Episode #222: Dwight Carter

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Dwight Carter is a nationally recognized and award-winning education leader from Central OH and the Director of Student Support Systems for the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School District.

He is the co-author of What’s In Your Space? Five Steps to Better School and Classroom Design (Corwin, 2016), Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-change (Corwin 2017/2021); and a contributing author to Because of a Teacher: Stories of the Past to Inspire the Future of Education written and curated by George Couros. His first solo book, Be GREAT: Five Principles to Improve School Culture from the Inside Out, was published recently (IMPress, 2022).

Trenches story: when was a building principal, racially-charged language spray painted over campus. Students saw it first. Supt, asst. supt all came together, put out statement. Wanted to check in with students to see how they felt. Week before “peace week”, it went well. St body united against spray painting. A lot clarity/unity came out of it.

Book Be Great: Five Principles to Improve School Culture from the Inside Out published in July. Amazon description: “When school leader Dwight Carter decided to become more intentional about his personal and professional growth, he asked himself a key question: “What does being great mean to you and why?” He reflected on his experiences as a student, teacher, coach, and principal. He thought about his relationships. He thought about his successes, failures, opportunities, and setbacks. He thought deeply about his core values and whether his attitude aligned with the beliefs that guided his behavior. It was no easy task, but in the years since, Dwight’s journey has led to more appreciation, awareness, clarity, and intentionality in his life—and it can do the same for you”. Be grateful, relational, authentic, teachable. Culture comes from each ind. person. We want to have the best culture possible for students to learn from. He still uses handwritten thankyou notes. He uses intentional language- specific to ind. person. Senior staff select- a senior was new to school- students picked staff member to give them diploma at graduation. They had to organize what it was going to look like. Strategy on how students could invite staff members. No staff members knew they’d receive the invitation until knock on door. Classified staff as well. Tradition started in 2015, still doing today. There were more staff members than students so some didn’t receive invite.

Director of St Supports role: removes Barriers to student success, health/wellness,  interventions, climate, culture, PBIS, DEI, MTSS, SEL framework, it’s divided into 3 depts. sped coordinators. He assists principals with climate & culture. Taylor made 2nd year in this position. It’s his.28th year in education. Told his new super. he didn’t want to do building admin anymore. Had left in 2018, wanted to move into another district-level position. He’s learning the world of career tech ed. Wants to talk about career tech edu & it’s growth- over last 20 yrs. it’s gone thru a lot of transitions. Now it’s viewed as a more viable optional for all students. 36 labs students can choose to attend. His district provides CTE for 16 districts. 99% of students with them all day. Academics in morning, lab in afternoon. 2.5 hours/day lab. Diverse by design- large district geographically. Can obtain college credits as well. T’s are going thru inquiry-based learning cohorts.

He travels some nationally for speaking engagements. Coaching clients for 3-4 years who are current principals. Has done keynotes. Great to have zoom- he started coaching principals in 2020. A principal reached out to him asked him to coach. Met monthly. Q asking, Dwight didn’t give answers. It keeps him energized. These clients aren’t in the district.

Ohio Ascd board of directors is on the program committee. Provide PD, book study. They want to use his book for it. Planning stages of it. OH has a conf they had one last year virtual in the spring. Had a couple of twitter chats as well. Wants an in-person 1 day conference. They want to create a community.

Highlight blog & recent articles. Used to blog every week as principal, he got out of the routine- so he does it every so often. He sends out a msg to district “Think about it Tuesdays”, focused on core values. Gives them nugget to think about. “Make it a great week, the choice is yours”.1 lab teachers uses it for centering activity. Part of continuously creating culture they want to have.

Out of everything? ...the definition of school culture-it’s traditions, norms, values, behaviors all adults model on a consistent basis. If you have disengagement, absenteeism, look at the adult behavior. Click To Tweet

Where can ppl find you online? You can connect with him on Twitter at @Dwight_Carter,  IG: @dwightcarter & linkedIn @dwightlcarter. email: mrdwightcarter@gmail.com

or on his blog at Mr. Carter’s Office (https://dwightcarter.edublogs.org/). Blogged early Nov.

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Dr-ZlLpPPqE


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