Demetria Diggs & Dr. Wm. A. Kritsonis


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis
Professor & Faculty Mentor
PhD Program in Educational Leadership
PVAMU-The Texas A&M University System

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Demetria Diggs & Dr. Wm. A. Kritsonis

  1. 1. DEMETRIA DIGGS and WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS Introduction Strategic planning has proven to be the threshold of paramount meaning to bring forth transformation in educational settings across the United States. Organizations move toward their desired status when those involved gain a clear and heightened awareness of where they function currently, where the organization is destined, and the strategies they will elect to embrace. “In a postmodern society, however, knowledge becomes functional--you learn things, not to know them, but to use that knowledge” (Klages 2007, p. 17). Augmented by the six realms of meaning, organizational practices welcome exponential gains in efficacy and erudition on the part of the students, teachers, and administrators. The invaluable knowledge gained from the six realms of meaning provide educators with the tools necessary to put knowledge into practice in any aspect of the educational process. They are tools of culture, tools of significance, and tools of intelligence. Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to apprise educators of how incorporating the six realms from the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007), into school improvement and strategic plans to yield avant-garde results for all educational stakeholders. With a postmodern emphasis, the reader can acquire exceptional knowledge related to the six realms of meaning, and how ethics, synoptic, symbolics, esthetics, empirics, and synnoetics can add the lifeblood to educational planning and learning. A successful organization is at minimum threefold in nature, where gains are on a continuum for students, teachers, and administrators. Building a Postmodern Mission using the Realm of Symbolics/Empirics in Urban Schools An initial and imperative stage in the strategic planning process is to collaboratively develop a mission statement. This statement, comprised with boldness, serves as a symbolic declaration uniting the school community in its entirety, while understanding the diversity within. “The objective of using language is communication. Language is a binding force in society” (Kritsonis, 2007, p.116). Because this concise statement will tout, drive and merge the works of the professional learning community, the contributors must include language that empowers, embraces, and evokes Excellency. Student Excellency, teacher Excellency and leadership Excellency is the quest. “Through language, communities are created and sustained. The strongest motive for learning language is the primordial urge to belong to a community” (Kritsonis, 2007, p.116). The creation of a mission statement is not an inconsequential endeavor. It is a calculated attempt to communicate and foster belonging for all despite differences in age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status etc. Postmodern theory suggests that each distinct culture, comparable in value embody important realities. Minorities in urban schools must be provided with educational experiences that preserve their culture and allow them to take advantage of education at the same time. 79
  2. 2. DEMETRIA DIGGS and WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS Establishing Postmodern Belief Statements using the Realm of Ethics/Synnoetics in Urban Schools Belief statements are assertions within strategic planning by those within an organization. Belief statements invite productive relationships within the organization through common language. “Persons in relation are responsibly concerned for others, seeking their well-being, living to serve, to heal, to teach, and to strengthen them in every possible way that does not contradict their freedom” (Kritsonis, 2007 p. 394). They posit and energy of positivism to what the organization deems is of value. An organization may value cultural differences, diverse perspectives or diverse truths. “Freedom means the power to be and to become through relationships in which the integrity and worth of each person are responsibly affirmed by the others with whom he is associated” (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 395). When considering the establishment of belief statements, the school community must embark on this endeavor with an open mind. They also require a high level of optimism. The belief of a more favorable side has to be ingrained in the developers of the statement. Finally, these statements require a heart that is open and respectful toward diverse cultures of learners. We can no longer ill afford to tailor our educational endeavors toward one dominant culture. If statements are to be believed, there must be threads embedded within them that satisfy the idiosyncrasies of several groups. Statements of belief answer the questions: What do we collectively believe? What values do we want to instill within our students and organization as a whole. What will we do to support and enhance what we believe? How will we continue to address the needs of all? The belief statements, when adopted and internalized, ignite vivacity while encouraging the organization to develop into its full bloom. “Ethical language is used to alter feelings and behavior so as to produce the most harmonious satisfaction of desires and interests” (Kritsonis, 2007, p.437). Belief statements are often more valuable when they are constructed as brief and powerful declarations. They are not merely words to be scribed, sealed in a frame and mounted on a wall. Beliefs statements should be learned, practiced, believed and adopted throughout the entire school community. They allow educators to develop values related to their culture. Postmodern educators assert that “Important values to teach include striving for diversity, tolerance, freedom, creativity, emotions and intuition” ( Xenos Christian Fellowship, 2009, p.1 ). The main focus of these supportive commitments is ethical and moral knowledge. They support the notion of doing the right thing for students and the school community because it’s the appropriate thing to do regarding the academic, social and emotional development of children. “The appropriate organization of society from an ethical standpoint is the one which is just, that is, which gives each person what is due him, or what he ought to have” (Kritsonis, 2007, p.439). Example belief statements are as follows: 1. We will foster appreciation and acceptance of all individuals of diverse backgrounds. 2. We will recognize diverse values while accommodating students’ unique skills to ensure Excellency for all. 80
