Dr. Vernita Glenn-White is the CEO of Glenn-White Global Solutions and Founder of Empowered Educators Academy © , a company that empowers educators, leaders, and trainers to reach their next level by using their voice and influence to create their own platforms and pathways! Dr. Vernita is a former K-12 mathematics educator, Academic Instructional Coach, and served as a District Specialist for the Office of School Transformation. Dr. Vernita has been an advisor and strategist for leaders from Principals to Superintendents to Universities. Dr. Vernita has used her skills to transition into higher education as a college professor, a national speaker, published author and world traveler. Dr. Vernita now uses her K-20 experience of combining personal empowerment with professional development to shift the perspective of what it means to educate for transformation and impact the training and development industry at a higher level!
Daniel: I have something funny to tell you here, you don't have to do everything you're told. They didn't know that I didn't necessarily know that for awhile. And today's guest Dr. Vernita Glenn-White. She learned that as well as a school leader and it had a head of impact within the team that she was leading specifically the math. So we're going to start today's conversation with that story, but we also get into digging into bias, right? And how we notice that within our staff or in Dr. V's setting the college classroom, working with pre-service teachers, you're going to really enjoy this episode. And I just want to highlight quickly that, uh, Dr. V has a gift for you. So if you go to Dr. Vernita free gift.com. That's Dr. Vanita free gift.com. You'll get 21 essential habits of empowered in influential leaders. That'll be linked up for you as well in the show notes, in case you don't want to type it in yourself. Hey, it's Daniel. And welcome to the better leaders, better schools, podcast, or show for Ruckus Makers. Those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. And we'll be right back after these messages from our show's sponsors.
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Daniel: Hello, Ruckus Maker. Today I'm joined by Dr. Vernita Glenn-White. Who's the creator of the CEO leader and leader for ultimate impact and influence courses. Two programs that empowers educators, leaders, and trainers to reach their next level by using their voice and influence to create their own change. In pathways. Dr. Vanita is a former K-12 math educator, academic instructional coach, and she's served as a district specialist for the office of school transformation. She's been an advisor and strategist for leaders from principals to superintendents to universities. And Dr V has used her skills to transition into higher ed as a college professor, a national speaker, published author and world traveler. She now uses her K 20 experience of combining personal empowerment with professional development to shift the perspective of what it means to educate for transformation and impact the training and development industry at a higher level. Dr. V. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Vanita : Thank you so much, Danny. That was great.
Daniel: Pleasure. Pleasure. So you said something really interesting the other day. We don't have to do everything we're told to do. I was like, wow. Really? Okay, great. And you have a nice story about that. So let's start there.
Dr. Vanita : I have a lot of stories about that. Let's see that one. Good one. I'll go back to my K-12 days when I was working as an instructional coach, we were proud of the differentiated accountability school. I don't know if they still do that now, but it's almost like district takeover in schools and people will come and tell us what to do all the time. Going along with like, okay, I'll do this type of lesson plan. I'll do this professional development. Then I was like, Whoa, wait, we don't have to do everything you all tell us to do we have brains on our own. We know what can work for our students. We'll take your suggestions and then shake them how they could work within our school building. When I did that, there was like, no repercussions. It was like, Oh, well, okay. Do what you think is best because no one had ever told them. No. And then that was like my first realization of you don't have to do everything that somebody tells you. So from there on, I've been living by that ever since.
Daniel: It's a good principle to have. I think a lot of leaders struggle with saying, no, maybe have some lacks boundaries and then feel stressed. Like totally tapped out zero energy. Part of that is saying yes to too much and part of it is not realizing you can actually tell somebody, no. What's interesting that as you found, they're like, Oh, okay, no, no problem. All of a sudden you have some more space, time and energy. How'd that work for teachers you coach during that time and tell me about how you're workin with them in that moment.
Dr. Vanita : The instructional coach, when I was one, back in the day, that was the liaison between administration, of course the teachers. A lot of the teachers would feel anxious about getting things done. And then when I stepped in, I said, I'll take the barrier. I'll take whatever comes your way. You just do your job. So they felt a sense of relief. And honestly they performed better because it was like certain things were taken off their plate or they felt this freedom to just do what they were hired to do instead of all of these extra things that had nothing to do with instruction. So it actually improved teacher quality.
Daniel: Absolutely. If I understand your career correctly you've been working with pre-service teachers and there've been some issues of diversity and self-identity. So bring us to the classroom and how have you helped your students through that?
