I recently met with a first year assistant principal for a coaching session and the first thing she said was, “I don’t know what to do.  Teachers are coming to me crying.  Telling me that there is just too much to do. That there’s not enough time. That our students are too far behind to actually teach what should be taught now. These teachers are not faking, there are real tears.”

I told her that before I’d answer her question that we needed to go visit some classrooms.  So we went and spent about 45 minutes observing instruction.  During that time, teachers were not closing their lessons.  Classrooms were shutting down 5 minutes early.  Students were entering classrooms and waiting for teachers because warm-up activities were not posted.  Substitute teachers were babysitting classrooms because sub plans weren’t updated, ready and available.  Bottom line: It was not good and the teachers knew it.

I told the AP the tell the staff that she recognized that teaching is stressful and for the teachers that were implementing training, using provided instructional tools, and teaching bell to bell, she would help them problem solve and improve.  And for those who were not doing those things, that a large part of their problems were self-inflicted.

Don’t confuse the stress of focused purpose with the stress of lazy practice.  One is addressed with empathy and support.  The other is addressed with honest communication and monitored expectations.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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