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The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence
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The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence
Lessons From a Transformational Leader


Other Titles in:
Leadership | Reflective Practice

April 2012 | 192 pages | Corwin
Research shows that the single variable that makes the most difference in student performance is the quality of the teacher. How do we keep teachers motivated in the face of increased pressure for grades, class sizes and media attention? How do we attract and retain high-quality teachers? This inspiring text offers a refreshing alternative to the portfolio and high-stakes accountability models of school improvement. Based on the successful methods of Dealous Cox, The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence describes a leadership philosophy based on the search for wisdom through personal reflection and community. The authors share their experience with this leadership style and document the sustainable results of transformational leaders working with teachers as partners rather than adversaries. These results include:

- Consistently improved teacher performance

- Improved teacher quality

- Greater professional satisfaction for teachers

- Stronger community support for schools

Richard Sagor and Deborah Rickey have tracked this established leadership model for more than 30 years. Their work shows how, when sustained over time, these leadership principles have transformed professional behavior throughout school districts and made a long-term difference for teachers and students.

 
List of Figures
 
Foreword by Sheldon H. Berman
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Introduction
 
1. The West Linn School District
District Context

 
 
2. Three Key Leadership Functions
Transformational Leadership

 
The Development and Nurturing of Shared Community Vision

 
The Development and Nurturing of an Ethic of Continuous Improvement

 
The Development and Nurturing of the Organization's Commitment to Productive and Ethical Human Relations

 
Quaker Theology: As a Belief System and a Metaphor

 
 
3. Making a Virtue Out of a Necessity: The Beginnings of the People Strategy
The People Strategy for School Improvement

 
Supervising the Probationary Teacher

 
Annual Celebration of Excellence

 
 
4. Hiring the Very Best
The Eye of the Proprietor

 
Faculty Recruitment/Selection at West Linn High School

 
Reflection Questions: Hiring the Very Best

 
 
5. Making Continuous Professional Learning an Organizational Norm
Professional Development and the People Strategy

 
Professional Development Strategy #1: Budgeted Building and District Funds

 
Professional Development Strategy #2: Professional Growth Planning

 
Professional Development Strategy #3: Tuition Reimbursement

 
Professional Development Strategy #4: Cooperative Master's Program

 
Professional Development Strategy #5: Professional Development Fund

 
Leading Through Limited Partnerships

 
Reflection Questions: Making Continuous Professional Learning an Organizational Norm

 
 
6. Providing Responsive Developmental Supervision
Four Key Concepts Governing Supervision

 
Supervision When Professionals Are Having Problems

 
A Veteran Teacher Struggling With Classroom Management

 
Reflection Questions: Providing Responsive Developmental Supervision

 
 
7. Differentiated Supervision: Evaluation Outside the Box
Supervision and Evaluation at West Linn High School

 
When is Traditional Evaluation Necessary?

 
The Proposal for a Differentiated Supervision System

 
Reflection Questions: Differentiated Supervision

 
 
8. The Extended Shadow of the Leader
An Outside Superintendent

 
Example #1: Assigning Students to Classrooms at Cedaroak Park Elementary School

 
A Keen Eye for Talent

 
Example #2: Multiage Classrooms at Boeckman Creek Elementary School

 
Reflection Questions: The Extended Shadow of Leadership

 
 
9. The Acceptance of Uncertainty
Scientific Management and Proven Practices

 
Feigning Certainty

 
Choosing a District-Wide Computing Platform

 
Providing Developmentally Appropriate Education at Willamette Elementary School

 
Uncertainty and School Culture

 
Reflection Questions: Acceptance of Uncertainty

 
 
10. Hubris: An Ever Present Concern
The "Worrier in Chief"

 
The Political Context of Public Schools

 
Owning Up To Flaws

 
The High School Annual Report: Warts and All

 
The Gang of 1,000

 
Reflection Questions: Keeping Hubris at Bay

 
 
A Final Word
 
Epilogue
 
References
 
Index

“This book provides a hands-on approach to leadership. The story of how Dea Cox transformed education through his leadership style is worth promoting.”

Gary L. Willhite, Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin La Crosse

“At a time when unarguable strong leadership and identifiable heroes are harder to find, the story of Dealous Cox provides both hope and faith that good leadership can facilitate solving some of the complex issues that face public education in the 21st century.”

Lynn Macan, Superintendent
Cobleskill-Richmondville CSD, NY

"Chapters offer a concrete formula for bringing out the best in school leaders, presenting a proven leadership model that works well in the school environment."

Midwest Book Review, October 2012

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ISBN: 9781412996457

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