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Leader of Service Reflection Paper

Allison Freitag

Day 1: Tuesday 6/13/2017

My takeaways from Angie Vyverberg Chaplin’s presentation include making sure, as educational leaders,
we experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and also learning from experience. So
many times I get caught up on having everything go smoothly and making sure I have everything just
perfect. As an educational leader I’m going to have to realize that sometimes things aren’t going to turn
out exactly how you had them planned. If something doesn’t go well I will have to learn from that
experience and make adjustments moving forward. I think that generating small wins will be key in
helping me stay positive and making sure I keep the culture and climate excellent in my building. I will
create a strong sense of community within my building and as an educational leader I will celebrate
people honoring our values and shared vision and celebrate any time we see a small or large victory
within our building. According to the presentation these things are so important and can really make or
break the success of an educational leader.

Another piece of advice that I will be sure to heed is the idea that if we are going to challenge someone
or something to make sure to do so at the appropriate time and, even more important, make sure we
are challenging something for the right reasons! Throughout our classes we’ve learned to take small
steps for big results and not to go into a positon thinking we’re going to change everything right away.
This often backfires and creates a great deal of resentment right away. Instead, if we see that something
needs challenged make sure we have thought things through and approach it with the right mentality
and a solution for the issue. Again, as a leader I will make sure I’m challenging something for the right
reason, a great piece of advice from Angie Vyverberg Chaplin!

Day 2: Wednesday 6/14/2017

My takeaways from Martin Beckner’s De-escalation techniques presentation on de-escalation


techniques include making sure we start out right and check our unconscious assumptions. This was a
big one for me. Although I generally believe that people are good, at times I can make assumptions and
as an educational leader I will definitely need to make sure I am approaching every situation with an
open mind. I will start out right by checking my unconscious assumptions.

I have known this for quite some time, but it was a great reminder from Mr. Beckner to make sure we
make a great first impression and use positive non-verbal communication. We will need to truly engage
with whoever we are working with in any situation. I think I am generally a great listener, but I do need
to make sure to work on my facial expressions because, as my husband reminds me, I show every
emotion on my face. Sometimes this is positive, but as an educational leader this could also be negative.
Mr. Beckner gave a great reminder by saying “manage your emotions don’t let your emotions manage
you.” I am going to remember this not only as a teacher but also as I move into a leadership position.
Often times I can let my emotions get the best of me. I really appreciated learning about the “10-minute
rule” as well. Although I don’t know I would have originally thought that letting someone who is upset
rant and rave for 10 minutes would be the way to go, Mr. Beckner’s techniques reminded me that
everyone wants to be heard and by letting someone who is upset vent and then work towards
resolution it could actually be a great way to let someone deescalate on their own. After the 10-minute
mark we will be able to determine which direction to go.

Learning about stage presence and the similarities between actors/actresses and educational leaders
was interesting. Dr. Taft reiterated much of what I think is very important as an educational leader. He
talked about the importance of charisma. I love that word and I think that a person’s “invisible energy”
is just so important and truly does have visible effects. I love how he phrased charisma as having
“sparkle in people that money can’t buy.” This was a great phrase that I will keep with me! A person’s
personality goes a long way not only in obtaining an educational leadership position, but also in being
successful in the role. Dr. Taft talked about the key qualities in making a positive impression and many of
these qualities are very important to me: honesty, sincerity, caring, compassion, kind, thoughtful,
reliable, competent, interesting, etc. Finally, I also appreciated the connection to the three tools an
actor has and the correlation drawn to the same tools being important in a leadership position. The
tools are your mind telling you that you have to prepare in a certain way, making sure your body is a
great tool by keeping healthy and in shape and having great posture and hygiene, and also your voice in
making sure you are heard and understood. I will definitely keep these three tools in mind and make
sure I’m at my best in my leadership position.

