In response to the posts relating to, “Teacher Stress,” a reader writes:
“SC, thanks for clarifying my point about teachers being part of the problem. Let me be real clear. I think teachers in failing schools are about 30% of the problem, and 70% of the solution. I think leadership in failing schools is about 70% of the problem, and 30% of the solution. Just so the LYS Nation knows where I stand.
And Cain is dead on when he states that the leadership issue begins at the board and includes everyone in central office. Cain is famous (infamous) for pointing this out. When asked if it is a good idea to make teachers re-apply for their jobs in failing schools, Cain’s response is, “Absolutely, but only if you intend to make the principal re-apply, the assistant superintendents re-apply, the curriculum director re-apply, and let’s not forget the superintendent.”
Why? Cain will say because everyone in the chain of command had the ability and duty to fix the problem and failed to do so. I have witnessed two absolutes in my career on the front lines of change:
1. The LYS Nation walks the talk (note: Cain only seems tough if you haven’t met Brown or Brezina)
2. Weak leadership will have nothing to do with LYS and its ideas.
Normally I would say, “In my defense…” But in this case there is nothing to defend. I have said all of that and more. However the real issue is credibility, not tough (sometimes stupid) talk. It is about stepping into the breech and working hand in hand with the educators who are willing to stay in a tough setting and make a difference. It’s about attempting to fix the unfixable, accepting responsibility when your best isn’t enough and then getting up the next morning and working even harder to make “Plan B” work.
I once had a young AP (now an LYS Principal) ask me how I could say the things I say with such absolute conviction and lack of fear. My answer was this:
“First, for every seemingly over the top thing I say, I have a hundred quiet conversations on how solve the problem. Second, I occupy the moral high ground. I am solely focused on increasing opportunities for each student, TODAY. Every argument to not improve today is vested in some adult’s convenience. That’s not even a fair fight. Third, I have yet the face a situation that can’t be fixed and fixed quickly. Finally, if need be, I’ll roll up my sleeves and do it myself.”
If you do that every day, after a couple of wins, you get a little leeway when you step on a couple of toes.
Think. Work. Achieve.