  3. 3. DEMETRIA DIGGS and WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS Defining Postmodern Goals using the Realm of Synnoetics/Synoptics in Urban Schools Defining campus goals is the meat of strategic planning. It is in this stage that campus leaders turn negative propensities into smart goals. They can even further positive propensities into more favorable outcomes. They find the most severe areas of growth or opportunity gaps and set a goal to advance the organization to the next level. Campus goals could include closing a gap between campus performance that is below district and state standards. Campus goals can hone in on specific populations of students who are not meeting their student expectations. Campus goals can also be put in place to challenge populations of students in good standings to reach higher heights toward college and career readiness. Depending on the needs of the campus, goals will vary. An example of this would include indentifying students who are on the cusp of commended performance, and setting a goal to get more of these students in that performance range. These goals, specific in nature, clearly indicate the who, what, where, when, which and why. Smart goals entail what persons are involved in the goal. The targeted group could be students within a grade level, sub-population group or students within an academic area. They entail what the organization wants to accomplish, the specifics of the desired increase. It tells where the location of the accomplishment will occur. They set an established time frame to accomplish the goal. It determines which requirements and constraints may present themselves, and the benefit for reaching the goal. Smart goals are also measurable. They establish a rubric to measure progression toward the attainment. It helps the organization reach the desired target dates. They are quantitative results that the organization plans to achieve. Smart goals are attainable. They are attainable because educators create them realistically and belief in their capacity to accomplish them. Educators have faith that they will reach their goals. Faith is the illumination that comes in going to the limits. Goals that are high, yet reachable are a great way to challenge an organization. It accelerates educator’s motivation and serves as the catalyst for change. Time is an imperative when setting smart goals. It sets a sense of urgency and puts action to the words spoken. Examples of smart goals are: 1. Math Problem-Solving – During the 2009-2010 school year, all seventh grade students will improve their math problem-solving skills with a one year gain national equivalent growth 2. Writing –During the 2006-2007 school year, the number of first through fourth grade students in special education will improve their writing skills by 6% at each designated grade level. The Six-Traits scoring rubric will act as the measuring tool. Leaders must understand that success of their goals can only be obtained through exemplary classroom instruction. Effective instruction is instruction that allows students to construct their own knowledge. It is not a classroom where educators act as authoritative transmitters of knowledge. It depicts educators and students as co- constructors of knowledge. The educator is acting as the primary facilitator of learning, not a sage on the stage. This gives students the opportunity to become extremely resourceful. Students can pull from their knowledge base, embark on trial 81
  4. 4. DEMETRIA DIGGS and WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS and errors experiences, and redesign their learning so that it makes sense to them. They can bring their own creativity into the learning environment, providing them a sense of autonomy centered on their educational endeavors. Postmodern Strategies to Accomplish Goals in Urban Schools Emphasizing Empirics When strategic goals have been put in place to provide a map for success, there must be supporting strategies in place to assist in accomplishing those goals. “A map is a formal representation of an area” (Kritsonis, 2007, p.176). Strategies tell us how to achieve our goals. Strategies should exist for each smart goal created. They serve as an objective for the goal. Strategies to achieve goals can involve budgetary considerations. Leaders have to allocate and utilize funds to bring progression into fruition. If a goal in the plan is to increase student performance in science, the leader must reserve and spend funds toward that area of need. The expenditures should have a direct impact on science advancement. The resources could be allocated for the purchase of Gateway Science books that are highly aligned with the Texas Essentials of Knowledge and Skills. Resources could be allocated for the purchase of one Purple Cow per classroom to show science action clips to students. Resources can also be used for the purchase science notebooks for each student to document his or her learning over time. Strategies to accomplish goals can entail soliciting and building more community partnerships to support the attainment of goals. A goal may be to increase student achievement through increased parent involvement. Business partners may assume the responsibility of hosting events periodically to attract parents to the campus. A third example of a strategy to accomplish smart goals could be to develop special programs to meet the needs of students who are underserved. If results show that Hispanic students are not performing up to par in mathematics, interventions should be put into place to remedy this problem. Concluding Remarks In conclusion, strategic planning can have few to several components depending on the needs of the organization. Campus leaders, regardless of the need can increase their odds of continuous student achievement by facilitating strategic planning that encompasses postmodern views related to knowledge, culture, values, and human nature. They can further enhance their chances of success by incorporating the six realms of meaning into their strategic plan. Great leaders can find a direct correlation between their strategic plan and the realms of ethics, synnoetics, symbolic, esthetics, synoptic and empirics. REFERENCES English, F.W. (2003). The postmodern challenge to the theory and practice of educational administration. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, LTD. Klages, M. (2007). Literary theory: A guide for the perplexed. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from the Continuum Press Web site: 82
  5. 5. DEMETRIA DIGGS and WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS Kritsonis, W.A. (2007). William Kritsonis, PhD on schooling. Mansfield, OH: Bookmasters, Incorporated. Kritsonis, W.A. (2007). Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning. Houston, TX: National FORUM Journals. Xenos Christian Fellowship (2009). Comparing modernist and postmodern educational theory: The death of truth. Retrieved July 15, 2009, from National FORUM Journals Features articles by the nation’s foremost thinkers on education National FORUM of Applied Educational Research Journal Issue Distribution and Circulation (Approximations) Issue Distribution Libraries…………………………….. 948 Association of College and Research Libraries………… 383 Deans, College of Education ……………………………. 396 NCATE Accredited Institutions………………………… 632 Selected Professors………………………………………. 1,289 State Superintendents…………………………………… 52 Editors of National, Regional, State Journals…………. 95 School Superintendents/Principals/Supervisors……….. 2,005 Bureaus of Educational Research Services……………. 243 Conference Distribution………………………………… 279 National Organizations…………………………………. 104 International Distribution/Worldwide………………… 641 2,839 83