Day 3: Thursday 6/15/2017

One big takeaway I had from Dr. Huckstadt’s presentation on school finance was that the number of
students you have in your building makes a big difference to how much money you have to work with.
This is clear to me as our family moved from a very rural community and a school district that had
experienced declining enrollment for approximately a ten-year period due to a large manufacturing
plant closing down. The declining enrollment didn’t come right away, but when it did it had a significant
impact on the school. The administrators faced some tough decisions and ultimately had to reduce FTE
or eliminate positions all together. To say money was tight was an understatement. Fast forward to
today, when we live in Iowa City, the opposite is the case. The school district is growing and in many
ways the district is finding it tough to keep up with all of the growth. However, financially, the growth is
excellent in terms of per pupil funding. In addition, the weighting system which provides additional
funds for special education, ELL, and at-risk students affects the amount of funding our school and
district receive.

I also learned a lot from the budget authority piece. I remember my principal and other administrators
mentioning all of the different funds and sources of funds available and how they could use some but
not others so this segment was particularly interesting for me. It is clear that each of the funds serves a
special purpose and you mustn’t pull funds from inappropriate places to pay for things that they’re not
earmarked for. Finally, this presentation reiterated to me that every school district truly is different from
another and just because the state and federal law is the same, the internal practices of various districts
are very different.

One major takeaway I had from the cultural competency presentation was to always remember to be
growth oriented. I love teaching my students about the difference between having a fixed mindset
versus having a growth mindset. I loved the description of approaching cultural competency in a growth
oriented way, realizing that being culturally competent is a lifelong process and a marathon rather than
a spring. In our district we have received a substantial amount of training on our implicit biases and on
being culturally competent. I will make sure to remember this and be sensitive to others’ needs and also
make sure to learn and grow myself with my understanding of other cultures and lifestyles. I think this is
so important for educational leaders to remember because we can have such a strong influence on
those around us and those that we serve.

Day 4: Tuesday 6/20/2017

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the day in the office! There’s one thing to learning about
leadership and there’s another to applying it, and especially when practicing in front of all of your cohort
peers. It was a bit intimidating but also a great challenge. Going in I really wanted to make sure to stay
cool, calm and collected. In addition, I wanted to put into practice many leadership qualities and tools
that we’d learned about throughout the past year. My scenario was a mom upset about her child’s IEP
not being implemented with fidelity. If I were her I would be very upset myself. I think I did a nice job of
staying calm, truly being an active listener, and showing compassion. I messed up when I used “I
believe” as one of my statements to her. This was caught by both the actress as well as many of my
peers. I will have to make sure to refrain from using that phrase in the role as educational leader. I need
to remember to be an active listener and also, perhaps more importantly, not make any promises I’m
unable to keep.

I think I learned most from watching my peers in their scenarios and thinking about how I would handle
myself in the various situations. Some of the situations I would expect, but others were pretty crazy and
I have to remember that we are going to have a lot of different situations thrown our way. Some of the
scenarios I think I could have handled and others at this point in my learning continuum I think I would
have been clueless. Just as teachers learn “on the job” educational leaders learn from experience. A
major takeaway from this experience, however, is that despite the fact that we will have a full plate and
a lot to deal with, I am so incredibly excited to embark on my journey as an educational leader. I have
the ability to positively affect many people’s lives. Although originally intimidated, it was a fantastic
opportunity and I’m so glad to have shared it with my cohort peers.

Day 5: Wednesday 6/21/2017

The staff panel was fantastic and one piece of seminar I was really looking forward to! I was happy to
see one of my previous administrators, Paul Rea and his wife Kari as members of the panel as well. One
of my fears when taking on an educational leadership role is being able to maintain the balance. It
seemed that the members of the panel definitely acknowledged that it is a major commitment, but it
also seems they are able to have and maintain positive family times and great relationships despite their
professional obligations. Making sure to keep my family first, care for my four children, keep a positive
attitude and also be a rock star leader are all so important to me. My husband has a very demanding job
so it was reassuring hearing from Amy’s husband as well as Paul’s wife that it can be done despite two
people in the household having demanding jobs. I also appreciated the conversation centered around
the differences between small and large schools and, in general, the differences with each and every
school in the state and nation. Making sure to really get a feel for the community that we are living in
and making sure to appropriately respond in that setting is going to be very important in a leadership
position.

