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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Importance of Empowering Leadership Cannot be Underestimated!!

Any good leader knows that the best way to motivate people is to validate what they've done, listen to their needs, communicate high expectations, model consistent behaviors and processes, and empower them to put forth their best effort. No leader has ever gotten the best out of his or her employees by belittling them, berating them, and generally making them feel two inches high.

Unfortunately, much of my school's leadership team was made to feel this way this week during an enhanced school improvement meeting. Since we did not meet annual yearly progress (AYP) in math this past year, we meet monthly with some members of the central office to report on data monitoring, share targeted student progress, collaborate best practices, and brainstorm action steps to increase student growth and eliminate the achievement gap. A tall order? Of course? A process my school has honed over the past several years and really worked on? Absolutely.

Rather than feeling uplifted, encouraged, and supported during this meeting, we were made to feel like we were not doing enough for our students and that we had things all wrong. I can tell you that I am fortunate enough to work with an incredible group of professionals who go above and beyond in their work with students to ensure their best growth and progress. During their department presentations, my colleagues were interrupted, discouraged, and de-valued every step of the way. Hours of work that went into preparing for the meeting did not seem to matter, nor did the countless hours the teachers spend daily with our targeted student population.

One of my dear colleagues composed a thoughtful and poignant response to our principal offering her feedback from yesterday. With her permission, I'd like to share it with you all here:

I was only able to be at the meeting for the last hour, but I do need to tell you how incredibly demoralizing this process seems to be. I’ve expressed this before, but I am really concerned that the core message we are being  told is, “What you’ve been doing isn’t working.” As a staff, we’ve made some incredible gains over the past few years and have made solid progress toward eliminating the gap. Obviously, we can do better, but I feel the message from higher up does not value the blood, tears, and sweat equity of staff over the past few years. I know we need a sense of urgency about school improvement, but a better message would be, “Look how far we come. I know  we can work together to get where we need to go.”
Messages based on core beliefs need to be communicated to staff just as much as students. If I stood in the front of my classroom every day and belittled my students, interrupting them while they are talking, and setting them up to fail, I wouldn’t be meeting standard. The same should hold true for central office staff who are coming out to “help” us. We are all in this together.


We ARE in this together, and it is about time our central office staff remembers what it is like to be in the "trenches" with us teachers every day. In fact, I invite them to come in and witness the magic, creativity, sweat, and tears that the best job in the world entails. Perhaps then they will see what a difference we are making in these children's lives and begin to appreciate the genuine progress we are making with them all, especially those of color.

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