02 August 2006

The Dark Side

It always interests me as to how many teacher-bloggers out there are always ready to bash Central Office. The place is an evil entity, viewed as being antithetical---or at minimum, a hindrance or obstacle---to the work of a classroom teacher. I suppose that before I moved over to the Dark Side, I harboured some similar views. Now I just think they're misplaced.

For starters, the vast majority of people who work at the Head Shed are classified personnel. Do you like your paycheck? Benefits? Teaching supplies, copy machines, computers? These people make it all happen for you. I'm not saying that they don't make mistakes or that some of them aren't awkward to work with, but if you're blaming them because you don't like what you're supposed to be doing in the classroom, you might want to look elsewhere when you're pointing your finger.

Some of us (like me) are teachers just like you. We get paid the same but have different responsibilities. It's true---I don't have to grade many papers or deal with daily classroom issues. But you know what? Your kids are my kids, too. I don't cart around 150 of them in my head as I did when I taught. Now I get to think about what's happening with 12,000 of them. You know all of those mandates being handed to us from the feds and state lawmakers? We do what we can to help translate them for classroom use. Instead of every single teacher having to make this happen, we're there so that you have more time to focus on your kids and your instruction---not the alignments.

Perhaps the finger should be aimed at the admins in Central Office? There are some inept ones around---and others who have completely lost touch with what happens in a real classroom. Bad decisions are made. And then, I think that more teachers should cut the district admins some slack. The admins can't be as myopic as we are in our own classrooms---they have so much more information to consider, weigh, and respond. I don't always like what happens with the admins with whom I work, but I always start from the belief that they are doing the best that they can for everyone under current conditions and expectations.

If teachers are unhappy with the way things are going in their schools, Central Office quickly becomes an easy target. But I hope that at least some will stop to think about who it is they're really irritated with---do you really want to blame the secretary in HR because you have to teach to the standards? Is the tech guy at fault because there's a state test? Did the supe come up with the graduation requirements? I understand teachers' frustrations, but directing all of them onto the people viewed as on the Dark Side is likely misplaced. Everyone has to do what they can and are expected to do in order to make sure that kids get what they need...even those of us working alongside teachers in the trenches.


Mike in Texas said...

OH No! Please tell me you're not becoming one of THEM!!

I actually like my Science curriculum person and I've learned a great deal from her. Hopefully your teachers feel the same way about you.

I think many administrators bring the teacher's hatred upon themselves. For example, our Math person gave a 50 problem Math benchmark to 2nd graders, during the 2nd to last week of school, and demanded the teachers transfer the kids answers to ScanTron sheets in only two days (as one teacher pointed out, 50 questions times 20 kids is 1000 little bubbles to fill in). The same day she wanted them turned in the teachers were also required to have grades submitted and cumulative folders finished. This was one of those times when our principal should have developed some backbone and told the admin person where to jump off, but since their good buddies and she didn't want to make waves she let her teachers get abused by the Main Office

Jenna said...

We do have to translate every mandate into teachable practice and we're supposed to be really happy about it because there isn't anyone "telling us what to do."

Personally, I'd be thrilled if someone did that work for me...

Anonymous said...

When I was teaching, it was often the administrators at our school who passed the buck and blamed the Central Office for policies and procedures we as teachers groaned about. I guess it was their way of sympathizing with the teachers, but it really did breed a lot of animosity toward the higher-ups at the C.O.