Moving Agency and Excellence to Achieve ALL

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Terrence Davis is the Superintendent of Banning Unified School District. Terrence defines the core of his work as creating exceptional educational opportunities for students to be successful in the global workforce as well as cultivating an environment to support administrators, teachers, and support staff. He is known as a leader who strives to build relationships through the lens of equity and compassion.

Dr. Michael Conner

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. Welcome to another episode of Voices for Excellence. I’m your host, Dr. Michael Conner, CEO and Founder of the Agile Evolutionary Group. And as you know, the proud host of VFE. And today’s guest is a good friend of mine out on the west coast, California sunshine. I’m jealous because it’s starting to get cold over here. As you can see, I got my, I got on my fall attire over here. You’re still in that southern California weather. But it is good to have Mr. Terrence Davis, who is the proud Superintendent of Banning Unified School District in Banning, California. He serves in a myriad of different roles, whether it be on state coalition networks or organizations at the national level. Terrence has done everything. I just love speaking with him, going back and forth prior to, you know, this record. We were already talking for like 20 minutes and then we’re like, we got to record this. So it is my absolute honor to have Mr. Terrence Davis on Voices for Excellence. Listen, Terrence Davis, my man.

Terrence Davis

And the crowd goes wild. Now, now, Dr. Michael Conner. I’m a little wild and so I’m having a really good day now. Here’s it’s 8 o’clock, but I’m I’m hyped today. I’ve been in, I think I shared with you like I’ve just been in a little funk, you know, sometimes we get knocked down, but usually I’m really good at getting back up. And when I get back up stronger, my last little knockdown, I just been in this little gloom and I’m out of it and I think I’m out of it because I had an opportunity to share, you know, my weight and what I was carrying with the people that, you know, we had this communication with. And so it just feels good. So today’s a good day and I thank you for the opportunity, CEO and founder. CEO and founder, listen to that. So I am honored. And before we get started, because, you know, I go on a little flow in and I go, hey, slow down. Is that I listened to that episode that you did with Lynette White. Yes. Communications extraordinaire. And I’m like, man, Dr. Conner asking these questions. He gets down in the gristle. He’s like, here is what? What did he say? And then he just then he stop there just gets deeper and deeper and deeper. So I was like, okay, now I’m gonna have to bring this. So thank you for sending me some some products ahead of time. That way I can get my thoughts organized, but I’m ready. I’m ready to rock and roll and have some conversations about the work that we’re doing, the challenges that we’re doing, and how we best support kids, and more importantly, support people. Because the people, the people in the classroom, those are the people who were impact is doing this every day, not necessarily the leader, but the leader has to provide the supports, understand what’s going on, to kind of steer it and keep it moving forward. So I’m excited.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely we know it is such an honor to have you on here. You know, Terrence, I’ve been following your work. You have been doing an absolutely amazing job out in banning. One thing that I’m really, really proud of you is how you’re elevating the voice of your community and you that and that. You know, the is changing times. We understand that, you know, we have two new generations that are outliers to any generations that we’ve ever seen. Right. Because of the explosion of technology, artificial intelligence, because of the new demands, the social justice mindset collectively that these students have. We can’t deliver the same model. But the way you’re actually articulating the needs and the wants of your families, Generation Z, Generation Alpha, and articulating that into the organizational strategy to change, right, or to transform your business model, our education model that is going that is aligned to the needs of Generation Z, Generation Alpha is just absolutely incredible. I just like I said, I’m a big fan of your work and I love that you’re on VFE and my audience will actually get to see the genius and the expertise of Mr. Terence Davis. So, you know, and Lynette White’s episode we were going deep into theory. We were going deep in the context, you know, research around communications and strategic approaches to expand communication. Now let’s get ready to have some fun on VFE. My audience use this as a asynchronous, asynchronous tool for professional learning. So again, just unwrap it. Unpack your expertise for my audience. But before we get into some of the deep questions or the deep questions that have theoretical and conceptual meaning around strategy to advance education, to advance excellence in innovation, this is a fun question. All right. But proud superintendent of Banning Unified, everybody knows Mr. Terrence Davis, you’re admired, right. You’re admired by many education stakeholders, just not in the state of California, but nationally. Right? You’ve served on a myriad of high level advisory boards, as well as leadership roles on different coalitions in California. But for my audience who may not know Mr. Terrence Davis, what song describes your excellence in equity work in the field?

