Dr. Thomas Harvey, an Assistant Professor and the Director of Field Supervision at Lamar University’s Department of Educational Leadership is an Academic Partnerships grant recipient.
His research, “Utilizing a coherent sequence of observations to restructure the principal practicum” explores sequenced field activities as part of a principal preparation practicum. Access his research abstract and bio in the growing Featured Research section of Faculty eCommons.
We sat down with Tom to learn more about him, his experience teaching online, and his research interests.
What was your journey to becoming online faculty?
After a successful tenure as a public-school teacher and administrator, I became a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University where I taught aspiring school administrators. Their program was delivered in a multifaceted manner. We blended face-to-face, closed-circuit television, and online instruction. In 2016, I accepted a position at Lamar University when my mother, who resided in Beaumont, Texas, became ill. Currently, I assist with Lamar’s principal preparation program, superintendent preparation program, and its educational leadership doctoral program. All these programs are online.
What do you enjoy most about teaching online?
I most enjoy working directly with the diverse student population. I lead weekly web conferences and online office hours. I also share my phone number with students. Students call or text me during the courses that I teach. However, they also maintain a relationship with me after the coursework. The interaction with students is very fulfilling. I sense that I am making a difference for the students… and a difference at schools across our state and nation. I tell the graduate students in the principal preparation program that Lamar University is creating an army of collaborative instructional leaders and challenge them to use their skills to transform campuses.
Why was this research of interest?
In 2017, two colleagues – Dr. Neil Faulk, and Dr. Brett Welch, and I conducted research regarding the impact that the principal internship had on the professional mindsets of candidates in a principal preparation program. I specifically recall sketching out the design of our research on a napkin at a department Christmas party. We were determined to discern the impact that online field supervision had on principal candidates.
It is rewarding to reflect on how that initial research effort became a catalyst for future research. Since that initial effort, six articles and a textbook have been authored, and over ten national presentations regarding internships for school administrators (including the effective use of field supervision and coaching of candidates) have been delivered. Colleagues working collaboratively in this research effort include Neil Faulk, Brett Welch, Jimmy Creel, Donna Fong, Donna Azodi, Bob Nicks, Gary Martin, Johnny O’Connor, Daryl Ann Borel, Glen Harrison, Cindy Cummings, and Shelly Allen.
What was your takeaway from your research?
In the spring of 2022, Lamar University’s principal preparation program, with the assistance of revenue awarded from a competitive research grant sponsored by Academic Partnerships, developed three coherently sequenced and mandated practicum observations for principal candidates. The coherent sequence of practicum observations and the one-to-one online field supervision processes developed during the grant period enhanced opportunities for principal candidates to build collaboration skills and professional relationships with faculty members and leaders at their campuses. The coaching process led by university field supervisors assisted candidates learn how to work with others to develop goals to improve student achievement, and to identify solutions to instructional challenges at their campuses.
What would you tell someone new to online learning?
Use the opportunity to build lasting relationships with your students and colleagues. Avoid simply being a selfie in a correspondence course.
What else would you like to share?
Lamar’s principal preparation program’s internship and field supervision model, developed with the assistance of Academic Partnerships, is going to be replicated in Lamar University’s superintendent preparation program.
From Dr. Katy Corcoran – Recently, with the assistance of Academic Partnerships, our department implemented a groundbreaking Field Supervision model which offers our students meaningful, growing, challenging practicum activities and experiences. Although the development of this specific formula was a collaborative effort of multiple department members, Dr. Harvey’s leadership was imperative and critical to developing and implementing the new schema. The feedback we have received from our students, program Field Supervisors, and the students’ Site Supervisors is overwhelmingly positive. I look forward to implementing this model in our Superintendent Preparation Program.
What is a perfect Saturday morning?
The perfect Saturday finds me waking around 5AM and drinking coffee (spiked with Irish Whiskey) with my wife, Rita, on the front porch of our ranch in Woodville, Texas. It would also include the stoking of a fire in our smoker and preparing a pork butt or beef brisket for a family gathering of our children and grandchildren…… during all of this, my English Bulldog (Mater), and Australian Cattle Dog (Star) would be right beside me.