Dewitt Jones presented on the importance of entry plans. I think the entry plans will really help set us,
as UNI grads, apart from others competing for the jobs we will be applying for. There are so many
positives about creating a great entry plan and sharing this plan with our potential school leadership
colleagues. I liked the analogy Dewitt made by wearing warm up clothes to us, as educational leaders,
warming up for a position. A few things that really stood out to me are making sure to find the best fit
and not settle for a position or community we aren’t going to be happy in as that will not be good for us
or for the school. He also reiterated that it is very important to always go the extra mile and to make an
excellent first impression. Although I know these things, it is nice to be reminded that applying for a
position is truly the first step, or warm-up, and being sure to be overly prepared, competent and
confident in doing so is incredibly important. I do think I have always done a nice job in interview
situations but I will need to be very prepared in working towards securing a leadership position and an
entry plan is one tool that will help me stand above others competing for a position I may be interested
in.

Day 6: Thursday 6/22/2017

The inclusion conference was a great reminder for me as a person, teacher, and aspiring educational
leader to make sure to realize that all people, and therefore students, have a voice. Kids come in all
different shapes and sizes and have different assets and as leaders we need to make sure ALL kids’
needs are being met. The keynote presenter gave so many examples of people who have struggled but
throughout their life one person empowered them to reach their full potential simply by believing in
them. I hope to be this one person for the students and families that I work with. I will listen and work
with each student and family to provide whatever supports may be necessary for them to be successful
and have a great experience in my building. The breakout session I attended was about devices meant
to empower people to have a voice. There were many examples shown including a gentleman with ALS,
a 2-year-old with some learning disabilities, and a teen boy with learning challenges. All of these
individuals were able to have a voice due to a device specialized for their needs. I will need to remember
that these tools and resources are available when I become a leader.

Roark Horn also came today to speak with us about membership to School Administrators of Iowa (SAI).
I loved his charisma and personality and the way he interacted with all of us. I immediately joined SAI as
an aspiring leader and look forward to learning a lot through my membership over the next year. I think
this can be a huge asset for me as a future leader and I will need to take advantage of the benefits of
membership this year.

Day 7: Tuesday 6/27/2017

Tammy Dickerson shared with us effective accommodations for ELL students. I appreciated that she
used a questionnaire at the beginning of her presentation and referred to this throughout the segment. I
thought this generated a lot of great discussion and also debunked some misunderstandings or potential
stereotype that we may all have. One piece from her presentation that I really stopped to think about
and reflect on as a potential leader was that adults learn a foreign language faster but that children
learn it better. Tammy also talked about the variables affecting success of children being the level of
education of the mom and the opportunities that children have had to travel. In addition, I loved when
she stated, “the big difference in how we see our world depends on if we had a choice or not.” I
reflected a lot on this statement, so many of the children I serve as an educator have had no choice in
the life experiences they’ve had. This definitely affects them as human beings and can either positively
or negatively impact their attitude towards learning and school. This is a great reminder as I head into
leadership and I will also need to consider this not only when dealing with ELL kids, but also with other
students and staff that I serve. As a leader I will need to always have empathy and encourage empathy
amongst all people in my building.

Dr. Pace spoke with us about lessons learned from gay and lesbian students. He opened by saying
“assumptions are mostly bad, with an exception that people are mostly good.” This was a great
reminder that no matter what people probably most often have the best intentions and that assuming
anything else is bad. I also appreciated that he reminded us to be prepared for about everything but
expect the best. This was a change in what most people would say to expect the worst and then you will
be happy when you have a good experience. I really like that he encouraged us to understand and
respect challenges and dangers while expecting good outcomes. One thing we will need to remember as
leaders is to be aware of our assumptions and self-check throughout the process. I hope as an
educational leader I can “live the mission” like Dr. Pace spoke of. I know that I have something to offer
future staff and students and I want to make sure to keep this in mind on those tough days that we face.
I also need to remember to always keep perspective and “see people, not problems.” I think one are
that is a strength for me is my ability to relate to people and keep the human touch. I hope to always
remember this as an educational leader.

