Resistant to Change?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mathmagic, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jul 23, 2018

    That is what the meetings at my new school (public) are supposed to be like. I will let you know in a few weeks!
     
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  2. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    Meetings every day? That sounds like overkill.
     
  3. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 23, 2018

    This was often the case at the schools where I worked. Teachers would spend inordinate amounts of time trying unsuccessfully to adapt the curriculum materials to meet students' needs. Not surprisingly, year after year, such schools remained solidly entrenched in the low-performing schools category. Old programs and approaches with fancy new names and extra-thick teacher's manuals introduced almost yearly with inadequate training and support predictably fell by the wayside after a couple of years.

    Fortunately, I refused to get caught up in the hamster wheel madness and was allowed to do my own thing. So, behind closed doors, I eventually designed a unique curriculum built around my students (just as you suggested) and voila! Success for all without discipline problems!
     
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  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I'm honestly not sure how it will be. It doesn't infringe on our prep time though since we have our own 45 minute prep period and a 20 minute "data" period. I would rather have a meeting than take on another class for sure!
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I guess if it's within your contract hours and it doesn't take your plan time away, then it's not that bad. At my school, we lose plan or lunch time or stay after contract hours for meetings.
     
  6. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jul 23, 2018

    That is frustrating...
     
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  7. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I’m excited for your reply. Looking forward to it.
     
  8. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    That’s not right. Your teacher’s union is okay with that?!
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I think there is a difference to liking to change in order to improve compared to liking new things that are being imposed on you which often are a step backward. I love to look back a few weeks after the year is over and say, "Okay the 2 or 3 largest things that didn't go well are ______. Let me get busy thinking and discussing with others how to make sure next year is better." This leads to a better year.

    Getting back to school with lots of meetings and PD which say, "Teachers, we must use ____ program in the classroom and blah, blah, blah." Yes, not too excited about that kind of change which lacks communication with teachers.
     
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  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    We don't have a union. My state has associations, not unions. We're also a relatively small district. Our district admin and school board willingly "negotiate" with our association reps throughout the year. It's definitely not an "us against them" sort of district. For the most part, we all get along, and we're all there for the right reasons. Everyone there is there because they want to be, and most are willing to go above and beyond. When so many people are willing to give their time for free, it's easy for the district to ask for it. When people can't do it anymore, they leave. My school district is unique in this way. We never have a shortage of applicants, and, aside from asking us to give our time and work really hard (much harder than I've worked in other districts), we're generally treated really well. It's a special place. Basically, you get out of it what you put into it, if that makes any sense.
     
  11. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    This does make sense, but I think that they “negotiate” with your teacher’s association for formality’s sake and not out of any moral or legal obligation to the teachers they employ. I just wish all teachers had universal protections, reasonable workplace expectations, AND competitive salaries. It is analogous to the adage for college life: “Study, have fun, sleep. Pick two.” It’s not fair that more schools can’t be like mine...

    Your school does seem like a nice place to work in, but it appears like they take advantage of you far too often. My P and VP’s will actually walk up to teacher’s and say, “Is this too much? Do you need to take a personal day? Would you like another staff member to help you with that? Take a break, relax, and start again with a refreshed mind.”

    It really bums me out when I read posts like yours because you deserve that kind of treatment, too!
     
  12. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    Precisely. Teachers should have a say in whether new curriculum is implemented schoolwide as THEY are the ones who have to teach with it and make it “work”.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    Agreed. They are having meetings to discuss future meetings in anticipation of upcoming meetings.
     
  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I get what you're saying, and I don't disagree that teachers as a whole need better work environments and workloads. That said, my administrators do the same as yours. We had a whole staff meeting that focused on self-care last school year, and my principal regularly tells us to take care of ourselves, use our personal days, and put the work down. They do ask us to work very hard, but they are also very supportive of us taking care of ourselves and putting our families first. They may "negotiate" as a formality (they may not, I'm not sure because I'm not a rep), but I can tell you that they appear to be very genuine about it. Even if it is a formality, that's certainly not all that it is. In fact, my district even created a task force committee that meets regularly (monthly, maybe? again, not involved myself) to discuss compensation and benefits. That's on top of meeting with the association reps. They really do value us as employees, and they take care of us. They also take care of the kids and families though, and that's why they ask us to work so hard. We all know why we are there and what we need to do. There is a very strong sense of community and shared sense of responsibility.