Terrence Davis

Yeah, I, I love this question so much and that’s a hard question to just to, to spur out on somebody. It is because that requires some thinking and it requires some reflection on your practice. And so I have a song, so I’m going to start with, well, who sings the song first? And I want to know if you know, because if you do know, I’m I’m going to be maybe a little surprised, maybe not because you on the super cerebral side, because that’s what this music kind of is. And then if you don’t know, you’ve got to check it out. So. So the group is Black Violin. You heard of Black Violin?

Dr. Michael Conner

I have not heard of Black Violin.

Terrence Davis

Okay, write it down. Yeah. You all have to open that puppy up. But the song is Virtuoso. So let, let me just share with you what a virtuoso means. And so the group Black Violin is two cats out of Florida. And I believe they’re African-American, but they they basically play the violin in string instruments and with a little hip hop flavor. Okay. So it is a combination. And I’m going to articulate why I think this kind of embodies the work that I do is like it takes the best worlds of both. So, you know, classical music, when I was growing up, that was like, What is that? But I’ve come to learn that man, that that music calms the spirit in the soul and gives you an intellectual flavor in pop. And that’s kind of the work that we have to do. But how do you still do that? We’re still not losing your your flavor, if you will. And so that’s why this song, possibly in the way they describe this song, is they say this song is mastery of the violin in their ability to captivate and inspire through their music in the way I then take that information and channel that into what I do is I try to do what is in the best interest for people who support kids. So I do feel and I’ve just come to this, you know, I’m over I’m 50 plus and so I’ve just come to this is that I do have some skills, I do have some things that I’m really good at. And one of those is connecting with people, understanding people, and then taking that information in the word that I like to use, harness that to try to create conditions and supports that assist people and students to flourish. And so that’s why this song Virtuoso Man is is flavor, But it’s also an intellectual kind of dive into a feeling. And so that’s what kind of describes I know that was a lot, but but that’s just what it is.

Dr. Michael Conner

No, no, no, no, continue Terrence. Because first, yes, I am going to check out the Black Violin Virtuoso. Okay. But when when you your explanation and I want to unwrap this. Right. It is perfect. Right? Perfect to describe you. I like to use the word combinatorial. Right. This combination or this polarity between the classical aspects of what the violin presents and then bringing in that hip hop. Right. That hip hop scene, and then that that hip hop nature brings that synergy together. So this combination combinatorial in the context of, I like to say this polarity aspect of and but when you look at this in and you bring that terrorist to describe you best interest for students in understanding the people to create the conditions for them that’s engineering design thinking, engineering design process, design thinking, one on one first element of empathy, understanding your customers so that you can design in this, co-create manner or co-creation manner. But the Black Violin. Yes, man, that mastery of violin to captivate an audience. You are creating a masterful piece right in the context of your education model out in banning. When you talk about captivating your audience, your community generation, the in generation Alpha. But going into the next question right now, banning unify has a very bold vision. Mr. Terrence Davis, very, very bold. It’s bold right is named my book is intentional. Okay. Bold. It is certainly unapologetic for your community. Right. But this bold vision is needed in the AC stage, AC stage of education right now. And our personal discussions, teachers, I have told you that your vision is unprecedented, right? Specifically in the context of what I’m adding now, college ready, career ready and now in this new age of Delta 2030, being digital ready now, certainly giving your students the agency right as evidence you have your own district podcast. Now to my audience Banning Unified and Mr. Terrence Davis have their own district podcast. But take a look at this you want to talk about agency agency 2.0. The guests on his podcast are the students. He was viewed as the primary voice of that podcast. But these are all know it it Delta 23 mandates, right when we think about that but when we talk about the vision to prepare students for the future of work, unwrap this for my audience. And what does this look like from an actionable and articulate a process so that they can underscore these strategies in their district or their classrooms.

