Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Response to a Failed School Leader

Though I am hundreds of miles away from my school district this weekend at my college reunion, the dire state of affairs in my school building is never far from my mind. Yesterday afternoon, our school's union representative called me, wanting honest feedabck and input as to what is really going on in my school. I was more than happy to give her an earful.

I followed up our conversation today with an email that addresses some of my specific concerns with the way our middle school is being poorly run. Luckily, I am only one of many staff members who are finally allowing their concerns and voices to be heard. And believe me, this is only the beginning of our conversation:
Throughout this past school year, our principal has lead our staff solely through bully-like fear and hostile intimidation. She continually arrives to weekly ILT meetings late and unprepared. In fact, two different Associate Superintendents arrived at leadership meetings this past semester thinking we were having an ESIT meeting when that was not on the schedule. Last Tuesday, our principal was so keen on pushing through a new unrealistic student monitoring system that she did not even bother to listen to the concerns of even her most valued staff members. Instead, she pushed ahead, cut off members of her leadership team mid-sentence, and caused everyone to leave the room with horrified looks on their faces. As the meeting was held in my room, she cornered me at the end, putting me unfairly on the spot and asking me what I thought of her proposal. I voiced my concerns, and since that was not what she wanted to hear, she thanked me and left the room. I suggested to her to please meet/talk with the leadership team again before our next staff meeting. Her response? A long, confusing email again pushing her agenda that half-heartedly asked for ILT feedback. Is this professional or the least bit acceptable? I think not.
Our principal leads her staff through "gotcha" observations and meetings. She also has "moles" in the building in the form of specific teachers and paraeducators who "spy" on classroom teachers and report concerns back to her on a regular basis. One such "mole" claimed that all of the teachers she was working with had students and classrooms that were out of control. Our principal responded the next day by showing up to one such teacher's overcrowded 7th period (of over 32 very needy students with no other adult in the room) and making a full unannounced formal observation on him during a non-evaluative year. As one can imagine, her comments were far from positive.

My co-teacher, who has been at at school for over 18 years, says she has seen our principal act this unpredictable and crazy before, right before she starts to "clean house" and try to push out everyone in the building who are not fully aligned with her unrealistic views of how the school should be run. She has already started the process this spring, as she put handfuls of staff members in very difficult surplusing positions and even asked two leadership members to unfairly step down from their positions in surprise behind-closed-doors meetings.
Even though I have only been at my school for a handful of years, I can honestly say that the school climate and moral in our building has never been lower. Staff members have suffered more illness, are beyond stressed, and are at their wit's end with the administration, especially with our principal. She continues to prove how incapable and incompetent she is in running a middle school. I am appalled at her lack of expertise, skill, common sense, and judgment every day. How on earth has she stayed in this position for over 13 years??! She should be ashamed to call herself a school leader. I can honestly say that I have learned more from her on how NOT to run a school than anything else. Is this anyway to run a school??!

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