    Honestly, if I had my choice of staying where I am at and having to give a lot of myself or returning to one of the two schools where I had either a strong union or a strong association, I'd choose to stay where I'm at. Both of those other schools had unions/associations that fought for limits and higher compensation than I currently receive, but I'll take the heavier workload and lower pay any day if it means that I get to stay in such a supportive environment. I'm only leaving when I'm ready to get out of teaching altogether or when I am ready to look for a new role (like a specialist of some kind).
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  15. Been There

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    Jul 24, 2018

    After spending hundreds of hours in unproductive staff, IEP, PD, grade level, department and board meetings, I've reached the following conclusions regarding meetings in education:
    • those running the meetings usually don't have a clue how to run effective meetings
    • they are used to show/justify that something is being done to address a problem
    • there are far too many of them and most are a total waste of time.
    In my administrative training, one special session focused on Running Effective Meetings. I also was fortunate to have a couple of role models that knew how to structure their meetings for maximum efficiency. There are some basic principles that can easily be found on the internet, but several key aspects are critical from my experience.
    1. Don't convene a meeting unless there is an important need for one - begin by stating the purpose of the meeting. I've been known to cancel staff meetings when there was nothing pressing to discuss and teachers were in the midst of meeting deadlines.
    2. Selectively invite participants to the meeting with specific expertise and/or knowledge that can help fulfill the purpose of the meeting.
    3. Have a 4-5 point printed agenda showing the names of specific people scheduled to speak and estimated time allowance for each. State that everyone has the responsibility to restrict their comments to the agenda items so that the meeting can convene at __ o'clock.
    4. Actively facilitate the meeting with the use of reflective questioning to engage all participants and keep them on-task.
    5. Ensure that any group decision is made through consensus, not just by vote.
    6. Stick to the agenda and timeline.
    As a general rule, most meetings should be completed within 60 minutes or less if you adhere to the above guidelines.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yes. I’ve been to far too many meetings that we had because they were on the calendar and not because there was any actual need for them or because a productive outcome was expected to come from them.
     
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  17. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Multiply that by the number of schools in the country and you'll understand the scope of the problem.
     
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  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You sound so much like my current principal. He is highly efficient and does not believe in wasting our time. He has been known to cancel meetings if he feels that none are warranted. We only have 0-1 meetings per week unless there is a lot going on in any one week. He gets straight to the point, too, and will state things succinctly in emails. I love it!
     
  19. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    As someone who is considering a future in school admin., you're fortunate to have an exemplary role model! Conducting effective meetings is one indicator of strong school leadership - the basic principles of which should be introduced to staff members to optimize the productivity of all meetings. A principal once called me to his office to tell me that my 30-minute IEP meetings were a "breath of fresh air", in contrast to the 1-2 hour meetings that he was more familiar with.:)
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You and YoungTeacherGuy are my go-to administrators on AtoZ, haha!

    In you opinion, what are the most effective ways one can be an administrator besides conducting short meetings?

    What were some things you did that streamlined daily processes? Do you wish you did something better? How do you hold staff accountable and how do you build rapport with staff?

    Who do principals report to? The superintendent first? Assistant superintendent? What is the chain of command?

    What kind of reports do principals have to make regularly? Do you start as a vice principal first and then work your way up to principal?
     
  21. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 28, 2018

    Without writing a book on the subject, I'll try to address your questions as briefly as possible (even though they're somewhat off-topic).

    First of all, I kept my desk cleared of all papers. Items on my desktop were limited to a desk lamp, blotter, a decorative clip for phone messages and an in-box. I tried to attend to any paper that landed in my in-box as soon as possible and handled them only once. Of course, my credenza was a different story - it was often covered with neat piles of file folders and other stacks of bureaucratic documents that needed to be processed. Any communications that could be delegated to the assistant principal or secretary were dispensed accordingly. I tried to make it a point to return all phone calls the day they were received or at the latest the following morning. Messages from teachers received high priority - they could expect a written response, phone call or meeting from me that same day or the next.

    I definitely wished I had a better-qualified pool of applicants for vacant office positions to choose from. It seemed like I was cursed with people who had little common sense, tended not to be self-motivated and could not be trusted with confidential info. I once had an elderly secretary who couldn't even take proper phone messages and was so forgetful that I had to do many office tasks myself - unfortunately, she was a much beloved office fixture that I inherited!

    Holding staff accountable is a systemic problem that is exacerbated by the blanket of tenure. The bureaucratic process for firing a tenured teacher is so lengthy and involves so much documentation that many principals are discouraged from going there. This might explain why so many new teachers report on this forum not being rehired or reassigned.

    Building rapport with staff is a two-way street that is based on mutually-shared respect, support and trust - such relationships are developed over time. It helps to study the social dynamics of the staff to identify key individuals who occupy high-end positions in the pecking order, as well as those less assertive people who may benefit from an administrative advocate. I would always be on the lookout for examples of good teaching, so that I could give sincere compliments and positive feedback. I also applied a clinical supervision model to actively assist teachers who needed to improve their teaching skills and programs - I knew I was on the right track when a band teacher with poor classroom management skills thanked me for the help I provided.

    To whom a principal reports depends to a great extent on the size of the district. In a 2-school district, I reported directly to the superintendent. In a medium-sized district, I reported to both the supt. and his assistant. In a very large district, I reported to one of three assistant superintendents.

    Reports that principals have to complete vary from district to district. In the districts where I worked, independent of size, I was just expected to submit quarterly or biannual summaries of school events and accomplishments. There were monthly presentations that I made to the PTA and school board. I sometimes took the initiative to provide my boss with progress reports on new programs and initiatives and of course, there were also weekly newsletters to parents and other communications to parents and teachers.

    I believe the usual career path for most principals includes teaching experience and prior work as an assistant principal.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018

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