Terrence Davis

And I’m going to bring this back later. But I think a major concept in education is a lot of people got into working with students because their love of students and seeing them grow. But did the focus always center around with a student is I’m not so sure. And so I’ll say one thing that that may be familiar to some people and I know you’ve heard this like so I teach science, I teach math. Do you or do you teach students? So so so to kind of dive into this is what do students need to know? But it’s about the students. It’s not per se about the subject being born. And then why do they need to know that? So what is the application from the learning that you’re going to have to the real world? We talk about students. I’m learning this, you know, this is back in the day. Here’s the worksheet. Here are my spelling words. I have to write the word on the board because I used to get in trouble a lot 57 times. But what does that really doing to me that I’m going to be able to apply to life? So when you when I think about that in the context of education in our world today, it is what is the assessment that we are are giving students to learn where they’re at and what curriculum are we using to address their specific needs. And so when I look at that, I think of a few things. I think of real life skills. I think of the experiences that students have and what do our learners need. So it’s not always about here is the subject that I’m teaching and I’ve got to make sure I get the subject out. Where are you? Student In this space and what can I teach you and NCAA In order to ensure that you’re understanding what’s going on. So I used to be a special education teacher. I started as a special education teacher, went into special education administrator, then moved h.r. Then moved to superintendency. And one of the things that i used to say a long time ago is that education is going to end up being like an IEP for every student and ask what this is really all about. So if I have a classroom of 30 students, do i know where those 30 students are? Because they’re all at different spaces and places? And then how do I differentiate to connect with each student? Because if I’m not doing that, I am missing the boat and I am not able to assess their progress, or if they have progressed where they’re specifically at. And so that’s to me what this means about the vision for the community. But you can only do that if you listen to students, if you listen to teachers, if you listen to parents in the community, and if you’re not doing that, you don’t know you’re making decisions based upon your own schema that may not involve the learner.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely well-stated, Mr. Davis, because I’ve been state in this for a long time. Right? Is that and I love that you contextualized it in a way that is simple simplifying and is also can be articulated in a fairly easy manner is not dead. What research theory and one thing that you said it was we teach students not content. Right. And if we eliminate that perspective. Right of of I only teach content and adopt that mindset or that sheer mind frame of we teach students, that’s when we would move to what I’m stating now as moving from a teacher to a true practitioner. Yeah, because when you become a practitioner, you’re able to diagnose gaps and identify targeted prescriptions or interventions to be able to close those gaps at this exponential manner or even accelerate on, I like to say, the baseline that students have I their ability to access Tier one and in any context. But you stated it really clearly, right, is that when we think about teaching students, we have to be able to diagnose, differentiate accordingly, right? And that’s them now in this new age are, as I say, the easy stage of education. We really have to move to this facilitation hybrid model of being a practitioner, right? Students are coauthors of their learning, which you are right. And then now as they are coauthors of their learning that the teacher or the or the practitioner is able to differentiate accordingly based off of their individual needs. Well, what well-stated and it goes back to empathy design thinking. 101 first element that you underscore in every single thing is that empathy aspect of their voice. Continue on, Mr. Davis, I know you want to say something.

Terrence Davis

So I just as you talk, I think about I was I think there’s some differences between you and I that I identify. You may not think so, but so I do things, I think about things, but I don’t necessarily have a framework for what that means. You, like, have all the frameworks, you have all the intellectual knowledge, the research in the way you articulate it. Like, okay, yes, I am doing something. So that’s really important to have both an understanding because at the end of the day, I think we’re all trying to do really good work and we’re all doing great things for students, but sometimes we all need just a little bit of, I don’t know, our understanding on a as a framework, as a as a as a theory of what we’re actually doing and how it provides benefit for students in the community. And you are a master for that. The other thing I want to say is I just appreciate the love. Like you give a lot of love. Dr. Conner, I’d like you just you’re very positive. Global. Not everyone is like that. And so people look at you. I’m going to say I’m going to tell you like you are, like they’re afraid to talk to you because you’re like, Man, this guy, he knows everything. Like he can touch a book and recite the book. When I first met you, it was on I think it was with you in there on a framework. And I’m like, Who is this cat? I’m like, Well, I had to step back. So however, again, it goes back to that beginning. How do you mix that intellectual thought practice research to break it down into presentable information, what others don’t feel like, my gosh, we’re just having real talk and then they can apply it in their own context to things that they’re already doing enough to do.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And listen, ebony and ivory, salt and pepper at work, right? I look, I know what I’m good at, right? I know that. This way. going back to like you played sports. I play sports, right? If we do what we’re good at, what the old Bill Belichick do your job.

Terrence Davis

That’s right. That’s what that is. That I know what I’m good at finding that synergy cares and that’s coming along so yeah well is that level of connectivity and simplistic forms my brother you are doing the work a keep doing what you’re doing because you are a model and we need each other, not need each other to put it in because it creates a stronger fabric and fiber in order to be strong, to like move it forward. So it’s not about competition, it’s about growth and learning and utilizing each other to do that.

Dr. Michael Conner

Man, I admire you so much Terrence, but I hear this now. Now you’re now what? You’re alluding to the next question because this is why you are love and the state of California as well as nationally, Right. So outside of your role as superintendent of Manning Unified, you serve as the regional president of the California Association of School Administrators Acts and on the advisory board of the District Administration Leadership Institute daily or I mean that the reputation around the country for daily. Unbelievable. A really great group. Amy is doing an amazing job there. So your role on these very on these two different coalitions, both in state as state of California as well as nationally. Now, your differentiated role of services right? How would you now encourage leaders to seek out organizations like acts like daily or continuous professional growth that you alluded to before in your last answer with with these new leadership challenges that we always talk about in the stage of education.

