Whiteland, Indiana Whiteland is a small community in Johnson County and is approximately 15 miles south of Indianapolis. There are close to 4,500 residents. Whiteland is surrounded by several larger communities. It is home to the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation, which is one of the fastest growing corporations in the state. It includes eight schools with 5,781 students in grades K- 12. Whiteland Elementary School Whiteland Elementary School serves students in pre-kindergarten through grade four. It is the smallest school in the district with 389 students and 25 teachers. It was renovated about 12 years ago. Cummings: Shadow Study3
Whiteland Elementary School Whiteland Elementary School received an "A" as its final letter grade for school accountability. There was no letter grade change from last year. Student Performance A school's letter grade is established by the percent of students passing state assessments. Mathematics 85.9% of students passed the assessment. This rate is above the state average. This rate is below the state goal. English/Language Arts 92.9% of students passed the assessment. This rate is above the state average. This rate is above the state goal. A Letter Grade 2011-2012 Report Card Cummings: Shadow Study5 Enrollment 2012-13 389 Students
Cummings: Shadow Study6 Mrs. Cirsten Lewis has been the principal of Whiteland Elementary School for two years. Before becoming an administrator, Mrs. Lewis was an elementary school teacher in both Wayne Township and Clark-Pleasant schools. She has taught students in kindergarten through grade three. Throughout her career, she has worked with students who have a diverse range of challenges. These include students with academic and behavioral interventions, English language learners, and high-ability students. Mrs. Lewis received her bachelor’s degree from Franklin College and her administrative degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. Mrs. Lewis and her husband have two young children. Their son is a kindergartener who attends Whiteland Elementary and their daughter is two-years old. Mrs. Lewis’ husband and his extended family have been residents of Whiteland for several generations.
Cummings: Shadow Study7 Interview with Mrs. Lewis What traits or qualities does an administrator need to have? I think an administrator needs to have, most importantly, the ability to calmly communicate and act in high stress situations. She also must have a thick skin, be able to transition quickly from one task to another, and to also have sense of humor. What advice can you give to new principals? A new principal needs to talk with other principals because it can be a very isolating job in the beginning. Be sure about your core convictions and be able to let some things go so that you don’t stifle creativity in others. Get feedback from your staff in how you are doing. What is the most difficult thing about being a principal? The most difficult thing would be finding time to seek joy in daily activities. You receive a lot of negative feedback or information so interacting positively with teachers and students has to be intentional. Keeping up with deadlines is daunting especially during specific times of the year, especially testing times.
Cummings: Shadow Study 8 How does the No Child Left Behind Act and other federal/state mandates affect your decisions? It affects so many of my decisions, but so do other laws that govern education. I keep with what is legal in the forefront of all my decisions along with what is ethical. What areas were you unprepared for after becoming an administrator? (Things they don’t prepare you for in school) I wasn’t prepared for the urgency I immediately felt in regards to student achievement. I felt an immediate grand responsibility for every child in the building. I also wasn’t prepared for the volume of e-mails I receive daily. Is there a philosophy or theory that guides your administrative decisions concerning your relationships with teachers and staff? Servant leadership is a theory I like to align my practice with. There are times when I have to be top-down, but shared leadership is important. It is important because I realize that being out of the classroom means that I’m out of touch sometimes. What are some things you would like to change about your school? I would like to continue developing our data walls and Response to Instruction (RTI) so that we are creating intervention plans for individuals kids rather than for larger groups of struggling students. I would like a more diverse staff so that all students can find a mentor in the building.
