A new LYS Principal asks: SC, I have a teacher who is average to maybe a bit below average. But she thinks she is above average. She is not doing the kids a lot of good, but nor is she particularly harmful to kids at this early stage in a new LYS district. However, she is absolute venom to the organization. When she doesn’t agree she becomes vocally negative to kids, parents, and the community. At what point does being harmful to the organization become harmful to kids? SC Response Great question. The equation is based on communication, notice, opportunity, monitoring and feedback. Which means it really comes down to you, the leader. Let me explain why. First, I have no problem with cynical teachers. Remember the first LYS rule, system failure is leadership failure. But who is generally blamed for system failure? Teachers. So their cynicism is earned. Also, I initially have little problem with overinflated teacher egos. After all, teachers do the majority of the heavy lifting in education. And the weaker the system they work in, the more they are forced to be self-reliant. So if I know that I am dealing with a cynical, egotistical, self-reliant mind set, I have to take deliberate actions to address this and quickly take a loose confederation of independent education contractors and mold them into a viable and functioning team. Here is my basic action plan: 1. Meet with my all my staff, in small groups and individually, and communicate what my initial goals and expectations are and how progress will be measured. I make this list simple and concrete, and I repeat it like a broken record. 2. As I meet with teachers individually, those that are working with me, serving students and adding value to the organization; I reinforce them and encourage them. I also include them in more of the decision-making loops that are of interest to them. With those who are not working with me, serving students and adding value to the organization, I clearly state what I expect of them, clearly state how and when this will be measured and I start the clock. 3. The staff that are on the clock, I give some time and support to acquire new skills and improve attitudes. 4. I monitor all staff and campus operations and give all staff frequent and specific feedback. Staff that are moving forward with the organization are provided with increased opportunity. Those who are not, have their opportunities curtailed, up until they leave the organization, either on their own or by design. If you do your job correctly and follow the above steps, in as quick as a semester you can have the majority of your staff moving forward and starting to feel good about themselves. The few that are either unable or unwilling to change will be gone by the end of the year. Just know that if you don’t do your part, the teachers aren’t the problem. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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