Meet Our Faculty: Janeal Zechman
I received my B.A. from Tabor College in Secondary Mathematics Education and my MEd in Secondary Guidance and Counseling from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. I spent nineteen years as a secondary teacher and principal in private Christian schools in Oklahoma and Texas. I also spent an additional ten years working for the South-Central Region of the Association of Christian Schools International.
Later on, I oversaw the accreditation program for schools in six states and has been an active accreditation team member and chairperson for over thirty years. In addition to meeting the standards, every school going through the accreditation process was required to develop a School Improvement Plan and document continuous progress in completing the plan.
Why Midland University
I moved to Nebraska after marrying my husband in 2014 and I did not work outside the home for two years. I spent these years adjusting to my new roles of being a wife, mother, grandmother, and pastor’s wife. When I began looking for a job, Midland University offered me a position as the Field-Based Experience Placement Coordinator. After a year in the position, I was anxious to get back into the classroom and began teaching in Midland’s education programs.
What Do You Teach?
I teach the late fall term course in the first year of Midland’s Master of Education in Leadership, Teaching, and Learning Program, which is EDU 523 Continuous School Improvement. In addition, I also teach an assessment course for the undergraduate program, as well as a Praxis preparation course for math.
The Valuable of the Courses for Students
Continuous School Improvement is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to lead in the development, implementation, evaluation, and revision of short-term and long-term goals that promote continuous and sustainable school improvement. There will be an emphasis on collecting and analyzing data pertinent to the educational environment, which promotes learning and leads to continuous quality improvement. The focus will be on a systematic continuous improvement process that positively impacts student achievement.
Projects, Learning, and Coursework
Students will spend all eight weeks of the course working on a portion of the school improvement plan from the campus where they are employed. They will seek to implement one portion of the plan in their classroom to foster a greater impact on student achievement. In addition, there will be weekly discussion posts for students to share what they are learning and collaborate with others regarding the various topics from the assigned readings.
Benefits of the Course
Based on previous experiences, it seems that few classroom teachers understand the benefit of being involved in the continuous school improvement plan. It is often assumed that it is the role of the administration to create and implement the plan. However, once classroom teachers realize the impact they can have on the process and the difference they can make, they become passionate about getting involved to enhance student achievement. Part of this process involves collecting and analyzing data and gaining a better understanding of how to deal with data, which is very beneficial to both the classroom teachers and their students.
How Students Take Their Learning Back into the Classroom
The Master of Education in Leadership, Teaching, and Learning students implement a portion of the school improvement plan in their classrooms. Through this process, they can determine which goal will be their focus, and they decide how to collect data before and after to measure the success of the implementation. While the K-12 students will not necessarily know or understand what the Master of Education in Leadership, Teaching, and Learning students are doing, they will be able to see their teachers as lifelong learners.
Continuous School Improvement is part of the first year of courses before Master of Education in Leadership, Teaching, and Learning students break off into specialized endorsement programs. Students will be able to use the skills built in this course, regardless of the grade or subject they teach.