I have heard some chatter that talks up the idea that schools should operate under “NTLB” or “No Teacher Left Behind”. That if the concept works for children it should work for adults too. Unfortunately it does not. This does not mean that I advocate the wholesale removal of teachers – let me be clear – I do not. I believe that teachers have an incredibly tough job and are under enormous stress. In these conditions, teachers need proactive support; on-going relevant training; useful tools; relevant short-term data; and time to collaborate.
It is the responsibility of leadership to ensure that the above listed elements are provided. And if the items on the list are not provided then leadership must be called to task. That being said, once tools, training, support and time has been provided – teachers do not have the option of opting out of their use.
When I work with teachers and school leaders I remind them that the unforgivable sin in the realm of school improvement is not being coachable. It takes time to learn new skills and make new habits and as long as a honest effort is being made, time is allowed. But quit trying to improve and the equation becomes adult vs. student. This is a very simple equation to solve – side with the student, immediately.
So yes, all teachers can learn (duh). But that is not the issues. Some teachers actively engage in new and focused learning, which requires time and support. Some teachers actively refuse to learn, which requires administrative action.