19 October 2006

Admins Aplenty

Admins are beleaguered here in the edusphere, slightly less so than The District, but they still take their fare share of beatings. Being a teacher who works in the central office, I experience both sides of things. I completely understand the perceptions and comments of teachers...but I also know why certain decisions are made. I am expected to spout the party line, and there are very few times that I choke on it because I do get to see the full spectrum of information. Recently, I've felt more like the teachers who shake their fists at the admins. A couple of them have been very difficult for me to work with.

One is a former science teacher who is a new admin. You'd think she'd have a broader view of things...or at least support her teachers...but this isn't turning out to be the case. She was the one threatening the secretary and I last month when there weren't extra books sent for classroom sets. We did get CD-ROM versions of the texts for her to look at, but she didn't. She instead sent us an assessment of them by reading the back of the packaging. The teachers told us that she didn't use the discs. The teachers also told me today that they have had no complaints from students about the on-line versions that each of them has. In other words, the admin is making up quite a lot of information. We've now caught her in a couple of lies (Boss Lady 2.0 wasn't terribly happy) and are leaving her out of further discussions.

The other is the principal of the Not-So-Pretty-High School whose antics last month only served to alienate many teachers in other schools. I was told by our delivery personnel that they were having trouble at the science kit center finding room to move the trucks and were about to file a grievance against the principal. They have been trying for a long time to get his help regarding the student parking that is keeping the drivers from being able to safely do their jobs. I was asked to help, so I e'd the principal explaining the issues and asking for ideas. What I got in return was a snotty e-mail musing about when parking attendant got added to my job description...and asking that if any illegal parking was going on, to e-mail him and he'd get it taken care of. The next day, I did just that---sent the license plate info for the cars that were at issue. This time, an expletive laden phone call was provided in return. Sheesh.

I think that part of my job relates to knowing which battles to fight. I see some admins that don't possess this ability and others which seem to do it quite gracefully. I'm still trying to navigate the landmines, but in all of it, I keep thinking about my general approach to working with junior high kids: don't make a rule I wouldn't enforce---and pay attention to the small things. If kids know you're looking at the details, they will rarely attempt to get away with something grand. I have a sneaking suspicion that very few in administration here---either those who supervise teachers or those who supervise other administrators---pay attention to the small things. As a result, there are people getting away with all sorts of slams against the system...and I am left wondering if and when personal responsibility will make a reappearance in the way we operate here.

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