- Principals don't seem to think that they have the power or ability to get rid of bad (i.e. ineffectual) teachers. My assumption has always been that they do, but that taking this on is more work than it's worth. It means a ton of documentation, ongoing Union hassles, and as one put it, political suicide. I'm not thinking that swinging the pendulum over to the "hire and fire at will" power for principals, but if admins can't help kids by getting the worst teachers out of the classrooms, who can? One of the admins thought that peer observation protocols would be the avenue for this. I don't see that happening. Teachers are not evaluators of other teachers (at least not publickly). There's no authority there. Meanwhile, why would an admin ask a great teacher to throw herself under the bus when he's already admitted that such things are political suicide?
- There are too many expectations of admins (including my own). Time is a precious commodity. We in Curriculum would do well to keep the words of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1471-1530) more in the forefront of our minds: Be very very careful what you put into that head, because you will never ever get it out. In particular, if we share tools and strategies with admins, we need to remember that at least some of them will latch onto these ideas like lifesavers. Not all of these ideas are good...and not all of the people who convey them understand the power of their role. Ouch.
- While we understand that in the classroom that only a small fraction of kids are going to get what we're teaching the first or second time around, we don't apply that concept to working with adults. There is an underlying assumption that because an e-mail was sent, a mention of something occurred at a meeting, or information was presented in another format, that everyone retains every morsel of this. Beyond that, there is this indignation (I'm definitely including myself with all of this, by the way) when all of the parties involved don't remember things in an identical manner. An admin was saying today that Curriculum has no idea what his staff needs...we never ask. And yet, we just completed a major survey to find out and have several groups of teachers providing feedback to us on an ongoing basis. Was the survey completely forgotten, I wondered? Or was it that the information was returned in a way that he didn't recognize---perhaps things didn't look like he thought they should?
29 March 2007
We Never Talk Anymore
I spent some time the last two days at an assessment conference. I learned some valuable things, but not just from the presenters. Some of the things admins from my district did (or in one case, didn't) say gave me a lot of pause for thought. If anything, it really highlighted for me all of the disconnect in the district.