In response to the posts relating to, “Teacher Stress,” a reader writes:

“As SC pointed out, it is hard to comment without knowing the specifics of your district. But, from what you wrote I get a mental picture of your school (which may be totally wrong).

Your school probably has student achievement problems. As Cain pointed out, administration will blame teachers. And that’s O.K., because teachers are a part of the problem. The first thing that sticks out is 9 programs. That smells of an administrative knee jerk reaction. I have yet to see a school program itself to success. Administration sees the programs as a way to make up for poor curriculum and/or poor instruction. If one program is good, 9 must be great in their view. It sounds a bit like your administration doesn’t really know what to do, so they reach for programs.

Here’s the catch, what if administration is right, and teachers are the problem? If teachers won’t teach effectively, what makes you think they will implement some $100,000 program effectively? Improving curriculum and instruction are the keys to success. Quality programs can enhance curriculum and instruction, but certainly will not replace them. As Cain said, not all stress is bad. If your administration can’t figure out which direction to go, I suggest finding a job in a LYS school.

SC Response
The old school LYS principals just don’t mince a lot of words. So I too will be brief.

First, before anyone gets upset (or vindicated) because the writer points out that it is OK to blame the teachers, do know that he recognizes that leadership shoulders most of the blame. He is famous for being on the job for about two weeks and being called in to give an assessment of the school he took over. He told the superintendent that the horrific situation at the campus was due to years of leadership neglect. The superintendent agreed saying that the former principal was ineffective. This LYS principal said he wasn’t singling out the former principal. This was a case where the blame started at the board and worked it’s way down from there. Present company included.

Second, the writer is correct when he states that programs are not the answer. Improved first line instruction is the answer. If your central office is trying to figure out how to circumvent teachers instead of improving teachers, you are on a sinking ship.

Third, the writer makes another excellent point. If the teachers are the problem (again, when a district is overrun with ineffective teachers, that really is a leadership problem), their ability to effectively run the new program is immediately suspect. Why waste money on a pipe dream?

Finally, working in tough settings is a chicken salad / chicken feathers proposition. With the right leadership and right instructional staff, the newest and most effective innovations in our field are currently being developed. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Unfortunately, with the wrong leadership and the wrong teachers, futures are being squandered daily.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…