« There Goes the Neigborhood ... | Main | The Art of Math »

Supporting Bad Teachers

| 4 Comments

NYC teacher Ariel Sacks describes the awkward situation of working alongside colleagues from the city's Absent Teacher Reserve, tenured teachers who have been "excessed" from their positions and have now been placed in other schools. It's not exactly a win-win situation:

These three teachers, all middle aged, have 10-15 years of experience and get paid much more than I do. However, they do not want to be at my school, and they know they are not wanted either. In the classroom, they behave like incompetent substitutes. No order, no real planning, no real teaching. Some have been rude to students on occasion. Students get rude right back to them (and you know how middle schoolers can be when they feel disrespected). It's not good.

Witnessing this sad spectacle, Sacks wonders how the teachers got to this point--and about an organizational system that seems to have both ruined and protected their careers.

But who is responsible for these ATR's apparent low ability to teach? Look at the environment they must be coming from. Is it their fault they were teaching under horrible conditions and probably received no support? And, although I believe principals need a real reason to fire a teacher, perhaps the union is at fault when the process for firing inept teachers takes years. Kids lose out during those years. And which principal gave these teachers tenure so many years ago? Were they different teachers back then?
4 Comments

Supporting Bad Administrators-let's look at another picture, the incompetent principal or immediate supervisor. Fortunately, in NYC, they no longer have lifelong tenure and can be removed from their positions. However, until the point of dismissal is reached, the school can be in total chaos. I was in such a school and had seen several of my colleagues harassed and publicly humilated. When the principal started attacking me, I fought back. I received a transfer and left the school for what I thought was greener pastures. My new assignment was slightly better, but the principal was weak and ineffective. And the saga continued until I retired at 55. Perhaps I would have remained in the classroom for a few more years if I had been in a supportive and professional teaching environment.

I've seen both sides of this. As a teacher, I'm only as effective as the administration wants me to be. When I have a supportive principal, who makes an effort to see what I do well, I can be a star - and have been.

When the principal makes it clear (to both the students and you) that he/she thinks you're a dud, it's hard to be good. Last year, my principal observed nothing but bad things. I taught my guts out, and she would only see what she wanted to. I got observations that targeted me for not having the standards posted (right in front, on the board, and mentioned to the students). When I pointed out that she was wrong, she changed her attack to something else - but she kept the error in the evaluation. I was rated "average" in technology on a lesson that was basically ALL high-tech, and well-done. She came in with her observation already written, and nothing was going to persuade her that I was even adequate.

This year, my principals have nothing but praise for my teaching. Same basic population, same teaching - but these guys WANT me to succeed.

I know a teacher who was sent to downtown for "being ineffective". He was a Phys Ed teacher, split between 2 schools, with a weekly roster of 900 (yes, that's 900!) students. The teachers got together and pushed for him to leave because he wanted them to give him a hand with identifying the students' attendance for purposes of grading. Too much work for them, so they complained to the principal that he wasn't doing his job. He spent months doing nothing, before they decided that he wasn't to be fired, and was re-assigned to a school where he is considered a good teacher.

I've seen truly awful teachers, who get stellar appraisals - they have connections. I've seen teachers praised for having students make posters - in high school college-prep classes! No original research, just cut-and-paste from the web.

I've seen teachers assigned every thug in the joint, with no support in removing disruptive/stoned/crazy students, who are told they are "no good" as teachers because their classes are difficult.

The rot starts at the top. When are we going to get honest-to-goodness improvement in principals and other administrators? Some of them suck. Some play favorites blatantly - particularly of sorority or fraternity mates. Some of them are flat-out incompetent.

"I've seen both sides of this. As a teacher, I'm only as effective as the administration wants me to be. When I have a supportive principal, who makes an effort to see what I do well, I can be a star - and have been.

"When the principal makes it clear (to both the students and you) that he/she thinks you're a dud, it's hard to be good. Last year, my principal observed nothing but bad things."

I do not wholly disagree. What strikes me though is the conflict between acceptance of this line of thinking when it comes to administrators expectations of teacher and the rejection of a very similar line of thinking when it comes to teachers expectations of their students.

You eloquently said what many of us have experienced, Linda F. Well done.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Shelly: You eloquently said what many of us have experienced, Linda read more
  • Margo/Mom: "I've seen both sides of this. As a teacher, I'm read more
  • Linda F: I've seen both sides of this. As a teacher, I'm read more
  • Claudia Toback: Supporting Bad Administrators-let's look at another picture, the incompetent principal read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags