Teaching how to teach

For more than 50 years, the Department of Educational Leadership and Technology has been training students to make future leaders.

Dr. John Hatcher III, assistant professor of educational leadership, explained that the department’s main motive is to help students achieve their career goals.

Hatcher explained, “The goals of our department are to help students reach their career goals by developing them according to the academic standards set by the state, the federal government and their own standards, basically what they want to accomplish in their career.”

Hatcher discussed what makes the department stand out.

“What separates our department is that we have a focus on educational leadership, teaching and learning,” shared Hatcher. “They’re developing teachers, teacher leaders, teacher mentors. The ed leadership department has a keen focus on developing educational leaders, school principals, central office staff, even those who would go into the federal government or lead at the state level.”

The department includes two graduate-level programs, and once an applicant has been admitted into the program, they are assigned to a cohort.

“We have cohort groups that are established throughout southeastern Louisiana,” said Hatcher. “It’s a group of educators who are aspiring either to get their masters in ed leadership or aspiring to complete their doctorate in ed leadership. The idea is they start the program together as a group, and they go through the courses together.”

According to Hatcher, advantages of the program include establishing a network of support for the students, being able to establish the group near a student’s home and being able to provide a set schedule of weekly classes for their students.

Melanie Monistere, a graduate student, finds support in her cohort group.

“I believe this cohort has strong ties that help encourage each other through the program,” explained Monistere. “The cohort has also aided in increasing leadership skills as well as creating strong bonds that will no doubt last a lifetime.”

Monistere noted room for improvement within the program.

“The one thing I would like to see changed is the opportunity for students to move within the doctoral program and grow at their own pace,” said Monistere. “Some students learn quicker than others while some like to take their time.”

Monistere feels the program is ultimately leading her in the right direction.

“I feel that the curriculum is preparing me to grow as a leader and is giving me ideas on what I want to do next with my career,” shared Monistere. “The leadership curriculum helped me to expand on management, supervision, policy, legal issues, financing, culture, theory and practice.”

Besides leadership, the department also focuses on ensuring students are accustomed to using the latest technology in the educational setting by incorporating PowerPoint and Google Suite.

“We also create backchannels using the technology where we have a link that they can go to, and they can pull up the link on their phone while they’re in the audience, real time, and ask questions based on what the panelists are saying,” stated Hatcher.

Hatcher framed the need for preparation as paramount.

Hatcher said, “We want to make sure our students are prepared, and so we do our best to provide authentic learning experiences so they can really feel the weight of what it means to make those decisions that impact students and teachers and the community.”