Right now it is very news worthy to talk about bad teachers. I guess it shows how tough and no-nonsense that you are. It also show how little time that person actually spends on campuses. Here is the dirty little secret about bad teaching… It generally is the visible symptom of bad leadership.

Let me explain. First, are their bad teachers in schools today? Absolutely. Second, should they be removed? Faster than the speed of light! But, one or two bad teachers is a personnel issue. You re-train them; you coach them; and if they don’t or can’t respond, you fire them. However, most schools don’t just have one or two teachers who are ineffective, they have numerous less than effective teachers. And that readers, is system failure. And who is responsible for the system? Leadership!

Leadership is responsible for providing teachers with the tools and training they need to be successful. Leadership is responsible for procedures, facilities, supplies and logistics. Leadership is responsible for hiring, monitoring, and coaching. Leadership is responsible for the success of the system. A lone teacher cannot significantly impact any one of the things that I have just listed, but they can and do serve as a convenient scapegoat.

When I was the State Director of Innovative School Redesign, I would get panicked calls from central office types as they were getting ready to submit the redesign plans for their academically unacceptable campuses. Often the question was this, “We’re going to make all the teachers re-apply for their jobs, and we don’t plan on hiring all of them back, do you think that is a good idea?”

To which, my response was always this, “It’s a great idea, provided of course that the principal and assistant principals that drove the school in the ditch have to re-apply. And that the Curriculum and Training departments that didn’t respond fast enough have to re-apply. And the HR department that hired and didn’t fire in an effective manner has to re-apply. And the Assistant Superintendent for the feeder pattern that took years to produce the unacceptable campus has to re-apply. That is in the plan, isn’t it?”

I never received any answer other than stunned silence.

In summary, if one or two teachers are struggling on your campus, that is a personnel issue. If lots of teachers are struggling, that is a system issue. One bad classroom, blame the teacher. One bad school, blame the principal. Multiple bad schools (a bad system), blame senior and support leadership.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…