Course Reflection

Entered on April 2, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

The law presentations throughout this class were very informative. By having students present the case details to the class I appreciated the variety of instructional skills. Most used Power Points and made sure all students received handouts. The law cases were real and I realized how important it is to know the outcome of these court cases because they will apply when I become an assistant principal.

By starting with discriminatory cases such as Brown vs. Board of Education and the less infamous Mendez vs. Westminster, Mr. Duran had this urban teacher’s attention. More specifically, we watched a documentary about Mendez vs. Westminster. This connected directly to me because I work in a school that consist of 98.9% Hispanic students. I know even today forms of discrimination still exist. My school is also near the city of Westminster, which at one time, according to the documentary was highly affluent and consist on mainly Caucasion students.

A week later during class I presented the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier case, that had to do with First Amendment rights. The process of researching a case and presenting its outcome to my classmates was informative. The case consisted on an editor taking the school district to court because the principal pulled two articles from the school newspaper, one about unmarried pregnant students and the other about impact of divorce on teens. The outcome ended up being for the district. However, the case really helped me gained strides in my technical skills. When presenting my case I decided to push my technological skills by creating a mock newspaper as my handout. I decided I would attempt to do something different and it seemed to be very successful.

The case studies made me think about real life situations I may run into as an assistant principal. The one that related to me most was the Jason Daniel case. The principal made an executive decision over the assistance principal and allow Jason Daniel to participate in senior activities even though he clearly verbally assaulted a teacher. In fact a very similar situation happened to me last school year.

As the Business and Technology Academy Lead Teacher, I had to make a decision about one of my so-called graduating seniors. This particular student had been warned several times throughout the semester that he must pass every class in order to graduate. His counselor and I met with his parents often and talked to the student on a weekly bases. When June came he ended up failing not one but two of his classes. This was no surprise for him, his counselor or myself. We attempted intervention after intervention and the student still did not pass. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, we informed this student that he would not be allowed to walk across the stage during the graduation ceremony.

The student’s parent came to the school complaining that his academy would not allow him graduate. The assistant principal decided to let the student walk. When I found out that this undeserving student was graduating, I was terribly upset. I talked to his counselor, his teachers and even the PSA Counselor because this student also had an extreme attendance problem. All these people who attempted to intervene on this student felt totally betrayed by this principal’s top-down decision. I decided that I must talk to the assistant principal about this matter. After approaching her, she basically told me there is nothing I can do, the student is walking.

Just like the assistant principal in the case study I realized that I just have to trust her decision and hope that she had the best intentions. I realized that there has to be a good reason why she came to the conclusion she did. Though it was hard for me to hand this student his “mock” diploma, I had to accept it. There is a reason for a hierarchy in schools. There is also reason she is an assistant principal and I am solely a teacher.

The professional reading, Compelling Conversations, complimented my already formed core beliefs. I believe all students can learn and at a rapid pace. I believe our world is changing and we as instructors must be ready for the paradigm shift. Through this book I know how important conversation and collaboration is for student success. Conversations must happen between teacher and principals, students and teachers and teachers and data teams. This book also reiterated the work I am doing in my field-based project. Specifically targeting struggling students, setting SMART goals and analyzing data all part of the culture we are building at my current school.

Throughout this class not only was I gaining information about laws I was also gaining a better understanding of instruction. The case studies connected to my situation as a lead teacher and really gave me an idea of how to be a quality assistant principal. Overall, the information given will assist me when I progressing I my career.