Dr. Vanita : Yes. Oh my goodness. So, yes. I didn't know that was an issue until I started working at the higher ed level and my background is mathematics. I was like, okay, we're going to teach mathematics, teach you the behind the scenes of teaching and learning mathematics. We were going along with the flow and for pre-service teachers, they have to go out into the field, do their teaching and all of that. Coming back, I would always ask, how is field experience? Give me an update. One, because I wanted to hear their experiences and two, that was kind of my gateway back into K-12. They will tell me like horror stories about some of the things that the cooperating teachers were saying to the students, how some of the students were being treated, how some of the students were being outcast, just all kinds of things.
Dr. Vanita : And then my students started picking up on some of those behaviors because they will see their CTs doing that. I remember one incident that started my entire shift of what I wanted to do on this career path. One of my students was telling me about a student. I would just call her Maria. My students said, well, this Maria doesn't like me and I was like, well, Maria is in third grade. What do you mean? She doesn't like you? She said, well, she's new to the school and she's just not connecting with me. I said, well, in all honesty, you're only there two days a week and if she's new, she's trying to figure out what's happening. A person shows up for two days and then leaves for the rest of the week. I mean, it's probably a lot for her, so she doesn't know you.
Dr. Vanita : And then something inside of me said, no, dig a little deeper. I asked my student, I said, tell me about the types of conversations you've been having with Maria. She said, well, I've been helping her with reading and I said, I know you're new to this country. I know you probably can't read. I'm here to help you. I said, well, is Maria new to the country or is Maria new to the school? She was like, I just assumed that, and this is what she said. I just assumed that she was new to the country because she's Hispanic her name is Maria and she wasn't talking. So I figured she couldn't learn English. I said, do you realize that you called her dumb? Essentially? I looked up the student, all of that and I said, no, she's new to the school. She's lived in United States, all of her life, she speaks English. I said, but even as a third grader, she knew that you were not being genuine and you have this perception of her that she couldn't speak English because she wasn't talking to you. And that point, I started asking more students questions about their backgrounds, some of the other conversations they were having with students and that uncovered a lot. Like my students had never really been around students of color. They never had a black professor or black teacher ever in their entire education career. It was a lot of things we had to uncover. I had to put mathematics on the back burner and start dealing with belief systems, cultural references, identity, all of that and that was that one moment that started this transition.
Daniel: It's wild. I met my wife in Texas, Houston and she was a professor down in Galveston, University of Medical, Texas. One of her colleagues, Texan, lived there his whole life, Mexican American, right. And generation after generation, after generation living in the area and he'd experienced bias and racism. Like people go back to your country type ridiculousness. And he's like, where, where is that? I've lived here my whole life. My dad lived here. My great grandpa everybody's lived here. We've never lived anywhere else. So we make assumptions and I think at the core of your story, maybe we can speak to the Ruckus Maker who's listening and they're hearing their faculties say some stuff that's troubling. What are some approaches or some things that they might do as a leader of a school?
Dr. Vanita : Yes. So I have worked with leaders of schools in this area because they are realizing that it's a bigger issue. The first thing I say before you can lead your staff, you need to sit down and identify any bias or your cultural phrase because we all have them. I don't know where we got this from them that it is bad to have a bias. We all have them. It's just, what are you doing with it when it comes up, that's where the problem starts. So with the leaders that I've worked with and talked to you have to go through that process to uncover because you can't expect your staff to do something that you haven't done. But then I've come across some who are more aware, so that's not their foundation. So the next thing I tell them is you need to have real conversations and set up some norms to have those conversations.
Dr. Vanita : And I liked the norms from, I think it's the Valencia College, The Peace and Justice Institute it's 13 norms of how we treat each other and this out on their website. I've used them in my workshops and that's a good starting point to create that space. When you go through, it's like 13 of them. When you go through them as a group, everyone's on the same page, everyone feels included and all their voices have value. I think that's a good starting point right there to create that environment to where we can have these conversations.
Daniel: It is a great place to start. I appreciate you unpacking that and also saying too, it has come to a point where having a bias has a negative connotation, but at the end of the day, everybody's biased. If you're not bias, you're a liar. But like you said, it's about awareness, which is emotional intelligence and able to look within and then see how that perspective is shaping your world. So really appreciate you sharing that and it's wild to think. Let me ask you, I guess, so as a professor and here's your pre-service teachers saying these things, what's that like for you? What's going through your mind in that moment?
