knowledgeable and implement change. Data is going to become increasingly important and knowing how to gather and interpret it is going to be a large part of their jobs.  Learning how to do more with less money is also going to be critical…. trying to figure out how to implement change, infuse technology and yet do it with fewer state dollars is going to be a huge challenge.

How could a person find out more about your field?
I think the best way to find out more about being an Administrator on any educational level is to job shadow an administrator for a day or two, which would give you real insight into the variety the job provides each day.

When you were growing up, did you have any interests that you have built into your work?
I loved babysitting and even ran a “preschool” in my backyard for two summers in high school.  I also volunteered at a day care center to see what it would be like to work with this age.

What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are today?
Trying to get an MA degree while raising a family and while being a preschool director/teacher was challenging in terms of managing time.

What was your first job like after college?
My first job after college was a preschool teacher in a fabulous preschool in Ann Arbor. I learned so much from the quality of the program that I was able to utilize in a director/teacher position I held after our move to Grand Rapids.

Are there any web sites you would suggest for more information about your field?

I think every student going into education should be aware of the site to help him or her keep current in educational trends.



Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/18 at 01:03 PM

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