Terrence Davis

So let me make a quick clarification. So I have participated in daily, but I’m not on the daily National board, I’m on the RTM National Advisory Board. I just got the. Okay. Yeah, my apology. Arnold in the body. I won’t say it because some of my listeners I know it’s not like I always try to like clarify those things and then serve as our region. President Riverside County, one of the largest counties in Southern California, in California. So I served as a president. I’m still on an executive board, and now I’m on the state board of four acts, the administrative representative for our state. And so those I’m a first of all, I’m honored to serve in that space. Now, it takes time. It takes energy and effort. But the learning, the networking from others is is bar none. So this is what I will say about my colleagues. I would say that when you when you find something that you’re connected to, because as a superintendent, as an assistant superintendent, whatever you do, there’s all these circles of people, right? And so I just happened to get involved with access several years ago in just kind of this has just been my pathway. But when you were involved with other educators, other leaders from different whether it’s the region level, the state level or the national level, it brings you value because sometimes we don’t understand, especially the superintendent, you think that you’re the only one dealing with X. Now, I know better than that because I’ve been doing the role for a little while. But on a national level, you really get to see these challenges are similar even with some of the different laws in each state. So it brings you value. The other thing that it does is it brings you vibrance, it gives you a sense of light. It wakes you up to let you know you are really doing great work because not everyone feels good in in accomplice. I know some people think everyone feels that way every day, but we all have ups and downs, highs and lows. So when you have some vibrance you feel valued. And the last thing it provides me with is some reflection about the work that we’re doing and how important it is. And then I just mention that Non-competition So sometimes, you know, I know you’ve heard of imposter syndrome. I know. Well, I don’t think this happens to you, but like, you go somewhere and you hear something and you’re like, Wow. And I’m like, I feel like I’m standing still. But that’s just intellectually you like, No, I got that because you just get all deep down in the woods. But it brings you some sense of like you are growing, you’re creating a growth mindset to do better. And so the last thing I want to say is connect to different circles, different circles of people, different circles of content, because I think at the state level, the national level, it creates different thinkers to resource all of the challenges that we all face differently. And so when you do that, it’s not just you, right? The smartest person in the room. Well, it’s probably Dr. Michael Conner, but the smartest person in the room is not a person. It’s the room because it’s collective wisdom to pull it together. So that’s what I say, So very important. But there’s a lot of different organizations and agencies. So I would try let me let me try this organization and see what they’re about. Does it align with my value system, how they treat each other and what they’re doing? And so the other organization that we’re going to talk about is I’m also heavily involved with NCEA, the National Center for Education on the Economy. And when I get with superintendents in that group, the mindset, the conversations are so different and and it is I get intellectually inspired by those conversations with my colleagues. So it’s a growth thing that helps someone. And also, you know, helping strengthening your network, if you will.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And Terence, my apologies for the with the year of information regarding how we get everything RTM rate and everything. So is there so not all good Yes. Listen look, you’re involved. That’s all that matters. You’re involved. Your voice needs to be involved. But I really love the three critical points that you targeted. Personal value, vibrance and reflection write. Really, really, really like that is very important. But a statement, right, that you highlighted is so critical. I think that we need to expand on that from a professional practice within the ecosystem. The power is within the room. You stated right. And having that power of that collective power in lieu of individuality, in the context of what person trying to drive the head again, one person trying to drive the strategy when the power is with and in a community within the room, as you stated. Right. I’ll never forget, you know that when you think about some of the, you know, bringing a sports analogy into the teams that have won recently, they have the best teams. They don’t have the superstars. Right, Right. Right now, one would argue about the Denver Nuggets. What with Joker right now to Alex Marrero. We know he’s a superstar. Right? But that that team the coalition get what’s undeniable and unbelievable that we have we need a head up more that and application which use it it is the connection to the different circles the regional level, state level and then at the national level. Thank you for this sort of reset you know, Terrence, because your voice is is certainly needed in all these different circles to advance right. To advance the mission for our students in a stage of education. But I want to get to a hard question. Right. And again, I left it I left this question ambiguous for a reason. Right? Because I wanted it to be high level so that my audience could go back, unpack it in an asynchronous manner, replay it, applied it to their practice, and really challenged their individual practice from a creative tension standpoint. But again, there’s no right or wrong answer to this, right? And there’s a level of objective objectivity is subjectivity within this answer. But again, I want it. I created this question specifically for that defined excellence in the text of classroom instruction. Okay, not limited to a specific discipline, a content area, but I just one unwrap this first part, right. You know, so there’s a level set with the audience and then we’ll move into the second part. But define excellence and equity in the context of classroom instruction.

