Author: Dr. Frank S. Del Favero, Associate Professor (Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership)
For the past several years, the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership faculty has been working closely with area school districts to develop their teachers into effective and successful educational leaders. Due to retirements and the scarcity of certified educational leaders, school districts across the state have faced a growing shortage of administrators to run and supervise their schools. Districts need to find ways to develop new leaders who are prepared to meet the challenges of 21st century.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette College of Education’s master’s degree program in Educational Leadership offers districts an effective solution that addresses this shortage. Instead of requiring students to drive to the UL Lafayette campus to attend classes, the EDFL faculty drives to locations provided by the school districts the department serves and holds classes at sites that are more convenient to the teachers enrolled in the leadership program. This is but one element of our program that addresses the needs of the districts and students it serves.
The structure of the master’s degree program in educational leadership:
- The master’s degree program in educational leadership is a 36-credit hour program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership in six continuous semesters.
Students admitted to the program are placed into cohorts and remain together for six semesters following a specific sequence of courses where each course complements and builds upon courses previously taken.
- The cohorts allow students to network and develop life-long professional relationships.
- Students in the cohorts often work together in teams to prepare and complete authentic assessments, which model actual artifacts they will be required to produce in their future roles as leaders.
Each semester students enroll in two 3-credit hour courses. It is important to note that the courses offered through the program follow the “hybrid” course delivery method.
- Specifically, 50 percent of a course involves face-to-face class meetings on alternating weeks, during which students have the opportunity to directly interact with their colleagues and their professors.
- The remaining 50 percent of the course involves online learning activities during the intervening weeks, which allows students to work on and complete online assignments during those weeks whenever it is convenient to them. For example, during week one of the semester, course A meets face-to-face while course B is involved in online learning activities; during week two of the semester, course B meets face-to-face and course A is involved with online learning activities. This sequence is followed for the duration of the semester.
- The program’s hybrid delivery of course content allows students to attend face-to-face classes only once per week instead of two times per week as in traditional programs.
- Students benefit from the ability to complete online learning activities according to their own individual schedules and are able to work at their own pace.
- The students, who are all teachers working in schools within their district, learn to analyze academic performance, demographic, school process, and perception data using data from their respective schools.
School superintendents and principals routinely take advantage of the fact that their teachers use the actual data from the schools in which they work to create vision and mission statements, learn to use root cause analysis to identify program strengths and areas of concern, create and modify policy, develop communication plans, and contribute to the development of school improvement plans. Teachers in our program serve on a variety of committees and have a positive impact on the school in which they teach.
- Student-produced course artifacts are often shared with faculty and other administrators. These are but a few examples of the activities in which students in the leadership degree program are involved:
- Root cause analyses of a school’s data are used to identify educational program strengths and problem areas and are shared with the school improvement team and become part of the team’s School Improvement Plan (SIP).
- Students in the program create literature reviews that are actually used in their respective schools to identify appropriate research-based solutions that address identified problem areas.
- Student-developed perception surveys are often used as part of the needs assessment process.
- Student-developed teacher induction and professional development plans are often adopted by the schools in which the program’s students teach.
- A large number of graduates are currently serving in a variety of leadership roles in school districts across the state.
- The EDFL faculty has served cohorts with Lafayette Parish, Vermilion Parish, Rapides Parish, and St. Mary Parish. In fact, after having developed some of their teachers into excellent leaders, Rapides, Vermilion, and St. Mary Parishes have all invited the EDFL department back to their respective districts to form new cohorts and to prepare more of their teachers for leadership roles.
- Teachers who are not part of the district cohorts we currently serve and who nevertheless wish to earn a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, can apply for admission in our on-campus cohort in Lafayette.
- The Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership faculty all have terminal degrees in educational leadership, experience in teaching at the post-secondary level, and are former K-12 practitioners, with extensive teaching and leadership experience.