School leaders learn innovative coaching strategies at COE conference

The 34th annual UNT Educational Leadership Conference organized by Assistant Professor Miriam Ezzani and Principal Lecturer Linda Stromberg of the College of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration brought together 150 teachers and leaders from schools and districts across North Texas Nov. 8. The focus of this year’s conference was “Transforming Culture Through Leadership Coaching.”

Mike Moses, former superintendent of Dallas ISD and onetime commissioner of education for the state of Texas, gave the keynote address, encouraging attendees to be the kind of leaders who build a climate of energy and enthusiasm in their schools.

“As educators, we’re interested in improving the quality of life for kids, but we’re also interested in the growth and happiness of adults so they can help kids grow,” he said. “I think that teachers want to work in organizations where they feel gratified, excited and enthusiastic, but they also want to work with people who are invested in their professional development.”

Moses said paying attention to national polls, voting patterns, educational trends and technology, among other factors, will help educators build a legacy of leadership that will make today’s young children tomorrow’s successful adults. He also stressed the importance of mentorship.

“If mentors in my life were interested in my goals, dreams and aspirations, and wanted me to be happy, I would knock myself out for them,” he said. “That’s creating an environment of leadership. Be about the business of creating environments that are nurturing, affirming and encouraging.”

Conference participants were challenged to consider concepts and skills in leadership coaching offered by the presenters Kathryn Kee and Lloyd Sain. Kee and Sain are national trainers through Results Coaching Global. They engaged the participants in research-based learner centered activities intended to cultivate powerful communication skills.

“I believe most attendees were fascinated with the connection between leadership coaching and how one can regulate one’s and others’ emotions in the moment,” Ezzani said. “Our conference topics are focused on theory to practice connections and solutions, which makes this annual conference so beneficial to educational leaders at the school and district level.”   

Participants said the conference offered relevant lessons they could immediately implement on their campuses.

“The content of this conference was right on target, and the opportunity to practice some of the coaching strategies was extremely impactful,” said one bilingual/ESL interventionist.

 

Above, COE Dean Randy Bomer presents a gift to Mike Moses, former Dallas ISD superintendent and Texas commissioner of education.

Dean's Message - Fall 2017

It was only a few hours’ drive up I-35 from Austin to Denton. But the transition to being dean at UNT has been a passage into a new world, like walking through the wardrobe portal in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This university, especially the College of Education, is a welcoming place, a community full of people proud of who they are together and the amazing work each of them is doing, but very open-armed in embracing newcomers like me, new faculty members and new students. Still, it is, as I said, a new world, and as of this writing, I have lived through about 70 days of eye-opening experiences.

I knew, for instance, that UNT has great alumni, but until talking with Development Board leaders Cathy Bryce and Steve Waddell about their passion for the college, I had no idea that people held so much love for the life-transforming work of this university and the College of Education.

I knew about important, visible centers of excellence like the Child Development Lab and the Kristin Farmer Autism Center, but I didn’t know that the college also has a doctoral program in gifted education with more students than any other such program in the nation (Drs. Rinn, Kettler and Mun). I didn’t know that the Applied Physiology Lab has built a state-of-the-art laboratory rivaling some of the best in Texas and the region, through scrappy and inventive ways of securing funding and equipment (Drs. McFarlin, Vingren, Hill and Olson.)

I knew about the outstanding counseling program and the historic work in play therapy that has gone on there, but I didn’t know that the department also has four young faculty with deep and complementary strength in addiction counseling (Drs. Prosek, Giordano, Wilson and Schmit).  And I didn’t know yet about the multi-million dollar grants supporting work in culturally competent counseling for diverse populations (Drs. Wilson and Ceballos) or work in culturally responsive education of children who speak first languages other than English (Dr. Boyd).

These are only a few of the many discoveries I’ve encountered in my new world, and I take it as one of my jobs to bring these and other great stories to the attention of alumni and friends, partners in the mission of this great college.

Princy Sebastian

Accreditation Specialist, Dean's Office
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Office: 
Matthews Hall 117-J
Phone: 
940-565-3832
Email: 
Princy.Sebastian@unt.edu

Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation Update: Fall 2017

Teacher Education and Administration Update: Fall 2017

Counseling and Higher Education Update Fall 2017

Educational Leadership Conference aims to deliver leadership insights

By Raquel Talamantes

The annual UNT Educational Leadership Conference, designed for leadership professionals in the education world, will this year focus on “Transforming Culture Through Leadership Coaching” and will feature a keynote speech by former Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Moses. The conference is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 8, 2017, in the Gateway Center on the UNT campus.

“Anyone in a leadership position would benefit from this all-day session — district leaders, school leaders, teacher leaders as well as university faculty and staff who hold leadership positions,” said Miriam Ezzani, UNT College of Education assistant professor in district and school reform.

The conference aims to address timely topics about which educators should be aware, Ezzani said.

“For instance, last year's conference was on cultural proficiency,” she said. “We seek the advice of our superintendent advisory council, made up of superintendents in the DFW Metroplex, who suggest topics that are geared toward addressing problems of practice in K-12 public educators.”

Keynote speaker Moses has had over 30 years of experience in the education/administration field. UNT is also home to the Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership, currently held by Elizabeth Murakami.

“From 1999 through 2001, he served as the deputy chancellor for Systems Operations at the Texas Tech University System,” Ezzani said.  “Dr. Moses was the commissioner of education for the state of Texas from 1995 through 1999. Prior to that service, he was the superintendent of schools in three Texas school districts: Lubbock, LaMarque and Tatum. He also served as a teacher and principal in the Duncanville and Garland ISDs.”