Terrence Davis

So so this is what I did. So in preparation, I just kind of wrote down my thoughts and I’m good with my thoughts. So I’ll show that first and then I want to I. And so this this is the thing about I you have to be honest, because it expands your your knowledge, your vocabulary, and then you put that into your own context in in your own words. So it strengthens what you already know. So this is what I originally to answer that question. Excellence in equity, first of all, is do you know what each student needs? So in the environment, if I’m in the classroom, I’m at a school site, if I know what each student needs because I’ve built and developed a relationship with them, I can better serve them. And that’s a the next piece is are they improving or are they advancing? Are we developing independence in our students to become critical thinkers? And for me, that’s the excellent part. So so this is where I like that would be my answer. Now, Dr. Michael Conner, answer them on something else, but let me tell you what I give from from air. Okay? So it talks about equity and excellence, the fundamental principles of what we’re doing. However, it talks about equity in education, meaning that all students, regardless of your background, regardless of whatever, how do you provide the necessary success for them? But that means that you have to know them. So it connects to my initial thought without even looking at it. I And so here’s just a comment on that. When equity started this terminology of equity in our systems, let’s call it ten years ago or so now before was equity, it was something else. Is this the terminology has just changed. But in time now I’m going to get a little deeper in time. This term of equity. And what I’m doing in the equity work has now been met with. You know, it’s like, stop using it there. There are people now as super ten that won’t get a job if they are utilizing the vernacular and the terminology. We’re doing equity work. And so I don’t I know our audience probably knows. Dr. Carl Cohn. Dr. Carl Cohn was Superintendent of Long Beach for about ten years, so I’ve been very fortunate to have him as a mentor and it’s been some time with him in. I bring him up because he he shares this notion of doing the equity work versus utilizing the language of equity work. And I’ll say it this way I don’t necessarily use the vernacular. I’m doing equity work in Banning. When you go to a Banning campus, you see diversity in difference in students. You see it in I work in the district next door and I didn’t quite see it that way. It’s just so different. So here’s my point that I’m trying to get to before starting with black students, Hispanic students. So so it was like, here’s this black push. And that’s going to, in theory, offend some people because it suggests, why are you only focusing on the black students? Well, I think we all know that historically white. However, without getting into that, what about the other students? So when you are addressing, regardless of your color or your background, poverty, what student’s needs, that breaks it down. That means that equity is something that we have to do in order to excel for all students. Absolutely. And so the last piece is the excellence piece. And so this is a different type of break it down. You know, you when you start talking, I just whoa, man, you just swoop in. So I’m talking like, I don’t know what I’m talking about, but so the really fair I thought excellence piece is really refers to the pursuit of high academics and providing students challenging so that way they can be successful in life. And here’s what I want to say about that. In our school systems, that has not always been the expectation. We get comfortable, we go through the routine. We may not be pushing ourselves, we may not have exposure to high quality practices. And so that excellence piece is how do we ensure that the community that we’re serving, the students I was serving is receiving the best. And that means that we have to assess, we have to do some data analysis and then we have to come back and change. So that is creating the continuous improvement cycle. So it’s basically say that let’s try this, let’s get better, let’s learn from what we haven’t done to continue to get better. That’s excellent. And the only way I think that happens is that you have to keep that in front of because as human beings we default to comfortable ability, which is status quo. And you know this, if you are status quo and you’re comfortable just doing the same kind of things, you are not staying the same. You are going backwards because the world around us continually evolves and gets better. So we have to elevate our game to excellence all day and we have to do that from an equity lens, if you will, to meet everyone at every student where they are.

Dr. Michael Conner

I love that definition, Terrence. And I’ll get to the second part. I just want to interject with some comments to my audience. That was a very good part. And castle definition of equity and Excellence chairs. I want to highlight one thing that you stated about equity, which I agree with you 1,000%. I think equity, the word equity, even mentioning equity in a large scale has been weaponized when if we really look at the true definition of equity, the work that you’re doing with regards to just simply pedagogy in itself is equity. Because we two parts trying to deliver instruction content in an equitable manner for all of our students so they individually rise in this context of their personalized goals, which you stated in IEP for everybody, right? So if we really want to unwrap equity, the word there is about 10 to 15 different variables that you and I can identify that equates to this broad definition of equity. We have polarized it so much to look at it in one context. Yes, right. And I love how you defined it, that it goes beyond race. If we want to talk about propensity of poverty, students that are living in poverty, there’s a multitude of different, diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds that fall in poverty right? That is how we need to create equity for those students to uplift them or special education students equity in the context of how we’re delivering those individualized services to them to ensure that we’re elevating all boats. So AI is going to be the actual precision point to get to the zone, approximately the students in the context of the celebration and growth to close gaps. That is a tool that is going to create equity in our schools. I love that, Terrence, of how you defined it, of moving away from it being a weaponized form and the education world and also highly broad in that context of defining excellence by using assessment, by using data analysis. And then you brought it back to the whole continuous improvement model where that continuous improvement cycles, excellence and defining what equity is. Now, Terrence, second part, how do we get our classroom practitioners to look at that equity or or embed or encompass equity driven excellence development practices in the classroom? And I think… Great level setting definition, Terrence, by the way.

