Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is it possible we don't actually need administrators?

Seriously. We should give this some thought. Allow me to illustrate my point with a story.

This morning was our regular Tuesday staff meeting in the library before school. It started, like they always do, at 8:10. Curiously, our administrators were nowhere in sight. Turns out, our principal was late in getting to school, and didn't actually arrive until about 8:30. At that point, she made an announcement that the meeting was canceled. This, of course, was news to the entire staff, as we were actively in the meeting. The woman who was presenting (not a teacher at our school) just kept on going, and it was one of the best morning meetings we've ever had. She gave us great resources, communicated lots of useful information, and even ended early.

Food for thought: we've got to lose several positions at my school, and things seem to work better when administrators aren't around. I'm just saying...

18 comments:

Kings said...

Okay, Harry - anyone who's been following you knows you're a white guy, teaching AP stats in a high school. You've given clues as to the geographic location of your school. Now you tell us your principal, who was late for school this morning and acted foolishly, is a female.

It should be pretty easy for anyone in the adminstration to identify the school and the principal.

Is this what you want?

ms. mindless said...

I used to think the same thing all the time. My tiny elementary school (less than 200 students) had a principal and an AP. We definitely did not need both. Glad you were lucky enough to have a productive meeting!

Anonymous said...

Great question! I would like to know how administrator performance is measured. The top-heavy administration in my school is filled with people who are often MIA and another who just follows the principal around like a little puppy dog. Why don't these people have the same type of rigorous evaluation system that teachers have?

Along with competent teachers we need competent administrators!

Glenn Watson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn Watson said...

My school with 350 students, ran for a solid year and a half with no principal or vice principal. Everything worked fine.

Toby said...

Harry, I like your blog and count on reading it for your insights on life in DCPS. But you need to be more careful. I absolutely agree with what Kings posted and I'm 99% sure of which school you work at, just from things you've posted. All you need is for some colleague out to get you, for any reason, you're TFA (or used to be), not anti-Rhee, whatever, to point your blog out to your principal. Is this what you want? I can't imagine it is.

The Writing is on the Wall said...

I understand why some of you are cautioning Harry, but one of the biggest road blocks to improving DCPS and individual schools is silence.

Too many people are afraid to speak out and therefore we continue with the dysfunction (even under Rhee). Maybe if everyone spoke out we wouldn't have to worry about targeting people who speak their mind.

Better yet, how about ensuring that teacher evaluation is fair so that people can't be fired just because the principal and/or school system doesn't like you.

Unfortunately, as much as the new evaluation system pretends to be objective, it is anything but. It will be fairly easy for someone to be marked down under this subjective system.

Keep speaking your mind Harry!

Toby said...

Yes, speak your mind, but do so the way all of us are doing: without disclosing our real names, schools or anything else that can identify us.

Glenn Watson said...

"Yes, speak your mind, but do so without disclosing our real names."

Benjamin Franklin just threw-up in his grave.

God help us.

meaningful change said...

Fear, stress, chaos and more fear are conditions that are being felt by DCPS employees all over the city. This leads not only to psychological and medical problems among staff but also a paralysis of the system.

Principals for many many reasons are left powerless and ineffective as the are constantly given new directives to implement immediately or reports that need to be generated by the end of the day or budget cuts with a thesis attached to justify the rationale.

The entire system is broken! Harry I agree with the others, keep sharing.

Kings said...

I posed a question because I was really asking - is this what you want? if so - then just be straightforward about it.

If not -- well, it may be too late.

JCan said...

I know your a newbie to education but we figured this one out years ago. Your on the right track.

gt said...

I must disagree. We need administrators, but we need competent ones and they are very rare indeed! So, we, in the classroom soldier on without quality support from admin. I can think of many of my fellow teachers who would make better administrators than what we have currently. The Peter Principle is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

As a former worker in Harry's school I am fairly certain that none of the administrators (except me) figured it out and they probably won't. Out of respect for anonymity and his point of view, I never outed him. I think few there are interested in blogs and few would out of a grudge rat him out. I agree he should keep telling his truth.

Just Asking said...

To the administrator who posted above, what is your take on the the new teacher evaluation? Do you think it will do what Rhee wants, and weed out ineffective teachers? Do you see it as overly prescriptive and how do you feel about all the time you must now spend in classrooms, evaluating?

Mr. Potter said...

Would that one of my administrators this year could figure it out.

The reason that I blog is because in my school and in most of DCPS there is no appropriate outlet for feedback and criticism. There is no way for me to share that I think things are going poorly. If and when one becomes available, I'm sure my blog will become less interesting. But until that point, I'll continue posting because if I didn't vent I might go bonkers.

I know I badmouth my administrators a lot, but it's because they're really not very good at their jobs. And I'm not just saying that because I like to complain (probably). Last year there were two APs who were highly competent and effective, but alas they were promoted and left us. All this to say that I'm not very afraid. Maybe that's foolish, but it's the way I feel.

David said...
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Anonymous said...

To answer the question about the new evaluation system. I think that the vision of good teaching in the IMPACT system is one that we should strive for and I think it will be a tool to weed out bad teachers and possibly even more importantly improve teaching. This will only come to pass if we administrators can connect it with a rigorous PD program that meets the needs of struggling teachers.

Yet, one has to wield that tool cautiously. In Harry's school the success of some of the teachers was impacted quite negatively by factors beyond their control (attendance being one and the wide spread of abilities in one class being the other) These problems need to have an administrative solution. I am less concerned about the classroom management issues that many teachers point to since I saw numerous teachers who did not have those problems due to their proficiency in organizing structures in their classrooms.

As to how much time I must spend in classrooms evaluating, I am not concerned by that. Last year and this year, that is where I spend a good deal of my time anyway. I do most of my paperwork after hours since I believe that if I do not see teaching happening and work to improve it, none of the other stuff matters. If administrators really know what good teaching is that is where they should spend their time. Unfortunately, I have met too many administrators who did not teach much or have no eye for quality teaching. This is the other problem with IMPACT. For this reason the Master Educators are a good balance.

I am impressed with some of the new administrators that view their jobs as instructional leaders. I am training my APs to view themselves as that by doing co-observations and developing them. If we move in this direction, the evaluation system can be a powerful tool to improve teaching and move out those who should find other work.

Former admin at Hogwarts