In response to the post, “Teacher Stress – Part 13,” a reader writes:
Quoting from the post, “…those teachers that felt that administrators were bullying them were teachers that were having “issues” in their practice.”
“This is not always the situation. The rest of your response made me feel that some good people are still out there.”
A couple of years ago, I began to notice a trend that was emerging as I was working with struggling and/or stagnant schools and districts. But it took the perfect storm of working with a large dysfunctional urban district with entrenched inept leadership and a well organized union to drive home the following truth.
1. Teachers in general don’t like change. As a group, we are risk-adverse. This is not an indictment, it is simply a fact.
2. Teachers that are doing the least, gripe and complain the loudest when change and accountability are introduced. After all, they have the most to lose when they are exposed.
3. Hard working, effective teachers get sucked into the manipulations of weaker teachers. This is because they (the effective ones) are working their tails off and assume that everyone else is doing the same. They don’t have the luxury of time to visit the effective classroom and the ineffective classroom on a frequent and regular basis.
4. Unions want poor teachers to raise a stink, because then they have a public fight where they can flex their muscle and tell the hard working teachers, “This could have been you.” When in actuality that will never be the case because hard working, effective teachers take care of their business.
5. Inept leadership uses teacher complaints and union push-back as the excuse to do nothing except to collect their paychecks and fiddle as the collective future opportunities of their students’ burn to the ground.
So there is the truth and the reason why from a system standpoint, I am a teacher advocate (which interestingly surprises a lot of people). Poor teachers and unions are not the root of the problem. Scared, lazy, inept and/or “me” centered leaders who use poor teachers and unions as the excuse for their lack of meaningful action are the problem. The bottom line is this: If leadership provides a compelling vision, creates and supports a value-adding system, models expectations, monitors expectations, and objectively enforces expectations, labor becomes an engaged partner. When leadership does not do the things I just described, they deserve all the grief that labor dishes out.
Think. Work. Achieve.