Terrence Davis

I think there’s a few things. First is getting even. We talked about a little earlier getting the mindset to shift around it. Students who think that way, then it’s no longer about the subsidy just going to deliver content. You can have some academic discourse, but you look at it from I’m teaching students one and then two, then I know the student. So then I teach the student better. And then the other piece is providing a space to provide. Can’t text to share what that means as, let’s say, a school site. So the most highest performing school sites, they have something that other schools don’t have. They have this synergy centered around what the practices and norms are of those teachers in that space to collaboratively move their school system forward. That means that they’re working together. They know the students, they know each other, is shared information that way they advance. The other thing is that so we were doing some research. NC is the National Center for Education on the Economy. They’re a highly globally research based organization, so they look at the highest performing schools in the world. And one of the thing that the research suggests is that the best the teachers learn from each other. So if you have a space where in those learning communities that you are refining your practices based upon the data that the student are, you know, based upon their assessments and you refine your practice collaboratively, they all grow together. And in it’s not necessarily coming, someone coming in to tell people what to do, they may need to learn how to do that effectively and efficiently as a team. But when the teams work together, you mentioned it in the sports analogy, then you have more success. Absolutely. And so I think and I think you were excellent at this, is how does one provide a model and a framework for that to happen in the system? And I think that will assist teachers and practitioners who are working students every day and those site leaders who are basically overseeing that are responsible that to give create that culture, create that those conditions for students to learn and progress.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah, no, it’s great. Great. Because what I love about your answer is you did not reference to any content driven content specific strategies or math that you know, that we that we we talk about a lot. Right? You know, MTS integrated model science of reading, you know, specific routines and strategies to get to this level of comprehension, higher level of conceptual knowledge. The third shift within the Common Core math, you mentioned that you said I teach students and I know my students once, you know, you’re students and once you take that mindset back and you teach students the content, the strategies and the embedded differentiation becomes easier. The delivery of core instruction becomes easier. Because why? You know, your student, just like every successful coach, they know their team, they know each one of their individual players and they put in situations to be what successful.

Terrence Davis

That’s right. Let me close that. So I was listening to you know a linear way. You know I don’t know I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She does all kinds of stuff. And so on. This class that she has, they were interviewing Michael Fullen, so this is Dr. Michael Fullen. And so they just released this episode last week and I was listening to something and he said, as he talked about, we have had a tendency to put so much instructional content and knowledge that we forgot about kind of the other side of that, the working with social, emotional, the all of the other stuff. And so that suggests that if we’re just driving that home all the time, we can be missing the point. And that’s the connectivity. And so I think is critical for, one, to stop and reflect upon that and see what the practices are, what are we doing and what is the impact that we’re having.

Dr. Michael Conner

So absolutely, Terrence masterfully stated, Wow. To my audience, please rewind and serve back specifically. What I want my audience to do is to pause, separate and cogitate on. I teach students. I know my students right, and a colleague of mine stated that, and his name is Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent at Ithica He said, How can you teach your students if you don’t know your students? That’s right. Right. And that that always resonate with me. You just yet again validating all of those points. But let’s let’s go on that right. Let’s stay on that topic. I want to segue into around knowing students, knowing your community, knowing the voice or the voices of your community. Right. And being a part of that design process and the esthetics of education. Now, Terrence, as you continue to elevate the voice of law, which again you have masterfully done and continuously to do it, what challenges and of course lead over that is grounding his or her work on the transparency and the voice, the agency of the community and students leading the design process of the district and what those education inputs and throughputs look like to get to the out watts of the community on you will experience some challenges. Right. And I know you and Terrence like we all have one we love the students a little bit more than the adults. But what have you experienced and what strategies could you provide leaders to continue that urgency for agency With our most important customers, families and students?

