Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Review of Comprehensive Faculty Development by ISM Publications

            Because faculty ultimately determine the quality and success of the independent school, many independent school leaders find the recruitment, hiring and mentoring of faculty some of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of leading an independent school today. Likewise, because of the high stakes involved in recruiting, hiring and mentoring quality faculty, some independent school leaders cringe at the thought of walking through these steps. ISM Publications understands both perspectives and now offers an outstanding reference for all independent school leaders that takes the guesswork out of recruiting, hiring, retaining and rewarding quality faculty. Comprehensive Faculty Development sets the bar for faculty development guides by providing an in-depth examination of each of these key facets of the faculty life-cycle of events. Comprehensive Faculty Development directly addresses the faculty life-cycle and examines each of the stages from a number of perspectives. The book offers heads of school, division heads, business managers and human resource managers a systematic, research-based approach presented in a clear, concise manner.
The first section of Comprehensive Faculty Development begins with the initial stage in the faculty life-cycle: hiring and induction. The early chapters walk school leaders step-by-step through ways to include current faculty in the search for new faculty and provide recommendations on how to keep the process mission-based and centered on the school’s values.  These chapters also offer a wealth of information regarding the creation of job descriptions and effective advertisement, the potential issues involved with reference and background checks, to the proper way to conduct interviews and more. The final part of the first section emphasizes the difference between orientation and induction and explains how to properly get new faculty assimilated successfully into the school culture.
The second section of Comprehensive Faculty Development covers a stage of the faculty life-cycle that independent school leaders seldom manage properly and effectively: evaluation and growth. After addressing expectations, observations and evaluations, the second section provides guidance for school leaders on how to lead faculty through these often uncomfortable but necessary and rewarding steps. Additionally, the section emphasizes the importance not only of relationships but also coaching and mentoring.
The third section of Comprehensive Faculty Development tackles a part of the faculty life-cycle that probably always will be a touchy subject for faculty and administrators alike: reward and recognition. This extensive chapter presents a variety of traditional compensation models, such as salary schedules, salary grids and merit pay, as well as a few innovative and creative compensation models, including broadbanding. The book does not leave business managers guessing; the chapter notes benefits and downsides for each.
The next section of Comprehensive Faculty Development handles a sensitive and often painful part of the faculty life-cycle: corrective action and selective retention. Here the book spells out the steps involved in the correction action process and explains the options available when corrective action fails. This section also moves step by step through the processes of non-renewal and termination. Furthermore, the book provides suggestions for documentation and consideration of legal ramifications throughout the corrective action and termination part of the faculty life-cycle.
The final sections of Comprehensive Faculty Development outline ways to assess a school’s faculty development efforts and provide appendices full additional information.

Independent school leaders may find other books addressing some or even all of the issues included in Comprehensive Faculty Development. However, a number of characteristics make ISM’s latest book stand out from other similar books. First, and perhaps most significantly, Comprehensive Faculty Development approaches each of the aforementioned issues from a uniquely independent school perspective. The strategies and ideas presented have been researched and designed specifically for the independent school model. Second, the book clearly states that the plans, lists and forms included within should not be taken as is and implemented in their entirety in an independent school. The book provides, instead, step by step plans for customizing strategies and processes so they will be unique to, and more effective for, the school of the particular reader. Several sections offer lists and forms, all customizable, which will enhance the hiring and evaluation processes at most schools and provide a good frame of reference for school’s with well-established processes. Third, many chapters offer examples of dialogue that demonstrate both ideal and less than ideal ways to handle conversations occurring during the faculty life-cycle. Finally, the book’s pragmatic and usable plans make this a practical, ready-to-use resource that independent school leaders will refer to again and again. Regardless of years of experience or the size of the school, independent school leaders who play any role in the faculty life-cycle (recruitment, hiring, induction, mentoring, rewarding and, even correcting or terminating) should keep this vital tool at their fingertips all year long.

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