In regards to the Brezina related posts, a reader asks:
“Why is it so hard for school systems to understand the exact quote…’If it is not right for kids, it is wrong.’”
This seemingly simple question has a very painful answer. The belief that schools are about students is a myth. Schools are really about adult convenience. Now before you get indignant, I will present three common (and near universal) proof points.
Proof Point #1: The master schedule. Master schedules are built for adults, not students. If master schedules were built for students, we would shuffle the schedule many times a year to address student needs. Instead, schedules are built to reward, punish and/or reduce the workload of adults. Ask anyone who worked for me and they will tell you that the schedule was a fluid instrument that changed at any time there was a compelling student need (this is also why all of my staff had at least two certifications).
Proof Point #2: Annual appraisals. Annual appraisals have next to no correlation to student improvement. Notice, I didn’t write student “performance”? Let me explain. Was the performance of your campus essentially the same as last year? Did you receive any “exceeds expectations” ratings on your annual appraisal? Why? If your system is about students, then the performance of the prior year is the new expectation. To exceed that expectation, you must significantly improve. Otherwise, I appreciate the effort and at best you met my expectation.
Proof Point #3: Teaching assignments. How are teaching assignments doled out on your campus? Let me take a wild guess. The most experienced teachers teach either the highest grade levels, and/or the most motivated (GT, Honors, AP, etc.) students. The rookie teachers teach the weakest students and the weak teachers are shuffled off to non-tested subjects. If your campus is about students, the best teachers teach the weakest students, always. I always put the best teacher I ever worked with (Coach John Boyd) with my most academically fragile students. ALL DAY LONG. And all he produced was successful students, semester after semester.
Being about students is hard work, everyday. Most people don’t want to work that hard. And if leadership does not commit to the concept, our most academically fragile students die a death of 1000 convenient cuts.
Think. Work. Achieve.