I spent most of late Friday afternoon with a friend and colleague who's one of the most dynamic teachers in the district. Just like there are various yins and yangs of being at the district level, a building and department has its own set of dramas being played out. I got caught up on the wheelings and dealings about class assignments for next year, but one thing in particular really stuck out at me. One of the original reasons for a particular teacher getting an assignment was because of his lack of classroom management skills. The idea was that if you gave him only kids who didn't need much managing, this would solve things.
This logic works up until you think about the kids themselves. "We're going to give you a crappy teacher because he'll be able to do the least damage with you in his class." Then things make no sense at all. Instead of actually doing something about the problem (bad teaching and classroom management), we enable the status quo.
But what to do? I've pondered this a few times in the history of this blog, wondering Whose Job Is It Anyway? how to Tiptoe Through the Minefield and remarking that Kids Are Not Teaching Tools. I don't know that I have any more answers now than I did then; however, I did propose a beginning course of action: it's really time to talk with an administrator. I said I would go with him, if that would help. Or if the department head was willing to do the task, fine. But until someone sets an expectation that this person engage in some learning and professional growth, nothing will change. It is a tacit agreement that it's okay to do a poor job in the classroom. Let's face it, no one likes to be unsuccessful. It doesn't feel good and I know this person isn't very happy. Shouldn't an admin step in and help?
In the past, I would have thought it unlikely that the particular admin who's associated would do so, but now I'm not so sure. There might be a ray of hope. The rumblings I heard this week is that the accountability level for secondary admins is going to be amped up beginning next year. Perhaps that will be a bit of an incentive to make positive change happen. It is time for us to give the same level and quality of attention to what is happening in secondary classrooms that we have in elementary classrooms.