In response to the post “Who Really is Not Getting the Job Done – Part 4,” a reader writes:
“There is no doubt I have committed to Cain and I am a Brown Guy to the bone. I was relating what I have learned from personal experience. My point was that not ALL teachers want strong leadership. Some teachers want to be left alone.
On a dysfunctional campus the number of teachers who insist on being left alone is generally high and they often the represent the majority of the staff. In addition, you should realize that when you take on a dysfunctional campus, that dysfunction is the by-product of the local administration, possibly all the way up to the board.
I recently met with a board member from a dysfunctional district. She told me she wanted to do what was right for kids, but was not sure she could stand the heat for doing so. So for the principal in this district taking the hard stance and firing an entrenched teacher is not an option. The principal trying to fight the good fight in this district doesn’t have a chance. Keep in mind that the cancer you see may represent only a very minor portion of the total rot. I have a teacher who is a living legend in my building. Other teachers love him, students like him, and the community thinks he can do no wrong. However, I and not one, but three outside independent observers have identified this particular teacher as one of the worst we have ever observed.
This type of teacher is a principal’s worst nightmare. My mandate is to move the school, yet I have received ZERO support to move this teacher’s instruction skills forward. After all, he’s a legend. My point here is often times a principal has less than zero internal help and will actually have people within district administration working against him or her, especially if trying to move a teacher forward is politically unpopular. I live by moving schools forward for kids at all costs, and it has cost me plenty in my professional life. These jobs aren’t for the weak hearted.”
For all the aspiring school leaders and current school leaders who read this blog, understand that the situations that the writer above describes are not typical. Also, understand that the writer is not creating these situations. The writer is a member of a small cadre of principals that have specialized in turning around struggling campuses. He seeks these jobs. Not because he is a masochist (at least I hope), but because he lives for the challenge and he knows that everyday, he changes lives at exponential levels.
Why this is valuable for all the rest of us is that on campuses such as his, we can quickly identify what components of pedagogy are the equivalent of superstitious behavior and what components actually increase learning. Our challenge is to take that knowledge and apply it universally in less challenging settings where the effect is magnified.
Think. Work. Achieve.