Cummings: Shadow Study9 Communication Study I had the opportunity to shadow Mrs. Lewis on August 26, 2013. I collected data on three different variables: the communication type, individuals involved, and type of action. Below are the codes and chart revealing the collection of data which I observed during this field experience. Parties Involved (PI)Communication Type (CT)Type of Action (TA) A = AdministratorF = Face-to-FaceC = Curriculum T = TeacherE = E-mailS = Scheduling Se = SecretaryP = Telephone/CellphoneD = Disciplinary C = CounselorW = WrittenM = Monitoring I = Instructional CoachC= ConferenceR = Resource s Available P = ParentI = IntercomO = Other S = Student O = Other Person TimeDescriptionPICTTA 7: 45 a.m.Arrives with her son who is in kindergarten, sets down her purse, turns on the computer, and ensures that her son is occupied in the attached small conference room OFN/A 7:52 a.m.Instructional Coach comes in and gives First in Math informationIFC
Cummings: Shadow Study 10 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 7:53 a.m.The new pre-school coordinator comes in to talk about the furniture in her room. It’s her first day at our school. She needs a desk and other items, and Mrs. Lewis tells her she’ll check on the desk situation and to ask the secretaries for the remaining items. Se, O FR 7:56 a.m.Organizes and prioritizes her list of items needing to be done. Makes coffee and talks with IC about her weekend. IFS 7:59 a.m.Talks with secretary about a parent’s court date whose kindergartener switches school every other week between our school and a school in Lafayette, Indiana. The law requires that the kindergartener be unrolled and reenrolled each week. So, Mrs. Lewis verifies that the kindergartener was reenrolled. Se, P, S FM 8:01 a.m.Calls the kindergartener teacher to ask if she talked with the mom and discussed the situation. Simultaneously checks e-mail and sets appointment for the teacher and her to meet with mom. TP, E M 8:03 a.m.Instructional Coach comes back in and they decide to reschedule School Improvement Team data meeting to after school. They decide to make the meeting open to everyone and the Instructional Coach will make copies of data. IFS 8:05 a.m.The new pre-school coordinator also returns to say that the cabinets in her room are full and Mrs. Lewis tells her to put the items in another room so they can see if they belong to someone. OFR 8:07 a.m.Tells her son that he can return books to the library and to come right back.OFM
Cummings: Shadow Study11 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 8:08 a.m.Reviews documents that need to be sent to the school attorney concerning a civil rights discrimination plan regarding a student with a 504 whose parents feel the teacher wasn’t meeting his IEP and their son was being bullied. P, OWO 8:12 a.m.Checks e-mails and sends an e-mail to School Improvement Team to see if they can meet afterschool on Thursday. TES 8:15 a.m.Greets the Adult and Child Behavioral Consultant who has just been assigned to a kindergartener who is having difficulty adjusting to school. She will stay with the student until special area classes (art, music, gym, or computer lab), and then grandma will pick him up. She needs a key to her room. They go to the key box and take the last key. Mrs. Lewis asks the secretary to put in a work order to have a replacement key made. O, Se FM, R 8:23 a.m.Gathers the Bob Marzano reports because our corporation is a participating in a research project for him, and she e-mails the reports to Grade Chairs to look at and discuss with their teams before the next Grade Chair meeting. TW, EC 8:25 a.m.Teacher comes by to do a quick “Hello! How are you?”TFO 8:26 a.m.E-mails a parent to tell them that their child’s dental appointment is okay. PEO
Cummings: Shadow Study12 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 8:27 a.m.Takes a notebook to the counselor who left it on her desk. Gets herself and the secretaries coffee. C, Se FO 8:29 a.m.Checks steno-pad for log of things that she’s recorded which have been done and need to be done. She checks her phone log that she uses to cross-check if she has contacted a parent. PWR 8:33 a.m.Attendance secretary comes in to ask about a document, which is a therapist note regarding a student. Mrs. Lewis cross-checks this with the student’s discussion notes in a binder. Se, S WR 8:37 a.m.Nurse says the heat index interferes with recess, and they agree to send an e-mail to teachers that students may go outside to walk for 10 minutes and to have the remaining recess time indoor. OFM 8:38 a.m.Counselor comes by to say she checked on the kitten that was found outside the principal’s window last Friday and that it is still there. CFO 8:40 a.m.Mrs. Lewis’ husband calls.OPO 8:46 a.m.Gets the walkie-talkie and goes to the bus drop-off area where she meets the counselor to greet the kids who eat breakfast. A bus driver wants to talk with Mrs. Lewis about a student who is defiant, disruptive, and rolls her eyes at when asked to do something. Mrs. Lewis tells the bus driver to write the student up and that the bus driver should call the parents. C, S, O FM