Terrence Davis

So I think I have a really good example of that. As a superintendent, I worked in another district and this was well before the pandemic about 2016 or so. And I was trying to push, you know, sharing our voice advocate, amplifying our voice. This is what we’re doing. So with students are doing. And I kind of I was back then, I was I pushed a little harder. I don’t push as hard now because I think I’ve learned how to get better at that. But it took a long time for that steam to grow. It took a couple of years for people to see the value in ensuring that the voices of our staff and our students are heard. One and then two. How do you use that voice to then get better? And so after several years, I really start to see it grow. And then even after I left, it continues to grow. And so when I left that system and then came to where I am now, I realized that it was a closed system where I am no one communicating. I remember now this is during the pandemic. I came into a classroom and I said, I want to post this. And they were like, No, I don’t want you to post that. This is what we do here. It was kind of like what we do is private and what we do. I don’t want anybody to know we’re in our seat now as four years from them. Now we have people going, Please come and see what we’re doing. And so some of those challenges are there’s always so many perspectives. I use a Stephen Covey book and basically it goes something like this. And every time I present, every single time I have the slide and I talk about it. So this is like a presentation. So basically it says that we see the world not as it is, but we see the world based upon our own perspective, our own experiences. And so when we open our mouth to say something, we’re not sharing what reality is. We’re seeing our own perspective. And so I use that in a presentation context because as the presenter, as someone is speaking and there are a hundred people in the room, there’s going to be a hundred different perspectives, interpretations of what was said. And so if I know this, then I know that I’m not going to get into an argument or upset with someone because they think something different. Like I’m going to try to understand that and learn. So that is a challenge because the perspectives, if you listen, if you open yourself up, if you’re vulnerable and you take the time to do it, that means that you’re hidden. All these people are sharing information with you that you may not agree with, but you have to listen to it in order to improve or understand the local flavor. So so that’s one. The other thing is there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And so you can say something that can be interpreted wrong, it can be taken out of context. And so sometimes that creates a hurdle. And so you have to not let that lead you because what you focus on expands. You have to be aware of it and then maybe refine how you say what you do to have a better communication strategy in the future. The other thing is what I say, you see the change up, you have to stay the course because there’s going to be bumps in the road. And so and, you know, life is just very challenging. Even if I didn’t have a job and I stayed at home and which is a job in itself, and you just taking care of the responsibilities of life takes time. And so given that staying the course and knowing that there is a purpose in you’re having an impact in the work that you’re doing because we’re all human beings. And so when things are said is how do we handle that? And that means you have to have a strong mindset and you have to have some confidence in yourself and you have to have courageousness because there are people who don’t like me. And guess what? That’s okay. You don’t have to like me, but I don’t use that as a marker to then I can’t do this because you don’t like. No, that means that I’m not fulfilling my purpose on life, which is to support people, to support kids. And so I think the last thing I want to say is you have to ensure that you are visible, you have to be visible because I can espouse whatever I want to espouse. But if I’m in the space and I listen to something and then I take that back to the team and we make some tweaks and we’re maybe, maybe able to help make it happen, you buy that much more credibility because one you listen in to and most importantly, you’ve done something about it. And I have several examples of that happening. Not that I’m trying to push it to make it happen, but is this good for people? Can we do it? And if we can, why not? Because that makes other people happy and it asserts their voice and it lets them know, Hey, I am a part of this community. So just kind of some things, challenges and nuances in terms of getting to listening to voice and then utilizing voices to make active change.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Terrence, well stated. I love the aspect of perspectives and vulnerability. I think that you characterized this level of I like to say that it references back to Tim Brown’s work there out of out of California radio, that coalition that focuses on design thinking. You broke that down, fully convergent thinking versus divergent thinking, and you really expanded on that level of divergent thinking perspectives and one ability awareness around humanity strategy. I’m thinking of mindfulness with when you talk about awareness, being cognizant, being cognizant and aware of the situation with the perspective in exuding that level of one ability, divergent thinking, but staying the course and being visible.