Dr. Vanita : Oh, my gosh. It is, to be honest, it was a very hard moment. The area where my institution is, is not very diverse in itself. I was thinking, okay, the outside may not be this way, but at least on the college campus it should be a little different, not so. Being in the classroom and most of my students are white female and occasionally I have some males and every now and then I have a black female or male student, but it can be very uncomfortable, especially when they are saying things like "those people" or "why are the blacks", or I don't get it and I'm standing there like calm down. You are the professor you are in control. I had to step back and do some work on myself. I wouldn't get easily triggered because I said, my job is to help them.
Dr. Vanita : Can help them if I keep being defensive or guarded every time they say something? Now of course there were some that were just hateful, but for the most part, they just didn't know. So that's what kept me going. Like they just didn't know. Once we walked them through this process, they're like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe I was thinking this way. Going back to what you said, how going through my mind at first was anger and I don't want to work here. What kind of place is this? But then I was like, I'm here for a purpose and if I don't tap into what's happening with them, they're going to go out into the field and damage all sorts of children and that's what really kept me going to work on myself.
Daniel: I know you've told me that there's three dynamics of ed leadership and I'd love for you to unpack some of that with us. Yes. So
Dr. Vanita : ED leadership overall, I'll give you the overall and then I'll give you like my insert. So for Educational Leadership, and I've looked this up and researched it, the three parts of an educational leadership degree or a field of study, epistemology, pedagogy and human development. I think as a profession or as an institution that has this degree or this field of study, they'd be very well with the epistemology, which is the philosophy and the pedagogy. I think we do pretty well with that, but not so much the human development. My insert, and anybody can change these, but this is just my frame of reference for epistemology and the philosophy. I see that as the way that teaching and learning is developed, or like we know what that is. I look at it as leadership content knowledge. And that is something I studied during my dissertation was what does a leader need to do outside of being the manager?
Dr. Vanita : What frame of the philosophy that they need to look at and I looked at it as leadership content knowledge. The second part for pedagogy, I looked at pedagogy as culturally responsiveness. I believe all leaders need to have some sort of cultural responsiveness in their leadership training. And then the last part for human development. I think we do a good job of looking at how students are developing in their teaching and learning but we don't do a good job as looking at the adults and the personal development side. And that's where I look at self-awareness and personal development as part of the entire education leadership field of study. If you were saying,
Daniel: Dr. V I'm really enjoying this discussion. I think right now, we're going to hit pause real quick for a message from our sponsor. But when we do get back, I'd like to dig into culturally responsive curriculums. Today's show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized binder, develops the skills and habits. All students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, organized binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed. Whether at home or in the classroom, learn firstname.lastname@example.org. SMART has an incredible research backed tool that allows you as a leader to self-assess your capabilities at the school level or broader to help you with planning and prioritizing discover your strengths and best area of focus across five different modules, including leadership and remote learning. The tool inspires collaboration with your colleagues and provides massive value.
Daniel: Whether you complete one or all five of the modules, you'll get a personalized report that shows where you stack up against other Ruckus Makers and map some areas, focus that will have the greatest impact for you. Take 10 minutes and get started with this ed tech assessment tool. Today. I suggest beginning with the strategic leadership module, check it email@example.com/profile. That's SMARTtech.com/profile. All right. And we're back with Dr. Vernita Glenn-White. Thank you so much for being here. I mentioned how I'd like to dig into culturally responsive curriculums a bit. I want to believe that the Ruckus Maker listening has a sense of what that is, but in case she doesn't, what do you mean by culturally responsive curriculum and what are some next steps that a leader could take?
Dr. Vanita : Sometimes we think when we hear culturally responsive, it's a word that's used and it gets tossed around and people talk about it as it relates to diversity and that is part of it. But culturally responsive goes deeper into an inclusive environment or diversity. It gets to who are we as people, who are the students at their core, what are their backgrounds, their beliefs, everything that they bring with them to school, how can we use that attached to the content to get them to the next level? So it was beyond just celebrating diversity and having foods or having flag day. All of that is not really multicultural education, although that is a component of it, but it's really about digging deep and helping that student reach their next level with those high expectations, not dismissing what they bring into the classroom. I think that's one of the key parts that's missing with the curriculum, culturally responsive curriculum.
