Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #8

These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make some adjustments. Principals have the best chance to do that.

Dear Principal,

When success becomes an 'anamoly' it is time to reassess what we are doing as a school. The district benchmark for my ELA classes were valid-as the second test deliberately given to 'show we cheated'- demonstrated. The kids did great again. We didn't cheat, we worked incredibly hard and no one should be shocked our 'demographic' can do well. This is like a scene from "Stand and Deliver."' It frustrates and frightens me that a District person would actually show up at your office to complain about good testing. Exactly what do the district people want? Stating that my benchmark test scores were an anamoly and annual testing results like this would bring the inspectors suspiciously down on us is a sorry attitude that squelches excellence. Our ELA 7th Grade team here at -----Middle School had the best ELA team leader ever, and I believe when we all do test at the end of the year, our ELA grade level will show great improvement, even with the other teachers administering the tests.

Hurt and Frustrated Teacher

PS The kids were hurt the District thought they cheated.

Update: All the Grade Level ELA teams did do that year well, setting a high standard that hasn't been matched (or even close) for 6 years.

5 Ways To Build a Culture of Collaboration with Staff, Teachers and Parents 

The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning 

Quick Guide to Teacher Team Building 

My suggestion: When one teacher stands out (in a positive way) the principal is like a parent that needs to keep the family from jealousy and sniping. Principals have great influence and can build teams of professionals that embrace other's success (or lack thereof) with support and grace. The question of a district that is suspicious of success reveals a greater, endemic problem, a culture of failure that may minimize the students and restrict achievement. Again, principals have opportunities to lead their districts from a position of teacher support, innovation, and even friendly competition between schools in the district. Success and improvement should never be an anamoly but a goal.

Teachers punished for success, whether it is in testing, parental relationships, or other arenas of education, frequently just quit and start their own schools. But that is an unusual option. Creating a success-friendly school culture is the best choice, obviously.


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