Posts Tagged ‘Administrators’

Blaming the Teacher Whilst Letting the Administrators Off the Hook

September 18, 2011

I’ve been writing about this for a while.  Education is supposed to be a team effort.  All parts of the system are supposed to work with each other and for each other.  Yet, it always seems to be that the teachers get singled out for blame.  Poor testing results – blame the teachers, a bullying problem – blame the teachers, lack of classroom control – yep, let’s blame the teachers for that too.

The question has to be asked: At what point do we focus our attention on the administrators when handing out the blame?  It seems to me that whilst there is always going to be poor teachers in the system, nowhere near enough focus is directed to policy makers as well as those in management positions and on school counsels.

That’s why it is refreshing to have documentaries like “Waiting for Superman” and articles like the one written by Saul Rubinstein, Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler in the L.A. Times:

Most of the current efforts to improve public education begin with the flawed assumption that the basic problem is teacher performance. This “blame the teacher” attitude has led to an emphasis on standardized tests, narrow teacher evaluation criteria, merit pay, erosion of tenure, privatization, vouchers and charter schools. The primary goal of these measures has been greater teacher accountability — as if the weaknesses of public education were due to an invasion of our classrooms by uncaring and incompetent teachers. That is the premise of the documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” and of the attacks on teachers and their unions by politicians across the country.

Much of the current wave of school reform is informed by the same management myths that almost destroyed U.S. manufacturing. Instead of seeing teachers as key contributors to system improvement efforts, reformers are focused on making teachers more replaceable. Instead of involving teachers and their unions in collaborative reform, they are being pushed aside as impediments to top-down decision-making. Instead of bringing teachers together to help each other become more effective professionals, district administrators are resorting to simplistic quantified individual performance measures. In reality, schools are collaborative, not individual, enterprises, so teaching quality and school performance depend above all on whether the institutional systems support teachers’ efforts.

Whilst I am not a fan of unions, it upsets me that teachers are often singled out when there are other integral stakeholders who should be sharing the blame for poor results.


Why Teachers Want Out of the Profession

April 6, 2011

It’s such a tragedy to read that nearly two-thirds of teachers want to quit. I love the profession, and recommend it to anyone that has an interest in teaching, but it is clear that no matter how wonderful this vocation is, the support and welfare of teachers is, more often than not, missing from the equation.

Unlike what some may think, teachers aren’t leaving because of the money (even though we clearly don’t make very much).  A recent survey spell it out:

Centre for Marketing Schools director Dr Linda Vining said the survey confirmed the “deeper issues” of concern to teachers.

They included a lack of communication between staff and principals, and feeling undervalued and not being consulted.

“Teachers are feeling steamrollered . . . they are feeling that things are happening too quickly,” Dr Vining said.

“Through my research comes a sense they feel they are not valued members of the team – they are simply there to work and for many of them that’s not fulfilling.”

The findings are a sad indication of why so many teachers are unhappy:

  • SIXTY per cent of teachers said the school’s direction was not clearly communicated.
  • FIFTY-ONE per cent did not feel part of a close-knit school community.
  • FIFTY-FOUR per cent said communication between staff and management was poor.
  • TWENTY-SEVEN per cent said the school principal was not approachable.

The tragedy of this situation is that teachers are leaving for reasons which should be easily rectifiable. They are not leaving because they don’t enjoy teaching, aren’t happy in a classroom or find that they are not up to the day-to-day demands of the profession. They are leaving because they are feeling unappreciated, ignored, not properly consulted and have difficulties with colleagues.

These issues should be able to be addressed and corrected, so that teachers can enjoy the same kinds of working conditions as I do. The fact that they aren’t is a strong condemnation on the way schools and administrators operate. They are often inflexible, unaccommodating and cold.

And this is supposed to be the warm, friendly and caring environment for our children?

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