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The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence

The Relentless Pursuit of Excellence
Lessons From a Transformational Leader

Foreword by Sheldon H. Berman

Other Titles in:
Leadership | Reflective Practice

April 2012 | 192 pages | Corwin

How to bring out the best in your staff—and in yourself

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
About the Authors
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

“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
Key features

In chapter 2 the reader is introduced to the model of transformational leadership that will be explored and illustrated throughout the book. This is accomplished by an examination of the 3 key leadership functions of the transformational leader:

a) The development and nurturing of a shared community vision

b) The development and nurturing of an "ethic of continuous improvement," and

c) The development and nurturing of the organization's commitment to productive and ethical human relations

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ISBN: 9781412996457
CAD$ 54.95

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936

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