Vernon Smith – A Celebration of Faculty Research ~IUN~

Some of you may be aware
that I am a combination of an elected official and a graduate professor where
I either keep my students captivated, or confined for two hours and 45 minutes. That’s a dangerous combination because it leads to long windiness, and so
therefore, I’m a victim of diarrhea at the mouth,
dripping tongue, and motor mouth. And so I’m gonna try to stay within; I have wasted
30 seconds already of my 8 minutes. My paper, my presentation is an
outcome of a paper that I presented at the National Council of Professors of
Educational Leadership and months later they asked me to develop into books. I’ll
share with you my book, it’s called “Creating Excellence: Becoming a A-Plus
School.” The first chapter deals with change and the demand for change. Change
is in vogue in education. Unfortunately, there are too many
practitioners who don’t see the need to change. If you don’t see the negative
change you’re not going to change. Change comes through two methods; through
internal dissatisfaction, or external agitation and there’s a lotta external
agitation in this education reform period. The testing craze, all the things
that the legislators are doing across these United States, are creating the
demand for change, but if you don’t get people to a point where they want to
change, where they see the need to change, then you’re gonna continue to do the
same and get the same results. Chapter two deals with the philosophy of
education. Every educator, every practitioner, has a philosophy. Unfortunately, it may not be positive about education; there are educators out
there who believe that minorities can’t learn as well as the majority. There are those who believe that teacher that the girls are smarter than
boys, or boys are smarter than girls, or children of poverty can’t learn and
they’re functioning in our schools. So it’s important that we bring all of our
factors together with a common wholesome philosophy of education, if you’re going
to have a school of excellence. Chapter three deals with a vision. A vision is an
ideal picture of a future state of your school. It is based on your philosophy
and your beliefs, That’s where you get your vision. It is the responsibility of
the educational leader to conceptualize a vision for the school. There’s many ways you can do that. And then you must reduce that vision,
which is conceptual, into a vision statement and it has to be communicated
among all stakeholders. Everybody has to buy into the vision. If you don’t get
there, unfortunately, we don’t do a good job of shepherding the vision, so that we
can we’ve come up with a vision just to be able to say we have one, but we don’t
shepherd it to become reality. Chapter four deals with climate and culture. Climate is divided in the two domains. It’s physical, and it’s emotional, and you
got addressable for those two domains of the climate, and you work on the climate
in your school in order to get a good culture. Culture is what you don’t see
many times. Climate is what the feeling you have when you’re in a building at a
certain time, and so it’s important that we address climate because climate is
where you plant the instructional seeds, and you’re going to get a greater yield
if you have a good climate within your school. And so, this picture here shows
how complicated culture is. There’s things that you see in culture and you aware of,
but there’s so many things that are hidden like an iceberg underneath the
water, and those persons who are effective and being strong educational
leaders, do a great job of analyzing, and dissecting, and developing a
good school culture. The chapter concludes by discussing the principal’s
role in creating a school culture and talk about methodology of doing that. You’ve got to work on the climate daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to create a
culture of excellence. Chapter five deals with the recruitment and the development
of staff. It first of all, a wise educational leader needs to go out and
get the best. You need to spend a lot of time in the recruitment and principals
must have an involvement in the recruitment process; it should not they
be done solely at the central level, and we want to go out and select the best,
but even the best wood cutter takes time to sharpen his axe, and because of that,
you are going to have to have professional development, and it has to be ongoing, and
it has to be meaningful, it has to be based on the needs of your student
population, as well as your faculty. Classroom observations are very
important and many times we don’t spend enough time to get into the classroom where
the action is. Chapter six deals with rigor and high expectations. Why do we need
rigor, why do we have to have high expectations for children? It is not the
words that we speak, it’s a behavior that you present, and it talks about higher
order thinking, and recommendations for practicing principals as time is going
too fast. Chapter seven is dealing with engaging parents for school success. In
the first generation of effective schools research, they said nothing about
the involvement of the parents in the community. In the second generation of
effective school research, they came out and said we can’t successive educate
these kids unless we involve the parents in the community in it. I served 20 years as a practicing principal and the thing that I’m most
proud of is how I engaged my parents, all stakeholders, and the quest
for academic excellence. Chapter 8 deals with persistence and drive. Never giving
up, the battles not over til you quit. You know that little
knucklehead child quits on himself, but the educator cannot quit on that child. The battles not on until both parties quit. So, we talk about how you deal with
your new union negotiations and overcome them, how you deal with resistance and so
forth, and I’m skipping past this because times almost up. Now I want to share with
you, I’m a Christian, and I know about the Beatitudes. I wrote Beatitudes to close out this
book for principals, and it deals with all the concepts of having a book. It
says; blessed our principals who are willing to make a difference for theirs is
a school of excellence; blessed is the principal who
serves as a change agents for difficult teachers for they shall be comforted;
blessed are principals who treat all teachers with dignity and respect as
during the change process for they shall inherit an
A+ school; blessed other principals who hunger, I’m rushing too much, and thirst
for excellence; communicating and shepherding the school’s vision for they
shall achieve it and be satisfied; blessed our principals who are merciful
and fair in their leadership style, not harassing, threatening, imitating, or
humiliating, but they shall obtain a collegial and collaborative staff, and
finally; blessed our principals who are pure and genuine in their efforts guiding
and challenging all stakeholders for they shall see their students achieved. Thank

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