Daniel: Why do you think that is?
Dr. Vanita : Because people don't know, they just don't know. I do believe this. They don't know because it's easy. And even for me, when I started studying it's really easy to blur the lines between social justice and the multicultural education. And then now we have social-emotional learning, which all that's important and is part of it but we miss the expectations and the content piece that's still needs to go along with it. I think the content gets dropped and that's where we missed it.
Daniel: Have you seen your students create some culturally responsive units or lessons that really made you go, wow, that's pretty cool because that might inspire the Ruckus Maker listening and what they can do in their school.
Dr. Vanita : When the students are exposed, then yes, they have seen things that I was like, Oh, I didn't know you can. Okay. Where did that come from? And that came from the work that we did of tapping into their own backgrounds and environments to where they may have dismissed something. I've had students who were, I can't remember. It was, it was a part of a part of India. And she created this lesson and related to, um, mathematics and what she expected for the students to learn with their own backgrounds and mathematics in the classroom. I was like, wow. And she did this lesson with some students and the students were responding, not realizing that they were still doing math because they weren't doing any work. They were like, we hate math, but the way she set this lesson up using her experience and then pulling out those experiences from those other students, that was amazing. I don't think that would have happened if we didn't take the time to like dig into her background and uncover some things.
Daniel: It's a good math lesson when you're doing math and you don't even know it. Dr. V if you could put a message on all school marquees across the globe for just a day, what would you put on them?
Dr. Vanita : I would put that "we can heal the nation through education" because that is something I truly believe. If we start looking at that the slogan. And the reason why I picked that is because if we stopped just as looking at education as a series of subjects to just do, go to school and that's it. If we truly look at what the power of education is. Wether that's inside the classroom or out, I do believe that the nation can see a major transformation.
Daniel: And Dr V are building a school from the ground up. You're not limited by any resources, you're only limitations your imagination. How would you build your dream school and what would be your top three priorities?
Dr. Vanita : My dream school would not be a building. We hear doctors without borders. I'm pretty sure the classrooms without borders is out there somewhere, but that's truly what I would do. And it will be more, instead of teacher centered or guide centered, it will be more students centered. Like literally the student gets to decide what they want to learn at that moment. They get to pull in their own resources and the people that they're learning from are there just to guide them, but not so much tell them what to do. So I don't know how that would be built, but I'm just imagining the student at the center and it's like a room of a wall of, I guess, computers or curriculum and they get to tap into, I want to learn about aerospace design for this short amount of time.
Dr. Vanita : Also, I want to learn about this particular culture. I'm going to tap into these two teachers, guys, facilitators, whatever you want to call them. And then they get to work directly with them only on that to focus. And that's what I would see a school. That's how I would build a school. I don't know that the top three things would be the freedom of choice. What else would be important transformation? So learning for a transformation, like not just getting things to just get, but learn, apply, and transform and to broaden their perspectives. That would be a good thing to not be so limited. Yeah. I think that answered the question.
Daniel: Well, thank you so much for being a part of the better leaders, better schools, podcast, Dr. V of all the things we talked about today, what's the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember.
Dr. Vanita : I want the Ruckus Maker to remember that they have a voice and use it. If that something isn't right. Or if you want to make a change, you have to use your voice and not be afraid because you got to a leadership position, not by accident. I hope so. Stand in that power and use your voice.
Daniel: Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast for Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel F better leaders, better schools.com or hit me up on Twitter @alienearbud. If the better leaders better schools, podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter @alienearbud and using the #BLBS level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.
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- Form boundaries and saying “no”
- The dangers in making assumptions
- Unpacking everybody’s biases to grow emotional intelligence
- Three dynamics of Ed leadership (Educational Leadership)
- What a leader needs to do outside of being the manager
- Leadership content knowledge
- Dig into culturally responsive curriculums, leadership and next steps
- The blur the lines between social justice and multicultural education
“The first thing I say before you can lead your staff, you need to sit down and identify any bias or your cultural phrase because we all have them. I don’t know where we got this from that it is bad to have a bias. We all have them. It’s just, what are you doing with it when it comes up, that’s where the problem starts.”
– Dr. Vanita Glenn-White
Dr. Vernita Glenn-White Resources & Contact Info:
- Peace and Justice Institute | Valencia College
- “21 essential habits of empowered and influential leaders” http://drvernitafreegift.com/
- Dr. V–Empowering Educators
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