I know I haven’t touched on my Top Ten list of what I consider elements of my ideal school in quite a while. I hope to rectify that over the next week. With school restarts in approximately one month, things need to still be discussed.
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
John F. Kennedy
When a teacher is only following, by rote, the words and actions of the proscribed, they are basically automatons that fail. They fail in their potential, they get frustrated by the strangle hold, they feel their voice is not only unheard but unnecessary…Why train teachers, then, if policy makers only want regurgitation baby sitters?
A school that does work as a team, that does work on the principles of unilateral decision and planning making can empower the teachers to be more: they can be School Leaders. Money is really not the motivator we all seem to believe in. Yes, there are too many who fall into that trap, because, in the end, what else is there for them?
They have little to no say in policy. Most are told what to do, what to say, what colored pens they can use, what they can and can’t teach, etc. You have those teachers and schools that are progressive, that remain true to the craft and the reason they set out to be teachers in the first place, but it can often be beaten out of them by the system.
You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Besides my own working experience in the NYC Schools, I have been a Teaching Artist since 1995, working in too many to count schools in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut (plus other states and in London). The variety of schools, teachers and principals I’ve encountered over the years is vast, from the unbelievably wonderful to the “get me out of here NOW!”.
I’ve also heard my fair share of horror stories about principals. Do they have a lot of pressure on them from all sides? Of course they do. Do they have to handle the bureaucrats, the parents, teachers, aides, students, paperwork, rules and regulations, ratings, scores, safety, “educational” mandates, paperwork and more paperwork? Yes, we do know that. It’s not an easy job, and one I would never in my life want.
At least, not in the way it’s being run now.
Ah, but create a team mentality, not only within the school but an extended one, where the power and pressure and distribution of the running of the school is shared and has all invested? Now, that’s different. That changes the paradigm. That shifts the power and the thinking and the creative and critical thinking, and it can make the ideals of education one that is across the board shared.
Not every principal should be a principal. Just because they MIGHT have been a good classroom teacher does not mean they have the skill to be an administrator.
Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.
Isn’t it about ALL in the school being a great role model? The kids know when teachers and staff are disgruntled. They know when the principal is on the warpath (and yeah, I am referring to that one individual I worked for). The talk of team spirit is just that: talk. Take it to the level where the school is run as an Ensemble. No leads, no stars, supporting one another, working together for the good of the finished product: a healthy student body. Healthy in spirit, mind and in all aspects of learning.