In response to the post, “Teacher Stress – Part 18,” a LYS Assistant Superintendent writes:
“There is a big difference between the challenges of living in central office and challenges of living at the campus level. I have to constantly remind my fellow central office types that we are the ones responsible for closing the gap between the two levels.
You cannot expect campus leadership (who have never been at central office) to understand the obstacles you are facing. It is an unfair expectation. But having been a former campus leader, you can never forget the obstacles that the campus faces. Never forget that you are the only one with the perspective to operate in both worlds in the best interest of students, and that this does not make you superior. What it does is put the greater responsibility on you to meet the needs of the campus more than half way. In fact, central office should strive to provide solutions to the campus before they even know they need a solution. Not always possible, but a good goal and worthy objective.
One thing I do to reinforce that we are in the school business is that I have replaced most of the adult chairs in my departments with the same chairs that the high school students sit in all day. Give me enough time and they will all be replaced. This gives our work areas a ‘campus feel’ as opposed to a ‘lawyer’s office’ feel. It also is a constant reminder that we are not superior to the campus. We do not get perks, and we don’t get to skate.
Just a thought, for what it’s worth.”
Excellent points and what I have been trying to illustrate. There is a disconnect between the campuses and central office. This is not an indictment, it is an unavoidable fact. The keys are that we have to recognize that fact, not ignore it, and that only central office leadership can close the gap. Thus, the size of the gap is solely central office’s responsibility.
Addressing the gap take awareness and purposeful action. For example, similar to you, when I was a Principal, I furnished my office with furniture from the district’s surplus warehouse. I did the same thing when I moved to central office. You can talk all day long about how kids and teachers are important, but when management works in opulence and labor toils in squalor, your actions scream another message.
As a central office leader, I held significantly more meetings and training sessions at the campuses (at hours convenient for the schools) than at central office. I also conducted more small group and one on one meetings than large meetings. Was this inconvenient and inefficient for me, personally? Actually, no. My job was to ensure effective and efficient campus operations. The best way to do this was to ensure that those most directly responsible for those operations, teachers and campus leaders, where able to devote more time on task. This means you take the mountain to Mohammed.
As with most things in education, we are the problem, hence we are the solution.
Think. Work. Achieve.