After watching Dr. Mark Grey’s Iowa’s Changing Demographics video, I learned about the two major
population shifts we have experienced in Iowa during the 1990s up through today. The two major shifts
he covered are the Latino boom and microplurality/microdiversity. In the 1970 census the entire state of
Iowa had fewer than 17,000 Hispanics/Latinos people, however approximately 1993 the numbers
increased substantially and grew over 325%! Some communities and counties actually grew over 1000%,
Spirit Lake actually grew in that time over 1500%. 2015 estimates show over 176,000+ Hispanics/Latinos
in Iowa. The projection is that in 2050 we will have well over 440,000 Hispanics/Latinos in Iowa. This
data means major changes for educators and schools in Iowa! In addition to the growing population of
Hispanics/Latinos, we also have so many other different groups in the state. Dr. Grey talked about the
importance of getting beyond the idea that these people are from another continent and instead we
have to start asking tribe, clan, language, ethnic affiliation, etc. of these people. We have to get to know
who we are working with and when doing so we have to focus on ethnicity, language spoken at home,
etc. rather than just thinking “they’re refugees.” Between 180 and 200 languages used in Iowa today.
This has significant implications for us as educators because we need to be able to communicate with
the students and families we serve! We cannot serve those under our leadership unless we truly get to
know them. The first step in doing so is being able to understand their needs and have a conversation
with them. All of these people are here and we need to embrace this and realize they’re all here legally
either through citizenship or refugee status. We, as leaders, have an obligation to serve them just as we
do other natural born American children.

Day 8: Wednesday 6/28/2017

Bob Frederick from Career Services spoke with us on our leadership portfolio and the do’s and don’ts
with regards to our resume and cover letter. The one piece I will remember from Bob’s presentation is
that “passion is key!” He made sure to reiterate the need for us to make our passion clear and convey
this in our resume and cover letter. When Mr. Frederick transitioned into speaking about the
interviewing process he also gave us great pointers including taking down the names of all of the people
who are in on the interview so we can speak to them by name and also so we can send them a follow up
thank you. In the interview process we also need to be reflective and use personal examples and
experience when answering questions. Another key to his presentation was the necessity of networking!
I know, first hand, the benefits of networking and will continue to expand my network over the next
year as this will be very beneficial when pursuing a job as an educational leader!

During the stress management presentation by Dr. Tom he spoke about the stress triangle (3 legged
stool). The three factors impacting stress are the weight of the stressor, the support systems and coping
skills. We learned how people, when faced with difficulties, inevitably will either sink or swim. We also
learned how to take these stressors and practice some relaxation techniques to use when faced with
tough times. I’m not going to lie, I was quite skeptical when he said we were going to practice for close
to 10 minutes. However, by the end of the exercise I truly was quite relaxed. I am usually a very
energetic person and a real go-getter, but sometimes I need to realize that it’s important for me to have
“me time” and that I am not able to serve others if I first don’t take care of myself. I will need to
remember to not put unnecessary stress on myself and I will need to always remember to keep
perspective in high stress situations.

Day 9: Thursday 6/29/2017

I was very proud of my presentation as it truly is very reflective of who I am as a person. My number one
job right now is to be a great mom to my four children. The positive relationships I create with them lay
a foundation for them to be great men and women and help them to develop well as individuals
throughout their lives. Second to my relationship with my children and husband are my professional
responsibilities. However, in education the role you serve is very similar to that of being a mom, a job I
take great pride in and hope I do well. I appreciate my instructors’ flexibility with me this summer and
also really appreciate that they understand family and relationships are always first.

I am so excited to embark on my journey as an educational leader and really appreciate all that I have
learned so far. Although gearing up for numerous days away from home and on campus at UNI was a
small challenge as far as facilitating who would take care of my children, where we could stay, etc. the
rewards of the experience were amazing and I learned so much over the few weeks we were there! In
fact, I was sad to see seminar come to an end. I was able to interact face-to-face with my cohort peers
and instructors after seeing them through the computer for a year. I was able to really learn so much
about my peers through their project presentations and it was awesome to see everyone’s individuality
really come through with the method they used to present. All in all, the experience was awesome and
incredibly valuable to me as a person, as a teacher, and as an aspiring educational leader!