Terrence Davis

Those in the other piece that I missed in there was when you listen, if you listen with your heart, absolutely. That makes all the difference in the world, because now that’s just not I’m listening to do to complete a task to be compliant. I think that’s in with my heart to make a change because it’s the right thing to do. I am not a compliance driven person. Compliance, not my drive well, my driver is what is the best thing to do. And so I figure out how to navigate that, to move it forward. But that’s me listening with my heart because I give my heart soul, body, effort and energy to the work. Because we’re not just educating students, we’re changing the world based upon what the world needs.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And you know what you’re getting me really, really invigorated. And I’m actually having this profound feeling right, because I’m looking at this from my own independent research within my book with the disruptive effect model and the anchors of innovation science. That first pillar, Lean practices, right? When think about lean practices and this kind of weight, this causality or correlation between design thinking that it is exactly what we need to do. That’s what is stating in the theory, leading with the heart and listening, truly listening, not just from a compliance standpoint, but there’s that level of being authentic take that you’re going to go back, heard the voices and put it into practice. I tell you, Terrence, one on one, brother, one on one, that’s the asset. Listen, that’s that ebony and ivory right there, brother, you and I and people know. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Terrence Davis

People know this and kids know this. When you are authentic as a teacher, when a student feels that you care about them, you know about them, they will do anything for you. Students don’t want to be teachers. They don’t want to be they want to be cared about. And when you come in, people in kids and people feel that, then they will open up to you. And I’m not saying that’s easy work, that’s challenging because life is challenging. But when you can get to that point where that is your default and people know that you’re a default man, you’re going to move at the speed of trust.

Dr. Michael Conner

So absolute no, no, no. Terrence, I tell you, the hardest the hardest design aspect or the hardest part to elevate education, the ecosystem in totality is not the hardware, i.e. curriculum resources I tools is exactly what you’re highlighting is the software. How are you able to establish relationships and truly build on the community voice. But last question, you made it through man. Last question. Now this question, I say only three words, but now I’m starting to see people come up with innovative ways to, you know, that the I should say to that static, right. That static mandate of three words. So I’ve been saying this since episode one. Take it as it is. What three words do you want our audience to leave with with regarding innovative transformation in the AC stage of education? What three words do you want today’s beefy audience to lead with about innovation and excellence as we move towards Delta 2030?

Terrence Davis

So I have three words, and then I’m going to do a short, little break down connectedness, social interaction and community. And these three words are my friend. Okay? And so when you’re at we are all connected to each other, the pandemic showed us that we need to be connected to. We’re connected to the Earth and we’re connected to each other as human beings. So when we come with that mindset and we we exude that we will more and we do more when we’re connected. Next is social interaction, how we engage with each other, Engaging with each other isn’t at the dinner table and we’re all on our phones. We just happen to be in the space or we’re at a meeting and we’re on our phones or in the phones and things are being said. That’s not social interaction. We should be adjusting how we interact with each other to have a better connection. And finally, when you do all of those things, you’re creating community. So what community do you want to create? We work in the school community, so what should a school community look like? Synergy Working with each other, collaborate is collaborating with each other, listening a lot of things. And so those are my three words and I’m going to learn more about these and have all the resources behind it to then have much more articulation about how they impact the system and move us forward. Connectedness, social interaction, and community.

Dr. Michael Conner

There it is to my audience. You heard it from Mr. Terrence Davis, the three words I love it connectedness, social interaction and community. And that is exactly what you’re finding out in Banning Unified. Any of my audience members that want to be able to really see how agency is driving educational inputs and also student outcomes. Please go to Banning California. Mr. Terrence Davis, my brother, you lasted VFE, you’re off the hook. Oh, it is so good to have you on, man.

Terrence DavisI’m just I don’t know how I survived some Dr. Michael Conner questions. I don’t know. And then more importantly, okay, so even if you have the question more clearly is the follow through, because it really breaks up hard. What we’re talking about to then apply because we could talk about high level words, but what does that mean in real life and in real practice? So so thank you for the opportunity this was fun, like I’m invigorated. Like, I’m excited. I’m like, ooh, like this is like our brand of marathons today. So I’m good.

Dr. Michael Conner

I ran in with you, we both came in at the same time. So now Terrence, for my audience, right? Like I said, I use this as a professional platform and they like to reach out to my guests with further questions or even statements of where you guys can create a professional network to be able to expand this work much more broadly. That’s the software that I’m talking about in the education ecosystem. How would they be able to contact you directly if they want to follow up from this episode?

Terrence Davis

Yeah, so a few ways I am on what they call X a.k.a Twitter, who knows what’s going on there. @tdav8. So T Dav 8. And then also on LinkedIn at Terence Davis. But you can email me at a TDavis@BanningUSD.K-12.CA.US. And yeah let’s dialog because listen, we have to learn from each other. But in order to do that, we have to put ourselves out there to be open to do that. And then you in return receive a gift. And I’m not talking about from me, you receive a gift from others. Networking and learning from each other is what it’s all about.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And Terrence, it has been an absolute honor to have you on. I can’t wait to see you. I’ll be out in California very soon. We’ll get together. Definitely got a break bread and continue this conversation. Absolutely, thank you so much Terrence. And on that note, onward and upward, everybody. Have a great evening.