[Ous-lp-rp13] FW: Follow-up

Larson, William larsonw at ohio.edu
Mon Aug 26 09:01:48 EDT 2019

Hi Everyone!

I have been contemplating our discussions at Saturday's seminar and some of the previous seminars.

I am going to share a few thoughts that have emerged from my reflections of the discussions. Several decades ago, I was in "your shoes." I was trying to learn about administration, drawing accurate and inaccurate conclusions.

My current perspectives have been influenced by having been blessed to have been a teacher and then a principal at the elementary and secondary levels, the advisor to the school newspaper, a varsity head coach for two sports, an AD, an administrative assistant to two city superintendents, a local assistant superintendent, a local superintendent, a director of personnel of a city district with 1200 employees and 5 unions, and a mid-size city superintendent in a district with two high schools, three middle schools, and five elementary schools, coupled with the opportunity to study educational administration for the 25 years that I have been with the university.

I made many mistakes along the way. However, I did my best to accept and learn from the mistakes. In addition, I typically attempted to work for as long as it would take to achieve effective objectives.

  1.  Some of your comments Saturday appeared to suggest that adult and student behaviors are worse "now" than they were in the "past:"

  1.  I have mixed reactions.. I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree with this perception.
  2.  By the way, "perception tends to be reality" in school administration. A group of past graduates of the program, who are now administrators, reminded me during a meeting last Tuesday that I had made this statement to them when they were in the program, which they doubted at the time, but have experienced on multiple occasions in the interim as representing an accurate observation.
  3.  Despicable behavior existed in the "past." I could unfortunately share many stories of my first-hand observations of such dreadful behaviors.
  4.  More deplorable behaviors certainly "appear" to be occurring "now." However, I am not certain if it is accurate to assume that this type of behavior is more prevalent "now."
  5.  I think that the perception that more bad behavior exists "now" is due, in large part, to the 24/7 news coverage that exists "now," that did not exist in the "past."
  6.  On the other hand, I think that a strong possibility exists that troublesome behavior has increased due the growing number of folks who are addicted to drugs and the effects that their addictions are having on behaviors. For example, I suspect that you have students, whose education is hindered as their parents abuse drugs.
  7.  However, a considerable amount of dreadful behavior occurred in the past due to over-indulgence with alcohol. The learning of the children of these parents also was hindered due to the ramifications of the alcohol abuse of their parents.
  8.  My agreement and disagreement that things are worse "now" than they were in the "past," very well may reflect my "contrarian" view of the world, and the fact that I have been fortunate to be around for a considerable period of time.

  1.  Some of your comments appeared to suggest that students who come from indigent home environments are less aware of and committed to the importance of learning.

  1.  Again, I am not certain that I agree with that assumption.
  2.  While the assumption may represent an accurate generalization, I think multiple exceptions exist.

  *   Indigent families can have "strong work ethics." Being poor does not necessarily mean that the parents are lazy and do not care about the education of their children. The children of indigent families with strong work ethics and a commitment to education are often dedicated and successful students.
  *   Opulent families can have "weak work ethics." Being rich does not necessarily mean that the parents are hard-working and care about the education of their children. For example, opulence can be the product of inheritances. Regardless, the children of opulent families, who have poor work ethics and do exhibit an authentic care about education, are often poor students.

  1.  By the way, I am inclined to believe that the behaviors of adults tend to take on a different perspective once they becomes parents. One of the assistant superintendents in Portsmouth, who was at least ten years older that I was, often commented about the effect of being a parent. I strongly disagreed with him when I first arrived, as I was still single and childless. However, I recognized the insightfulness of his comment once I became a parent. In fact, I became, as an administrator, more understanding and tolerant of the rantings of parents. Though, I avoided interactions with and reactions to the school for my own daughter, which was made easier by going to work for the university while she was still in a primary grade.

  1.  You may be looking for a "sure-fire way to succeed" in administration:

  1.  I doubt that "a sure-fire way" to success exists.
  2.  Among other things, you will be working in schools that have different cultures and climates.
  3.  In addition, you will be working in schools with some unscrupulous and selfish adults.
  4.  I think that best approach involves:

  *   Studying administration both as a graduate student and then as an administrator.
  *   Being willing to work long hours under challenging circumstances.
  *   Recognizing that most of your decisions will represent, at best, thoughtful, well-educated guesses and/or educated gambles.

  *   The state and federal governments obviously have many mandates for schools.
  *   However, the mandates tend to be focused on objectives, not the manner that they should be achieved.
  *   You, as an administrator, will be responsible, in most circumstances, for identifying the manner that the objectives should be pursued (e.g.., deciding if you wish to approach the matter as a transactional, transformational, and/or servant leader).

  *   Being prepared to experience wonderful and dreadful experiences/outcomes.

  *   You should avoid thinking that everything will go right once you become an administrator.
  *   For example, you will be working in circumstances that have factors, which are outside of your control.

  *   Recognizing that you will probably learn the more from dreadful than successful experiences.

  *   When things are going well, it can be difficult to recognize the ingredients that have made them go well.
  *   When things are going poorly, the dysfunctional ingredients are often apparent.
  *   An analogy might be that when watching "high-wire" acts, they can seem relatively easy.
  *   However, most of us would be hospitalized if we tried to do what looks so easy.

I hope that you find the observations in this message to be useful. Please do not hesitate to share with me your reactions to the contents of this message. I appreciate your reactions. Among other things, they help me to recognize when my communications are accurate and inaccurate, and when I have expressed my ideas effectively and ineffectively. I suspect that I learn as much from you, as you possibly could learn from me. You can respond to me directly or to the entire cohort.

Until then, Bill

From: Larson, William
Sent: Sunday, August 25, 2019 10:17 AM
To: 'Ous-lp-rp13 at listserv.ohio.edu' <Ous-lp-rp13 at listserv.ohio.edu>
Cc: Boyd, Robin <boydr at ohio.edu>
Subject: Follow-up

Hi Everyone!

I appreciated the opportunity to engage in learning with you yesterday. The attention that you directed to the contents of the seminar was particularly valued.

The EDAD 6400, The Principalship, course, while in the fifth seminar, is, in many respects, at the apex of your six semesters journey to become a school administrator.

The course may be the most challenging in the program. Among other things, you are being expected to synthesize and exhibit the information and constructs found in the courses from the previous four semesters.

You might question whether you need to learn, synthesize, and exhibit the information and constructs. You will be a better administrator if you make a solid effort to this end.

For that matter, learning, synthesizing, and exhibiting the information and constructs will increase the likelihood that you will pass the Educational Leadership version (015) of the OAE.

I hope that the reminder of the weekend will be pleasant for you. In addition, I am already planning for and looking forward to the September seminar.

Until then, Bill

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