Kevin Badgett, EdD, was kind enough to speak with us about his role as Department Chair of Educational Leadership and Program Coordinator for the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership.

Prior to coming to UT Permian Basin in 2012, Dr. Badgett served as a teacher, school counselor, and campus administrator. His experiences are part of what makes our online MA in educational leadership program so impactful for graduate students, many of whom are still in contact with this devoted educator. In the interview that follows, Dr. Badgett shares his thoughts on our online program, his experiences as a faculty member, and his advice regarding the benefits and (potential) caveats to online learning.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The favorite thing that I do as an instructor is equipping and preparing folks to serve as teacher appraisers, and the reason I say that is because the teacher appraisal process should be centrally connected to our role as capacity builders, because it’s not a summative evaluation where we’re walking into a classroom and we’re sort of judging in a final way the effectiveness of a teacher. It’s about the process of working together to support the growth of the teachers, so that philosophy is very central to the work that I do in preparing and equipping and training folks for the role of teacher appraiser.  

What learning experiences do students engage with in our online educational leadership program?

One of the things that’s very important to me is practical application. I want them to think through: How do you develop a sense of where you are so that you can deconstruct processes to build something meaningful? There are a number of projects in our programming where we expect students not just to read a book and write a paper. We expect students to do the work, so I’ll give an example:

Our Module 4 (Capacity Building and Training) assignment in the School Human Resources Management course calls on students to coordinate a committee of people on their campuses. The candidate leads that committee through a discussion where they identify real learning needs and real learning challenges on their campus and then develops a proposal that would equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to address those challenges. Rather than write a paper about the importance of professional development, I want them to get the data, make some data-informed rational connections, and work with the committee. Because when we lead well, we lead together.

Why is it important for aspiring educational leaders to have these learning experiences?

When we’re working as leaders, we’re working in leadership development. We’re preparing people to think about how they coordinate other people so that they’re building capacity in the systems and in all the components of those systems: the people, the teachers, the students, the parents, the community. Because schools are at the intersection of what’s happening in the broader community, and we’re missing opportunities if we’re not intentional about doing the things we do in a way that builds the capacity of our community. All of these kinds of ideas play into the experiences that our students have throughout the program because we’re far more concerned about equipping them for leadership in the real world than we are about just helping them think about an isolated thing. It’s all interconnected.

Are there opportunities for students to gain real-world experiences in leadership positions while in our online program?

During Practicum I and II, candidates will document 160 clock hours of practical experiences that are aligned to preparation standards and supervised by both a field supervisor and a site supervisor. In each of our EDLD courses that are part of our core content, candidates are additionally submitting documentation of a minimum of 10 hours of internship experiences that are also aligned to preparation standards, both the state standards and national standards, because our program is nationally recognized by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC). The purpose for that is to ensure they are connected to real-world work.

What do you enjoy most about working with your graduate students?

This probably sounds a little hokey, but the thing I enjoy most about working with students in this program is helping them successfully travel in this vehicle from where they are to where they want to be. And I even tell my students: “I understand you are not going through this program for the sake of going through this program. You’re going through this program to a greater purpose. Now, as you go through this program, you need to make quality submissions and do quality work because if you don’t, you won’t make it to the end of the trip.” There’s a quality expectation, and folks who can’t make it aren’t always successful, but the folks who can, I think, even enjoy the ride.

How do you support online students as they “travel in this vehicle”?

Whatever level of rigor that we have in our programming, I want the support to be at least a little bit higher. Now that encumbers a lot on us as faculty. I mean, if we’re going to have appropriate levels of rigor in our programming, sometimes we have to have a little more in terms of the support we offer, and so that has to do with accessibility.

Most of what our candidates do, by and large, is asynchronous. The burden for communication is much higher on everybody, so we have to refine our systems, and we have to communicate our expectations, sort of, in a multimodal way. Now, if our students don’t understand something, it’s their responsibility to reach out to us. There are some things that we can reasonably expect, right? We build systems around that. We build communication processes and structures, and that’s where the burden falls on us. But outside of that, the burden falls on them.

Have you kept in touch with any of your former students?

I am incredibly proud of the relationships that we build with our students. Particularly for a program that emphasizes an asynchronous experience so deeply, I think we do a really good job of getting to know our people.

I have a student who was a teacher in an international locale. When it came time for his practical experience, he wanted to be eligible for certification in Texas, so he actually left the international setting, came to Texas; invested the time, effort, and energy to identify a compliant, practical location; and did his internship in Texas. And having not walked at his high school graduation, having not walked at his bachelor’s degree graduation, he came to UTPB to walk, and I asked him why, and he said, “It’s because of you and this program. This is the first time I felt like I had to earn something, and the relationships I built compelled me to come and be a part of this.”

What does the future look like for our educational leadership program?

We’re on the cusp of some very exciting possibilities. We brought on two very exciting new colleagues, Assistant Professors Arzu and Uzat, and I’m excited about their vision. I’m excited about their experience. I’m excited about the future of our programming and what we’re equipped to do in support of our students’ formative experiences as they learn about leadership in the K-12 setting. We’re equipped to do some very neat things going forward, and I’m looking forward to the next three or four years as hopefully some of the vision we’re casting comes to fruition.

Learn From Experts in the Field of Education

UT Permian Basin’s online MA in educational leadership program is designed for educators interested in pursuing principalship and other leadership roles in K-12 settings. Under the tutelage of Dr. Badgett and his esteemed colleagues, you’ll learn what it means to lead by example, to devote yourself to students, teachers, and an entire community. Apply to our online educational leadership program to work toward earning your principal certification and becoming an educational leader.