Also at the conference, Kathryn M. Kee, a national trainer for Cognitive Coaching, and Lloyd Sain, a former director of Leadership and Teacher Development for an urban district, will host a coaching workshop. They will lead group activities designed to transform culture through leadership coaching.

To find out more about the Educational Leadership Conference, visit www.coe.unt.edu/conferences/2017-education-leadership-conference

Minhong Kim

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation
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Office: 
Physical Education Building 210-P
Phone: 
940-565-4845
Email: 
Minhong.Kim@unt.edu

COE celebrates teachers at Homecoming Nov. 11

UNT College of Education alumni and friends gathered at the college’s tailgating tent at the 2017 UNT Homecoming Saturday, Nov. 11, at Apogee Stadium. Guests enjoyed a catered lunch, giveaways and fun activities for children.

As in previous years, the college recognized alumni who have been named Teachers of the Year in Education Service Centers Regions 10 and 11 during the Homecoming festivities.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Jose Cortez-Corralejo of Keller ISD
  • Susan Dillon of Kemp ISD
  • Jason Huber of Denton ISD
  • Sarah Moulden of Godley ISD
  • Chelsea Myers of Little Elm ISD
  • Lynette Varrassi of Garland ISD

Also as part of Homecoming, the UNT Alumni Association honored the Waddell family — which includes three generations of COE graduates: Freddy J. Waddell (’72 Ed.D.); his son Stephen “Steve” F. Waddell (’75, ’96 Ed.D.); and Steve’s daughter Sarah Waddell (’05) — with the Generations of Excellence Award. The ceremony was Nov. 9 in the Apogee Stadium HUB Club.

Additional UNT Homecoming activities included the bonfire and parade around the Denton Square. 

COE professor training next generation of tech-savvy teachers

Teachers and parents can sometimes be skeptical about using portable technology like iPads as an educational tool. Are children really learning, or just playing? Will it encourage kids to play video games non-stop? 

Lauren Eutsler is working to change that negative perception.

Eutsler, an assistant professor in the UNT College of Education and a former elementary teacher, wants to prepare pre-service teachers to use technology in a way that improves school performance and builds on what today’s tech-savvy kids already use at home.

“When I was teaching, my mantra was always, ‘If you want to be a better reader, be a reader.’ Students won’t improve unless they’re engaged and involved,” Eutsler said. “Technology is a fantastic way to motivate them to read, but teachers have to think about it and plan – it has to align with standards, and you have to be knowledgeable about which apps are most appropriate for each lesson.”

Research as a Student

In her research, Eutsler doesn’t just observe the use of technology in the classroom – she looks at the cognitive side of why we adapt technology, when does it make sense to use it, and why is it useful. This focus took shape during her doctoral education at the University of Florida, when she worked with two Florida elementary schools to understand parents’ intentions to adopt portable technology to help their children learn to read at home. While collecting this dissertation research, a first-grade teacher reached out to her department for help integrating 1:1 iPads into her classroom.

Over the course of two years, Eutsler and the teacher developed a collaborative relationship that allowed them to observe what didn’t work – and what did.

“At first the teacher wanted to control how the kids used the technology, and that just didn’t work well,” Eutsler said. “Once she let go, the students thrived, and the things they were able to create were amazing. We had first-graders learning how to code, developing their literacy skills through coding.

“I learned a lot about how teachers are challenged in using technology, but also how it can be a productive and beneficial tool to elevate kids’ learning.”

In the UNT Classroom

Since joining the UNT faculty last year, Eutsler has embarked on a project with her Reading and Writing Birth-Grade 6 (EDRE 4450) class to get her students prepared for careers as tech-savvy educators. Eutsler acquired 10 iPads through Willis Library and — using experience gleaned from parent surveys revealing technology adoption intentions and children’s use, practices of current teachers, and her own experience in the classroom — is training her students to explore how specific apps can be authentic tools to develop children’s literacy skills.

The UNT students attend hands-on iPad workshops throughout the semester, where they focus on specific reading skills and find apps that help them create lesson plans and develop assignments. Most are surprised to find that using technology in the classroom is easier than they expected, Eutsler said.

“Of my students, 67 percent have an iPad, 87 percent have an iPhone, but none of them had used them as an educational technology tool. And that’s why I’m doing this,” she said. “You get into the classroom, and you have teachers who have access to these things but they don’t know how to use them as educational tools.

“We need to be teaching our teachers how technology can bolster their teaching, specifically how to make the device work to their advantage. We’re selling them short if we don’t give them those hands-on tech experiences.”

What’s Next?

In the future, Eutsler wants to explore using Twitter to help pre-service and practicing teachers, parents and kids stay connected, but she also wants to work on getting more researchers like herself into classrooms to work one on one with teachers.

“That can be difficult,” Eutsler said, “because school districts don’t always have a clear pathway to collaborating with outside organizations. But partnerships between teachers and researchers could yield results benefiting the teachers and their students.

“A lot of teachers say they don’t have time. Time is the biggest constraint. That’s where higher education researchers can help,” she said. “We can work alongside teachers and see what their challenges are and how we can use technology to leverage deeper learning.”

Right now, Eutsler plans to continue training pre-service teachers who are knowledgeable, competent and ready to promote tech in the classroom.

“Sometimes parents get scared because they think kids are just playing games. They’re not — they’re learning,” she said. “Print books are not going away. This is just another method to delve more deeply into the text and motivate students to develop their literacy skills.”

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