09 June 2007

Whose Job Is It Anyway? Redux

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.


Dr Pezz said...

I like your take on this. I have felt since beginning my short career in education that administrators should be teachers themselves. When a teacher struggles, they should guide the individual towards more success. If this proves unsuccessful, why not use the evaluation process to force/coerce/forcefully guide the individual towards betterment?

What're your thoughts on using the evaluative process to implement change? I gather you have an active role in your union from the little I've read on your blog, and I wonder how your union hat affects your opinion here.

By the way, this is not an attempt to create conflict. I like the union. I just wonder how you feel about this using that hat. :)

The Science Goddess said...

Actually, I abhor the union and all it stands for in this district. :)

I do think that the evaluative process could be used to implement change; however, I would like to see it removed from the shoulders of building admins. There is enough confusion already about their roles. A different evaluative process would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

I deal in the corporate world. One of my teaching topics is 'Why Employees Don't Do What They're Suppose To Do'. Reason Number 9 is, 'They Get Rewarded For Failing'.

Sounds like what happened here. Guy can't manage kids, so he gets assigned to a nice soft class...and someone else has to pick up the challenge.

Anonymous said...

I found you through The Education Wonks and really like what you have to say. Then I checked your blogroll and had a "Kevin Bacon Moment" when I realized that I read someone who reads someone who reads someone and you read 'em, too. :) My buddy, Ken, at NewMexiKen.com reads Functional Ambivalent. Not so many degrees of separation is an amazing thing!

There was just an article in one of our papers about a principal who was trying to get commitment for reform in an under-performing school and instead got the ax in the form of a transfer. I've read so many opinions about how to deal with an "under-performing" educator (and administrator) and I, too, appreciate your take on this.
Great post.
Really nice blog.

The Science Goddess said...

That is cool about our "6 degrees" (well, okay, less than that...) thing.

I hope you'll drop by again!