Cummings: Shadow Study13 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 8:55 a.m.School bell rings and Mrs. Lewis announces to all bus drivers through the walkie-talkie that kindergarteners may get off the bus. She greets, hugs, and reminds kids to walk and hold their basketballs. Another bus driver steps off the bus to tell her that she has a discipline issue with a student carrying rocks. Mrs. Lewis then dismisses all students and the busses leave. One bus driver stops to give three bus conduct write-ups. Two of them are getting their second write-up. She then monitors the parent drop-off lane. S, OFM, D 9:05 a.m.Returns to office and calls the teacher who has the student with rocks and asks her to check it out. T, SPD 9:09 a.m.Checks the birthday list before announcements and gets the patriotic CD ready. SWM 9:10 a.m.Checks other student names on the bus conduct forms and calls the teachers to send those students up to the office. S, TW, P D 9:11 a.m.Greets two students for morning announcements. Students lead pledge and patriotic song. Mrs. Lewis takes over and announces First in Math classroom and player for the week, birthdays, and what specials rotations are for the day. SF, IM 9:15 a.m.Greets the boy who has a birthday and talks about his party. He gets something out of the treasure box. The First in Math player of the week comes up to get the school lanyard. SFM
Cummings: Shadow Study14 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 9:18 a.m.Takes students who received the bus conduct form into the conference room. She discusses the name-calling until they admit what they did and sends them back to the classroom. SFD 9:23 a.m.Documents communication on bus conduct form. Simultaneously, greets the man who brings the water for school coolers and greets the teacher who stopped by earlier to say hello. O, TWD, O 9:25 a.m.Instructional Coach comes in for the weekly meeting. They talk about frustrations with implementing new ideas and encourage each other to keep up the positive energy. They review Essential Learning skills and how they will be the shadows during each team’s PLC meeting. They come up with a check-list to verify which parts of the Daily 5 each teacher is covering in their classrooms and then prioritize the list. They acknowledge that each teacher will be in different stages and decide to send the list to teachers to get their input. Mrs. Lewis tries to send an e-mail, but her box is full so she needs to delete some messages. She creates a Grade Chair e-mail group and sends them the Daily 5 checklist. Then, they discuss materials needed for Family Parent Night. The Instructional Coach gives examples of RTI parent letters and they come-up with a revision to be typed and sent home. They decide that they need to come up with a form to verify that each teacher who has an RTI student calls the parent. The Instructional Coach will do four IF, W, C C, S
Cummings: Shadow Study15 TimeDescriptionPICTTA (continued)workshops for teachers who need professional growth points. Last, they agree to purchase one Daily 5 subscription and will get a purchase order form. *** 10:30 a.m.Begins walk-through laps around the building. She is looking for structure and activity within the rooms, listening to tones, and anything within the school that needs to be addressed for safety concerns. She greets the custodian and stops by the new pre-school coordinator's room to check it out and she makes a point to stop by each Instructional Assistants’ room to see about extra desks. T, S, O FM, O, R 10:47 a.m.Comes across kindergartner who is having trouble adjusting to school in the hallway with the counselor. He’s threatening to bring a pocketknife. She mediates the issue, checks her mailbox, and reviews the corporation’s energy output form. S, CF, W D, O 10:51 a.m.Counselor comes into office with documents to be sent to attorney regarding the Civil Rights plan. They check phone logs and the 504 binder. CWR 11:01 a.m.Checks e-mails and e-mails all parties in the need to know about the prior student TEM 11:06 a.m.Counselor brings copies of documents to be scanned to the attorney and verifies that the 30 day summary report was sent. CWM
Cummings: Shadow Study16 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 11:11 a.m.Takes all documents to the scanner and sends them to herself to check over before forwarding to the attorney OWM 11:26 a.m.Eats lunch in the office and checks e-mailsOEM 11:32 a.m.Instructional Coach brings RTI parent letter in to be proof read.IFM 11:43 a.m.Special Education Teacher comes in with a parent concern and discusses the Functional Behavior Assessment. TFM 11:50 a.m.Works on the building specific safety plan that is due Friday to the corporation safety person. Leaves a message with safety person regarding question. OW, P M 11:58 a.m.Looks through documents that lists who is on which committeeTWM 12:00 p.m.Safety person calls back and verifies what is needed. Makes a note to be sure every teacher has emergency safety procedures, has safety bags, and arranges to meet with building safety committee. OWM 12:06 p.m.Teacher stops by to say hello. Mrs. Lewis checks with secretary to see how many teachers and staff are CPR certified, but they’re not sure. T, Se FM 12:10 p.m.Checks phone numbers to include on the corporation safety committee form and updates it. She e-mails the custodian to see where the gas shut-off valve is located. T, C, I, O W, E M
