MI-LIFE (Michigan Leadership Improvement Framework Endorsement) is a year-long professional learning program for current Michigan educational administrators developed as a result of a grant from the Microsoft Partners in Learning Program to the Michigan Department of Education. Seven courses comprise the curriculum for the program which will begin in January 2008.
As the Director of the MI-LIFE Program, I was completely overwhelmed by the response from school leaders to participate in the program. Less than a month ago we announced applications were being taken and within three weeks we had to close the process because we had over 400 applicants for the 200 available spaces in the first cohort! We have since increased that to 250 to accommodate more participants and will start a second cohort in September 2008.
My assumption from this kind of response for leadership professional learning is that administrators are eager to become better leaders and are seeking opportunities for this to happen and, more importantly, they are desperate to network in a professional learning community comprised of other school leaders.
On the application form, a question was posed asking applicants why they wanted to participate. Here are just a few of the responses but are representative of the 400 applicants:
I need to model for my staff that continual professional development and learning is very important. I must be the instructional leader and keep abreast of the most up-to-date research and educational theory so that I can help my faculty be as effective as possible in the classroom.
My application to MI-LIFE is a result of my constant desire to learn more about education, stretch my own beliefs, and become a better leader in my building, district, and profession. I see this learning program as a stimulating forum for me as a professional. I know that personally I need the sharing that comes through working with colleagues.
I would like to have a greater impact on student achievement by improving my own leadership skills.
As an educator who has had experience at the elementary, secondary and central office levels, I find myself dedicated to continuous improvement in my desire to create systems which will raise student achievement. I am passionate about leadership and feel the curriculum emphasis on leadership will assist me to grow and help my school district to help every student perform to capacity. In addition the skills that I will develop will enable me to work to build the leadership capacity of teachers and principals, particularly in the area of technology, leadership, data and instruction.
I want to become an efficient and effective educational leader using data to support improved instructional practice. I would like to use technology information to further evaluate/support both management and instruction for improved student results. I want to develop, communicate, and model shared leadership opportunities with my staff.
I would like to become involved in a leading edge professional learning community that will provide me with the knowledge and resources to guide my staff to meet the demands of providing students with a 21st century education.
My school is a first ring suburban school that is struggling with AYP, increased diversity, and increased poverty. We have a fairly new staff, and we need to make fundamental changes. Our approach to teaching and learning has not changed in the past 50 years, and we need to modernize our practices. I am trying to spark a change, but I sometimes feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain. I know there is a better way and hopefully as part of MI-LIFE I can be part of creating the new American High School.
This is a testament to the professionalism of our school leaders. Regardless of the demands from their intense daily work, they are eager to participate in a year-long program, only partially subsidized by the grant, so they can become better instructional leaders and have an impact on improving student achievement.
--Marion Ginopolis <Cross posted on the LeaderTalk Blog >