In response to the post, A Reader Writes… (Teacher Stress – Part 18),” a reader writes.

“I have to respond….mainly because I don’t think generalizations are helpful…and there were certainly a lot of generalizations made here. There are bad central administration staff…just like there are bad principals, assistant principals, and teachers. Must we continue to beat a dead horse by generalizing, stereotyping and focusing on the bad apples? This approach really seems to create an environment that does not produce collaboration and team work between the “players” that need to be making it happen for the kids.

None of us, in this business, are an island. Even good principals require a team to make them good principals. The success or failure of my campus depends on a strong team; on the campus and at the central office. Yes, we, as principals, can move our campus forward even with an ineffective central administration. But that is a tough fight. A central administration staff that is supportive and working toward campus success makes my job so much easier.

In this blog, we’ve criticized Assistant Principals (I couldn’t survive without mine); teachers (that is where it all happens); counselors; and central administration staff. Not sure we’ve started in on food service and transportation…but they may be next.

Careful….we may choke on our principal haloes.”

SC Response
Great post. Like I tell everyone, if you don’t like the tone of the blog, change it by sending in a comment.

First, if you talking specifically about, “Teacher Stress – Part 18,” you missed the context. I stated that I was describing a district that is in a doom loop. That obviously describes a narrow niche of school districts. It does not describe the majority of districts. On the other hand, having a working understanding of the dynamics of a doom loop district allows everyone else to do some self monitoring and self reflection. If you recognize some of the patterns or practices occurring in your district, fix it. If there ever was a case of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, this is it.

Second, yes there are poor performers in every role, from Board Member to Para-professional. And beating the dead horse gets tiresome. But this blog is driven by people who are trying to improve things because they want to, not because they have to. When that is the case, dealing with poor performers is a much more complex issue. It is much easier to improve the “have to” situation. Hence, the regular discussions.

Third, I know that the poor performers are in the minority, most educators are good people who try hard and want what’s best for their students. But we are also a profession that engages in very few professional behaviors. To not point that out and not work everyday to fix that situation would not be professional.

Fourth, effective teams are built on honest assessments and professional expectations. Dealing with that doesn’t always feel good. But this is where the role of leadership is most important, doing the hard stuff. One
reason why I often point out the frailties of upper management is because as the outsider, I can. The subordinate can’t point out to the boss that she is letting the team down, and survive. In that context, I see the blog as a vehicle that promotes reflection and examination of our practices through the lens of effective vs. ineffective. In this particular case, your post made me re-examine the recent content of this on-going conversation. After all, there is a fine line between constructive feedback and petty whining.

Finally, I’m the last one to claim that principal’s are perfect. In fact, I know of no one who holds principals more accountable than I do (other than Brown). Any principal that we have worked with can attest to that. Or as one principal stated, an LYS assessment is not meant to be a self esteem building exercise. But we do it, because we are zealots for public education and we believe that the work we (public educators) do is too important and too serious not do at full speed.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…