Cummings: Shadow Study17 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 12:17 p.m.Asks secretary for a specific CPR updated list and then decides to e- mail staff to respond for verification purposes Se, T F, EM 12:22 p.m.One of the new first grade teachers comes to make sure all her paper work was sent to the administration office. TFM 12:24 p.m.Gets message from Human Resource department about a prior employee where there has been a miscommunication with workman’s compensation and health insurance OEO 12:30 p.m.Makes sure lap-top is charged for an upcoming observation. Distributes bus conduct forms: white copy to teachers to send home with parents, pink copy to transportation, yellow to the bus driver, and blue copy in the principal’s folder O, T, S WM 12:33 p.m.Checks e-mail. A staff member has e-mailed about a personal day, and she records it on the calendar, which she checks each morning. TW, E O 12:34 p.m.Walks to the administration building next door to contribute to the principals’ pitch-in for the new superintendent’s baby shower. On the way back, she greets a fourth grader’s mom and preschooler brother. A, S, P FO 12:44 p.m.Does another round of laps around the building. Sees student who was involved in the eye-rolling bus incident and calls her over to talk to her. Checks in with new preschool coordinator who still doesn’t have a desk. T, Se, O FO
Cummings: Shadow Study 18 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 12:51 p.m.Counselor comes in to have Mrs. Lewis check over a volunteer letter before sending it out. People who volunteer in the corporation are now required to be trained. C, PWO 1:06 p.m.Teacher comes in with student who was exposing himself under cafeteria table. Mrs. Lewis asks for names of everyone involved. She sits down beside him and calmly talks about what happened. She sends him back to his room, documents it, calls his mom, and e- mails teacher to tell her what was done. T, Se F, W, P D 1:26 p.m.Calls parent back who wants to know why fourth grade son isn’t in the high ability math class. Mrs. Lewis tells him the results of the re- take placement test, which had a lower score. Parent still wants a fifth grade math workbook. PPC 1:35 p.m.Human Resource e-mails a carbon copy of compensation plan and simultaneously calls to verify a former Instructional Assistant’s references so she can be a substitute. OE, PO 1:40 p.m.Checks schedule to see when to have ISTEP+ training before the deadline. TWC 1:47 p.m.E-mails custodian about gas shut-off valve and Instructional Assistants about volunteering to give up a desk for new preschool coordinator. OER 1:49 p.m.Secretary comes in to see if two teacher book editions that are missing have been ordered. SeFR
Cummings: Shadow Study19 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 2:00 p.m.A new first grade teacher comes in to ask if she can have a chicken coop. She has also decide that leading Future Problem Solvers is too much to handle, but is interested in serving on the Bob Marzano or Social Committee. TFC, O 2:07 p.m.Third grade Instructional Assistant comes by to see if Mrs. Lewis is okay with students’ noise level during lunch. OFM 2:08 p.m.E-mails special education staff her outlook schedule so they don’t book appointments that will overlap. Checks to see when second grade data meeting is scheduled by calling one of teachers whose students are in specials classes. Checks Instructional Coaches schedule at the same time. T, IE, W S 2:16 p.m.Three fourth graders don’t have their ISTEP+ scores so she pulls their permanent records. She then e-mails the Testing and Data Specialist so she can request it from their prior schools. SWM 2:20 p.m.Second grade teacher stops by to tell her that there is a conflict between the Essential Learning Committee she has to go to and her scheduled dentist appointment. TFO 2:32 p.m.Checks e-mail groups to add new Instructional Assistant to the IA and kindergarten groups and the Preschool Coordinator to the All Teachers and Special Education groups. E-mails a teacher who has two students which are struggling behaviorally to see how they are O, TEM, S
Cummings: Shadow Study20 TimeDescriptionPICTTA (continued)doing. Sends message to kindergarten teachers that one of the IA’s will have to cover for the art teacher so she can get to the RISE committee meeting. *** 2:04 p.m.Calls parent to set up a 504 meeting, but the parent has car trouble so she e-mails teacher to set up a phone conference. PPS, C 2:45 p.m.Preschool Coordinator comes in to share additional things she’s going to need: building schedule, phone lists of staff members, etc. OFR 2:53 p.m.Instructional Coach comes in with SRI materials, discusses data, and tells her that some students need strategies on how to take a test. IFC, R 2:55 p.m.Curriculum Coordinator stops by to bring books for Preschool Coordinator and then verifies Stanine information. AFR 3:16 p.m.Checks the computer lab because the lab coordinator just created and awesome keyboard for the wall and wants Mrs. Lewis to see it. OFO 3:32 p.m.Schedules fire drill for WednesdayTWO 3:40 p.m.Grabs walkie-talkie and walks with counselor to the bus area for dismissal and then monitors the car rider line C, SFM 3:49 p.m.Another new first grade teacher stops her and the counselor on the way into the building to talk about a student who is having destructive behaviors. T, SFD
Cummings: Shadow Study21 TimeDescriptionPICTTA 4:07 p.m.An upset mom calls because her daughter just got off the bus and her eye is scratched up. They are taking her to the doctor to have it checked out. Mrs. Lewis calls the teacher and checks the nurses log to find out what happened. P, SP, W D 4:20 p.m.The teacher who has been taking care of the abandon kitten in her room comes in because she has to leave, and I take the kitten home. TFO Indirect result of Shadow Study
