Again, I have had a number of good reports about the start of school. But, here is a telling comment from an LYS teacher leader at tough inner-city school.

“How often the does the first day of school operates by this simple rule?

‘Don’t hold students to a different accountability than the one you are willing to exercise for yourself.’

I sat in a staff meeting and listened as the principal reviewed the calendar, bell schedule and required discipline strategies thoroughly. He checked often for hearing. Teachers nodded their heads in agreement and consent. There were murmurings of consensus and understanding. When it came time for further questions new teachers raised their hands and veterans who had a need to exert being heard spoke without waiting. Everyone gave the appearance to being on the same page.

That is, until the first bell rang and students began to work their way through the halls with schedules in hand. No sooner said than done the very guidelines that had been presented to which there was uniform consent flew right out the window.

Was there any review of the expectations and changes with the students? No.

Did teachers demonstrate mastery skills of compliance and order? Apparently not!

But, teachers threw their hands up declaring “Nobody told me about that!” or “Don’t complain to me, it wasn’t my fault.”

Maybe we would see great results on accountability assessments when we focus our own attention not to our own classroom processes but working together as a team sharing accountability in failures as much as we do in successes.

Thank goodness, we get to operate on a universal principal of the second day of school:

“There is always tomorrow!”

SC Response
Two things: Most teachers are conscientious and hard working; I don’t question that at all. But people, in general, do what is expected of them and what is monitored. That is why system failure is leadership failure.

It is not just enough for leadership to just state the expectation. Leadership has to monitor the expectation, not from the desk or office, but from the front lines where the action is. It is only from the front lines that leadership can identify needed resources and get them to staff in a timely fashion. It is only from the front lines that leadership can solve the little thing before it grows into a big thing. It is only from the front lines that leadership can immediately recognize and reinforce those putting forth an honest effort. And it is only from the front lines that leadership can address the “half steppers,” in order to get a little help for those who are motivated and on board.

If a few staff are not meeting expectations, that is a personnel issue. If a lot of staff are not meeting expectations, that is a system and leadership issue.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…