About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, December 12, 2016

School leadership in Haiti: Reflections and predictions

What a location for a course!
Last week, I taught a Master of Education course in Fermathe, Haiti in the mountains above Port au Prince. This is the fifth Masters course I have taught in Haiti and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the 41 students in my course.

One item that struck me was the growth in the number of female participants in the Masters courses I have taught. There were only two females (out of 60) in the first course I taught ten years ago in Haiti. In last week's course, 11 of the participants were female. And they were very strong leaders within the course! This certainly gives me hope that many more women will pursue educational leadership in Haiti.
Marie Paule and Berline - two amazing leaders!
Rodia is dynamic and has a powerful vision!
Another issue that impressed me was the high level of engagement of the students. We covered a wide variety of topics, including transformational and transactional leadership, teacher evaluation, and teacher professional development. We did a lot of active learning in all of these areas and the course participants were always eager for more.

Characteristics of a leader
Inside-Outside activity was a big hit!
Finally, I tried to model effective teaching practices for the participants. We had readings that included chapters from both North American as well as Haitian scholars. Each day, we determined the criteria that would be used to assess their work for the day. We incorporated mini-lectures led by me with small group seminars that participants led. We completed activities that reflected different learning styles. I was really pleased to see that in the learning activities that the students led, they too did not simply rely on traditional teaching methods (i.e., lectures) but tried to utilize different means to communicate the key ideas they were focused on.

Individual vision statements
After teaching this Masters course, I am even more convinced that there is tremendous opportunity for the future of education in Haiti. These are strong and capable leaders whose vision is to lead effective schools and to impact educational outcomes across the country. Last week was only a snapshot into this potential but I am optimistic that over the next 20 years, these leaders will be some of the key change agents in Haiti.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Who has influenced you in your leadership abilities? Insights from Haitian principals

This week I am teaching a Masters-level course in school leadership in Haiti. There are 45 participants who are progressing toward a Master of Education degree.

In my work in different contexts, whether Canada, Haiti, Ghana, or Thailand, I have always been impressed with the dedication that principals have to leading effective schools. I have never met a school leader who said, "Oh, I really just want to lead a mediocre school." Even with limited resources, as is the case for many of the participants in the current course, principals often find innovative ways to address the needs of their students and teachers.

Yesterday, I gave each principal a picture of a tree and asked them to write onto the leaves all of the leadership qualities, skills, and dispositions that they think they have. I then asked them to consider the roots of the tree and to identify the various people, activities, or events that contributed to these qualities. Tonight, as I reviewed the products of this simple assignment, I have been amazed at the qualities these leaders have identified. I am even more impressed at what (or who) they have identified as having contributed to these abilities.

It reminds me that none of us become a leader by simply reading a book or following a specific formula. Most of my leadership abilities I can directly tie to people who have invested in me and mentored me. It is a good reminder for me to be deliberate and intentional in speaking into the lives of "emerging leaders" to encourage them, challenge them, and to model for them what it means to be an effective leader.

Who has influenced you as a leader? Who have you influenced?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Building school leadership capacity through Master of Education courses in Haiti

This week, I am returning to the Port au Prince area of Haiti to teach a Master of Education (M.Ed.) course in school leadership. I have taught a number of M.Ed. courses in school leadership in Haiti before, however, it has been three years since I last did so. There are 45 school leaders registered for this week's course.

I continue to teach Master of Education courses in Haiti because it provides a focused  opportunity to engage those in strategic positions of educational leadership in the country. Haiti will change through the leadership of those who know it best, not external people such as myself. I continue to see my role as a catalyst for change, fostering the capacity of those who already have a vision for change but perhaps who need some support.

The course I am teaching provides an overview of school leadership in countries around the world. It includes some significant opportunity to consider the "lessons learned" in other contexts and how these might (or might not) intersect with the Haitian context. I model the course after similar graduate courses I teach at Laurier. It is important for my Haitian colleagues to recognize that the same standards and expectations apply; they are not getting a "second class" graduate education. More updates to follow!