In response to the post relating to, “Teacher Stress – Part 9,” a reader writes:

“Speaking to the statement, ‘I don’t see Central Office personnel as bullies. I often think they are disconnected from where the rubber meets the road and they are implementing in order to meet the state and federal guidelines and meet the demands of the board of trustees.’

I personally had to deal with one central office administrator and yes, it was not kind. I was a business person once at the top of my game. I think we do need to think about school as a business because that is what it has become. As teachers we are also meeting these demands that the state requires. And we also see the results of those demands on our students everyday.

As a compassionate human being we see more than the data; we see emotion, disappointments, tears from parents and students, self-esteem issues; happiness, success and health issues. Yes, it does get personal with some of us; whether it is a choice we make or not make; we still see ourselves as compassionate human beings.”

SC Response
You almost wrote it, so I’ll finish the statement. We are in the people business.

To be successful in the people business we have to make a personal connection and we have to focus on the task at hand. Our students are expected to master certain things, by a certain time. That is the business. We also have to connect with our students to make things meaningful to them and to ensure that they meet their potential.

But here is where a bucket full of stress is generated. We now know that there are practices, tools, systems and habits that increase student performance. We’ll call this “Best Practice.” The sad truth is that our schools do a very lack luster job of consistently implementing “best practice.” This understanding is so commonplace that when I was recently briefing a Governor and a group of State Senators, the topic they were most interested in discussing was, “The Mythical Best Practices.” In their words, “It doesn’t matter what school we visit, we always see the same thing.”

What is sad is that I couldn’t tell them that they were wrong. But I was able to share with them a framework for fixing it. Then I showed them the data from LYS schools. There is a difference.

Everyone in the system can shoulder the blame for this implementation ignorance and/or failure, from our elected officials all the way down to the classroom teacher. But it is principals and teachers that are most culpable. This is because at the campus level we have the flexibility to deviate from the norm and implement best practice (even when the other campuses around us are not) and we are dealing with the actual student. We see first hand the near immediate effect of better teaching. And when someone points out that we are not getting it done, shame on us. That is because we should have known that fact and corrected it before anyone outside our campus had enough time to figure it out.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…