Rearview Mirror Syllabus

Good evening! Welcome to Rearview Mirror, here’s a brief outline of what to expect this semester.


Course Description: This graduate-level class is designed to address edu-leadership issues about which we rarely speak.


Course Objectives:

  • To pull back the curtain on educational leadership theory

  • To develop useful communication skills for use with crazy people

  • To challenge candidates to accept the human side of leadership

  • To engage in discussion about what once was considered taboo


September 7th-25th


Unit 1: The 10% Corollary: Accepting That 10% of Any Organization is No Bueno

Guiding Text: Whispers in the Staff Lounge, by Mark Lanegan


Focus: Whether it’s the 10th man on a 10 man basketball roster or a small group of staff who wake up each day with the intention to complain, the 10% corollary exists and isn’t going away. This unit will help us develop strategies to work with or, in some cases, ignore the 10% so we can focus on the other 90%.


September 28th-October 16th


Unit 2: Death and Dying On Campus

Guiding Text: We Have Some Sad News, by Jeffrey Ament


Focus: From the sudden to the terminal, death and dying on campus are an inevitable part of your leadership career. In some cases, you’ll take on a paternal role for children who lost a parent. In other cases, you’ll serve as a grief counselor for a staff who can’t process the loss of a colleague. In still other cases, it will be your loss that your staff and community must help you process. This unit will help us prepare for loss by first accepting that it’s going to happen.


October 19th-November 6th


Unit 3: Lesson Plans and SGOs Are Stupid

Guiding Text: I Don’t Get it Either, by Tanya Donnelly


Focus: All educators have the specter of a department of education looming over us. Nameless and faceless, the DOE quietly, and often confoundingly, makes bureaucratic decisions for us all the time. Sometimes the DOE graces us with its presence at conferences and delivers new and exciting buzzwords for us to begin using! This unit will help us understand how to work with, and sometimes outside the confines of, the department of education.


November 9th-November 27th


Unit 4: Middle Finger Emojis and Other Delightful Communication

Guiding Text: The text for this unit will just be a series of emails I received that may or may not invite me to copulate with myself, border on the criminally insane, or eschew any conventional spelling, grammar, or punctuation convention.


Focus: The keyboard is a fierce weapon in a war that is often waged in the brain of its possessor. Voicemails left at bizarre hours allow for a response-less audience. Side-eye and passive-aggressive parking lot discussions keep everyone guessing as part of an interminable and often irreparable conflict. This unit will prepare us for the myriad ways in which communication styles, decisions, and exchanges dictate our leadership.


November 30th-December 18th


Unit 5: In Loco Parentis, Like, For Reals

Guiding Text: Can You Talk to Her? By Chris Cornell


Focus: While we are responsible for our students during school hours, there will be times when you’re asked to literally stand in as a parent. From the at-her-wits-end mom to the completely overmatched single dad, the better you are at your job the more likely a parent will ask you to do theirs for them. This unit will provide strategies for accepting and denying such responsibility.


Grading:


There will be no grades for this course because we’re all adults, grades are meaningless, and most graduate programs are “A” factories anyway.



Brian Kulak

Twitter: @bkulak11


Brian Kulak is in his 22nd year in education. For the first fifteen, he taught English and journalism at his alma mater in New Jersey. He is currently a K-5 principal in Collingswood, NJ.


In 2019, Brian published his first book, Level Up Leadership: Advance Your EduGame. Using the evolution of the gaming industry, the book blends gaming nostalgia, educational philosophy, and practical leadership strategies.


His blog, briankulak.com, combines a shared educational experience with his unique style. Using self-effacing humor, pop culture, and storytelling, Brian challenges readers to see themselves and their leadership differently.


His work has been featured on Edutopia, in Educational Viewpoints, and in Stories in EDU. Brian has also presented on teaching, learning, and leadership at conferences such as NJAMLE and NCTE/CEL. He’s an Edcamp regular and organizer and #SEL4ADULTS advocate.


Brian is a baseball fanatic, a Pearl Jam aficionado, and a devoted family man. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

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