New book from Perry Law’s Rex Schultze aims to assist principals in staff evaluation

By Tyler Dahlgren

For building principals, Rex Schultze’s recently published book Who Are You Who Are So Wise in the Science of Teaching is more than just a read. The culmination of a 40-year career in school law is an interactive experience, and a beneficial one at that, complete with reading tasks and self-instruction assignments.

“In the introduction, I preface the book as a conversation between the reader and myself,” said Schultze, who began his professional career as a teacher in Omaha Public Schools before making the transition to Perry Law Firm in 1978. “It’s written as a conversation with the reader.”

Through four decades of being immersed in public education, Schultze identified a clear need to assist building principals in the practice of staff evaluation-specifically in the art of writing said evaluations. During a lunch meeting with Dr. Nick Pace, chair of the Department of Educational Administration at UNL, and his Perry Law partners Jim Gessford and Justin Knight, Schultze expressed his observations and shortly afterwards took a step towards addressing them.

“I had the idea of setting up and giving a presentation or teaching a seminar on writing teacher evaluations,” said Schultze, who was encouraged to construct his material in the form of a book by Ken Fossen, a retired school administrator and lawyer with Millard Public Schools. “I had it outlined in PowerPoint, so I just sat down and wrote the book. I started in June of 2019 and had a solid draft of the book done by that October.”

While working towards the final draft, Schultze sought the input of NCSA Executive Director Dr. Mike Dulaney, Associate Executive Director Dr. Dan Ernst and Ambassador/Lobbyist Kyle McGowan, who all provided helpful comments and suggestions. Gessford too incorporated ideas and observations he’d collected over the years, and when Schultze had the work where he wanted it, he floated the book’s description to publishing companies online.

Within one day, seven different publishing companies came knocking. He selected Fulton Books in June and was assigned a project manager. In February, the book became available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

“The concept here, the whole reason for the book, is to improve teaching and instruction,” Schultze said. “It’s written by a lawyer to provide principals with the level of expertise they should have when contacting a lawyer about a teacher in trouble. I can say ‘Well, have you done all of these things that I want you to do in the book? And if you did, and that teacher still doesn’t meet the competency requirements, then that teacher should move on and you’ve done your duty.”

One of the primary goals of Who Are You Who Are So Wise in the Science of Teaching, as stated in the book’s overview, is to lay the foundation for teachers to understand the standard of performance expected by the school district as a whole. Schultze, who comes from a long family line of educators, knows that teachers as assets. Like any other asset, they need to be taken care of.

“They need to be improved. They need to be helped. They need to be praised and assisted, just like you would take care of a machine,” he said. “You need to take care of your teachers and encourage them and help them to be better.”

Establishing clear expectations and a foundational standard of performance ultimately benefits all parties, from principals to teachers to (most importantly) students.

“The higher levels of thinking are generally based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which I talk about in the book,” Schultze said. “There are other sources drawn from too, but the concept is that students can teach themselves by reading a book or having somebody tell them a story, but where students learn is by being able to take information and critically analyze it and go through that hierarchy of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and conclusion.”

Those elements, Schultze explained, have to be present in both lesson planning and administration, and that’s what his book aims to demonstrate for its readers.

“You use the same skills, the same concepts,” he said. “How do I help a teacher? Well, I have to do some analysis. I have to view and see what the teacher’s doing. Then, I have to synthesize that. I need to apply the concepts. So those higher levels of thinking are applicable throughout the book.”

With each chapter, readers will take a step closer to qualification as an expert witness if he/she were to be called upon to participate in the end game of moving an underperforming teacher along.

It’s a step-by-step, applicable journey for principals, and a more-than-worthwhile endeavor.

*Who Are You Who Are So Wise in the Science of Teaching is available for purchase online at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/who-are-you-who-are-so-wise-in-the-science-of-teaching-rex-r-schultze-j-d/1138659203# and https://www.amazon.com/Who-Are-Wise-Science-Teaching-ebook/dp/B08WF9PCPT/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=rex+schultze&qid=1617217975&s=digital-text&sr=1-1.

To learn more, visit www.rexschultzeauthor.com.

 
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