Cummings: Shadow Study23 Discussion Questions What information did you collect and how did you collect it? What would you change if you did it again? I collected data regarding who Mrs. Lewis communicated with, the type of communication displayed, and what actions were taken. I then interpreted the results and put them into separate pie graphs based on the data collected. This process began by creating a chart to organize the information that I felt would be the most beneficial to me. I decided to take this chart with me and do a hand-written log verses carrying a lap-top to safe guard against the battery dying. If I could change anything about my shadow study, I would add a category that reflected how Mrs. Lewis communicated with different people. It would include descriptive behaviors such as compassion, serious, humor, frustration, and reflection. I think this data would be very thought- provoking. What techniques seemed to provide you with the most useful insights into the behavior of the administrator? While most of my observation was occupied with being a true “shadow”, the most valuable insights occurred when my observations were given explanations by Mrs. Lewis regarding her thought processes and background knowledge of specific communications. This was imperative in some conversations so that I could understand the being discussed in context with the communication taking place. (continued)
Cummings: Shadow Study24 What groups or situations seemed to be the most frequent source of problems for your administrator? Interrupted works makes her feel like many things are left unfinished by the end of the day. Also, the most frequent source of problems would be parents who do not trust school staff and anger easily. These situations do not stress her out personally, but they unnecessarily create a sense of urgency for the staff who are working hard to do what is correct for the students. What things would you not do if you were repeating this activity? If I could do this activity again, I would include scheduled times where I could observe a parent- teacher conference, teacher observation, or grade chair meeting. As a teacher, I have been involved in these activities, but I suspect my perceptions would be different if I were to observe them from a shadow’s perspective. I am always considering situations from the other participants point of view, but I am curious to know if my perceptions would be validated by observing from the “outsider looking in” approach. The second technique that provided me with the most insight was how Mrs. Lewis responded to discipline situations. She was extremely calm, but stern and compassionate when talking with students. This was really enlightening because each student went away knowing they were respected, but were contrite because they knew what they had done was wrong.
Cummings: Shadow Study25 What “surprises” did the day provide for you? Perhaps the biggest surprise was that I came home with a kitten. Besides that, I was surprised at how fast the day went for me. A principal’s job requires you to be continually reactive to occurrences as they arrive even if it means you have to say you’ll get back with someone. In your opinion, what were the administrator’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? Mrs. Lewis greatest strength is her compassion for children, especially students who are struggling or have IEP’s. Every decision she makes is based on what she believes to be in the best interest of each child. She endeavors to make sure all students feel included and ensures there is minimal pull-out of students. A challenge for Mrs. Lewis is time to accomplish things throughout the day. She sometimes has to leave various work unfinished and get back to them at a later time. What kinds of problems seemed to be most difficult for the administrator to handle? To what do you attribute this difficulty? She didn’t appear to have any difficulty through out the day, but because we work together in the same building we have discussed previously how she has expressed her difficulty with meeting the staff’s diverse styles of emotional needs. Some staff need more reassurance that they are doing okay and strive to communicate with her multiple times a day. Mrs. Lewis is someone who doesn’t need constant reassurance to feel self-worth. She recently read The Language of Love, which helps explain the emotional side of different people.
Cummings: Shadow Study28 respectful attentive. (ELCC 5.2) Her communication is entirely different from the teacher who spends most of the day communicating with students and other teachers. An administrator has the ability to be an effective Public Relations (PR) person for the building. I think being a PR person is one task that I am really going to enjoy. It would allow me to focus on giving all shareholders in the internal and external environment positive rapport. My Shadow Study with Mrs. Lewis was definitely worth-while. It afforded me the opportunity to see the diverse roles of an administrator. There are many challenges including the stress from being accountable to so many people, but is also incredibly rewarding to be in a position where you can be a positive influence to many people. I know I have a lot to learn. This experience definitely has me motivated to pursue an administrative career. I am now beginning to develop my own personal vision through theories and observations, and I am anxious to see what the future holds in this endeavor.